Why in the world did I ever let another human
being within six feet of me?
Unless, of course, maybe
we were going to make
potential love. Then proximity is necessarily
on a plate. The seating is fresh lemon-
scented sanitizer. A plastic partition
shields our booth: a transparent fixture
so common it is unseen.
Unpopular Opinion: Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five is a bad novel. While taste is subjective when it comes to classics of all stripes, I found Slaughterhouse to be littered with problems from start to finish, from form to content.
The novel is the story of a man who unwillingly begins jumping through time. Well, sort of. The story of Billy Pilgrim, WWII veteran and optometrist, is actually revealed in the first section of the book to be the text of a novel by a narrator (perhaps Vonnegut himself). The up-front admission that henceforth all is fiction made it rather hard to care…
Nazi Literature in the Americas by Roberto Bolaño is a book of sly humor and dry wit. It masquerades as a catalog of short author biographies - authors who happen to be fascists and Nazi sympathizers. It traces their lives, reporting in a journalistic tone their sometimes subtle, sometimes overt allegiances toward the ideologies of white supremacy.
In some ways, Nazi Literature feels like a counter-mythos to famous writer salons, though the authors surveyed in the biographical catalog are dispersed widely in the Americas and do not all appear to have connections to one another (though plenty do). Still, it…
Charles Dickens’s short novel A Christmas Carol is the perfect book for the holiday season. Reading the classic after only knowing the story from its various film adaptations was a treat. While the humor came across just about the same, the book offered an emotional impact as only Dickens can provide.
He paints spirts stranger than anything film has yet reproduced. . . .the figure itself fluctuated in its distinctness: being now a thing with one arm, now with one leg, now with twenty legs, now a pair of legs without a head, now a head without a body.
Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man is a novel written as much for our time as for his 1950’s America. What begins as an episodic journey in the Deep South turns into a story of social movements, a brutal police killing of an unarmed black man and subsequent riots, which include a fair amount of looting and burning.
What brings this book to life though for us contemporary readers won’t be the parallels to our era of social unrest, but the unnamed invisible man at the heart of the story, in whose mind we can see the shifting perceptions of race, brotherhood…
How do you read today’s books without a passing familiarity with the classics?
All the best contemporary writers allude to these timeless tomes constantly. And I’m continually finding more depth in the classics to draw from. They’re classics not because they’re old, but because they’re timeless human stories.
Not all are going to engage you personally, of course. But to just dismiss a vast and diverse range of writers from different times and cultures simply because they’re labeled “classics” does disservice to oneself as a reader. There’s too much under the label of “classics” to simply dismiss them all. Say…
In the lives of ambitious and creative people, the view is often forward. The view, in fact, is often tunnel-visioned in the sense of the next project, the next step in the process. What we forget is that the process is likely to only end when we do. So we need to remember to take a step back and celebrate our successes.
That tunnel vision is a part of the reason we find success in our endeavors. Without it, we might only dream of the next project, the next big thing. Yet, even as we succeed (because the process of…
This story took a long time to place. I don’t think it took so long because it was poorly written. In fact, I’ve had some compliments on it over the years. The editor at 34thParallel (one of the first magazines I ever submitted to) sort of gushed over it:
Let me say I’m impressed by your story; dialect in any form is difficult–damn difficult–for a whole lot of reasons of which I’m sure you’re aware. So I’ll repeat, I’m impressed–damn impressed (if you’ll excuse my language).
Only this April, the editor over at Barren Magazine had this to…
That’s right, a terrorist group not only sent me a letter, but using Publishers Clearing House style writing, told me I could win guns and gold in a sweepstakes.
Part of entering involved stickers. There were three of them.
All I had to do was affix these stickers to my official entry form. Oh, and hopefully while I’m at it, I could join their terrorist organization.
How can they get away with using the US Postal Service in service of spreading terror?
Let me tell you that I actually see US citizens wearing clothing that proudly proclaims them members of…
As a child, I shinnied the coarse trunks of trees, carrying a book in a backpack or clamped resolutely between my chin and chest. I’d sit in the boughs of shady retreat and dappled light up there where the wind blew through leaves, and the leaves were an instrument, accompanied by birdsong, and I’d read of dichotomous fairyland entities who struggled against one another. The hero’s armor always shone, and he’d raise his double-edged sword above his windblown hair in righteous victory. …