Monday, October 26, 2020

The Night Swim (Megan Goldin)

Because of the cover and description, I went into Megan Goldin's The Night Swim thinking that it was going to be a psychological thriller. Instead, it's more of a crime drama that you might see on television -- with some surprises, but mostly predictable twists.

Rachel Krall hosts a true crime podcast, with each series of the podcast covering a particular trial. This time, she is in Neopolis for a rape trial. Here, a star swimmer and Olympic hopeful is on trial for raping another high school student. In between covering the trial, she also begins receiving letters from Hannah Stills, whose sister Jenny was brutally raped and murdered in the same town twenty-five years ago. Hannah asks Rachel for help in finally bringing her sister's murderer to justice. While investigating, Rachel finds startling connections between the two cases. 

Goldin covers the topic of rape with sensitivity, however, I didn't find the writing very powerful. As I said, I expected more suspense. All in all, I found The Night Swim to be very average.



Saturday, October 3, 2020

The Best Presidential Writing: From 1789 to the Present (Edited by Craig Fehrman)

America’s near 250-year history as a nation has changed dramatically in how the presidency has been viewed and used by the men who have occupied the office. Their words, or words that have been written for them, reveal much about how they thought, why they acted the way they did, and their beliefs in governing and leadership.

Craig Fehrman has chronicled many of their speeches and excerpts from past books for a collection of The Best Presidential Writing.  While not every White House occupant was granted a seat at this table (sorry James Buchanan and Zachary Taylor, among two examples), many consequential speeches and excerpts from presidential writing were. Fehrman takes great care in showing the reader how the presidency evolved, not only in how they viewed themselves and wrote about themselves, but also in the manner and tone of speeches and addresses that they delivered.

I enjoyed reading The Best Presidential Writing, as it was a reflection of us as a nation, its continual evolution, and how we still have so far to go to become the “more perfect Union” that was outlined in the Constitution’s preamble. Fans of history and biographies will enjoy Fehrman’s curation of writing and speeches and how the story of our nation evolves and is shaped through these men's words.