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Thursday, February 4 2010

Orson Welles: A Man of a Certain Ego

“The chief proof of a man’s real greatness lies in his perception of his own smallness. It argues... a power of comparison and of appreciation which is in itself proof of nobility.”


Sunday, January 31 2010

The Lives of Others

There's a higher ratio of disposable schlock in the memoir than in other literary genres, but the best memoirs permit access to lives strange, twisted, wasted, brave, and glorious -- lives, in short, other than our own.


Wednesday, January 27 2010

The Ice Storm: America Out in the Cold

Ang Lee captures the '70s on film the way Rick Moody captures the era in the book The Ice Storm. It's the midst of the sexual revolution, the Watergate scandal is erupting, and the country's social consciousness is changing.


Sunday, January 24 2010

Barrelhouse Words: A Blues Dialect Dictionary

Without this guide "jack stropper" (someone who's trying to steal your woman), "dead cat on the line" (a problem from the past), or "my stomach thinks my throat's been cut" (powerful hunger) can leave you scratching your head.


Monday, January 18 2010

Unfulfilled Desires, Fulfilled Nightmares

As the new millennium accelerates we witness our world consumed by an international economic crisis fueled by unrestricted consumption and greed. Hence, the relevance of Stephen King's 'Needful Things'.


Monday, January 4 2010

New Moon: Wherefor Art Thou Edward?

Bella and Edward's longing for each other is what makes the series so appealing. It fully encapsulates the bliss and agony of first love or any love that would make you lie down and die for the other person.


Thursday, December 17 2009

The Big Nowhere: Rudy Wurlitzer’s Rediscovered Trilogy and Bob Dylan Revisited

The myths of unspoiled frontiers and the freedom of the open road, lives played out on the margins of society, attachment and detachment, wrestling matches with the ghosts of Samuel Beckett and Louis L’Amour…


Wednesday, December 16 2009

The Inevitable Death of Julian Barnes and Everyone Else

According to Julian Barnes, the fear of death is "the most rational thing in the world." But denying the certainty of death also can be a rational act, at least until that time when it is not.


Sunday, December 6 2009

Philip K. Dick’s Defense of Video Games

Philip K. Dick’s fiction is a defense of the validity of video games because despite the fact that they are not real, his stories argue that there is still something valid in the artificial.


Wednesday, December 2 2009

Little Women: Brilliant Book, Flawed Film

A scene shows Ryder blissfully tying up the manuscript and putting a rose under the string. That's rather like what Armstrong and the screenwriters did to the film: tied it up neatly with a pretty flower.


Monday, November 23 2009

Squanto: The Ultimate Guide

Even anglers like myself yearn for guides with fishing IQs as rich as Squanto's, a Patuxet Native American who taught the Pilgrims how to fish.


Wednesday, November 18 2009

Strange Muse: Jack London and Ernest Gallo

One bad novel, gallons of cheap red wine, and spring-fed creeks of sweat.


Sunday, November 15 2009

A Cat’s Triumph and the Midlife Crisis of a Dog

The popularity of the “pet memoir” can be traced to a lot of factors, ranging from honest sentiment to rank anthropomorphism. But our pets, and our books about them, reflect spirit of our age, as well.


Monday, November 9 2009

Nobel Prizes and Nobel Promises

President Obama probably rattled and hummed in disbelief when he got his Nobel Prize. Ask Bono.


Thursday, October 29 2009

Can Tyler Perry’s ‘For Colored Girls’ Resurrect BAM?

Film adaptations from black masterpieces -- and the Chitlin Circuit -- are rejuvenating America's Black Arts Movement.


Wednesday, October 28 2009

In from the Fog: Monstrous Fishermen in Popular Culture

To paraphrase Nietzsche, when fighting monsters one should be careful not to become one, but that’s a major reason why many people fish: to slay the proverbial dragon.


Tuesday, October 27 2009

A Ghost Story of Dubious Origins

No matter the vercity of the tale, The Haunting in Connecticut has just enough creep quotient to keep me engaged, especially since I grew up a few miles from the house.


Thursday, October 22 2009

The Name of This Land is Hell: Mexico in Literature

When the author of a sitcom-styled novel about Mexican heritage cannot resist mentioning the modern-day carnage, then it's fair to assume that the murders have become a significant part of the national identity.


Thursday, October 15 2009

Looking for the Lost: Memoirs of a Vanishing Japan

With its narrow streets and dark and hidden infoldings, there’s a distinctly feminine, mysterious, and inexplicably magnetic aspect to Japan that exists in few other places in the world.


Monday, October 12 2009

Are Comics Like Reading with Training Wheels?

Reading a comic requires multiple forms of literacy and levels of interpretation. Every movement from word to image and back again so as to create a coherent, narrative whole engages the reader’s brain in distinct ways.


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