The typical response among Clevelanders of the era was to shrug. Leading up to the 1969 fire, there was utilitarian attitude toward the Cuyahoga. It was a natural resource to be exploited and managed for commercial purposes, like timber or coal or oil.
The mentality can be traced to the city’s founding. Moses Cleaveland, who stepped off his bateau after a Lake Erie voyage and plopped his boots on the Cuyahoga’s banks more than 200 years ago, would have recognized the moneymaking potential of the river. It was inhospitable then — two men in Cleaveland’s party, searching for food, found only a snake, which they boiled and ate — but its location between the mercantile East and the raw goods of the pioneer West made it ripe for development. “The junction of these two, the river and lake, had to be the site of a city,” Plain Dealer columnist George Condon wrote in 1967.
Beef noodle soup is widely considered the national dish of modern Taiwan, assembled from the island’s tumultuous history, celebrated with an annual festival in Taipei and fought over in a cooking competition with multiple winning categories. But it is only one of countless dishes that make Taiwan’s cooking remarkable and rewarding.
Much of its cuisine can be traced to somewhere else, but — like the United States — Taiwan has experienced so many transformations of demography and sovereignty, technology and taste, that the food now has its own identity.
“We call them Bunnies because that is what they call each other,” explains Samantha Heather Mackey, the narrator of Mona Awad’s new novel, “Bunny.” “Seriously. Bunny. … Bunny, I love you. I love you, Bunny.”
Awad does so many things right in “Bunny,” her follow-up to her 2016 debut novel, “13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl.” “Bunny” functions perfectly as both a dark academic satire and a creepy horror novel, and Awad threads them both seamlessly — she can make the reader laugh out loud in one paragraph, and cringe with fear in the next.
That deft orchestration of absurdity and existential dread distinguishes Ciment's style. That's why the situation of Ciment's latest novel, The Body in Question, is so perfectly suited to her powers as a novelist. She's writing here about jurors — bored, drowsy and horny jurors — sequestered together as they serve on a gruesome high profile murder case in Central Florida. The droll and the horrifying mingle in the flat air of the courtroom and the limbo of the juror's lounge.
Please don’t let the obscure source material of “The Porpoise” scare you away. I promise its intimidating tangle of backstories will yield to your interest, and its structural complications will cohere in your imagination. The result is a novel just as thrilling as it is thoughtful.