Kansas. I grew up on the Oz books by L. Frank Baum. Not just The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (the original from 1900), but all 14 books written by Baum, with Ozma, Rinkitink, Tik-Tok, Glinda, and all the rest. Glinda of Oz, Baum’s 14th installment, was published posthumously in 1920. Even as a child I […]

I would describe Raintree County by Ross Lockridge, Jr. (1947) as a more accessible Ulysses by James Joyce. It is huge, and sprawling, and poignant, and funny. It is historical, and philosophical, pithy and gritty. It is also written in a style that reminds me a bit of Joyce’s stream of consciousness, but is less […]

Earlier in March 2018, I read Murder In Burnt Orange, the 7th in Jeanne M. Dams’ Hilda Johansson Mystery series, and, while it was an entertaining, quick read, I found that it didn’t really give me much of a feel for its setting of South Bend, Indiana. I also speculated, however, that this might have […]

Linda Furiya does a wonderful job of evoking place throughout her memoir Bento Box In the Heartland: My Japanese Girlhood in Whitebread America. Although I read it as part of my challenge travel through Indiana, it also has parts that take place in Japan and New York City, and, to a lesser degree, New Jersey […]

In terms of my challenge–to read 3-5 books set in each of the United States, with an emphasis on books where the setting becomes an integral part of the story–I have mixed feelings about Bento Box In the Heartland: My Japanese Girlhood in Whitebread America by Linda Furiya. The author grew up as the daughter […]

I’m really enjoying Linda Furiya’s memoir Bento Box In the Heartland: My Japanese Girlhood In Whitebread America (2006), but I have a little quibble. During her upbringing in rural Indiana, she experienced many incidents of casual racism. Her memories of comments that stung are poignant; she gives many examples of thoughtless words spoken by white […]

I’m reading my way across the USA–3 to 5 books from each state, with a focus on books where the setting really becomes another character in the book. Unfortunately, Murder in Burnt Orange by Jeanne Dams (2011), did not meet that criteria. It was a fun, quick book, with an authentic historical feel, and some […]

As I was making my book choices for Indiana, I realized that I didn’t have a young adult book. I always seem to choose at least one book that is a young adult or young readers’ book for each state. (Technically, I read 4 young adult books for New Mexico–the two Klages books, the Bruchac […]

In the immortal words of Monty Python’s Flying Circus, “And now, for something completely different!” Indiana. The first things that come to my mind when I think of Indiana are the Indy 500 race, and the song “Gary, Indiana” from The Music Man. (Sorry! If it’s any consolation, it’s stuck in my head too, now.) […]

John Nichols knows his New Mexico birds. There’s a good list of birds seen in┬áThe Milagro Beanfield War, starting with the flock of nesting killdeer that feature in the opening scene of the book with one of the town’s historic figures, Cleofes Apodaca. There are both literal and figurative buzzards (turkey vultures) and zopilotes (black […]