On Troubled Childhood

I believe we’re held together by fragile connections and too often these are broken in childhood," says Fran Kimmel.

Kimmel's award-winning novel, The Shore Girl, is a smart, sharp story of a young girl growing up amid tough circumstance.

Shore Girl was one of my favorite novels of 2012, and I'm delighted to introduce you to Kimmel at 3 Good Books, a series in which I give writers a topic (related to their work) and ask them to share their favorite books on that theme. 

What's your favorite book about the tough world of growing up?

Join us at 3 Good Books, where Kimmel shares her top picks.



Someone has to push the rubble

The End and the Beginning

After every war
someone has to clean up.
Things won’t
straighten themselves up, after all.

Someone has to push the rubble
to the side of the road,
so the corpse-filled wagons
can pass.

Someone has to get mired
in scum and ashes,
sofa springs,
splintered glass,
and bloody rags.

Someone has to drag in a girder
to prop up a wall.
Someone has to glaze a window,
rehang a door.

Photogenic it’s not,
and takes years.
All the cameras have left
for another war.

We’ll need the bridges back,
and new railway stations.
Sleeves will go ragged
from rolling them up.

Someone, broom in hand,
still recalls the way it was.
Someone else listens
and nods with unsevered head.
But already there are those nearby
starting to mill about
who will find it dull.

From out of the bushes
sometimes someone still unearths
rusted-out arguments
and carries them to the garbage pile.

Those who knew
what was going on here
must make way for
those who know little.
And less than little.
And finally as little as nothing.

In the grass that has overgrown
causes and effects,
someone must be stretched out
blade of grass in his mouth
gazing at the clouds.

— Wislawa Szymborska

To chirp Happy Memorial Day seems wrong. Where is the happy in war?

And so I say, let's try to imagine and honor what we don't fully know. Let's reach to understand.


Keep it Classy

Superlatives At Work!

Alternate Title:  Oh, the places you'll go!

That's good copy. No, really. The writer: 1) caught my attention, 2) made me stop (to snap a pic), and 3) took a fresh perspective. That's a win!

But before we head over for happy hour, let's explore the definition of "classy" . . .



Thankful Thursday: Have a Martini

Because attention attracts gratitude and gratitude expands joy, it's time for Thankful Thursday (on, err, Friday).

I'm easy to please — just write me a letter. Handwritten notes make me giddy. This week I'm thankful for a bounty of kindness: completely unexpected and unsolicited letters and cards in my mailbox. And tucked inside a very nice note was a lovely poem with a touching backstory.

This poem appears in God's Hotel, a book chronicling Dr. Victoria Sweet's work with the poor, homeless and mentally ill at Laguna Honda Hospital in San Francisco, California. The author of the following poem is Mr Zed (a pseudonym to protect privacy), who was a member of the hospital's poetry group:

Letter Needing No Stamp

To His Supreme Holiness, the Lord:
I sometimes wonder how you can bear
The dreadful burden of knowing everyone's thoughts.
The anguish, the heartbreak, the agony.
How can you even relax?
Maybe you try not to get too involved.
Or maybe you spend all night, weeping.

Why did you create such a sad world?
Why don't sandwiches grow on trees?
Why do infants die?
Why do honest people get cheated?
Why do the poor get crushed to the wall?
Personally, I would turn down your job in a second.
You can't buy a pie or go to the movies.

And there are always people denouncing you and cursing you.
Some say you had a crazy son who said
I am the Way and the Life.

We must all pray that you never resign or become bitter.
As sad as things seem to be here
Without you they'd be infinitely worse.
Thank God for God
Stay in there buddy
Have a martini once in a while
Create a new universe.

— Mr. Zed


It's Thankful Thursday. Please join me.
What are you thankful for today?


Love that line!

All during Lena's life, Ella had worried about how the world could harm her. But the world could love her as well.


— from Like Normal People
a novel by Karen E. Bender