Eight Things To Know About The Spanish Civil War

The Spanish Civil War erupted on July 19, 1936 when the Spanish military attempted to overthrow the Second Republic.  The Church, landowners, and large industrialists bristled at the reforms undertaken by the Second Republic.  The army, meanwhile, humiliated by the loss of Cuba, a setback in Spanish Morocco, and the continued British presence at the […]

Playing Cartas

Spanish playing cards are completely different from the 52-card deck with which most of us are accustomed.  To start, there are only 40 cards: no 8’s and 9’s and face cards begin with 10’s.  There are no queens: knights follow the jacks.  Forget about spades, diamonds, and hearts and think coins, cups, and swords.  The […]

Is A Picture Worth A Thousand Words? Black Hole by Charles Burns (2005) and Fun Home By Alison Bechdel (2006)

Is a picture worth a thousand words?  Sometimes. To be honest, I’ve never been a big fan of graphic novels, considering them to be more expensive and lengthier cousins of comic books.  I did enjoy Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis and its sequels.  Satrapi’s illustrations hammered the human toll of the Shah’s overthrow in Iran.  However, I […]

No Bullcrap–I Love Ferdinand

So what’s your favorite children’s book?  This may not have been true when I was a kid, but it’s true now.  My favorite children’s book is not the confidence-affirming Little Engine That Could or the aesthetic-inspiring Harold and The Purple Crayon or the didactic The Very Hungry Caterpillar.  It’s The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf.  The bull […]

Murder In Javier Marias: A Heart So White (1992)

Straying outside the New York Times bestseller list has its perils.  After my painful slog with Kingsley and Martin Amis a couple of weeks ago, I was dismayed to encounter some heavy sledding at the start of Javier Marias’ A Heart So White.  It wasn’t the author’s fault.  This is not a book that you can […]