December 2007

It was been a wonderful first year of marriage. But it did not start out so wonderful. On New Year's Eve, 2006, we received a call from the Block Island Police Department. James's dad, Carl, had been airlifted off of the Island and rushed to Rhode Island Hospital in Providence. The diagnosis: hemorrhagic stroke. James is Carl's health care proxy and power of attorney, so we spent much of the first half of 2007 attending to Carl's rehabilitation (two treatment centers) and eventual relocation (to a retirement community in Mystic, Connecticut).

It was a difficult winter. But about three months after the stroke, Carl started to show dramatic improvement. It wasn't luck: he worked hard at it. His balance returned and he began to walk--with a walker, a cane, and finally on his own. His speech also came back, a word at a time, finally full sentences, and with that came his smile and his sense of humor. Doctors on the scene put Carl's chance of recovery at 20 percent. But Carl beat the odds. His stroke is now a year behind us, and so this holiday season we honor his perseverance and strength. He did it! You can read our journal of Carl's recovery, as well as other family news, at our weblog

There's more good news. Dara landed a great new job. She is now an online editor at Commentary magazine, where she edits and writes for the magazine's blogs. Here is one of her recent postings. Commentary has an over 60-year history as an influential intellectual journal of politics and culture. Dara also continues to find time to work on her own writing; most recently a poem appeared in the New York Sun.

This year Dara also gained una sobrina, a niece, Olivia, who lives in Barcelona. Dara's brother Ricky and sister in law Monica have just opened their second Delishop store in Barcelona, where they sell gourmet food from around the world.

Speaking of food, in late May and early June we embarked on a foodie tour of Northern Italy, as a belated honeymoon. Highlights included: chicory and olive oil at Milan bistro Bebel's, canteen for the editors and writers of Italy's most important newspaper, Corriere della sera; local Piemonte specialties at the beautiful restaurant Guido on the site of the Slow Food University in Pollenzo; and a private tour of the Produttori di Barbaresco winery in the Langhe, to the south of Turin. Our trip ended on the Grand Canal in Venice, where Dara got to meet her screen idol, Robert De Niro. You can check out photos of our honeymoon here (and don't miss our other photo albums, including snapshots from our intrepid Labor Day hike near Mount Washington).

What has James been up to through all this? You can check out his latest material for The New Criterion through his TNC article archive, including his article for the December issue in which he takes to task the art criticism of Tom Wolfe. James has also been hitting the keyboard for a number of additional publications over the past several months. At Supremefiction you can read a collection of pieces he has written for The Wall Street Journal, The New York Sun, and Art & Antiques.

Meanwhile, we still live near Gramercy Park, where our routine includes regular trips to the Union Square Greenmarket with our old lady cart, and many evenings at the National Arts Club, where we continue to be members of the Literary Committee. In April, Dara organized a reading of young poets that was very well-received by Club members. Of course, we also still maintain our weblog Market research has determined that the target audience of Supremefiction is our family and friends and a lovely woman named Sharon who we think lives in Texas. But hey, we're critics too, so Supremefiction is the place where we get to sound off on art, television, shopping, books, movies, and New York restaurants. Join us at

Finally, our cat Bosco, always one step ahead of us when it comes to what the kids are doing, has joined Once Bosco was on board, we had to follow suit. So if you have been taken in by this latest fad, look us up! We're always looking for new "friends."

Dara Mandle and James Panero

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