“Radical Distraction” by Saul Bellow

From Saul Bellow, in an essay from 1975, published in Critical Inquiry: “We are in a state of radical distraction,” he writes in “A World Too Much with Us,” an essay for the journal Critical Inquiry, in 1975, the same year Humboldt’s Gift appears. “I don’t see how we can be blind to the politicalContinue reading ““Radical Distraction” by Saul Bellow”

How Yoko turned on John’s imagination

A charming piece via the BBC, drawn from a new book, reveals how Yoko’s idealism turned on John’s imagination and — pretty directly it seems — inspired the creation of his most iconic song: Imagine. Specifically, Yoko’s book Grapefruit. Lennon said: “There’s a lot of pieces in it saying like ‘imagine this’ or ‘imagine that’,”Continue reading “How Yoko turned on John’s imagination”

What’s wrong with reality? (Red Desert)

It’s not a coincidence, surely, that Monica Vitti in the Italian movie poster for Michelangelo Antonioni’s classic Red Desert, from l964, assumes the position of the tormented man on the bridge in The Scream by Edvard Munch.  Most of Antonioni’s movies seem to begin with a beautiful woman, usually Monica Vitti, rushing from the social sceneContinue reading “What’s wrong with reality? (Red Desert)”

The Not-Quite-Sober John Muir (review)

Here’s a book review/essay I wrote a while back for a journal called Wild Earth, that I repost here on A Change in the Wind because I want it to be Google-able. Below the fold I’ll put it the remainder of the review in a standard font. For Muir admirers, please let me say itContinue reading “The Not-Quite-Sober John Muir (review)”

Want success as a writer? Get rejected.

So argues Kim Liao, persuasively,  in Lit Hub. She said she managed 43 rejections last year — a personal best. Last year, I got rejected 43 times by literary magazines, residencies, and fellowships—my best record since I started shooting for getting 100 rejections per year. It’s harder than it sounds, but also more gratifying. In late 2011, aContinue reading “Want success as a writer? Get rejected.”

The Lost Brother — Latterly strikes again

To encourage interest and subscription, Latterly magazine, an on-line journal of stories from around the world,  run by the wizardly editor Ben Wolford, released as a “single” a marvelously rich and well-written, well-edited, and well-composed story about life north of the Arctic Circle, on an island off the coast of Iceland. It’s called The LostContinue reading “The Lost Brother — Latterly strikes again”

Visiting Larry McMurtry at Booked Up

A few years ago, back in the days when the LATimes had a stand-alone Sunday magazine, Scott Kraft wrote a tremendous story about visiting Larry McMurtry, the writer, author of "The Last Picture Show," "Lonesome Dove," and "Terms of Endearment," among many other great stories, at his bookstore in tiny Archer City Texas. It's called The Loner.

A couple of noteworthy lines:

McMurtry lives in a majestic three-story home a few doors down from the single-story house where he grew up and not far from the high school where he graduated in 1954 among a senior class of 19. He moved back to Archer City, population 1,848, just five years ago.

He keeps mostly to himself, and locals know better than to try to engage him in chitchat. "He's a very conservative-type feller," says Max Wood, the town's 68-year-old mayor. Wood has known McMurtry since high school but doesn't consider himself a close friend. "Larry was always the type of person who was more of a loner."

Here's a picture of McMurtry, from a photo posted in one of his bookstores in Booked Up:

1-DSC03257-001

Well, to put it simply, to learn that one of this nation's greatest writers has a bookstore — a monster bookstore — in a famous (from "The Last Picture Show") little town in Texas, and what's more hangs out at his store, and can be talked to — well, I had to visit. So yesterday, after attending a reporting workshop that gave me the chance to visit Dallas, two hours away, I did.

More below…

Stupid F*!’&ing Bird: To wake Chekhov from the dead

The big winner this week in theater awards for 2014 in Los Angeles was a Russian playwright who's been dead for over a century. Well, not exactly, but writer Aaron Posner's brilliantly free adaptation of Anton Chekhov's The Seagull did win the L.A. Drama Critics Circle awards for best ensemble, direction, and writing. It's just spectacular,Continue reading “Stupid F*!’&ing Bird: To wake Chekhov from the dead”

The photographer as fearless story teller

The highest compliment paid in the land of journalism, sez me, is to say that such-and-such a writer, Mike Royko in Chicago, say, or Carl Hiaasen in Miami, or Joseph Mitchell in New York, is/was "fearless." Well, in the land of photography, no one in our time has been more fearless than Duane Michaels. (NotContinue reading “The photographer as fearless story teller”

Chris Rock on Christmas and Jesus: a rant

Back in 1965, Charles Schultz gave us perhaps the best of all Christmas TV specials. Because it's not just about the season, it's about all that comes with it: depression, loneliness, and self-doubting, as well as family and the sweetness and holiness of the Nativity. It's sad, silly, funny, touching. It won all the bigContinue reading “Chris Rock on Christmas and Jesus: a rant”