Friday, May 25, 2018
Books

What's Claire Conner reading?

Claire Conner grew up "inside'' the John Birch Society, the anti-Communist, right-wing group started by Robert Welch in the 1950s. She was 12 when her parents became founding members of JBS, and she spent her teenage years wrapped up in their cause. Conner, a Dunedin resident, will be a featured author at the Tampa Bay Times Festival of Reading on Saturday at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg, where she will discuss her memoir, Wrapped in the Flag: A Personal History of America's Radical Right, which recounts her experiences and eventual break with her parents.

What books are on your nightstand?

It's funny you ask that. I just spent several days with my granddaughter (Madelyn Claire, who is 4 months old). We read all kinds of children's books, especially Dr. Seuss. I was really loving the language of Dr. Seuss and the messages of his books, in particular The Cat in the Hat. I love his words like: "This mess is so big and so deep and so tall, we cannot pick it up. There is no way at all.'' I realized that those lines remind me so much of what's happening in Washington right now.

Along with that, I've been reading The Grapes of Wrath. I haven't read it in a long time. It was very transformative to me when I read it in high school. I was born in 1945, after the Great Depression, but I heard many stories from adults on how beggars would come to the door of our Chicago apartment asking for food. That's how devastated the economy was, and the U.S. was, and there were no safety net programs. Steinbeck became powerful to me. That book did as much as any book in changing what the government should do to help people.

Did your parents stop you from reading certain books?

Well, actually most of the books I read, my parents did not approve of, but there was one particular high school teacher who had a shelf for advanced readers. She gave books to me to read. Because of her, I read classics like The Grapes of Wrath, The Pearl, Madame Bovary and The Catcher in the Rye.

How important of a role did books play when it came to your realization that you disagreed with your parents' beliefs?

They were everything. I think that fiction has an important way of making things real.

Comments
Notable: Books for the beach

Notable: Books for the beach

NotableBooks for the beachSuit up: It’s time for a few new books built for vacation reading.By Invitation Only (William Morrow) by Dorothea Benton Frank is the latest serving of Frank’s trademark warm humor and engaging characters, set around two wed...
Published: 05/25/18
Review: Family matters in David Sedaris’ ‘Calypso’

Review: Family matters in David Sedaris’ ‘Calypso’

David Sedaris gets right to the point in the opening of the first essay in his new book, Calypso: "Though there’s an industry built on telling you otherwise, there are few real joys to middle age. The only perk I can see is that, with luck, you’ll ac...
Published: 05/24/18
Review: Strait-laced writer Michael Pollan explores psychedelics, and leaves the door of perception ajar

Review: Strait-laced writer Michael Pollan explores psychedelics, and leaves the door of perception ajar

Microdosing is hot. If you haven’t heard — but you probably have, from reports of its use at Silicon Valley workplaces, from Ayelet Waldman’s memoir A Really Good Day, from dozens of news stories — to microdose is to take small amounts of LSD, which ...
Published: 05/24/18
Bancroft: Philip Roth deftly explored male lust, Jewish identity, American history and politics

Bancroft: Philip Roth deftly explored male lust, Jewish identity, American history and politics

Philip Roth, one of the most potent voices in American fiction, died Tuesday night of congestive heart failure in a New York City hospital. He was 85.Mr. Roth was the last man standing of a generation of fiction writers sometimes called "the great wh...
Published: 05/23/18

Events: Tarbell.org founder Wendell Potter to discuss, sign book

Book TalkTarbell.org founder Wendell Potter (Nation on the Take: How Big Money Corrupts Our Democracy and What We Can Do About It) will discuss and sign his book at 4 p.m. May 23 at the St. Petersburg Main Library, 3745 Ninth Ave. N.Applications are ...
Published: 05/21/18
The real stuff is how Tom Wolfe best used his write stuff

The real stuff is how Tom Wolfe best used his write stuff

Tom Wolfe’s best writing lifted real people into legend: car designers and astronauts and disciples of LSD. With that writing, Wolfe lifted himself into legend as well. The author of 16 books, including such bestsellers as The Right Stuff and ...
Published: 05/18/18
Review: In Stephen King’s ‘The Outsider,’ evil can’t be true but must be true

Review: In Stephen King’s ‘The Outsider,’ evil can’t be true but must be true

On a July day, Terry Maitland, one of the most popular men in Flint City, Okla. — high school English teacher, Little League coach, husband and father, recently named the town’s man of the year — attends a teachers convention in a city over an hour’s...
Published: 05/17/18

Events: Gilbert King to discuss ‘Beneath a Ruthless Sun’ at Inkwood in Tampa

Book TalkCutter Wood (Love and Death in the Sunshine State: The Story of a Crime) will discuss and sign his nonfiction book about a murder on Anna Maria Island at 6 p.m. May 14 at Bookstore1, 12 S Palm Ave., Sarasota.The Gulfport Historical Society p...
Published: 05/11/18
Notable: As Mother’s Day nears, these new books are timely

Notable: As Mother’s Day nears, these new books are timely

NotableMore about mothersFor Mother’s Day, three new books offer a range of takes on motherhood.Beauty in the Broken Places: A Memoir of Love, Faith, and Resilience (Random House) by Allison Pataki is a memoir by a novelist whose 30-year-old husband ...
Published: 05/11/18
Review: A criminal’s confession is just the beginning in Michael Koryta’s compelling ‘How It Happened’

Review: A criminal’s confession is just the beginning in Michael Koryta’s compelling ‘How It Happened’

It’s what every investigator hopes for: a tough case finally solved when one of the criminals confesses, providing solid details and even describing where the bodies are buried.Or, in Michael Koryta’s compelling new psychological thriller How It Happ...
Updated one month ago