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Politics

'Reading Jackie': When Literary Choices Become Biography

Despite her love of books, Jackie Kennedy Onassis spent a lifetime trying to prevent people from writing about her, sometimes with the accompanying threat of legal action. Her entire life was led with one arm thrust outward, eyes cast downward, keeping the world at bay.

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Books

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…

Books

Strange Muse: Jack London and Ernest Gallo

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

Politics

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.

Film

Hal Ashby: Hollywood Rebel

Films and books strive toward a common goal: telling a story. And very few modern filmmakers are as good at spinning a yarn as the late Hal Ashby was.

Politics

Rabid and Rascally Creatures: Richard Brookhiser's "Happy Darkies"

Familial or political, conservatives in America actually have no moral boundaries whatsoever.

Books

Rudy Wurlitzer, Bob Dylan, Bloody Sam, and the Jornado del Muerto

Dylan’s beautifully simple ballad captures the paradoxical fear of and longing for death that is the hallmark of Wurlitzer’s narratives and what lurks at the heart of the human experience.

Books

Out of Tune and 'Amplified'

As George Orwell said, “Nearly every book is capable of arousing passionate feeling, even if it is only a passionate dislike.”

Books

Depression 2.0: Sunday in Kerouac Alley

Scott Thorson rang, flat broke and disabled, in chronic, horrendous pain from a botched murder attempt and an even more botched plastic surgery, hoping that I would serve as his conduit for another lucrative laundry airing.

Books

Sherlock Holmes and the Shanghai Gesture

“In a digital world of remixed culture,” warns Holms, “every garage band and self-published poet and internet film-maker needs to understand the strange twists and turns of intellectual property law lest they find themselves on the wrong side of an infringement suit.”

Books

Sherlock Holmes and the Shanghai Gesture

“We have become archetypes,” laments Holmes to Watson, “we were created and published before the year 1923, which places us and many of our adventures into the realm of public domain.”

Books

Little Murders: And the Hippos Were Boiled in Their Tanks

We have, in essence, finally come full circle after almost six decades, turning a corner into a blind alley and walking smack-dab into a mirror image of ourselves, credit-crazed zombies with the dropping eyelids of a Burroughs morphine addict, hungover from the post-war boom, slogging through a nightmarish netherworld of “treacherous … pushers and addicts, thieves and whores”.

Books

Little Murders: And the Hippos Were Boiled in Their Tanks

This is not Tom Brokaw’s Greatest Generation but, rather, Hunter S. Thompson’s Generation of Swine, the urban home front during the waning days of World War II, gritty and unvarnished, and chillingly reflective of modern sociology.

Books

Blind Man with a Pistol: Ishmael Reed’s Misguided Pow-Wow

There’s scarcely a character in this multicultural collection that I have not encountered in one way, shape, or form, and that, of course, flies in the face of Reed’s contention that the writers assembled in this collection are shedding light on a divergent society that a homogenized white culture simply does not invite us to see.

Books

Blind Man with a Pistol: Ishmael Reed’s Misguided Pow-Wow

Anyone who has witnessed affirmative action policies in play can tell you that bad apples are chosen to fulfill a quota, not unlike a cop who harasses every citizen who bears a vague resemblance to a wanted suspect.

Film

Conversing with Rudy Wurlitzer: ‘A Beaten-up Old Scribbler’

Death and all of its strange highways and byways, is one of the central preoccupations in Wurlitzer’s revisionist frontier saga.

Film

Conversing with Rudy Wurlitzer: ‘A Beaten-up Old Scribbler’

Wurlitzer has a fondness for stories that are rooted in movement and the conflict to be found in forward movement.

Film

Conversing with Rudy Wurlitzer: ‘A Beaten-up Old Scribbler’

My conversations with Rudy Wurlitzer were not unlike a road journey itself with plenty of unplanned side trips along the way.

Visual Arts

The Vast Immensity of it All: Fear and Loathing on Sunset Boulevard

This is a journey through Los Angeles in all its guises, states of mind, and urban terrains, a narrative in words and documentary photography format that is every bit as engaging as any novel.

Visual Arts

The Vast Immensity of it All: Fear and Loathing on Sunset Boulevard

Faces of Sunset Boulevard is, without a doubt, one of the strongest statements about man’s dark fate in the West ever committed to paper in the author and photographer’s chosen form.

Books

The Hardest Work Imaginable: Bukowski's Wine-Stained Notebook

Like a mad prophet peering into the future, Charles Bukowski railed against the credit-driven economy and the deadening effects of the nine-to-five lifestyle.

Books

The Hardest Work Imaginable: Bukowski's Wine-Stained Notebook

Fear, one must understand, is the lubricant that keeps the wheels of human progress greased. Charles Bukowski understood this concept all too well.

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Reinventing the Southern California Novel: Marisa Silver’s The God of War

Silver took the vital ingredients of a regional novel and composed an L.A. tale, but set many miles east -- at the edge of the desolate Salton Sea -- a wasteland that would have held tremendous appeal to T.S. Eliot.

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The Panting Maniac: Chasing Lolita on a Grim 50-Year Anniversary

Vickers' thorough study of the pervasive corruption of Nabokov’s doomed heroine is the nearest thing that arts and letters have offered as a way of recovering Lolita's lost soul.

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The Panting Maniac: Chasing Lolita on a Grim 50-Year Anniversary

What the author finds on the bottom end of American pop culture in 1958 is an environment ripe and primed, no matter how subconsciously or keep-it-in-the-family quiet, for the sexual exploitation of youth.

Books

Samuel Fuller, "The Poet of Potboilers"

Fuller was a playful but hard-bitten cynic who imposed his sometimes weary, whistling-past-the-graveyard worldview on all those people sitting in the dark.

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