There are years that ask questions and years that answer. So says Zora Neale Hurston.

Zora Neale Hurston was a master of artistic invention and reinvention.  I wish I could have met her.


She wrote novels/short stories and even rewrote parts of her own life.

She brandished her pen like a sword, her words bare-knuckled in their honesty. She taught us that life can be bigger than our sorrows.

You are bound to be jostled in the crowded street of life.

Post-election, many of us are conflicted, wrestling with questions, anxious for answers.  Instructive and insightful ones. There’s never been a better time to read/revisit Zora Neale Hurston’s work as we go forward.

I know I cannot straighten out in a few pen-strokes what God and men took centuries to mess up. So I tried to deal with life as we actually live it — not as sociologists imagine it.

A black writer in white America, she’s a fitting guide of who we can be if we dare.

It’s not a perfect time. It’s not an easy time. But it’s a swashbuckling time to be alive. I think Zora (and Liz) would agree.



Toni 11/13/16

Great is the art of beginning, but greater is the art of ending.*


With a few exceptions, time erodes the reputations of the famous.  (The infamous, not so much.)


Feisty and fabulous Jessa Crispin founded Bookslut, a litblog/webzine, in 2002. The interviews, reviews, and book-related content are a cacophony of provocative voices.  And she’s got one ensorcelling header.



Bookslut was one of the very first book blogs I ever read. If you’ve never read it, I suggest you check it out.  All the issues are archived, in a literary time-capsule-kind-of-way.  You’ll see why Crispin is considered a pioneer in the online universe.

The best of Bookslut was deeply serious because of Jessa’s sensibility, according to which a book could change your life, or ruin it. Reading could be a form of spiritual enrichment or spiritual carnage.

Crispin can be passionate and hilarious, prickly and snarly.  Assertive, authoritative, and outspoken, her work and editorial style is free-range. Unpopular or dissenting opinions?  Bring ’em on.


There was a wake for Crispin’s dear little slut at Melville House in Brooklyn. Guests sipped Death in the Afternoon.

Alcohol flowed freely in Hemingway’s stories and novels. So it’s not surprising that he invented a drink or two—including this one, which he named after his book on bullfighting.
Alcohol flowed freely in Hemingway’s stories and novels. So it’s not surprising that he invented a drink or two—including this one, which he named after his book on bullfighting.


Crispin says the archives will remain up until the apocalypse comes.

Read the last savvy bits here.

Toni 5/23/16

*Lazarus Long is a fictional character featured in a number of science fiction novels by Robert A. Heinlein.


dubai A few years ago, The United Arab Emirates blocked BlackBerry email and text messages because the government said it was too difficult to adequately monitor electronic communications.  So, what was a citizen in the City of Gold to do?   Unknown-1

Not to worry, said the BlackBerry creatives.

BlackBerry Leap addresses the needs of those who require a smartphone that safeguards sensitive communications while keeping them productive.

The global leader in mobile communications is a raving-good problem solver. Today, Emiratis who want to get things done use the powerful and secure BlackBerry Leap. For a killer price. But here in New England, that other kind of blackberry, my favorite, is free for the foraging.blackberry   The Plant-Lore and Garden-craft of Shakespeare is for the lover of poetry, gardening, and quaint, out-of-the-way knowledge.5e81881579a0d783bb-0 Take blackberries, for instance. I learned that colonists called the bramble bushes “lawyers” because the stiff sharp thorns grab hold of you and don’t let go until they’ve drawn blood. That didn’t stop colonists from plucking all the fruit they could. The berries were so delicious that folks overlooked the thorns and gave the plant the name, not of the cane, but of the fruit.  redbrandy1 Blackberries and other lush fruits of summer, like ripe tomatoes, are sensuously evocative of the past.  I’m sixty-something, holding an armload of Costoluto Genovese Heirlooms and then, suddenly, I’m eight, in the garden with my grandmother. The smell of tomatoes, ripe and warm, conjures up random memories that I’ll never find on a high-tech BlackBerry.

American actor Gregory Peck (1916 - 2003) stars as lawyer Atticus Finch in the film 'To Kill a Mockingbird', directed by Robert Mulligan, 1962. (Photo by Silver Screen Collection/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

But there are literary memories in bits and bytes on my e-reader. Some are of Atticus Finch ~ memories, I think, about to be revised. The NYT printed this warning.

The depiction of Atticus in Watchman makes for disturbing reading and for Mockingbird fans, it’s especially disorienting.

672654-c3cbcb60-28f8-11e5-b51a-609e8c108313 Go Set a Watchman, Harper Lee’s new novel, hooked me from the start. I’m on that train, swaying and rolling across Georgia, heading for a familiar balcony seat in the Maycomb courthouse. 

Best way to clear the air is to have it all out in the open.

-Atticus Finch

The sequel-written-before-its-prequel, extensively reviewed and hermetically sealed, will be released at midnight. 673049-7a51f5d2-291a-11e5-b51a-609e8c108313 Authorities in Lee’s native Alabama say the reclusive writer “made it quite clear” she wanted the book published. In spite of press releases, I still wonder if Harper Lee really wanted it to be published before her death. Thoughts?

For thus hath the Lord said unto me, Go, set a watchman, let him declare what he seeth.

Lee’s book has some stiff sharp thorns and I don’t doubt that they’ll grab hold of us and, yes, draw blood. But, as with blackberries, I plan to overlook the thorns and enjoy the fruit.


With berries or bruschetta, on page or screen,

will you read Go Set A Watchman?

or listen to Reese Witherspoon?

Toni 7/13/15