Baum on Books

Sadly, presciently, civil rights attorney Lewis Steel wrote the following words in his autobiography, The Butler’s Child, which came out last year: “The hard truth today is that in all the years since Brown and notwithstanding all the other state and federal laws written to promote equal rights that have been passed since the Civil War, racism remains a grave problem in the United States.” That’s Brown, as in Brown v. Board of Education, the unanimous 1954 landmark Supreme Court case that ruled segregated public schools were unconstitutional.

It’s a forceful and confident title that Jill Bialosky gives her unusual memoir, Poetry Will Save Your Life. She writes “will” not “can” or “may.” I’m not so sure, nor am I convinced that a favorite book wouldn’t do, or music, with its purported power to soothe the savage breast. Because it’s longer and without meter or rhythm, however, a novel is not as likely as a poem to prompt immediate reaction. In any case, there’s no denying that poetry as consolation, if not salvation, worked for Bialosky and her hope is that it will work for her readers.

James Conroy’s new novel, The Coyote Hunter of Aquidneck Island not only introduces readers to a still rural bit of paradise set in Narragansett Bay, but to little known facts about indigenous New England Indian tribes…and coyotes. And, starting with the opening dialogue, the novel also introduces some good writing that brings together domestic drama, lore about the environment and some little-known Civil War military history.

A new book by New York Times reporter James Barron follows the incredible history of a tiny postage stamp that ignited a deep desire among the rich, and not so rich, to possess it.  

161 years ago, London issued, among others, a provisional one-cent postage stamp for British Guiana because a regular shipment of stamps never arrived. In 2014, the one-cent magenta, called that for its color, was auctioned off at Sotheby’s to shoe design magnate Stuart Weitzman for $9.5 million.

Book Review: 'Building Small'

Oct 5, 2017

It may be hard to credit in this age of monster McMansions that the “tiny house movement” which began in the hippie `60s, continues to grow. But so say architectural designer and illustrator David Stiles and his wife, Jeanie Stiles, a writer and photographer. Their attractive newest how-to book, Building Small, their 25th, pitches barns, cabins and sheds as weekend and year-round retreats, whether off the grid or on. Would you believe an adorable 8’ X 11’ backyard Tudor or a two-level Japanese treehouse, interior trunk and all?