Baum on Books

Here are two books that offer unique voices on surviving Nazi occupied Europe and have several key plot points in common. Both feature women as the main characters and neither is Jewish. Both works also explore the immigrant experience in the U.S. after the war. But that’s where the similarities end.

Book Review: The Favorite

Nov 30, 2020

Seventy-one-year-old Lucinda Watson, the granddaughter of IBM founder Thomas J. Watson, Sr. and the fourth child of six of Thomas J. Watson, Jr. who ran IBM  from 1952-1971, calls her debut collection of poetry The Favorite because, she says, she WAS her father’s favorite,  “the pretty one” of  five daughters.

BOOK REVIEW: Don't Look For Me

Oct 16, 2020

The screenwriter who penned "Psycho" is quoted as saying that when we watch or read scary stuff we don’t think about the real things that are frightening us. We allow ourselves to be “frightened by fantasy and that’s not only more bearable” than dealing with unbearable reality — it may also help us cope better with crises, be more resilient when preparing for tough times. 

What literary text could seem further from reality these days than Beowulf — that approximately 1,500-year-old Anglo Saxon verse epic about a Scandinavian hero fighting monsters that’s known mainly by English majors and then, mostly in translation! Yet here are two new Beowulfs, different translations and genres, out this past August, that in their separate imaginative ways have something to say to our troubled times.

It’s always challenging to write about a group of short stories: What to mention? In Lynne Sharon Schwartz’s new collection called Truthtelling, “Pickup” deserves notice because, like the last story in the book, about a page turner of musical scores,  it references music, a special love, the author says, that has always informed her writing style.