Tuesday, May 02, 2017


WWW.WEDNESDAY asks three questions to prompt you to speak bookishly. To participate, and to see how other book lovers responded, click here.

1. What are you currently reading? On Borrowed Time by Jenn McKinlay. This is a one in a series of mysteries set in a small waterfront community in Connecticut. Our heroine, Lindsey, is the town librarian. Her apartment is in a big house, where her landlady lives downstairs, bakes delicious-smelling cookies and is happy to care for Lindsey's dog. Lindsey regularly meets her friends at the Blue Anchor, the kind of bar where everyone knows your name and they're always glad you came. If I sound like I'm poking fun, it's at myself for enjoying this series. It's depicts an idyllic small-town life I suspect doesn't exist but is fun and comforting to imagine. 

Anyway, in this installment (#5), Lindsey gets an unexpected visit from her brother, who mysteriously drifts into her life and complicates it. As one who never had, but always longed for a brother, I'm enjoying the interplay between them. And, speaking of brothers, I recently finished a book that couldn't be more different ...

2. What did you recently finish reading? In Love with Night by Ronald Steel. This book takes what Bobby Kennedy now stands for -- an end to poverty and a voice for the dispossessed -- and puts it in real-time context. The coalition he built in 1968 fascinates me because I believe it would have carried the day in 2016. Bobby was a hero to the young, minorities and blue collar whites. He was not the darling of "the elites," the  smear on Bernie Sanders, and he wasn't considered the "party establishment," the way Hillary Clinton is. In 1968, those roles were played by Eugene McCarthy and Hubert Humphrey, respectively. Bobby was in his own lane. The nearest thing to him we have today is Joe Biden.

But Joe Biden wasn't our martyred president's brother. As much affection as the Vice President has garnered, it's not the unbridled passion Bobby inspired. The way Kennedy's personal grief fused with the traumatized nation's was powerful ... and not entirely his doing. To quote the book's last line, "The Bobby Myth is our creation, not his."

An examination of how/why Bobby Kennedy remains an icon of liberal politics, In Love with Night is less a biography than a 240-page editorial. I'm glad it concentrates on Bobby's policies and behind-the-scenes maneuvers, not whether or not he shtupped Marilyn. It's on solid ground when it explores the tougher and often ugly side to RFK's emphasis on action and victory. I appreciate how it compares and contrasts emotional, angry RFK and cool, ironic JFK. But for all the attention it pays to Bobby's relationships with his mother, his father and the Catholic Church and how they shaped him, it makes scant mention of his marriage or his 11 children (Ethel was pregnant when he died). I assume his own brood had some impact on him, especially since the family of his genesis influenced him massively.

3.  What will you read next? I don't know.