What Amazon Can’t Do

What Amazon Can’t Do

There were a lot more bookstores around 20 years ago than there are now.

What changed? Give that man a vape cigarette! Amazon.

“The” Amazon is rainforest in South America; the “AmazonS” are a tribe of warrior women. So the name connotes both something large and frankly belligerent.

In a process reminiscent of the early days of Standard Oil, Amazon was able to operate at a loss for some time before turning a profit. Now it is turning a profit, and it sells not only books but pretty much everything else. I believe they specialize in kitchen sinks.

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The “a” Word: It Doesn’t Just Stand for “Autism”

The “a” Word: It Doesn’t Just Stand for “Autism”

The a Word, the series broadcast on Sundance Television this past summer, features some of the most accomplished acting and cleverest dialogue I’ve ever seen on television. It also boasts the noisiest kissing I’ve heard since my cousin’s 13th birthday party. BBC The a Word is based on an Israeli television drama, Yellow Peppers, and began its English-language life in Britain in March of this year before debuting in the U.S. in July. It begins on the birthday of five year old Joe. His parents, Paul and Alison, have planned (if you’ll excuse the pun) the mother of all parties, with an entertainer, games, and a cake that could double as a Disneyland ride. But Joe is less interested in the entertainer or even the cake than in dancing to his own private concert: He’s...

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How I Survived Junior High

How I Survived Junior High

They called it junior high back then: grades seven, eight and nine.
It’s middle school now (six, seven, eight), but in either model, they’re tough years for a lot of young people, or so I’m reliably informed.
They certainly were for me.
My grandfather died when I was eleven, and his death pulled the fatal jenga block out of the tower that had been my family: The entire structure collapsed. I had been the fussed-over girl-child in a sprawling extended family of great-aunts and uncles, cousins and second cousins, who gathered for holiday dinners. Suddenly I was the daughter of a single mother who, without her father, had a small nervous breakdown: She took to her bed and rarely left.

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Curious About the Curious Incident

Curious About the Curious Incident

(My review of the stage adaptation of the best-selling novel The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time first appeared in DifferentBrains.com, a website devoted to neuro-diversity.)
I didn’t think I would like Simon Stephens’ Broadway adaptation of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.

True, the play swept the 2015 Tony awards (tying the musical Fun Home for a total of five wins apiece). True, it was based on a novel that I had read (three times) and admired: Mark Haddon’s 2003 bestseller of the same name, one of the first novels to be narrated by a teenager on the spectrum.

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Write Your Novel in Mad Libs!

Write Your Novel in Mad Libs!

George Orwell, in 1984 (one of my favorite books, and I’ll leave you to wonder what that says about moi), predicted many horrors that have come to pass: government spying, “enhanced interrogation,” and strangling political correctness.  The prediction that hasn’t come true – yet – is factory-produced fiction (Winston Smith’s lover, Julia, repairs “the novel-writing machines”).  But when I saw how the auto-correct capability on my iPhone changed “cyxt” to “Hi there,” I realized that this final abomination cannot be far away. My anxiety seemed even more justified last week when I read about the HemingwayApp: a program that will scan your prose for adverbs and the use of passive voice.  Not that we shouldn’t be able to do this for ourselves, but we used to grow our...

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How to Not Fit In but Not Care

How to Not Fit In but Not Care

THIS REVIEW WAS ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN DIFFERENTBRAINS.COM ON AUGUST 4, 2016.
A few years ago my then-high-school-aged daughter asked me to buy her a laptop skin: It was an intricate drawing of bookshelves, featuring titles such as War and Peas and The Seven Pills of Wisdom.
When I saw it, I asked her if she’d mind if I bought one for my own laptop.
She minded.
But all things come to those who wait. I have my own copy now, because the same design is printed inside the covers of Colin Thompson’s new memoir, Fitting In. He didn’t have to ask anyone’s permission to use it, either, because he’s the artist.

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