What is the use of forty days in the wilderness?

From a defense of solitude in wilderness, called Forty Days, by Paul Kingsnorth: Sometimes you need to go, and sometimes you need to stay away for some time. The world we have created is terrifying in its complexity and power and in its ability to destroy the small, the precious, the immeasurable and the meaningful, insideContinue reading “What is the use of forty days in the wilderness?”

On the Road — in drawings by Paul Rogers

The beauty and power of On the Road has little or nothing to do with its plot, and everything to do with writer Jack Kerouac's desire to transmit directly to the reader his experience of the raw wild beauty of the American land and its people. Illustrator Paul Rogers has launched a long-term project to illustrateContinue reading “On the Road — in drawings by Paul Rogers”

Dionysionism: A forgotten religion turned big business?

From a really penetrating book review by David Ulin in, yes, the Los Angeles Times, a fascinating historical idea/fact: "No one remembers," [author Lawrence Osbourne] tells us, "that Dionysianism was the most popular religion of the late [Roman] empire before the arrival of Christianity. It was Christianity's principal rival…We have even forgotten that Dionysianism wasContinue reading “Dionysionism: A forgotten religion turned big business?”

“The blame game” — in history and w/climate change

In a review of two new books about World War I, The Sleepwalkers and July 1914, Harold Evans (aka Sir Harry) notes the uselessness of playing "the blame game" when it comes to the start of the tragic war.  [Christopher] Clark declines to join [Sean] McMeekin in what he calls “the blame game,” because thereContinue reading ““The blame game” — in history and w/climate change”

International Read Naked Day: A communion in Chicago

In Chicago, Valya Vupescu sounds enthralled by a reading and award show by the Naked Girls: "The ladies on the stage disrobed at the start of each of the three reading sessions of the night. They did it gracefully, naturally, comfortably, at home in their skin and on the stage. Then they breathed the storiesContinue reading “International Read Naked Day: A communion in Chicago”

Cheryl Strayed: To turn our suffering into beauty

From an unusually rich interview in The Millions, the friendliest of literary sites, with Cheryl Strayed, the author of the great and influential Wild:  Cheryl Strayed: I’ve always thought that the important thing is to turn our suffering into beauty. And the image of the phoenix rising from the ashes has always been super-cool to me,Continue reading “Cheryl Strayed: To turn our suffering into beauty”

Faction: Why Truman Capote lied about himself

Biographer and psychologist William Todd Schultz argues on an Oxford University Press blog that Truman Capote lied about his past because he needed to be telling a story about himself. (If I understand correctly.) Schultz comments:  Aren’t psychobiographers supposed to care about the facts? Yes, facts are crucial. Facts are the instruments of revelation. IContinue reading “Faction: Why Truman Capote lied about himself”

Larry McMurtry on selling 300,000 books

Besides being a great writer, Larry McMurtry is a great bookseller.  The story of The Last Book Sale is a moderately long but fully fascinating: McMurtry wrote it up for the NYRB blog. Suffice to say that in August, McMurtry sold off the contents of several of his bookstores, to make sure he didn't burdenContinue reading “Larry McMurtry on selling 300,000 books”

If Barnes and Noble collapses, it’s the death of books

So argues Ted Rall, who knows a thing or two about media today and publishing: Borders and Barnes & Noble killed independent bookstores. Amazon killed Borders. Now Barnes & Noble, which sells more than 20 percent of pulp-and-ink books in the U.S., is under siege. If B&N collapses: the death of books. Cultural apocalypse. Neo-feudalism.Continue reading “If Barnes and Noble collapses, it’s the death of books”

Roshomon: Made in America (to start)

One of the greatest films of all time, the critics agree, is Akira Kurosawa's masterpiece Roshomon. Turns out it's based on a Japanese short story, that in turn was based on a story by Ambrose Bierce, the infamous Western wit, aka "the San Francisco Wasp," who disappeared in Mexico.  The story turned up recently onContinue reading “Roshomon: Made in America (to start)”