Category: Non-Fiction
The Strange Case of Dr. Couney
The Strange Case of Dr. CouneyThe Strange Case of Dr. Couney brings together compelling glimpses of the history around his story: Couney’s jostling medical predecessors; the classism and racism behind infant care; the spread of eugenics rhetoric; and the rise of the cheap-thrill spectacle add depth to the broad strokes of global events. (Raffel intersperses anecdotes of preemie success stories with reminders that two generations of them were raised into world wars.) Couney, with his fancy suits and warm affect, is an appropriately flashy entry point for all of it, though Raffel quickly seems to become more interested in the conundrum he posed for both fairgoers and doctors.…
The Beach at the End of the World
The Beach at the End of the WorldYou know it’s been a long year when people ask for summer reads and you find yourself recommending Cherie Dimaline’s The Marrow Thieves — in which Indigenous North Americans band together to escape government hunters in the wake of societal collapse — as a comforting story. (Hey, at least everybody’s banding together.) It can be great to leave the cacophony of the world behind for the length of a book.…
Legacy; Frankenstein
Legacy; FrankensteinIn 1841, small-town parish clerk William Hinton got his first look at an English locomotive in action. Writer Julian Young recorded Hinton’s breathless reaction: “Well Sir, that was a sight to have seen; but one I never care to see again! How awful! I tremble to think of it! I don’t know what to compare it to, unless it be to a messenger … with a commission to spread desolation and destruction over this fair land!…
Heavenly Bodies
Heavenly BodiesAnd thou shalt embroider the coat of fine linen, and thou shalt make the mitre of fine linen, and thou shalt make the girdle of needlework … and thou shalt make for them girdles, and bonnets shalt thou make for them, for glory and for beauty. — Exodus 28: 39-40 Over the last decade or so, the Costume Institute has become the socialite daughter of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.…
The Queen’s Embroiderer
The Queen's EmbroidererDeJean describes the impetus behind this book as her desire to unravel the love story between Marie Louise Magoulet and her husband (briefly), Louis Chevrot. But inevitably, the young lovers take a backseat to the generations of in-laws before them, who eventually reach such a cartoonish level of underhanded dealings that by the time DeJean is suggesting Jean Magoulet impersonated his own dead brother for years to facilitate a double life, she includes several original documents, as if she knows things are beginning to beggar belief.…
Elementary: “An Infinite Capacity for Taking Pains”
Elementary: "An Infinite Capacity for Taking Pains"“An Infinite Capacity For Taking Pains” is a telling title. It’s a quote close to Sherlock’s heart (episode writer Bob Goodman had Sherlock advise Kitty to “accept that you’ll be taking pains” in the third season). It’s also a paraphrase of this Carlyle quote about Frederick the Great—the saying is more popular than the actual quote but inexact, which perfectly suits an episode where Sherlock has to deal with the idea that soon he might be as fallible as anyone else.…