Category: History

Memoirs: How the Other 194 Countries Live

About ten years ago, I went on a reading spree where I was primarily reading memoirs written by people from other countries. The memoir First They Killed My Father started this spree. Written by Loung Ung, this book details the atrocities under the Khmer Rouge reign after Cambodian Communist leader Pol Pot’s forces captured the capitol of Phnom Penh in 1975. Many Cambodians were executed for political reasons while others were thrown into labor camps or forced to train as soldiers. By the end of the four years, over 2 million Cambodians had died from starvation, disease, forced labor,...

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Poetry: Tomorrow It Will Be Okay

Tomorrow It Will Be Okay One hundred years ago and the dust filled the sky Filled up the lungs of every man, woman, and child Because they’d ripped up the earth with the teeth of a plow Until dust darkened their days as it rose from the ground Swapped grassland for cropland and the soil screamed, No! And then the wind galloped in, and she started to blow You could choke on that air, so heavy with grit Through cracks in the house, through coughing fits But it was time to get rich on corn and wheat Besides, the...

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Reading The Awakening by Kate Chopin in New Orleans

During my junior year in college, I took a literature class that focused on short stories and poetry. There were three writers/pieces that I still remember feeling deeply moved by at that time: 1. The poetry of Sylvia Plath 2. The dark and unsettling short story “A Good Man is Hard to Find” by Flannery O’Connor 3. An excerpt from Kate Chopin’s 1899 novel The Awakening I don’t know why I never went back to read the book in its entirety… until now. I’m in New Orleans at the moment working on the film Louisiana Caviar. There isn’t a...

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Why Sylvia Plath’s Novel The Bell Jar was Groundbreaking for Mental Health Progress

In 1963, Sylvia Plath’s novel The Bell Jar was published under the pseudonym Victoria Lucas. This was before the day when memoirs were commonplace. Plath’s novel very much parallels her own life and her own struggle with mental illness so while it’s not technically a memoir, with all that we now know about Plath’s life, we understand that it kind-of-sort-of is.  Initially Plath was hesitant to write about her own personal experiences, but eventually, after encouragement from other writer friends, she did so but in novel form where names and details were changed. In order for us to understand...

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Snowy Winter Reads

Baby, it’s cold outside! It’s winter time, which means I love to read books that take place in snowy, cold (sometimes dismal) settings. You can really feel the atmosphere of these cold settings while staying warm inside. The following are some books I’ve enjoyed that are the iciest of icy: Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys – In Lithuania in 1939, the Soviet secret police ship 16-year-old Lina, her mother, and her brother to a labor camp in Siberia. In case you didn’t know, Siberia is REALLY F*CKING COLD. This book is written with simple but beautifully effective...

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