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Book Club Meeting No. 2: ‘Grand Central Winter’

Welcome to our second Literary Minds Online Book Club meeting.

Last week we discussed “Divided Minds, Twin Sisters and Their Journey Through Schizophrenia.” Some commenters read the book and weighed in their impressions. Others just participated in the conversation about mental health in general. Either way works for our book club, where the point is awareness and enlightenment about mental health.

In case you missed the first meeting, or you wanted a refresher on the back story of this book club, you can catch up here. Once again I thank the Shasta County Health and Human Services Agency, and its Community Education Committee, which came up with this idea just for aNewsCafe.com readers.

Now, let’s move onto this week’s book, ‘Grand Central Winter: Stories from the Street,” by Lee Stringer.

Of the three books I’ve read thus far in the book club (don’t worry, I just got one book ahead — you’re not behind), “Grand Central” started as my favorite. I liked Stringer’s writing style, his no b.s. way of telling a story, and the way he set out details.

Basically, Stringer’s a crack addict who once had a job and an apartment. But eventually he loses everything and ends up living on the streets of New York for more than 12 years.

He begins writing by accident, when he uses a small pencil to help tamp down his pipe. He writes about everything, even in the middle of his drug years. By the book’s end, he’s kicked drugs, but this is not your typical gutter-to-God story.

I was so struck by his intelligence, and I had to fight my tendency to extrapolate and think that smart people don’t end up like “that,” and to remind myself that there but for the grace of God …

Reading this book caused me to look a bit more closely at the homeless people I see in our town, to imagine what their lives were like before they took to the streets.

Readers, what were your impressions of this book?

What are your thoughts about homelessness in the North State? 

While you ponder those questions, remember that next week we’ll discuss “Breaking the Silence,” by Mariette Hartley.

 Independent online journalist Doni Greenberg founded what’s now known as anewscafe.com in 2007 with her son, Joe Domke of the Czech Republic. Prior to 2007 Greenberg was an award-winning newspaper opinion columnist, feature and food writer recognized by the Associated Press, the California Newspaper Publishers Association and E.W. Scripps. She lives in Redding, CA.

A News Cafe, founded in Shasta County by Redding, CA journalist Doni Greenberg, is the place for people craving local Northern California news, commentary, food, arts and entertainment. Views and opinions expressed here are not necessarily those of anewscafe.com.

Doni Chamberlain

Independent online journalist Doni Chamberlain founded A News Cafe in 2007 with her son, Joe Domke. Chamberlain holds a Bachelor's Degree in journalism from CSU, Chico. She's an award-winning newspaper opinion columnist, feature and food writer recognized by the Associated Press, the California Newspaper Publishers Association and E.W. Scripps. She's been featured and quoted in The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, L.A. Times, Slate. Bloomberg News and on CNN, KQED and KPFA. She lives in Redding, California.

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