What We Are Reading Today: Air Traffic by Gregory Pardlo

Updated 22 April 2019
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What We Are Reading Today: Air Traffic by Gregory Pardlo

  • The author examines the ramifications of the episode on his family’s legacy, then expands to consider questions of race, addiction and fatherhood

Air Traffic is a courageously written book that chronicles among other things Gregory Pardlo’s complex relationship with members of his family, particularly his father and younger brother.

Gregory Pardlo’s father was one of the thousands of air traffic controllers fired in 1981 by President Ronald Reagan. The author examines the ramifications of the episode on his family’s legacy, then expands to consider questions of race, addiction and fatherhood.

Pardlo “is a talented writer and he examines so many issues in this memoir — race, economics, manhood, addiction, family and sibling relationships, marriage and parenthood,” says a review published in goodreads.com. A review published in The New York Times, Janet Maslin said: “The book is centered on the troubled relationship between the author and his father, although it roams freely in many other directions ... Simple description does not do Pardlo’s story justice; only his own sublime words can achieve that.” The review added: “When Pardlo won the Pulitzer in 2015 for his collection Digest, the citation praised his ‘clear-voiced poems that bring readers the news from 21st-century America, rich with thought, ideas and histories public and private.’ Replace the word ‘poems’ with the word “essays,” and you have an apt description of the second part of Air Traffic.”


What We Are Reading Today: A Good American Family

Updated 16 July 2019
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What We Are Reading Today: A Good American Family

Author: DAVID MARANISS

A Good American Family is biographer David Maraniss’s look at a subject very close to his heart: His father.
“This is an eye-opening book about an American family that was affected by the Red Scare of the 1940s and 1950s,” said a review in goodreads.com.
The author’s father was accused of being a communist. The book traces the effects of this on the Maraniss family and sets the larger context of the Red Scare, according to the review.
The author “does a great job of bringing the impact on people and families labeled as ‘unamerican’ home to the reader,” the review added.
In a review for The New York Times, critic Kevin Baker said: “For all of Maraniss’s research, a mystery remains at the heart of A Good American Family: Just what were his parents, and especially his father, doing in the Communist Party in the first place? This is a question Maraniss cannot answer, because his parents, for one reason or another — shame? embarrassment? an effort to spare their children? — rarely spoke of it.”