Arts & Culture

Book Reviews: November 2019

The latest from Brian Kuebler and Katherine Cottle.


The Long Blink: The True Story of Trauma, Forgiveness, and One Man’s Fight for Safer Roads

Brian Kuebler (Behler Publications)

In his debut book, WMAR News’ investigative reporter Brian Kuebler pens the true story of a Baltimore family torn apart by tragedy, after a trucker falls asleep at the wheel and kills Ed Slattery’s wife and leaves his son disabled. We watch as a stunned Ed grapples with his new life in the wake of such a horrific event and how he moved through his grief to help heal not just those closest to him but others affected by trucking accidents. He rises from victim to activist, going to Capitol Hill to fight for safer trucking laws. But underneath his fight change, this is a story about how one man survived devastating trauma and used his pain to help others. The Long Blink is the epitome of a page-turner. Once you pick it up, don’t expect to put it down until you’ve reached its very shocking and explosive end.


The Hidden Heart of Charm City: Baltimore Letters and Lives

Katherine Cottle (Apprentice House Press)

Perhaps the best way to understand a place is through firsthand accounts of those who have lived there—and specifically letters, which often reveal not just moments in time but truths that might not otherwise be stated aloud. In this fascinating book, author Katherine Cottle outlines centuries of letter-writing to and from Baltimore that help to define the city and its inhabitants, which have included some of America’s most fascinating minds—among them Scott and Zelda, W.E.B. Du Bois, Thurgood Marshall, and Edgar Allan Poe.

From political tactics to unrequited love, anecdotes within these correspondences reveal the complexity of such figures as Eleanor Roosevelt—who exchanged thousands of passionate letters with friend and journalist Lorena Hickok. Other letters reveal Baltimore as seen through the lens of such luminaries as Frederick Douglass, Mark Twain, and Ralph Waldo Emerson, all of whom saw both its appeal and detriment and wrote about its contradictory nature. The only drawback to such descriptions is that they might leave the reader wanting to read the actual letters in their entirety, and they are not included here. Rather, through Cottle’s detailed synthesis to provide a survey of the historical context and importance of various letters, the book includes short excerpts and serves as a great jumping-off point to understand the lifeblood of this city.