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by David Masciotra

7 May 2010

Sometime in the early 1990s, Geoff and Paul are having drinks with Jen and Rhoda. The conversation takes a hostile turn when Jen announces that the “best hour of television” is Knots Landing. It has Gary, “the tortured family man,” Alec Baldwin as a “sociopathic priest,” and the “awesomely hot Nicollette Sheridan.” Geoff, visibly appalled, submits that Knots Landing is simply an “incredibly derivative spin-off” of the far superior Dallas. The argument shifts and shakes both ways until Jen closes by conceding that Dallas was a more influential and clever show, but that it “never had the heart of Knots Landing.” This discussion follows Paul explaining that he and Geoff bonded over mutual love of “Bob Dylan, Yoda, and John Hughes.” When Jen says that she never “got” people who like Star Wars, Geoff asks, “Is there something wrong with you?” To Geoff, this is much like Jen’s endorsement of Knots Landing — an issue of the heart.

Ben Tanzer is a writer with enough heart to pump life into nearly any literary scene. He encourages the reader to use their empathy for his characters to explore their own relationships, decisions, and identity. He wears his enormous heart on the jacket of his books, including his second novel Most Likely You Go Your Way and I’ll Go Mine (Orange Alert Press) — in which the above scene takes place — and often transplants it directly into character interactions that use pop culture not only as fodder for clever dialogue, but also as a means to examine how people formulate their own identities, view the external world, and slip into or rise out of isolation.

by Crispin Kott

29 Jan 2010

I’m comfortable being a cliché. It suits me. I realize I’m one of a zillion dumb hipster-types living in Brooklyn, blogging about ultimately meaningless nonsense, and I’m okay with that. I like record shops and coffee shops and book shops. I like irony and sarcasm and even more irony and sarcasm. I eat hummus (occasionally). I think Joe Strummer died for our sins.

Given my personal pedigree, it should come as no surprise that two of my all-time favorite books are Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger and Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States. I’m no more bothered what their popularity says about me than I am about what the books themselves say about me, or what you or anyone else says about me for that matter. I’m gonna like what I’m gonna like, whether it’s good, bad or ugly. Or overrated, overwrought or overcooked. And that goes for books, though I wouldn’t consider either Salinger or Zinn’s accepted masterpieces as any of those descriptives. I’m not going to get into all that.

by Rodger Jacobs

8 Sep 2009

Ian McEwan came to mind tonight while watching the Dodgers-Padres game on TV. God knows how baseball and a British novelist intersect but such are the wanderings of the human mind.

I have had a troubled relationship with the dark and sometimes macabre novels of Ian McEwan. I first read his Booker Prize-winning novel Amsterdam (1998) while recuperating from my first bout of severe psoriasis in 2000. In those days I was bed-ridden with punishing lesions afflicting eighty percent of my body and seeping into my bones and piles of library books was my only refuge from the pain.

I read some good ones back then: James Houston’s fictional chronicle of the Donner Party’s ordeal, Continental Divide; Ron Hansen’s stirring stigmata drama, Mariette in Ecstasy; the riveting biography, Joe DiMaggio: The Hero’s Life by Richard Ben Cramer, and Bruce Wagner’s devastating L.A. satire, Still Holding.

by Sean Murphy

22 Apr 2009

On April 21, 1910, author Samuel Langhorne Clemens, better known as Mark Twain, died in Redding, Connecticut

Mark Twain was the heavyweight champion in a time when giants roamed the earth and our color commentary was written in ink. Twain, along with Melville and Hawthorne, represents the holy trinity of 19th Century American fiction: the great white hope. But Twain was arguably the archetypal American writer; certainly that was William Faulkner’s assessment. And if Faulkner says Twain was the “father of American literature” than Twain is the father of American literature, end of discussion. Even still, he was more than that. A lecturer, a satirist, critic, commentator; a genuine public figure and ambassador for the well-examined life.

by Nikki Tranter

28 Jan 2009

Laura Lippman

Laura Lippman

Laura Lippman is the creator of the popular, award-winning Tess Monaghan novel series. Laura was a reported for many years at the Baltimore Sun, following on from her father, respected Sun journalist, Theo Lippman. Jr. Her latest book is a collection of short stories entitled Hardly Knew Her. Laura also recently contributed to the Poe anthology, In the Shadow of the Master: Classic Tales by Edgar Allan Poe and Essays. edited by Michael Connelly.

Laura Lippman is today’s Re:Print Special Guest, here to answer another Five Questions About Edgar Allan Poe.

Describe your first Poe experience.
I think it was in a Classic Comic! The Gold Bug. But it got me to look up the real thing.

What would you consider Poe’s greatest work, and why?
That’s tough because I haven’t read everything. But while I owe my career to his fiction, if I had to read just one facet of Poe’s work, it would probably be his poetry. It’s quite beautiful.

Hardly Knew HerAuthor: Laura LippmanHarperCollinsOctober 2008, 304 pages, $23.95

Hardly Knew Her
Author: Laura Lippman
October 2008, 304 pages, $23.95

How has Poe’s work shaped you as a reader/writer?
All crime writers owe Poe a debt. Granted, if he hadn’t “invented” the modern-day detective story, perhaps someone else would have. But he did, and every mystery writer follows in his footsteps.

Which of your own works owes the largest debt to Poe and why?
Easy as A-B-C is an out and out homage to Poe, a modern-day version of The Cask of Amontillado.

If you were hosting the celebrations for Poe’s big day, how would have your guests celebrate?
I would cancel the party and ask my guests to make a donations to a nonprofit that supports the arts and young writers. Poe struggled so to make a living. Those writers who really want to honor his memory should make sure they are helping other writers. On Poe’s birthday, in fact, I’ll be teaching at a writers workshop.

Laura Lippman is online here.

//Mixed media


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