Archive for August, 2022


Saturday, August 27th, 2022

By Tara M. Stringfellow

The Short Take:

As a person with life-long ties to Memphis I was excited about this book: an epic tale exploring three generations of Memphis Black women, with all their fears, tragedies, and triumphs. I wanted to celebrate this Memphis author and her work, which had already received a lot of acclaim. I was sadly disappointed.


To start with, Stringfellow didn’t do her homework. She wrote about throngs of Black people on Beale Street in 1978. I love Beale Street but in the late 70s it was a ghost town. That was about the lowest point in its long history.

Then she described scaling a catfish and the scales catching the lights and colors of the room. Which sounded pretty except for the fact that catfish do not have scales. And the characters keep referring to their poverty yet two of them went to Rhodes College for a nursing degree. Rhodes college is a pricy (and well respected) liberal arts college which should have been their last choice. Memphis is and was a major medical center with numerous more affordable programs. Things like this kept taking me out of the story. Maybe I would have liked it more if I were from Denver.

Beyond that, the constant jumps between major characters and timelines made it hard to relate to any of them. Their stories were highly fractured. In fact the pacing of this novel felt more like a thriller, leaving one character at a cliff-hanger moment to veer off to another time and person then do the same there.

My favorite parts were the descriptions of the home that all three generations of women and their families lived in at various times. Both the exterior and interior descriptions were vivid and lyrical, putting Stringfellow’s poetic side on fine display.

A Little Plot:

The book starts in 1995 with a woman and her two daughters returning to the Memphis home in which she was raised. However, the story will stretch back to the 1920s and on to contemporary times.

The Greeks: A Global History

Saturday, August 13th, 2022

By Roderick Beaton

The Short Take:

This extensive history focused not on ancient or modern day Greece but on the lands where Greek language dominated over four millennia. It was fascinating and highly enlightening. However, be prepared for a lot of geography.


I must give Beaton credit for scattering a number of very helpful maps throughout the text to help you visualize the changing world of Greek language. I still had a bit of trouble, but then geography is not my strongest suit.

I very much appreciated his beginning with the Minoans and the Mycenaeans and his concise explanation of systems collapse theory. The back story to what we think of when we think of Classical Greek culture was especially worth the read for its thoughtful revelations.

In fact the book was chockfull of solid information, providing a clear picture of the complex, and ever-changing world that shaped Greek language, culture, and influenced the migration movement of Greek-speaking communities.

I also learned that more than one thing I had been taught in school was incorrect. Do I trust this author’s scholarship? Absolutely. This is his 12th book focused on some aspect of Greek culture and he has devoted his life to the subject.

I particularly liked little nuggets like the Greek-speaking people of Byzantium thinking of themselves as Roman; they considered themselves the the successors of the Roman Empire, as opposed to any part of Italy or other western areas. I was also glad to learn more about Greece’s modern history, of which I knew only a smattering and much of that incorrect.

It’s a lot of information to download but well worth the time and effort.

A Little Plot:

If you want to trace Greek language and culture you need to start about 1500 BCE. That’s exactly where Beaton begins.


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August 2022