Photo by Christopher Rose from Flickr Creative Commons
July 23rd, 2013 | 8:00am

My old man taught me to drive on Sundays, usually when he was drunk.  I was fifteen and he was a big shot on the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard, the head engineer of combat systems on nuclear submarines and surface ships. During the work week he was a sober, respectable member of the community, but on weekends he lived an entirely different life, which included bouts of sullen, angry drunkenness and unpredictable fights with my mother. He often gave me a driving lesson after one of their battles, when he was still brooding and slugging off a bottle of Wild Turkey.  He’d insist we drive over to a small strip of land just off Honolulu, a place the locals called Rabbit Island, even though there wasn’t a wild rabbit anywhere in the Hawaiian Islands that I knew of.

Photo by Gashwin Gomes of Flickr Creative Commons
July 22nd, 2013 | 8:00am

We came to the Dead Sea as an afterthought, five of us wedged into one taxi on our way to the airport. So far we had spent our Jordanian daylight inside a conference room, listening to other Fulbright scholars present research about the Middle East and North Africa, and our evenings in large group dinners comparing notes. Within hours, my new friends would scatter back to Morocco, Oman, and Israel, and I would return to my temporary home in the city of Al Ain in the United Arab Emirates. The conference had been delicious and heady claustrophobia, like interval training for academics. We acquired and processed new information, alternating between externalized and internalized thought, acquisition and analysis, as if variety could substitute for rest. What I’m saying is that we were a certain kind of tired. When we unhooked ourselves from the backseat of the taxi, language was beginning to hurt.

Photo from Amazon.com
July 19th, 2013 | 8:00am

Our July poetry feature celebrates the distinguished career of The Common contributor John Matthias with a selection of several of his poems from the last five decades. This year Shearsman Books completes the publication of the collected poems of John Matthias in three volumes:  Collected Shorter Poems, Vol. 2 (1995-2011), Collected Longer Poems, and Collected Shorter Poems, Vol. 1 (1961-1994).

Photo from Amazon.com

Photo by Flickr Creative Commons user bellatujewelry
July 17th, 2013 | 8:00am

I can only assume that Stellwagen Bank is a financial institution. Perhaps a progressive Norwegian firm with a board of directors that is, by law, at least fifty percent women. The kind of bank that would sponsor a football club in Trondheim and a chain of internet cafés in Toronto, as well as a tour of the National Marine Sanctuary from Provincetown’s MacMillan Wharf. A global thought leader. A benevolent presence at Davos.

But no. Mercifully.

 

reviewed by Jen Hinst-White
July 15th, 2013 | 8:00am

My family eats a Long Island diner breakfast every Saturday morning. We say hi to our neighbor, Lucille, who waits tables; our toddler jabs at the jukebox as my husband orders the Hungry Man; we try to ignore the flat-screen on the wall, which is unfailingly tuned to Fox News. Luckily, there’s good eavesdropping to be done. What we overhear from nearby tables usually beats Sarah Palin stumping for the flat tax.

Beverly Gologorsky knew what she was about when she chose a diner as the center of her new novel, Stop Here. I’d wager there’s a diner at every exit on the Long Island Expressway, and they’re rich with fictional possibility. More than other restaurants, somehow, diners feel like places to talk politics, hash out family conflicts, make business plans, cement friendships—and Gologorsky serves up all of these in her novel Stop Here.