This week at Lenny Letter, we're getting lost in the pages of Still Life With Bread Crumbs by Anna Quindlen and Truevine: Two Brothers, a Kidnapping, and a Mother's Quest: A True Story of the Jim Crow South by Beth Macy. Read our reviews to find out why!More
Whenever I am most anxious, I like to re-read things I've read before. There's something calming about reading a story where you know what's going to happen – the emotional stakes are very low. As my election anxiety reaches a fever pitch, I have returned to the gentle Anna Quindlen novel Still Life With Bread Crumbs. The stakes are already pretty low in this warm read: It's about an older woman artist who has decided to move to the country, and the book is mainly about the relationships that she makes in her adopted rural home. It's like a nice literary klonopin after high-stress days refreshing fivethirtyeight.com.
Beth Macy's Truevine: Two Brothers, a Kidnapping, and a Mother's Quest: A True Story of the Jim Crow South is a mesmerizing and compassionate telling of the George and Willie Muse story. The Muse Brothers of Virginia were African Americans whose albinism led to fame on the sideshow circuit at the turn of the century. Through interviews with their descendants, Roanoke locals, and previously forgotten archives, Macy pieces together a captivating biography of the men once billed by Barnum as "Ambassadors of Mars." An inarguable page-turner, Truevine is a fascinating and shocking account of Jim Crow's legacy and America's strange (and often brutal) past.