Thursday, December 17, 2015


Deborah Voigt


What's more interesting to me is What did you read? Please leave your favorites on this blog!

These are the books I read in 2015. I admit to having to review some of them, read many months ago, and have indicated a few notes in   (  ). 

I no longer have an iron clad memory. I knew enough about each * to remember loving the reading of same. + indicates an author interview.

My favorite books read in 2015:

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. The world evaporates and the survivors huddle together in makeshift communities. A touring company of actors perform King Lear for the survivors.

Being Mortal by Atul Gawande A physician explores how we die. Is life at all costs worth it?

Bettyville  by George Hodgman A gay man leaves his life in New York to care for his elderly mother in North Carolina. I interviewed author George Hodgman for All Sides Weekend Books

Welcome to Braggsville by T. Geronimo Johnson
T. Geronimo Jones

 Three students go to a buddy's hometown and are impacted by a terrible accident. Author interveiw for ASWB

Inside the O'Briens by Lisa Genova A family is affected by a terrible, hereditary illness. And they don't give in. Nobody goes easily. 

The Wright Brothers by David McCullogh A close look at the intersecting lives of Wilbur and Orville Wright, with their formidable sister Catherine more than in the background.

Rosemary: The Missing Kennedy by Kate Clifford Larson The eldest Kennedy daughter was disabled by a lobotomy ordered by her father and spent sixty years out of the public eye. The story of a beautiful young woman whose limits the family could not accept. Author interview for ASWB

Did You Ever Have a Family? by Bill Clegg. The New York Times hated this book. The New York Times doesn't know what its talking about.

The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell

*Can we talk about something more pleasant?  By Roz Chast

At Freddie’s by Penelope Fitzgerald
The Bookshop by Penelope Fitzgerald

Boy on the Ice (Derek Boogard-hockey enforcer) by John Branch

Suspended Sentences: Three novellas by Patrick Modiano: Afterimage; Suspended Sentences; Fires of Ruin

Gray Mountain by John Grisham

Not my Father’s Son by Alan Cumming

King’s Curse Phillipa Gregory

*Hand to Mouth Linda Tirano

The Tudor Vendetta  Gortner

Map of Betrayal Ha Jin

Digging for Richard III Michael W. Pitts

Call Me Debbie Deborah Voigt

*Station Eleven Emily St. John Mandel

Offshore Penelope Fitzgerald

We were liars  e. lockhart

Still Alice Lisa Genova

Everything I Never Told You  Celeste Ng

Roland Hayes: Legacy of an American Tenor Christopher Brooks and Robert Sims

A Royal Experiment (George III and family)
      Janice Hadlow

Before He Finds Her Michael Kardos

Glen Campbell Life with my Father Debby Campbell

The Death of a President  William Manchester

The Gathering Anne Enright
All Gone  Alex Wichtel

The Good Son (JFK Jr.) Christopher Andersen

Stand Up and Sing Jessye Norman

The Sacrifice Joyce Carol Oates (Tawana Brawley)

*Being Mortal Atul Gawande
Atul Gawande

The Woman Who Wasn’t There Robin Gaby Fisher and Angelo Guglielmo

Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands Chris Bojalian

Revival Stephen King
*The Whites Harry Brandt (cop Billy Graves)

The Boston Girl Anita Diamant (Addie Baum)

Vivid Faces : The Revolutionary Generation in Ireland R.F. Foster

*A History of Loneliness John Boyne

*+Bettyville George Hodgman

My Father’s Wives Mike Greenberg

*Welcome to Braggsville  T. Geronimo Johnson

*The Red Badge of Courage  Stephen Crane

*Family Ties  John Boyne

+Mockingbird Next Door  Marja Mills

Frog  Mo Yan (Gugu mid wife)

*Culture Crash: The Killing of the Creative Class  Scott Timberg

The Long Loneliness Dorothy Day
Thomas Menino Mayor for the 21st Century

The Absolutist  John Boyne

To Die For  Joyce Maynard (Pam Smart)

The Drop Dennis Lehane

Dennis Lehane

Lord of the Flies William Goldsmith

+The Phantom of Fifth Avenue (Huguette Clark)
Huguette Clark
Meryl Gordon

The Brothers  Marya Gessen  (Tsarnaev)

The Heist (Gardner Museum) Stephen Kurkjian

All Involved  Ryan Chattis (Rodney K LA riots)

Crippen John Boyne
***To Kill a Mockingbird  Harper Lee

*Inside the O’Briens    Lisa Genova (Huntington's)

The Residence Kate Andersen Brower

Mussolini and the Pope  David Kerzer

Hell and Good Company the Spanish Civil War and the World it Made  Richard Rhodes

The Fifth Gospel  Ian Caldwell

The Book of Joan Melissa Rivers

Love Anthony Lisa Genova (autistic boy)

Crane Death of Bob Crane Bob Crane Jr

The Girl on the Train  Paula Hawkins

A Vision of Voices: John Crosby  Craig A. Smith

Madeleine Kahn William V. Madison

My Grandfather Would Have Shot Me  Jennifer Teege

Days of Rage: America’s Underground Bryan 

*Princes at War Deborah Cadbury

A Fine Romance Candice Bergen

Left Neglected  Lisa Genova

Our Town   Kevin Jon McEnroe (Joanna Moore)

Islands in the Stream  Ernest Hemingway

Stalin’s Daughter The Extraordinary and Tumultuous Life of Svetlana Alliluyeva Rosemary Sullivan

*The Wright Brothers by David McCullough

*Tchaikovsky by Alexandr Podiansky

*Muse Jonathan Galassi (Ida Perkins, poet Paul Dukasch publisher)

A Lucky Life Interrupted  Tom Brokaw

Harper Lee

Go Set a Watchman Harper Lee

Tennessee Williams John Lahr

New York  Edward Rutherfurd

A Complex Fate: William L. Shirer and the 20th  Century Ken Cuthbertson

Our Man in Charleston Christopher Dickey
                                     (Robert Bunch Civil War)
The Speech  Bernie Sanders

The Bookaneer Matthew Pearl

Paris Edmund Rutherfurd

Act One Moss Hart

Can I go now? Sue Mengers  Brian Kellow

Persuasion Jane Austen

Strangler  Brian McGrory

Dazzler: The Life of Moss  Hart  Seven Bach

Stronger Jeff Bauman (Boston Marathon Chelmsford MA)

Northanger Abbey Jane Austen

Purity Jonathan Franzen
My First 100 Years in Show Business Mary Louise Wilson

Mr Smith Goes to Prison Jeff Smith

Pride and Prejudice Jane Austen

Under the Same Sky Joseph Kim (NKorea)

*Mary McGrory by John Norris

*Rosemary: The Hidden Kennedy Daughter   Kate Clifford Larson

The Missing Kennedy  Elizabeth Stroehler Pentacoff

The Taming of the Queen  Phillipa Gregory

A Common Struggle Patrick Kennedy

*Finale A Novel of the Reagan Years Thomas Mallon

*The Turner House  Angela Flournoy

Nixon Evan Thomas

Antonia Fraser

My History Antonia Fraser

Rebels of Ireland Edward Rutheford

RFK Jr. Jerry Oppenheimer
Emma Jane Austen

Great is the Truth: Secret, Scandal and the Quest for Truth at Horace Mann School  Amos Kamil

*Fellow Travelers  Thomas Mallon

****Did you ever have a family Bill Clegg

Truth in Advertising John Kenney

Razzle Dazzle :The Battle for Broadway Michael Riedel

The Shift: One Nurse, Twelve Hours, Four Patients  Four Lives  Theresa Brown, RN

Lady Bird and Lyndon :The Hidden Story of the Marriage that Made a President   Betty Boyd Caroli

*The Washingtons Flora Fraser

The Man in the High Castle Philip K. Dick

Lost Illusions  Honore de Balzac

Creative Ohio: Transforming Communities

Creative Ohio: Transforming Communities

Yesterday I attended a day long conference sponsored by the Ohio Art Council, with help from the Ohio Humanities Council and Tourism/Ohio. There were just over two hundred participants form throughout the State.These were primarily arts professionals, administators and managers more than applied artists or performers.  Of course, many arts administrators have another life in any of the arts.

My observations are only that: observations. I did have two underlying concerns as the day progressed. The participants were 99.9 % white people on their best behavior. I saw few people of color-from throughout the state of Ohio. I asked a friend who worked "behind the scenes" at the conference. They may think 'what's in it for them, also many of the attendees come from rural parts of the state. Huh? Are their so few people of color in rural Ohio?

They keynote speaker was an expert in community building. Terms like "place holding" and "place making" were used throughout the day. I admit not to having heard of these concepts before, but they make sense. How do you transform a neighborhood into a thriving arts district and how do you keep it a thriving arts district. Our speaker came with an account of his impressive sounding travels throughout the world investigating such communities. The pictures were attractive and the stories of some interest, but not enough to investigate what is to me the heart of the matter.

What should any community want to be transformed? Who is an outsider to attempt to do this and does the transformation meet the needs of the community as it was before said transformation took place. This was asked in plainer words by an audience member. "In Columbus, artists  are priced out of the Short North. " True, that very attractive neighborhood tends to serve White people from the the suburbs, or people who can afford the inflated housing costs in the area.. If I could solve that, our speaker said, I'd be very rich. Indeed. But should the balance between economic growth and preserving the existing community be addressed? Are you intending to help nurture the creative class? I define such a class as creative people who create-music, dance, poetry, textile, theater, weaving, the fine arts, full time and live on ramen noodles because they can't conceive of doing anything else. NOT hobbyists. I mean gifted people who are committed to producing-and selling-what they do.

Okay sure, if you want to sell your work you are going to have to have some savvy and serve some commerical intrests. But if any long term studies or conferences are going to be held I hope in the future making a community for artist to live and work permanently with the influx of new blood always possible, will be paramount.

There were four break out session, each given twice.

The Infrastructure of Place Making
Traveling the Crooked Road to Southwest Virginia
The Art of Partnerships
Evolving Downtown's Transform Communities

I attended Partnerships and Evolving Downtown

The Evolving downtown panel was the best part of the day. The session was set up as a conversation with the audience. I didn't know there was a cultural center in Hamilton, Ohio. I didn't know there was a Hamilton Ohio!  The Fitts Center is run by a hunky Australian new to the job. I wonder if his accent and bravado got him friends or not. He set up a promotional photo shoot of his artistically interesting men's room complete with standees. It got him some nasty blow back and a big tick UP in subscribers! He lamented that is theater is too small to host local orchestra, ballet and choral performances, but the guy is gung ho inviting them anyway and thinking of solutions.

When the director of the Toledo Arts Comissison said he was able to claim a large vacant downtown building for use I asked how he did it. I loved his answer. I went around and asked. I went all through the community knocking on doors. And one property owner said yes.. Another point worth mentioning, go into your community and find the cultured deviants! Th people who are considered weird in the area and who may be bizarre enoguht to join you and help. "Embrace those who want to help"

Asked what their most urgent wish is all four replied Funds fora permanent endowment.A revenue stream.

I know Stuarts Opera house in Nelsonville. I was shocked to learn that it sat empty  for 50 years, into the 1990s. The Diretor of the Opera house made it very clear. He worked in the poorest  county in the State. Yet the newly resorted theater anchors a small but attractive downtown square and  stands out amidst the surrounding blight. People come for shows and concerts. People send their kids there. Everyone wants to do more for kids. Everyone, as did the a.m. speaker, uses enthusiastic crowd isn the streets and the participation of kids as a measure of success.

So what did I learn:

Go as a guest....if you are visiting in someone else's community, be a good guest.
Invite people IN
Don't be afraid to ask. The worse people can say is No. Use that as a chance to change their minds...but know when to back off
Creative communities require people...and places to it down and visit...shops, green spaces, coffee houses, restaurants. Don't forget public performances and public art.

Don't take it too seriously. A little silly or off the wall is good,

Find balance. Drive the economic machine without shutting down the people already there