"You've got spunk," Lou Grant says to Mary Richards on the very first episode of The Mary Tyler Moore Show. And then he adds, famously, "I hate spunk." The year is 1970, the same year in which Jeannette Walls set her new novel, The Silver Star. In the book, someone tells the 12-year-old narrator, Bean Holladay, that she's got spunk too. Maybe it's no coincidence. 1970, after all, was situated squarely in the middle of second-wave feminism. It was an era when women and girls were asserting themselves and finding their voices, which weren't always met with approval.
My summer reading preferences are so particular they have, at times, stopped me from reading at all. I need a romance for a train trip — for obvious reasons. When it's hot, I prefer something with no climate congruence at all; I've never enjoyed Anna Karenina so much as I did on the beach (that romance is a train exception — er ... for obvious reasons). When I'm on a plane trip, I like a passel of good young-adult novels, filled with cliffhangers, reversals and quick emotion. It's a mood makeover in flight.
Cliburn medalists Beatrice Rana, second place winner; Vadym Kholodenko, first place winner; and Sean Chen, third place winner, receive applause from the audience at the final awards ceremony at the 14th Van Cliburn International Piano Competition on Sunday.
In Sanford, Florida, jury selection begins today in the murder trial of George Zimmerman. The neighborhood watch volunteer is charged with the shooting death of a 17-year-old, Trayvon Martin, last year. Police, at first, declined to charge Zimmerman because of Florida's Stand-Your-Ground law. It gives immunity to people who use deadly force in self defense.