What's Tony Thinking

What’s Tony Reading?


The last time I wrote about books and current reading, I invited you readers to send recommendations of your own. I got two excellent suggestions. Thank you!

These were Tara Westover’s Educated and Francisco Cantu’s When the Line Become a River: Dispatches from the Border. I read both and am happy to recommend them now to others.

Cantu, whose book I drew upon for a recent post, worked for four years in the U.S. Border Patrol. His book is a memoir, with particular emphasis on those years in the Border Patrol. It’s not a pretty picture, but it is a powerful one.

Part of the book’s power is the way Cantu depicts the effects of a brutal system on everyone involved. And of course, even those of us far from this border are involved in this system too, as recent events have made all the more evident.  In biblical terms it is a depiction of the way principalities and powers hold sway, crushing the lives of immigrants and of those who police them.


I also wrote about Westover’s Educated in an earlier blog. It too is a memoir. Interesting, isn’t it, how popular and pervasive the memoir genre has become in our time? People telling their stories. We want to hear them.

I continue to enjoy works in the “Hogarth Shakespeare” series, in which gifted authors do contemporary covers of works of Shakespeare. Anne Tyler’s version of The Taming of the Shrew, Vinegar Girl is a hoot. All the usual quirky Tyler-esque type characters viewed through a lens of kindness. Others in the series I’ve liked included Jeanette Winterson’s The Gap of Time (The Winter’s Tale) and Margaret Atwood’s Hagseed (The Tempest). 

Kathleen Dean Moore is the keynote speaker for the annual Fishtrap Writers Gathering at Wallowa Lake coming up the second week of July. She is a philosophy prof at Oregon State who has focused a lot on environmental issues.

A group of us who will attend her talk are reading her novel Piano Tide. Set in a small coastal town in Alaska Piano Tide comes at environmental issues through a rich array of colorful characters. Funny and poignant. And Linda gave me, for Father’s Day, a collection of Moore’s essays, Wild Comfort, which I am also enjoying. After experiencing a string of family and friend death’s, Moore sought healing in encounter with nature. This journey is the subject of a series of related pieces in Wild Comfort. Like Annie Dillard, Moore is a careful observer of what is right in front of us, but often missed.

Finally, the next book I have up to review for The Christian Century is Our Towns by James and Deborah Fallows. The theme of the way many smaller towns across the U.S. have rebuilt themselves and their sense of community in recent years. A counterpoint to the rather bleak, polarized-unto-paralysis, national scene. James Fallows has been a longtime editor and contributor at Atlantic. 

Again, I welcome your recommendations and look forward, as always, to hearing from you.


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