Yona Zeldis McDonough

  • culture June 12, 2009

    The Bird Catcher by Laura Jacobs

    Laura Jacobs is an urban miniaturist. In her sleek, pitch-perfect second novel, The Bird Catcher, she lavishes delectable attention on the subtle distinctions wrought by taste, class, money, and style in the city on which she trains her eagle eye. But there is nothing diminutive in her vision: Under the force of her piercing, halogen-bright gaze, the world cracks open, large and luminous.

    Her latest protagonist, thirty-one-year-old Margaret Snow, is quietly but desperately trying to keep her head above water. A dropout from the graduate art-history program at Columbia University, Margaret now

  • Hurry Down Sunshine

    Memoirs proliferate like kudzu,” wrote Randy Cohen in a recent issue of the New York Times Magazine. A quick perusal of the next week’s book review confirmed his assertion: memoirs of a drunken dad, of eating in China, of marriage to a Maori, and of the death of a child. Memoirs that chronicle divorce, widowhood, spiritual quests, and the renovation of charming properties in Tuscany and the south of France fairly explode from bookstore windows; Jeannette Walls’s The Glass Castle has been ensconced on the best-seller list for more than 128 weeks—and counting. Memoirs, it seems, are us.



    In 1911, five members—father, mother, two sons, teenage daughter—of a family of six are murdered in their North Dakota home. Only a baby girl, whose crib is hidden from sight, survives the massacre. Four Indians selling handmade willow baskets stumble on the carnage; they are accused of the killings and, in a brutal instance of what their accusers dub “rough justice,” are hung within a day. The youngest is a boy of thirteen named Holy Tracks. It is these murders—by shotgun, by blade, and at the end of a rope—that form the fulcrum of Louise Erdrich’s powerful, if flawed, twelfth novel, The Plague