Midtown Reader Blog

Abdi Nor Iftin Explains What It Means to "Call Me American"

How much do you know about Somalia? The extent of information I possess about Somalia is that it’s a country in Africa, and there are often pirates off its coast. I also know it has the longest coastline on Africa’s mainland, but only thanks to Wikipedia. Abdi Nor Iftin knows most people don’t know anything about his homeland, which is one of many reasons he wrote his memoir, Call Me American. It’s a story about growing up in Somalia and of his journey to America in search of peace. By turns harrowing and heartfelt, Iftin takes his audience through the terrors of hiding from recruiters for the Somalian army, the incredulity of winning a lottery that placed him on a short list for an American

Jessica Handler and The Magnetic Girl

Jessica Handler, author of newly released The Magnetic Girl, said she’s always narrated her life, whether through journals she writes in extensively or the very involved and informative letters she used to write her friends when they were away at summer camp. Her first books, Invisible Sisters: A Memoir and Braving the Fire, are based on her experiences and are powerful works told with raw emotion and insight. But The Magnetic Girl is different. It’s a work of historical fiction based on the life story of Lulu Hurst, a young vaudeville performer in the early 20th century whose “tests” of mysterious magnetic capabilities left people captivated…and conned. This is part of the reason Handler wa

"Ruby Red" by Alejandro Osuna, Story Slam Winnder

Before I was in college, before I learned the difference between gin and genever, before I learned that wine coolers weren’t really filled with wine, before I learned that drinking was what the cool high school kids did, I learned that drinking was something that I should never do. Not because I was young. No, not because of my age, but because of what it did to people, what it drove people to do, both things that I couldn’t understand at that time. But my mom said it was a bad thing, and that’s all it took for me to never want to touch it. Before I learned any swears, before I learned how to shoot the shit with my friends, before I learned how to not fall asleep in class, I learned through

Christina Ray Stanton with a Memoir of 9/11

The attack on the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001 was, essentially, our generation’s Pearl Harbor. If it happened during your lifetime, you can remember exactly where you were when you heard the news; many of us watched it happen on television and can remember seeing that second plane hit the tower and watching the buildings collapse. We were scared, confused, angry and devastated. But many of us watched and experienced from a distance. Not so with author Christina Ray Stanton, who lived with her husband and her dog a mere six blocks from the World Trade Center. Who watched it unfold right before her eyes. Who breathed in the dust and heard the screams and the sirens. Stanton’s book, Ou

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