Scholars date the word ‘pedestrian‘ to the early 18th century, its origin from the French pédestre or Latin pedester (going on foot). But it was also used to mean ‘written in prose’.

The 2017 Nobel Prize for Literature was awarded a few days ago.  You might remember last year’s winner, singer-songwriter Bob Dylan.  A controversial pick, his quirky long-delayed response annoyed academy members.  (It was rumored that he used SparkNotes to write his lecture. Really?)


Every year I hope the academy chooses perennial contender Haruki Murakami.  (Alas, this year, one of Murakami’s favorite writers, Kazuo Ishiguro, took home the prize.)  Murakami was born in the same month and year as I was but that’s where the similarities end, even though he thinks of himself as an ordinary guy.

 I see myself as a kind of ordinary guy. I don’t think of myself as an artist, mostly. I guess I’m just engineering something. I like to write. I like to choose the right word, I like to write the right sentence. It’s just like gardening or something. You put the seed into the soil at the right time, in the right place.


His prose is intricately fashioned, whether fiction, non-fiction, or a personal essay.   What I Talk About When I Talk About Running is a collection of gems.  It’s by turns memoir and diary, a laceratingly beautiful (and educational) narrative. Murakami writes the stories we all need to get through life, confront the past, understand the present, and move on to the future.


Unresolved mysteries, tales-within-tales, maybe-dreams, everyday worlds, and supernatural realms ~ in Murakami’s hands, his stories fascinate and confound.  An accomplished writer and translator, he knows how to tell a tale circuitously.  He is the kind of professor I yearned for in college, learned and challenging in equal measure.

Haruki Murakami poses questions and tenders ideas you will think about, and then think again. Exactly what Alfred Nobel had in mind.

And once the storm is over, you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive.  And you may not even be sure, whether the storm is really over.  But one thing is certain.  When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person who walked in.  That’s what this storm is all about.”

Stresa, Italy

Toni 10/8/17





For this…

Toni 9/8/17

IF WE WERE HAVING COFFEE #weekendcoffeeshare

If we were having coffee I’d say I don’t remember the first podcast I ever listened to but my latest all-time favorite is Crimetown.

The podcast is about organized crime in the gritty city of Providence, Rhode Island ( a Serial-like show in my backyard). It has a not unsubstantial amount of alliances and betrayals, heists and stings, crooked cops and honest mobsters. It’s hard to tell the good guys from the bad guys and I like it that way.  I think I’m so attached addicted to this podcast because it puts me as close as I could possibly ever get to Raymond Patriarca, Buddy Cianci, and their inner circle of criminals, cops, and collaborators.

former Coin-O-Matic on Federal Hill, the humble building where Patriarca ran his criminal empire.

I’m there, on Federal Hill, in this fishbowl of a city. I get to live vicariously through people with inexhaustible chutzpah and charisma, fathomless money and flashy lifestyles, always in life and death situations. You know, the kind of place where lots of folks “knew a guy who knew a guy.”  It’s local, it’s real. It’s an adrenaline rush.


The sound effects are pulse-raising.  And the soundtrack is intoxicating.



Each episode ups the tension level and the story unfolds like a tutorial on how to be a burglar and/or cop. It’s a (real-life gangster) soap opera…with nicknames. What an emotional eggbeater!  Anyway, it’s just one darn good story. And, oh, did I mention the soundtrack?  🙂  Not until I listened to the last word and final note did I go here….to the Crimetown website, to meet the guys. Believe me when I say that not everyone’s bad. But not everyone’s good, either.

I really fell for this remarkable interview-driven podcast.

There’s an intimacy to the intense and poignant conversations ~ the accents of residents who grew up in Federal Hill, the wit of Cianci, the reflective humor and regret in the voices of go-to-the-wall mobsters who have seen plenty. Seeing the success of Crimetown, it’s clear that the retelling of bad things other people have done is big business. But it’s also fun. And highly educational. And compellingly true.

If we were having coffee, I’d ask you what you’re listening to these days.  Is it morbidly fascinating?  Laugh-out-loud surreal?  Do tough guys weep?   I’m looking for my next narrative non-fiction podcast.  Something that’s better than sunshine, sleep, and human contact. I binge-watched Gilmore Girls and The Sopranos. At the time, I never imagined I’d ever binge-listen to radio. So, friends, whaddya got for me?

Toni 8/5/17