Books

On Children’s Literature

by Greg Curtis
“Why do we give children the illusion of a world that doesn’t exist and which all their lives they will compare with a harsh reality?” –Georges Simenon

Pursuing Crime from Pittsburgh to Eternity and Back

by John Allison
“The Gone World” by Pittsburgh novelist Thomas Sweterlitsch is about nothing less than preventing the end of world as we know it. As is often the case in real life,Western Pennsylvania is at the center of the story.

Terrance Hayes Tackles Current Life in “American Sonnets for My Past and Future Assassin”

by Fred Shaw
“Prismatic” is how the late poet Wanda Coleman once described her smart, resonant American sonnets in a 2002 radio interview with writer Paul Nelson. The impetus of her avant-​garde style was to approach the old form in a new way, making it a more stimulating way to express anger and…

Rob Ruck Examines Football the Samoan Way

The thing to understand about Rob Ruck is that he’s a runner — a distance runner and a daily runner. He’s the type of guy to run the Pittsburgh marathon a bunch of times, and when he is not running, he is at loose ends and out of sync. This devoted runner…

Grit, Striving and Some Redemption Highlight Rust Belt Collection

by John Allison
A Pittsburgher’s first reaction upon completing the 24 essays in “Voices from the Rust Belt” is bound to be: Jeez-​o-​man, we’ve got it pretty good here.

The Spirit of Animals Glows in Robin Becker’s “The Black Bear Inside Me”

There’s a favorite scene in Don DeLillo’s sprawling masterpiece of a novel, “Underworld,” where a priest asks his student to name the parts of the boots the pupil’s wearing. The young man struggles with the assignment, allowing the priest to walk him through each aspect of this common accessory, an…

Sheryl St. Germain Muses on her Son’s Overdose in “The Small Door of your Death”

According to the National Institute of Health, more than 115 people in the United States die every day from opioid overdoses, adding up to well over 40,000 deaths a year. And while statistics lend a sense of scope to this epidemic, it’s often the tragic aftermath of a single death…

Recalling Poet Muriel Rukeyser and her Work on the Hawk’s Nest Tunnel Disaster

When she was just 23, poet Muriel Rukeyser drove from her home in New York City to the hollers of West Virginia, fueled by a desire to investigate and document the Hawk’s Nest Tunnel mining disaster. By the time she arrived in 1936, many of the men who had dug…

Looking for Belonging Underscores Kothari’s “I Brake for Moose and Other Stories”

With hate crimes up nationally according to the FBI, those of Indian descent haven’t been spared. Locally, a 2016 beating incident at a South Hills Red Robin was deemed “ethnic intimidation,” while the 2017 murder of Indian engineer Srinivas Kuchibhotla in Olathe, Kansas drew international attention. These are but two…

A Terrific Look at the Sophisticated History of Black Pittsburgh

by John Allison
“Smoketown” is a gift to Pittsburgh on a number of levels. When an accomplished national journalist and author turns in a deeply researched and gracefully written work about your town, that’s a win. Beyond that, Mark Whitaker, a former editor of Newsweek, gives Pittsburghers the gift of enhanced understanding of…

The Perfect Winter Blend

by John Allison
I loved reading “The Plot to Scapegoat Russia” by Dan Kovalik, a lawyer with United Steelworkers of America in Pittsburgh, even though I disagreed with just about every page of it. We all benefit from hearing sustained arguments by serious people who challenge our beliefs and assumptions. In the end,…

Living in Harm’s Way

by John Allison
Lynda Schuster has had quite a life. now safely squared away in Squirrel Hill, she spent the 1980s and ’90s in one danger zone after another. She reported on wars, insurrections and misery in Latin America, the Middle East and Africa for The Wall Street Journal and Christian Science Monitor.…

Short Takes: “Shopping Mall” “North and Central”

by John Allison
Matthew Newton lets you know by Page 10 that he was diagnosed with obsessive-​compulsive disorder as a teenager. These days, he’s a productive and well-​adjusted married man and dad, doing great work at the Carnegie Museum of Art, and his skills as an inquisitive writer and thinker are evident from…

“The Slide” chronicles the tough years of the Pittsburgh Pirates

For some locals, October 17, 1979 was the date parents all over southwestern PA let their kids stay up late. That night baseball fans young and old got to witness Willie “Pops” Stargell homering against the Baltimore Orioles, propelling the Pittsburgh Pirates to their most-​recent World Series title. The sound…

Aaron Smith Takes on Big Issues in Readable “Primer”

Dualism, a philosophical concept, asks thinkers to consider the relationship between mind and body, often leading to inquiries such as: What is the self? What is consciousness? Do the physical and mental influence one another? Plato and Aristotle pondered the topic centuries ago, their questions often leading to more questions…
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