Setting the table — March 1, 2023

Setting the table

For the second consecutive week, I’m beginning this-here post with a book reference. Deal with it, people. I’m a reader.

With that settled, here’s the reference. A character in Andrew Sean Greer’s second Less book – yes, I’m also making my second consecutive book series reference – explains to the title character that people made sport of her mother’s family. They regarded them as the type of people who couldn’t set a table.

Although I’m almost certain I was familiar with this phrase, I didn’t know the meaning until she explained that it implied her mother’s family didn’t have matching silverware or dinnerware and, thus, couldn’t set a proper table.

To be clear, I have matching silverware and dinnerware and, thus, can set a table. Of course, I had to discard a plate and a bowl after breaking them beyond repair on separate occasions. So, I can’t set a big table.

But when I think about a proper table, my mind goes to place mats, cloth napkins, and napkin rings. In other words, things I don’t own.

I have friends who do own and use them. When I stayed with my bestie, she served meals on a proper table complete with all the above. Whilst on the town with another friend, she searched for new place mats.

How did I get such fancy friends?

For a good chunk of my life, the only place mats I was familiar with featured mazes and word searches and were accompanied by crayons.

As for napkins…restaurants legit give them to you when you order takeout or food in a drive-thru. If you’re not too messy, you can accumulate napkins and use them for years. They also double as paper towels.

Notice I wrote variations of the word “you” twice in the sentence before last. Whilst I use restaurant napkins, I give my guests store-bought napkins because I do have some understanding of etiquette.

By the way, restaurants will also give you ketchup. I don’t eat ketchup, but I collect packets for guests. It’s the least I can do.

At this point, you might be saying to yourself, “Self, serving guests packets of ketchup from restaurants and giving them paper napkins is so gauche.”

I beg your pardon. I’m cheap, but I’m not gauche.

I’m also not the type of person who’s going to own napkin rings and place mats. That’s fine for my fancy friends. That’s who they are. But if they came to my house and I served a meal with cloth napkins, they’d suspect that the real me had been kidnapped.

Unless they asked for ketchup and I pulled out a packet I’d saved from Dorsie’s Dairy Bar.

This post originally appeared in the Appalachian News-Express.

Reading my thoughts, part two — January 11, 2023

Reading my thoughts, part two

Last week I named the best work of fiction I read in 2022. Now I shall share the title of the best work of nonfiction I read last year.

Before I do so, allow me to explain my process. I alternate between reading fiction and nonfiction books. Whilst reviewing my 2022 Goodreads book challenge, I realized that I didn’t care for most of the works of fiction on last year’s list. In fact, I didn’t complete five of them. Don’t tell Goodreads, though, because I marked them as completed. Do not judge me! The way I see it, I deserve the credit for the pain and suffering I endured whilst slogging through X percent of those boring books.

Last year’s nonfiction offerings were better. They were so good that I had trouble choosing among the best. I ultimately chose The Gatekeepers: How the White House Chiefs of Staff Define Every Presidency by Chris Whipple.

Yes, it’s a book about politics. So, if that’s not your thing, maybe you should quit reading this-here space and return for more of my nonsensible ramblings next week. Then again, maybe you should continue reading for my nonsensible ramblings about the book.

Anyway, on Goodreads, a user asked if The Gatekeepers is biased. Although a debate ensued, most respondents agreed that Whipple produced an unbiased and balanced book. I agree. He shares the strengths and weakness of the presidents and how these attributes guided their selections of chiefs. In turn, the chiefs helped shape policy.

Published in 2017, the book starts with President Richard Nixon’s chief of staff, H.R. Haldeman, regarded as the first modern chief. I was familiar with Haldeman so my education began with President Jimmy Carter’s free-wheeling first chief, Hamilton Jordan, who was better known as Ham. That nickname immediately endeared him to me.

I was skeptical upon reading Whipple’s description of Carter’s second chief, Jack Watson, as having movie star good looks. Let’s just say experience has taught me that men and women have differing opinions when it comes to men’s looks. But Whipple was not wrong about Watson’s looks. I consulted our friend Google for images of him and they reinforced my belief that Whipple was unbiased and balanced.

I also learned oodles about President Ronald Reagan’s chiefs. James Baker was the first and best, but Donald Regan – yes, Donald Regan worked for Ronald Reagan – was the most memorable. A drama king who loved attention, he feuded with first lady Nancy Reagan. In fact, he once hung up on her! Later, to exact revenge, he told people that she relied on astrology to plan the president’s schedule.

I didn’t think his antics could be topped … until I got to George H.W. Bush’s presidency. One of his chiefs kept coming to work after he was fired. The dude wouldn’t leave! I don’t have time or space to get into the reasons the president fired him.

And people say these kinds of books are boring!

Of course, I also learned oodles about policy and history. Although I dreaded reading about one significant part of recent history, when I arrived at that section, it was a page turner. It was amazing to read all the differing takes and see how Whipple wove everything together.

Politics might not be your thing, but if it is, Whipple’s book should be on your reading list.

This post originally appeared in the Appalachian News-Express.

Reading my thoughts, part one — January 4, 2023

Reading my thoughts, part one

Last year I shared the best fiction and nonfiction books I read in 2021. I shall now continue that newfangled tradition by naming my favorite (read) books of 2022.

The first book I read last year – The Magician’s Assistant by Ann Patchett – turned out to be my favorite. Here’s the skinny: I don’t understand a gosh dern thing about magic or card tricks and I have less than zero desire to learn. Mimes and puppets are about the only things that interest me less than magic. If I hadn’t read six of Patchett’s other novels, I wouldn’t have downloaded a book that featured a bunny rabbit on the cover.

But my bestie introduced me to Patchett’s Commonwealth a few years ago. The book legit drew me in on page one and never let me go. As is my way, I dedicated myself to reading as much of Patchett’s work as possible. In addition to Commonwealth, I highly recommend Bel Canto and Dutch House. I loved Dutch House so much that I almost regret reading it. No. That is not a misprint.

There are a couple Patchett books I’m meh about, including the one set in Kentucky. With that in mind, as well as my unenthusiastic feelings for magic, I didn’t know how I would feel about The Magician’s Assistant, which was published in 1997. One more thing. By the time I began the book, I had also forgotten the synopsis, so when I started reading it, I was about as ignorant as a person could be.

Just as with Commonwealth, Patchett drew me in on the first page of The Magician’s Assistant. I stubbornly refused to return to the synopsis, which I think enhanced my enjoyment of the book. I was asking myself questions like, “Self, who is this lady, Sabine? What is her deal? Why is she at a hospital? Who is the man she’s with? Oh, he’s her husband. Oh, my stars! He died!”

That is not a spoiler as the synopsis – the one I had forgotten – lays out the fact that Sabine, the magician’s assistant, is widowed when her husband, the magician, dies. That’s only the beginning of the story. What follows is the rawest depiction of grief I have ever read. There’s a passage where Sabine takes people from her husband’s past (I won’t spoil it and reveal how they’re connected to him) to places he frequented. The way one of them reacts haunts me. She’s wrecked by guilt and grief and all she wants is a connection with a loved one she lost years ago. There’s another passage where a teenage boy asks Sabine if a trick really was magic. His need to believe hurts my heart.

I don’t want to make The Magician’s Assistant, which takes readers from Los Angeles to Nebraska, sound like a weepy. It’s not a laugh fest, either, but it is a book full of good people. I miss those people. One criticism I’ve read is that Sabine is a boring protagonist who doesn’t do anything. Things just happen to her. Well, that’s not exactly true. But even if it were true, so what? She’s not a superhero. She, like the book’s other characters, is just a woman dealing with life the only way she knows how.

My favorite character in The Magician’s Assistant is Dot. Dot is wise. She knows you can’t make people do what’s in their best interest. The best you can hope for is that you get that sewing room you’ve always wanted.

Tune in next week for the title of the best nonfiction book I read in 2022.

This post originally appeared in the Appalachian News-Express.

It’s a mystery — November 9, 2022

It’s a mystery

As you might recall, a few years ago I penned a cozy mystery series. I decided to take a break from that and focus on a new series and a new set of characters.

Characters like these … A thrice-married aging bombshell. Her respectable sworn enemy. A scheming young executive. A long-absent father. A bored daughter with a secret romance.

These characters and others populate A Fatal Reception, An Ashton Arbor Mystery. As the first installment in the serialized saga begins, the beautiful Jenna and handsome Greg are preparing for their wedding, unaware a murder will mar their special day. With elements of a soap opera, the mystery features blackmail, double crossings, affairs, decades-long grudges, corporate espionage, and a whodunnit cliffhanger.

The book blends elements of two of my favorite genres – mysteries and soaps. In fact, I wrote the mystery because, like one of the characters in the book, I miss soap operas of my youth. Alas, unlike the character, no one could ever describe me as a bombshell.

You might be asking yourself, “Self, if this book contains elements of soaps, does this mean it will include an amnesiac evil twin who returns from the dead?”

Spoiler alert: There are no amnesiacs as well as no twins, evil or otherwise, in this book. I also don’t plan to raise characters from the dead in the series. Instead of focusing on those types of tropes, I want to celebrate the soapy goodness of betrayal, secrets, and lies.

A couple times whilst writing, I had ideas for character motivation or plot movement and said to myself, “Self, this is so soapy. Dare you include it?”

Spoiler alert: I absolutely did.

A Fatal Reception is different from my previous cozy mystery series in a few ways. For starters, it’s not set in Eastern Kentucky. Also, it’s not a cozy. But it’s cozy-adjacent. It’s certainly not a hardboiled mystery. After all, the murder occurs off stage. And while there are a few four-letter words here and there, it’s nothing I wouldn’t have heard on a soap when I was a wee lass.

There are also no explicit love scenes, so imagine my surprise when a friend who’s read the book described it as racy. Spoiler alert: It’s not racy. Maybe a little suggestive, but not racy.

Said friend redeemed himself when he told me that the story reminded him of soaps he watched with his mom. Huh. What do you know? That’s exactly the mood I wanted to create.

The ebook version of A Fatal Reception can be purchased at and the paperback at

This post originally appeared in the Appalachian News-Express.

Know your limits — September 28, 2022

Know your limits

As I’ve noted before in this-here space, I’ve become aware that my tastes have changed.

Indeed, I’ve realized in the past few years that, for the most part, I have trouble getting into a new TV series unless it features stories or characters with whom I’m already familiar. The Crown sheds a light on the British Royal Family, whom I’ve followed since the Diana years. The Mandalorian and Obi-Wan Kenobi continue the Star Wars saga, which I’ve followed for decades.

Occasionally I find myself enjoying a new show (see last week’s review of Abbott Elementary). Other recent exceptions are Hacks and Only Murders in the Building. But those last two feature actors I grew accustomed to dozens of years ago. Hacks revolves around Jean Smart, aka Designing Women’s Charlene Frazier Stillfield, whilst veteran actors Steven Martin and Martin Short lead the cast of Only Murders.

Anyway, I’ve also noticed that I avoid shows and movies with dark or disturbing themes. I’m not talking about the horror genre. I’ve never been a fan of that.

Here’s an example of a recent show I vetoed watching. Steve Carell, aka The Office’s Michael Scott, can currently be seen in Hulu’s The Patient. When a friend asked if I planned to watch the psychological thriller, in which a therapist is held captive by a patient who wants him to help cure his homicidal urges, I said no.

I’ve seen the ads for the show and it looks amazing. But I can’t watch things like that anymore.

I considered watching Yellowstone, but when I remembered that someone told me there were a lot of killings on the show, I decided to turn to my comfort zone — sports — instead.

Knowing that I watch Dateline and 48 Hours, folks recommend true life documentaries. I also pass on those because there’s only so much murder I can take.

But here’s what stumped me: I can still read books with dark or disturbing themes.

I recently shared the discovery of my aversion to watching shows and movies with dark or disturbing themes with a friend. When I told her that I can still read those kinds of books, she said, “Hmm.” Then, she studied on it and said it probably has something to do with seeing the action presented visually.

I studied on that and came up with a perfect case in point. I previously recommended to you, dear readers, Patrick Radden Keefe’s Empire of Pain: The Secret History of the Sackler Dynasty. The book delves into the damage wrought by OxyContin. It’s a great book. But you already know that if you followed my recommendation and read the book.

There’s a series on Hulu called Dopesick. Based on another book about the opioid industry, Dopesick fictionalizes the damage wrought by OxyContin. Michael Keaton, aka a Batman and the Beetlejuice, stars in the ensemble cast.

I will not even try to watch the show because I know my limitations.

This post originally appeared in the Appalachian News-Express.

Two timing — September 14, 2022

Two timing

Years ago, when I started riding a borrowed stationary bike for exercise, I struggled to get through a workout. I counted down the minutes because I was bored out of my mind. Listening to music and/or watching TV didn’t relieve the boredom.

So, I studied on the matter and decided to try reading whilst riding. It worked. Later, when I started walking inside my house – and eventually on a treadmill – I continued the practice.

It seemed so ingenious that I wondered why I hadn’t started reading whilst exercising years earlier. After all, I’m able to perform two worthwhile and self-helpful activities at once. Talk about a win-win.

But then I reminded myself that for years I walked outside with my late dog, the lovely and talented Mia Frances Goff. Reading whilst walking outdoors sounds dangerous. By the way, now that I’m used to reading whilst walking, I feel like I’m slacking if I walk outdoors. I feel like I should also be performing a secondary activity like folding laundry or changing a lightbulb.

Although reading whilst walking has enhanced my workouts, reading print books whilst walking offers challenges. Firstly, I must hold the book because it won’t fit on the treadmill. Secondly, I must turn the pages. Thirdly, as my hands become sweaty, I must deal with moistened pages. This ordeal represents one reason I’ve become a fan of ebooks in my advanced age. With one swipe I can turn a page on my device, which rests comfortably on the treadmill.

Other than the minor inconvenience caused by print books, I have identified only one problem with reading whilst exercising. On some days, I realize I just cannot walk for exercise. There’s no way I can raise one leg onto the treadmill, which offers a more demanding workout, or even put one foot in front of the other to walk inside the house. It’s too much to ask. It cannot be done.

Occasionally, this is due to mental exhaustion or a migraine. That’s understandable. But I’ve also come to realize that from time to time, it’s because I dread to read one more word of whatever book I’m reading.

It always takes me a few days to admit I no longer want to spend time with certain fictional characters or to continue inhabiting the nonfictional world I’ve entered. But when this realization finally dawns on me, I download another book and don my walking shoes.

Until I develop mental exhaustion, a migraine, or an aversion to whatever book I’m reading.

This post originally appeared in the Appalachian News-Express.

Event planner — May 11, 2022

Event planner

When I discover a writer whose work I enjoy, I make it a goal to read that writer’s entire bibliography.

Such was the case with Australian author Liane Moriarty. So excited was I when discovered her novel, Three Wishes, that I shared this find with my bestie. Imagine my surprise when said bestie told me she was familiar with Moriarty. My surprise deepened when I spied another of Moriarty’s novels, Big Little Lies, on a shelf in a coworker/friend’s office.

As it turned out, by the time I discovered her, Moriarty was not a relatively unknown writer who needed me to spread the word about her funny (and occasionally dark-ish), intricately-woven stories of suburban Australia.

Although Moriarty doesn’t need my help to garner readers, now that I have read her complete bibliography (well, at least the books geared toward adults), I have written mini reviews of each novel.

  • Three Wishes (2003): The book that introduced me to Moriarty, it remains my favorite. As is the case with most of her books, she begins with a traumatic event and works back and forth in time to reveal what lead to the traumatic event. Three Wishes’ traumatic event – an argument among thirtysomething triplet sisters that results in a fork protruding from the pregnant sister’s stomach – is told from the point of view of the triplets’ fellow diners in a fancy restaurant. By the way, one of the triplet’s names is Catriona. I pronounced it Cat-ree-on-uh whilst reading the book. It’s Catrina.
  • The Last Anniversary (2006): This is one of the few Moriarty books I don’t recommend. It centers around a woman who inherits a house from her ex-boyfriend’s aunt. The house is located on a mysterious island. I figured out the mystery by the end of the prologue and spent the book rolling my eyes at the characters for not seeing the obvious.
  • What Alice Forgot (2009): The traumatic event is that Alice falls during exercise class and bumps her head. When she wakes up, she’s a decade younger, but life has marched on. She’s frightened by her husband as well as the changes in her life and in herself. Moriarty’s books always have a deeper level and this one made me wonder if my younger selves would recognize the current me and if they would approve.
  • The Hypnotist’s Love Story (2011): This one doesn’t have a traumatic event or much of a mystery. It did make me chuckle, in part, because the hypnotist and her mom are serious eavesdroppers. They legit stop talking at dinner so they can listen to the conversation at the next table, which leads me to another thing I love about Moriarty. It’s like she’s in my head.
  • The Husband’s Secret (2013): I call this one the Easter book because the characters legit go all out for Easter. They hide eggs and/or candy the night before the holiday and I feared a kangaroo or a koala would snatch the candy. Alas, my major complaint about Moriarty is that no kangas or koalas make appearances. The traumatic event concerns a wife learning her husband has a secret. Hence, the title. This is one of her darker books, and it’s also one of her best books.
  • Big Little Lies (2014): Another dark one, it’s probably the most popular but not in my top three. The traumatic event, a parent’s death, occurs at a school’s trivia night. Oh, I should mention that I love how most of her male characters call one another “mate.”
  • Truly Madly Guilty (2016): The one fans refer to as the barbeque book, this is another one I don’t recommend. When I consider her books, I ask myself, “Self, did it hold your interest after she revealed the truth behind the traumatic event?” The answer with this book was “NO!” The characters bored me. I simply didn’t care.
  • Nine Perfect Strangers (2018): Controversial among fans, this book doesn’t have a traumatic event. Instead, Moriarty put nine people in a health resort run by a woman who might be a lunatic. I love the main character, Frances. She licks the inside of a candy wrapper to ensure no chocolate is left behind. Who among us hasn’t?
  • Apples Never Fall (2021): Controversial for the ending, this book entertained me. Joy Delaney has gone missing. That’s the traumatic event. As the book unfolds, we meet Joy, her husband of 50 years, their four adult children, and a mysterious young woman. The Delaneys are tall. When a character sees one of Joy’s daughters, she speculates that she’s fixing to perform the long jump. Get out of my head, Liane Moriarty, and write another book.

This post originally appeared in the Appalachian News-Express.

A good read and watch — April 20, 2022

A good read and watch

As a teen reader, I discovered the mysteries of Agatha Christie. And although I eventually read oodles of Christie’s books, I don’t think I ever figured out whodunit. (By the way, Christie’s And Then There Were None is one of only a handful of books I’ve read in one day. Indeed, I might have read it in one sitting. Yes, it’s that good.)

Anyway, even though I tried – and failed – to solve the mysteries, for me it was more about the characters and the settings. I enjoyed being transported from the holler to grand manors or English villages.

I thought of those books again recently after watching the most recent adaptations of two of Christie’s mysteries, Murder on the Orient Express and Death on the Nile.

Parts of both movies are boring, but overall they entertained me. I preferred Orient Express because I’ve always favored that story – it’s one of Christie’s most memorable – and because of the stunning shots of snowy mountains and landscapes.

Nile, as the title suggests, is set in Egypt and also features stunning shots. But most of them look like they were created by CGI (computer generated imagery) … because they were. Here’s the thing: CGI is kinda like wigs, hair extensions, and cosmetic surgery. If I notice them, then they must be really obvious.

My only other major complaint of both movies is with the character Hercule Poirot, played by Kenneth Branagh, who also directed the movies. In the books and earlier adaptations, the Belgian detective – the world’s greatest detective (he proclaims this statement frequently) – is conceited, egotistical, and mannered. In fact, David Suchet played him to perfection in the aptly-titled BBC series, Poirot.

Branagh’s Poirot, whilst conceited, egotistical, and mannered, is also so morose and devoid of any spark that, if not for his signature moustache and accent (and for the fact that everyone calls him Det. Poirot), I wouldn’t know who he was supposed to be.

These movies center around murder and death. Not exactly fun-filled times. And in the case of Orient Express, it’s a sad, sad story. I legit became emotional at one point whilst watching that flick. But most of Christie’s mysteries are so over-the-top and filled with such hyperbolic characters that I can’t take them seriously. This includes Nile. More than once whilst watching that flick, I legit rolled my eyes at the characters’ hysterics.

So I’d really like Poirot to be outrageous as well and not constantly moping around with a bad case of the sads. (I’ve read that another adaptation of another book with another actor features an even sadder Poirot. I implore filmmakers and actors to please stop this nonsense.)

Nevertheless, I recommend the Branagh movies. And, of course, Christie’s books. I’m happy to report that after I watched the films, I advised a younger person in my life to read Orient Express. She took my advice.

As should you.

This post originally appeared in the Appalachian News-Express.

Read all about it, part two — January 5, 2022

Read all about it, part two

Last week when I shared the best nonfiction books I read during 2021, I promised that this week I’d share the best works of fiction I read last year.

Before I do so, allow me to impart deep thoughts I’ve developed about annual reading challenges. As I reviewed all the books I read last year, I said to myself, “Self, a reading challenge serves as a good metaphor for a year. When you begin a new year, you have no idea what adventures and challenges await you. When you begin a reading challenge, you have no idea what books await you.”

Unless, of course, you’ve selected every book you’ll read that year in advance. But don’t do that because you’ll upend my metaphor.

Anyway, the best works of fiction I read last year were the first two installments in Swedish writer Fredrik Backman’s Beartown series.

The first book, the aptly-titled Beartown, was published in the United States in 2017. I learned of its existence in 2021 upon my bestie’s recommendation. In Beartown, Backman tells the story of a despairing town, the aptly-titled Beartown, and how the town’s residents have pinned their wishes, hopes, and dreams on the junior hockey league. (There’s also an HBO series based on the book.)

Although I’m a sports fan, I watch hockey only during the Olympics. When the teams ran plays in the book – are they called plays in hockey? – I didn’t understand what was going on. What’s more, I never fully understood the structure of the hockey leagues.

But I understood Backman’s characters. I felt them. I worried about the fate of one character so much that, upon learning the second book had already been published, I told self we would not be reading it. The way I saw it, if said character suffered a tragic fate, he would do so without my knowledge.

But I woke one morning and realized I owed it to that character and the others to see them through to the end. My bestie lent me her copy of book two, Us Against You, and I returned to that despairing town and to its desperate and damaged residents.

At times, I regretted my decision because the story made me sad and/or angry. But as I wrote last week, emotion is good. Besides, at other times, the book made me laugh and smile.

I still worry about that one character, though. With one book to go, I stress over his fate. Backman has released the book in Sweden and, reportedly, it will be published in the U.S. this year.

I hope those reports are true or I’ll be learning Swedish.

This post originally appeared in the Appalachian News-Express.

Read all about it, part one — December 29, 2021

Read all about it, part one

Every year since I’ve joined Goodreads, I’ve participated in a reading challenge on the website. (Pro tip: The key to completing your reading challenge is to set a ridiculously easy goal to achieve. You’re welcome.)

And every year as I look back on my year in review, I select the best books I’ve read during said year. But I’ve never shared those books with anyone but me.

Until now.

This week I’ll share a couple of the best nonfiction books I read during the year; next week I’ll share a couple of the best works of fiction I read.

Just because a book lands on my best-read list doesn’t mean it’s among the best books published that year. Of course, I’m starting with a book published in 2021 – Patrick Radden Keefe’s Empire of Pain: The Secret History of the Sackler Dynasty.

Keefe tells the story of how the Sackler dynasty began – from the humble beginnings and hopes of immigrants in pre-World War I – to how it amassed wealth – from medical advertising and pharmaceutical sales.

But not just any pharmaceutical sales. The family served as principal owners of Purdue Pharma, which started selling OxyContin in 1996.

Purdue marketed OxyContin as a miracle non-addictive opioid with a 12-hour release coating. It was supposed to help folks with chronic pain manage that pain without fear of addiction.

As Keefe, an investigative reporter, lays out in Empire of Pain via company memos and emails as well as public documents, high-ranking executives, including some Sacklers, knew OxyContin was being abused as early as 1997.

Yet, the company kept pushing it. People kept overdosing. People kept losing loved ones. People kept losing jobs. People kept breaking into pharmacies as well as other businesses and homes to steal pills and money to feed their addictions. People kept losing themselves to those addictions.

Meanwhile, the Sacklers kept getting richer.

The book made me sad and angry, but mostly angry. I annoyed a friend with frequent updates about those expletive Sacklers.

So, why am I recommending a book that made me sad and angry? Because emotion is good. Because we need to know what happened. Because if I hadn’t read the book, I wouldn’t have been inspired by Nan Goldin.

Who’s Nan Goldin, you ask?

I guess you’ll have to read the book for an answer to that question.

Keefe also wrote the other nonfiction book I’m recommending – Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland. No joke. Comments on a message board dedicated to viewers of The Crown, a TV show about the British royal family, led me to Say Nothing. I was so impressed with Keefe that I sought out other works by him, learned about Empire of Pain, and put a hold on the-then work in progress.

Released in 2018, Say Nothing, according to our friends at the Wikipedia, “focuses on The Troubles in Northern Ireland, beginning with the 1972 abduction and murder of Jean McConville.”

Say Nothing also made me sad and angry. Sometimes, I’ll be sitting around, and I’ll think about Jean McConville and get sad and/or angry.

Again, why am I recommending this book? Because emotion is good. Because Jean McConville should not be forgotten. Because what happened to Jean’s children after her murder should not be forgotten. Because The Troubles should not be forgotten.

What are The Troubles, you ask?

I guess you’ll have to read the book for an answer to that question.

This post originally appeared in the Appalachian News-Express.