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Book Review: Our Missing Hearts

Review by Robert McCool

Words can be weapons; whether written or spoken, or the more dangerous implied threat by authority.

Poetry has to be words too; a light illuminating the darkness in some human souls.

Such is the premise in the new masterwork by Celeste Ng, titled Our Missing Hearts ($34.00, Random House ISBN978-0-593-63267-3).

The story begins after the collapse of the United States economic system (which is blamed on the Chinese, of course). This is the time of PACT (Preserving American Culture and Traditions), a totalitarian authority that controls the whole country. PACT has the power to suppress any activity that is considered UN-American or seditious. PACT has the power to read all mail, wiretap any phone, or impose an ongoing curfew, which the breaking of brings down the law. Big time.

They also have the right to remove any child from its family if the parents do not follow PACT constraints faithfully to protect American values. These PACT laws were passed unilaterally by the House and Senate in an effort to bring America out of the Crises.


A book reviewed during a storm

By Robert McCool

After a spell of ill health, I find myself back at the books and the keyboard during a winter storm, ready to talk about a book I wanted to hate, but couldn't.

Barbara Kingsolver is a great writer who presents her stories as plain-faced as a tale can be. This leads to some unpleasant topics sometimes when a story absolutely must be told. Such is “Demon Copperhead” ($34.50 ISBN:987-0-06-326746-6), an Oprah's Book Club 2022 selection.

The book is all about a boy (Daemon) with red hair (Copperhead) growing up up in the Apalachicola South, with all its poverty–which means plenty of teen mothers and drugs, among other things like high school football, drinking excessively and having not much future to look forward to. On the other hand, family is tight and most important in life.

This is what Demon faces.

And this is why I wanted to hate this book. Not for the writing, which is brilliant, but for the subject matter. It hurts.

As a teenager in an alcoholic white-trash family, I was faced with one future with the Ford Motor Company. College was out of the question unless I alone did something about it. I moved out, and then worked for a university while I studied there. I did it, so why couldn't anybody try? I know from experience it's not that easy, and this book shows the dark side of futility. That's why it bothered me. I wanted to  stop reading at times, but instead I couldn't put it down. It's a big book, 883 pages in large print, but I read it in three days. It's that good.

Professor Parquet on the underrated Chris Ford

The former Celtic player and coach hit the first 3-pointer in NBA history and won three rings in Boston

By Professor Parquet for
A.k.a. Cort Reynolds

Ford died at age 74 Tuesday of heart failure, the latest in a long line of Celtic champions to perish recently.

Known as a very smart and fundamentally sound player, Ford was the starting off guard for Boston when they won the 1981 NBA title, also against the Rockets. He later served as a Celtic assistant coach for seven seasons and was a key staff member under K.C. Jones on the 1984 and 1986 championship teams.

Professor Parquet remembers Celtic legend Paul Silas

Paul Silas remembered: Durable rebounder/defender stalwart latest in long line of Celtic legends to recently pass

By Professor Parquet for
A.k.a. Cort Reynolds

Earlier this week, well-respected former Boston Celtic rebounding ace Paul Silas died at age 79 in North Carolina. He became the latest in a line of Celtic legends who have died in the past few years. JoJo White, John Havlicek, Sam and K.C. Jones, Tom Heinsohn, Larry Siegfried and most recently Bill Russell all preceded him in death.

Reading poetry with Amelia: 'When Icicles Hang by the Wall'

By Amelia Alexander
Icon columnist

This is part of a series of columns by Ada student Amelia Alexander about "reading and debriefing" poetry. 

When Icicles Hang by the Wall by William Shakespeare

When icicles hang by the wall, 
And Dick the Shepherd blows his nail,
And Tom bears logs into the hall,
And milk comes frozen home in pail,
When blood is nipp’d, and ways be foul,
Then nightly sings the staring owl,
To-whit, to-whoo, a merry note,
While greasy Joan doth keel the pot.

Reading poetry with Amelia: The First Thanksgiving

By Amelia Alexander
Icon columnist

This is the first in a series of columns by Ada student Amelia Alexander about "reading and debriefing" poetry. 

“First Thanksgiving” by Sharon Olds

When she comes back, from college, I will see
the skin of her upper arms, cool,
matte, glossy.