Columns > Books

Tuesday, June 20 2017

‘Flavor’: It’s Not on the Tip of Your Tongue

Do you think cilantro tastes like soap? Do you ever get a hit of barnyard off a fine Bordeaux? Flavor will end up taking wine snobs down a peg while lifting up everyone else.


Friday, June 9 2017

Fried Green Tomatoes in the Rubyfruit Jungle

Although their writing styles and life experiences differ greatly, Fannie Flagg and Rita Mae Brown each has illuminated what it means to be a woman -- and a lesbian -- in contemporary American society.


Thursday, June 8 2017

Life in the Interzone in Old Shanghai

The Sing-song Girls of Shanghai and Flowers of Shanghai capture a William S. Borroughs-like Interzone in Old Shanghai.


Wednesday, June 7 2017

Jazz, Cocktails, and the Overlooked Players of Film Noir

A noir protagonist usually finds himself encountering a new danger around each corner. A jazz musician, in venturing into the throes of an intricate composition, must also anticipate the unknown.


The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire and the Continuing High Cost of Fashion

The poor workplace conditions that led to this tragedy have been outsourced to places like Bangladesh, where similar factory tragedies happened as recently as 2013.


Tuesday, June 6 2017

‘Bop Apocalypse’: What Happened When the Beats and the Boppers Set Out to Change the World

Fifites' jazz and the Beat Generation are often linked. Aside from the drug use, however, this new book on the history begs to differ.


Monday, June 5 2017

A Clean-up Worker’s View Inside Fukushima’s Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant

Ichi-F is rich in detail and strikingly perceptive in analysis, and yet it oddly supports the nuclear industry even as the radiation continues to take its toll.


Friday, June 2 2017

Friday, May 26 2017

Joe Gould, Madness, Creativity, and the World in Between

How do we treat our most disturbed fellow citizens? How far should we go to accommodate and tolerate eccentricities for the sake of a good story?


Tuesday, May 23 2017

An Unmerciful Consideration of Anne Lamott’s Book on Mercy

The profession of teaching has taught me that Lamott’s view of merciful action is impractical and improper.


Friday, May 19 2017

On Norman Mailer, Jack Henry Abbott, and the Legacy of Going Too Deep Into the Belly of the Beast

How Norman Mailer, while preparing 1979's The Executioner's Song, collaborated with Jack Henry Abbott and opened doors that should have remained shut.


Thursday, May 18 2017

David Sedaris’ ‘Theft By Finding’, Truth or Elaboration, Matters Not

David Sedaris' decades-spanning collection of his diary entries reveals the growth of one of America's most beloved humorists.


Tuesday, May 16 2017

Contrary to Popular Belief, the Blues Were Not Born on the Mississippi Delta

Historians Lynn Abbott and Doug Seroff debunk myths about the origins of blues music, locating them not in the Mississippi Delta but in southern black vaudeville.


Friday, May 12 2017

T Bone Burnett: Don’t Let the Form Distract You From the Content

Lloyd Sachs explores the life, times, and endless journeys of singer-songwriter-musician T Bone Burnett.


Tuesday, May 9 2017

Resist, Artfully: On the Subversive but Compromised Role of Art

In a world stripped of enjoyment -- a fractured existence broken on the wheel of pointless progress, determined domination, and wasteful and wasted work -- pleasure becomes the most determinate form of rebellion and liberation.


Tuesday, May 2 2017

On Georgette Heyer’s Debonair, Polished Butchery

Heyer perfected the art of banter and her social engagements on the page often read like David Campton and Edward Albee plays -- sans the existential subversions.


Wednesday, April 26 2017

Joy Kogawa’s Latest Asks: Is There a Limit to Our Capacity to Forgive?

From the atomic bombing of Nagasaki to her father's pedophilia, Kogawa embarks on a brutally honest and personal exploration of the nature of guilt and forgiveness.


Thursday, April 20 2017

Detachment and Re-attachment: The Mind of a Hermit No More

Christopher Knight disappeared into the woods at the age of 20 and returned at 47 without a masterpiece, without a testimony of life’s greater purpose, without anything profound to convey.


Tuesday, April 18 2017

Istanbul: From Emperors to Street Vendors

Historian Thomas F. Madden's Istanbul leaves one with a sense of awe for how much of the human experience is on display in this one city, in this part of the world.


Monday, April 17 2017

Authenticity and Unbroken Chains in Rick Massimo’s ‘I Got a Song’

This book is about true believers who kept the torch burning for “authenticity” in folk music at any cost; even if it meant cultural appropriation and commercial compromising.


//Mixed media
//Blogs

Authenticity Issues and the New Intimacies

// Marginal Utility

"The social-media companies have largely succeeded in persuading users of their platforms' neutrality. What we fail to see is that these new identities are no less contingent and dictated to us then the ones circumscribed by tradition; only now the constraints are imposed by for-profit companies in explicit service of gain.

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