PAPER TRAIL: Common Sense in Uncommon Times

Ellen Goodman, Author . Simon & Schuster $25 (384p) ISBN 978-0-7432-4919-5

Goodman's new anthology of columns reads like a much more personal and slightly more literary Andy Rooney script. The 25-year veteran newspaper columnist expertly breaks our complex world into digestible food for thought. Further, she treats all of her wide-ranging subjects with a refreshing sense of humility and conviction. Goodman, a writer unafraid to acknowledge the nuances involved in politics, technology and culture, doesn't write beautifully, but perhaps she does something even rarer: she writes like she means it. In this collection spanning the early 1990s to today, she addresses most of our times' seminal controversies, such as the Clintons, September 11 and Viagra. She shines when calling the media to task, revealing what she sees as exaggerations and misconceptions involved in reporting on the Middle East, child abduction, welfare and the disintegrating nuclear family. Goodman recalls a telling moment: she was "up to my elbows in Thanksgiving prep" when a reporter called and asked her to comment on the "decline and fall of the American family." She writes, "Standing in my kitchen, covered in homebaked proof of my holiday excess, I wonder if those of us who are connected by bonds of DNA, marriage, affection and above all else, commitment, can forget for awhile that we're supposed to be falling apart." Dedicated fans will find it fascinating, and a little eerie, to revisit some of Goodman's columns from the 1990s, like "The Hidden Women of Afghanistan," where she all but predicts the breakdown of that society. For those who don't know Goodman's work, here is the chance to learn. (Mar.)

Reviewed on: 01/05/2004
Release date: 02/01/2004
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 384 pages - 978-1-4391-0429-3
Paperback - 384 pages - 978-1-4165-7830-7
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