Adam Dunn

Ahab's Wife is bound to be remembered as an epic. At almost 700 pages and spanning roughly the first half of the 19th century, the novel follows the life of a rather atypical woman named Una, whose curiosity and native intelligence push her beyond the bounds of her family, her region, and her gender.

The novel begins with white knuckles: the adult Una is freezing to death in the midst of childbirth during a blizzard which has just killed her mother. Despite this, she unflinchingly deflects a posse headed by a dwarf on the trail of a runaway slave (who has hidden in Una's bed). The slave helps deliver Una's child, who dies upon birth.

And that's just the first 10 pages. Una's predicament causes her to reflect upon the circumstances that brought her to that point, which begin with her mother sending her off to live with an aunt in Nantucket because of her insane father's physical brand of religious zeal. With a keen eye for a child's interest in the natural world, the author portrays Una's upbringing among her loving, if isolated, cousins. Her reintroduction to the outside world comes in the form of two sailors who fire her mind with newfound scientific knowledge.

Donning a man's name and appearance, she joins the sailors aboard a whaler and has the bad luck to meet a foul-tempered whale that sinks her ship. After a harrowing period of deprivation at sea laced with finely wrought accounts of cannibalism, dementia, and the dogged will to survive Una is rescued and winds up aboard Ahab's Pequod. And it is there that another adventure begins.

Rich in historical detail and clever hat-doffing to other great books, Ahab's Wife nevertheless is capable of standing alone. Much of its appeal (as with Moby Dick) lies in its characters' journeys toward self-knowledge, bravery and cunning during bad times, and humor, love, and wonder in good ones. Mostly, however, the novel is a surprisingly sentimental description of the trickle-down of Enlightenment ideals to the scurvy masses, a progression away from the shackles of religious dogma to a more empirical, pragmatic approach to life.

Adam Dunn writes reviews and features for Current Diversions and Speak magazine.

Ahab's Wife is bound to be remembered as an epic. At almost 700 pages and spanning roughly the first half of the 19th century, the novel follows the life of a rather atypical woman named Una, whose curiosity and native intelligence push her beyond the bounds of her family, her region, and her gender. The […]

A nice cuppa java This springtime coffee is being celebrated in a number of different formats. Here are some of the offerings. Fortune in a Coffee Cup: Divination with Coffee Grounds (Llewellyn, $9.95, 1567186106) is ideal fodder for the novelty item shelf in a bookstore, coffee shop, or New Age store. The author has worked up a sizable semiology of meanings to the patterns of swirling leftover coffee grounds.

Apparently this practice is nothing new: This book is the culmination of a thousand years of oral tradition, and I believe the first time these secrets have appeared in print. If you see a padlock in the bottom of your coffee cup, it means you are feeling that too many decisions in your life are being made by others. But if you see a padlock in the middle of your cup, it's not a good time to be readjusting your life patterns. The Coffee Book: Anatomy of an Industry from Crop to the Last Drop (The New Press, $14.95, 1565845080) presents a concise overview of the history and diversification of the coffee industry. Heavily illustrated, The Coffee Book is a pocket-size pop culture reference manual, offering bite-size infobits on international trading policies, specialty coffee roasters, even the effects of caffeine in the brain. While not in-depth analysis, this little book is nevertheless a good source for quick facts on the coffee business and its potential future, particularly in its discussion of modern coffee cultivation and environmental policy.

The presence of a number of graphs and charts helps accelerate the flow of the text. By far the most informative and satisfying book in the basket is Uncommon Grounds: The History of Coffee and How it Transformed Our World, the product of intensive research combined with light-hearted and enthusiastic writing. The author (whose previous work was a history of Coca-Cola) traces the bean from its obscure origins in Ethiopia through its dispersal via Islamic traders, from Reformation Europe's coffee-klatch craze to the establishment of coffee as the American drink during the Civil War, and beyond through the complex (and often bloody) intertwining of coffee cultivation with Latin American governments. The book has an extensive bibliography and pointed illustrations (several images clearly illustrate the racism inherent in early American advertising), and is a fine road map of the history of coffee and its development into one of the most traded commodities in the world.

A nice cuppa java This springtime coffee is being celebrated in a number of different formats. Here are some of the offerings. Fortune in a Coffee Cup: Divination with Coffee Grounds (Llewellyn, $9.95, 1567186106) is ideal fodder for the novelty item shelf in a bookstore, coffee shop, or New Age store. The author has worked […]

A nice cuppa java This springtime coffee is being celebrated in a number of different formats. Here are some of the offerings. Fortune in a Coffee Cup: Divination with Coffee Grounds (Llewellyn, $9.95, 1567186106) is ideal fodder for the novelty item shelf in a bookstore, coffee shop, or New Age store. The author has worked up a sizable semiology of meanings to the patterns of swirling leftover coffee grounds.

Apparently this practice is nothing new: This book is the culmination of a thousand years of oral tradition, and I believe the first time these secrets have appeared in print. If you see a padlock in the bottom of your coffee cup, it means you are feeling that too many decisions in your life are being made by others. But if you see a padlock in the middle of your cup, it's not a good time to be readjusting your life patterns. The Coffee Book: Anatomy of an Industry from Crop to the Last Drop presents a concise overview of the history and diversification of the coffee industry. Heavily illustrated, The Coffee Book is a pocket-size pop culture reference manual, offering bite-size infobits on international trading policies, specialty coffee roasters, even the effects of caffeine in the brain. While not in-depth analysis, this little book is nevertheless a good source for quick facts on the coffee business and its potential future, particularly in its discussion of modern coffee cultivation and environmental policy.

The presence of a number of graphs and charts helps accelerate the flow of the text. By far the most informative and satisfying book in the basket is Uncommon Grounds: The History of Coffee and How it Transformed Our World (Basic Books, $27.50, 0465036317), the product of intensive research combined with light-hearted and enthusiastic writing. The author (whose previous work was a history of Coca-Cola) traces the bean from its obscure origins in Ethiopia through its dispersal via Islamic traders, from Reformation Europe's coffee-klatch craze to the establishment of coffee as the American drink during the Civil War, and beyond through the complex (and often bloody) intertwining of coffee cultivation with Latin American governments. The book has an extensive bibliography and pointed illustrations (several images clearly illustrate the racism inherent in early American advertising), and is a fine road map of the history of coffee and its development into one of the most traded commodities in the world.

A nice cuppa java This springtime coffee is being celebrated in a number of different formats. Here are some of the offerings. Fortune in a Coffee Cup: Divination with Coffee Grounds (Llewellyn, $9.95, 1567186106) is ideal fodder for the novelty item shelf in a bookstore, coffee shop, or New Age store. The author has worked […]

A nice cuppa java This springtime coffee is being celebrated in a number of different formats. Here are some of the offerings. Fortune in a Coffee Cup: Divination with Coffee Grounds is ideal fodder for the novelty item shelf in a bookstore, coffee shop, or New Age store. The author has worked up a sizable semiology of meanings to the patterns of swirling leftover coffee grounds.

Apparently this practice is nothing new: This book is the culmination of a thousand years of oral tradition, and I believe the first time these secrets have appeared in print. If you see a padlock in the bottom of your coffee cup, it means you are feeling that too many decisions in your life are being made by others. But if you see a padlock in the middle of your cup, it's not a good time to be readjusting your life patterns. The Coffee Book: Anatomy of an Industry from Crop to the Last Drop (The New Press, $14.95, 1565845080) presents a concise overview of the history and diversification of the coffee industry. Heavily illustrated, The Coffee Book is a pocket-size pop culture reference manual, offering bite-size infobits on international trading policies, specialty coffee roasters, even the effects of caffeine in the brain. While not in-depth analysis, this little book is nevertheless a good source for quick facts on the coffee business and its potential future, particularly in its discussion of modern coffee cultivation and environmental policy.

The presence of a number of graphs and charts helps accelerate the flow of the text. By far the most informative and satisfying book in the basket is Uncommon Grounds: The History of Coffee and How it Transformed Our World (Basic Books, $27.50, 0465036317), the product of intensive research combined with light-hearted and enthusiastic writing. The author (whose previous work was a history of Coca-Cola) traces the bean from its obscure origins in Ethiopia through its dispersal via Islamic traders, from Reformation Europe's coffee-klatch craze to the establishment of coffee as the American drink during the Civil War, and beyond through the complex (and often bloody) intertwining of coffee cultivation with Latin American governments. The book has an extensive bibliography and pointed illustrations (several images clearly illustrate the racism inherent in early American advertising), and is a fine road map of the history of coffee and its development into one of the most traded commodities in the world.

A nice cuppa java This springtime coffee is being celebrated in a number of different formats. Here are some of the offerings. Fortune in a Coffee Cup: Divination with Coffee Grounds is ideal fodder for the novelty item shelf in a bookstore, coffee shop, or New Age store. The author has worked up a sizable […]

Paeans to a host of other latter-day crime-writing icons abound in this dark first novel of deprivation, detection and dissection. Former NYPD Detective Charlie "Birdman" Parker, has really had it bad. The son of a child-killing cop, Parker's alcoholism destroyed his marriage in name, while a deranged killer ended it in reality by gruesomely murdering his wife and child. Having quit the force amid ugly, suspicious rumors, Parker now ekes out a meager living catching escaped fugitives for sleazy bail bondsmen, and talks through his anguish with a sympathetic (and attractive) psychiatrist named Rachel Wolfe. One of his cases ropes him into what appears to be an internal Mafia squabble but quickly leads to something altogether more sinister and depraved.

Parker, who harbors a desperate yearning to aid other people's children as he could not his own, follows a bloodstained trail from New York's outer boroughs to the Louisiana swamps (William Hjortsberg, Falling Angel) where a bayou medicine woman (shades of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil) helps him uncover a grisly string of child slayings (cue Andrew Vachss). While this is happening, the killer known as Traveling Man, who murdered Parker's own family, resurfaces, forcing the detective to enlist the aid of a pair of career criminals befriended during his days on the force (think Robert B. Parker here, if Hawk were gay).

As the Mob struggle spills over into a full-blown feud and the bodies start piling up, Parker and a disheveled FBI agent named Woolrich race against time to decipher the gory language of Traveling Man's psychopathology and determine where he will strike next (Thomas Harris, big time). Traveling Man's MO has a terrible familiarity for Parker, which in turn increases his dependence on Rachel, which leads to well, you get the idea. Connolly's nods to established authors carry more than a touch of homage, and Connolly himself employs a strong command of the written word and his American locales. Every Dead Thing is a promising first attempt, and should appeal to many fans of the genre.

Adam Dunn writes reviews and features for Current Diversions and Speak magazine.

Paeans to a host of other latter-day crime-writing icons abound in this dark first novel of deprivation, detection and dissection. Former NYPD Detective Charlie "Birdman" Parker, has really had it bad. The son of a child-killing cop, Parker's alcoholism destroyed his marriage in name, while a deranged killer ended it in reality by gruesomely murdering […]

Even historical amnesiacs will have no difficulty remembering the terrible images of American soldiers dragged through the streets of Mogadishu, Somalia, killed and mutilated by a rampaging mob that they had originally been sent to feed. The Battle of the Black Sea (as the events of October 3-4, 1993, came to be known) began as a simple Special Forces kidnapping scheme and ended in a desperate bloody retreat which left 18 Americans and at least 500 Somalis dead. Between the time the assault force (an airborne and motorized medley of Delta Force operators supported by U.

S. Army Rangers) broke into the house of their quarry (local warlord Mohammed Farah Aidid) and the time the force was pulled out in tatters by an international rescue team, something went terribly wrong. Mr. Bowden does a commendable job of showing just what went wrong, and how.

The book came about nearly four years after the event, but the author has done his homework. His list of interviewees is impressive, as is the extent of his research, which includes material which has only recently been declassified. What comes through is a no-holds-barred glimpse into the hell of desperate battle, of men (closer to boys, many of them) killing each other in order just to stay alive. Mr. Bowden describes the fighting through the eyes of several of the battle's veterans, including Somalis whom he had to bribe his weight in khat (the indigenous drug of choice) to interview, and the result is a searing illustration of vicious urban warfare. In a frank and even-handed epilogue, the author discusses the pros and cons of the mission and its objectives, and shifts the focus from depiction of battle to a discussion of U.

S. foreign policy. The commitment of American forces to back UN famine-relief workers can be seen as President Bush's parting shot to his successor Bill Clinton, and the difference between their military views became painfully clear in this and subsequent conflicts. Black Hawk Down is a savage reminder that real lives hang in the balance of such changeovers in administrative policy, particularly when heads of state have decided that might makes right.

Adam Dunn writes reviews and features for Current Diversions and Speak magazine.

Even historical amnesiacs will have no difficulty remembering the terrible images of American soldiers dragged through the streets of Mogadishu, Somalia, killed and mutilated by a rampaging mob that they had originally been sent to feed. The Battle of the Black Sea (as the events of October 3-4, 1993, came to be known) began as […]

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