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Thursday, May 29, 2014
This packed-room symposium quickly turned from three writers talking about their novels to a thoughtful state of the union on the purposes and thrills of modern crime fiction.
Above: Dublin signpost image from Shutterstock.com.


The Dublin Writers Festival held its talk titled “The State of Crime” in a mysteriously out-of-the-way location: a small event room at the Central Library located up a staircase in the middle of the Ilac shopping center. It wasn’t spacious enough for the crime fans and would-be crime writers in attendance, so chairs were added and the doors closed on those who had arrived too late.


What they missed turned out to be less about crime and mysteries themselves but what’s behind them, and why one would want to write them.


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Wednesday, May 28, 2014
Little can put you more in the proper mood for book-minded conversation than the faint drizzle and grey skies of Ireland.
Above: Dublin signpost image from Shutterstock.com.


On the Sunday of its first weekend, the Dublin Writers Festival was cloud-shrouded in an atmospherically light rain. Sunshine and a warm breeze might make the heart beat faster, but little can put you more in the proper mood for book-minded conversation than a faint drizzle and grey skies.


This is Dublin, after all, which proudly carries its status as UNESCO City of Literature, and where the odd plaque on an undistinguished townhouse near St. Stephen’s Green reminds you that Bram Stoker lived there, and the Gate Theatre just happens to be staging An Ideal Husband by the Dublin-raised and -educated Oscar Wilde.


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Monday, May 19, 2014
Walter Mondale is remarkably engaged and up-to-date for a man who held the Vice Presidency more than 33 years ago.
Above: Walter Mondale and Geraldine Ferraro during the 1984 Presidential Campaign


Walter Mondale’s memoirs, The Good Fight: A Life in Liberal Politics, provide a hint of how things might have been different had he won the 1984 Presidential race against Ronald Reagan. 


Among the many ways in which our world might have been better, there is at least one way in which it might have been worse: It is unlikely that a Mondale presidency would have witnessed, or encouraged, the tearing down of the Berlin Wall and the end of the Communist enslavement and Cold War it symbolized.


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Monday, Mar 31, 2014
For a medium that prides itself on pushing the visual edges, here we find exposition rather than fancy, and monochrome in place of color, words, yes, but no images.

I usually avoid talking about the book review process as part of my reviews. I also try to avoid using “I”. But in this case, I find it necessary.


I had great hopes for Videogames and Art, edited by Andy Clarke and Grethe Mitchell and the editorial teams at Intellect and University of Chicago Press. The cover offered a promising abstract of wireframes and printed circuits with some sort of connected activity generating a mass of three-dimensional connective tissue spewing from the circuitry.


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Wednesday, Mar 12, 2014
Should the fact of Laura Wilder's dated prejudices lead us to abandon Little House and its sequels?
Above: Garth Williams original illustration.

Laura Ingalls Wilder had a hard life. Her family was always moving, and they lived in fear of attacks. Bobcats were a threat. Mom and Dad had to build at least one house, from the ground up. Mom badly injured her foot when she dropped a log on it. In those days, people thought you had to put an injured foot in a certain kind of water—which was exactly the wrong kind of water for an injured foot. So Mama Ingalls’s foot swelled and began to resemble a turnip.


That’s not all. For example, Laura’s sister, Mary, lost her sight at an early age. And a major treat for Laura was a trip to a housing wares store—can you imagine? How boring! But, to Laura, who rarely had the opportunity to see anyone other than her nuclear family, a trip to a nails-and-plywood store was like a trip to Disney World.


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