Monthly Archives: January 2014

Bear v. Shark and the American Culture of Trivial Spectacle

Our culture of spectacle is awful, terrible, no-good, very bad – how’s that for a newsflash…? Chris Bachelder’s Bear v. Shark is one of those books that does what one of my teachers used to admonish his students to do: it articulates the … Continue reading

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A Sensible Girl…Jane Austen Criticizes Romanticism…

Marianne Dashwood, the epitome of sensibility, is the heroine Jane Austen most disapproves of… The six complete Jane Austen novels divide into three interesting pairs. There are the “place” titles – Northanger Abbey and Mansfield Park – both of which critique the … Continue reading

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The “Big Book” and its Discontents…

Every writer wants a “Big Book”; the question is – why…? One of the phenomena of the last 30-40 years of publishing has been the “Big Book.” You know the language that is associated with such works: “Must Read!” “Stunning!” “A … Continue reading

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My Terry Pratchett Problem…the “there” there…

To paraphrase Jimi, there are writers – make that readers – I do not understand… I admit readily that I am no fan of science fiction and fantasy. I like Tolkien fine, but having read the Rings trilogy in college and The Hobbit my first … Continue reading

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James Smithson’s Gift to America, i.e. the Know Nothings: Knowledge…

Do something smart in America and we’ll never put you on a piece of money…  The Stranger and the Statesman: James Smithson, John Quincy Adams , and the  Making of America’s Greatest Museum is likely to cause many a thoughtful American  to spend … Continue reading

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The updated 2014 Reading List

Well, I’m already expanding the 2014 reading list. My wife, the artist Lea Booth, is partly to blame. She’s not just an enabler, she’s a fellow addict for reading, and she’s the one who, late last week, suggested that we stop by our … Continue reading

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An Insider’s Guide to Publishing, or why would anyone want to be a writer?

“Mad, bad, and dangerous to know” applies not just to Lord Byron but to every writer… David Comfort’s latest book, An Insider’s Guide to Publishing, is not the “nuts and bolts” sort of a book you’d expect from its title. Instead, Comfort has … Continue reading

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