Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Ann Arbor rescue operation

Prolific talent Cady Vishniac came upon a used copy of Fight for Your Long Day and was kind enough to post the evidence on social media.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

V.S. Naipaul, Rest In Peace

Nobel-prize-winning novelist V.S. Naipaul passed through this life not without a "controversial" remark or two. A Bend in the River is the only novel of his I finished, but I did fancy teaching it when I first transitioned from teaching introduction to literature over ten weeks to contemporary literature (after 1945) for traditional fifteen-week semesters. Alas, it never did make it onto the syllabus.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Antwerp

"Tell that stupid Arnold Bennet[t] that all his rules about plot only apply to novels that are copies of other novels."

~~ from Antwerp by Roberto Bolano

Friday, July 27, 2018

We interrupt this literature for memories of Don "Sauce" Cain

Only a few days ago, Ultimate college champion, Maximum Time Aloft record-holder, and all-around great guy Donald "Sauce" Cain passed on too young at age 62. Here's a ten-minute clip of Don talking about his Ultimate Frisbee past, including a detailed account of his world-setting MTA throw. On Facebook, I'd reminisced earlier:

I've barely touched a disc in over ten years, but early in this decade, I ran into Sauce, out of the blue, in a restaurant on Folly Beach or another beach near Charleston in South Carolina. That was great. . . [to see] a friendly face 500 miles from Edgely Field. Another fun memory I have is getting destroyed by this "It's a Nimeo" team when I was in college. We were playing in a club tournament, and a "Nimeo" was when a hammer or blade went right over our heads; this was years before those were more common throws. It wasn't until years after college, talking with Don fifteen years later at Edgely that we figured out he must have been on that team. 62 is too young. R.I.P.

PADA has an obituary, and Facebook also has wonderful memories on Don's wall as well as classic photographs from his early teammate and local legend Chris O'Connor.

a footnote from the Atlas

* More than forty years on, I could tell you the brand of cigarette that my intellectual heroes smoked: Clement Greenberg, unfiltered Camels; Harold Rosenberg, Pall Malls, Lowell, the short-lived Trues. It's hard to recall now, as cigarettes are being phased out of American life--some brands no longer exist--and smoking is often seen as a marker of mental illness, that in those days almost everyone smoked.

This tangent reminds me of my family lore, that my mother's father died from "smoking unfiltered Camels and eating red meat late at night." Certainly it's true, I've taught entire sections of college English in which there is hardly a smoker in the room, yet the habit may remain more pervasive than we realize. Although the N + 1 and Jacobin intellectuals may have traded in their daily pack for exercise machines, there are still plenty of smokers around. We find them outside of campus buildings and bars, or in designated smoking areas. Go abroad, and you can see the habit remains much more pervasive, or at least, there are fewer restrictions as to where one might partake. At current prices in the U.S., it's amazing to think how much smokers could save if they could quit. Anyway, if you're interested in 20th-century literature and the biographies of writers, I highly recommend James Atlas's book.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

James Atlas On Biography

I'm a hundred pages into James Atlas's The Shadow in the Garden, his memoir about his life writing biography, and I'm greatly enjoying it. Although his principle subjects, Delmore Schwartz and Saul Bellow, figure prominently, there is so much more on various writers, biographers, and writer-biographers. Some of the footnotes are extremely detailed or hilarious as well. Thomas Carlyle, Virginia Woolf, Alfred Kazin, Samuel Johnson, and Jean Stafford are only a handful of  writers who are included in the narrative. The recurring theme of writers dying isolated in cramped apartments would make Cyrus Duffleman proud.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Ken Ingunas

I recommend Ken Ilgunas's two travel narratives Walden on Wheels and Trespassing Across America. Both have strong elements of memoir, often self-reflective comedy, and heartfelt views of what we are doing to the planet as well as each other and why we might want to change our ways. Partly because they are interesting books and partly because I so rarely read three books by the same author within a couple months, I may try to interview Ilgunas about these two along with his more polemical This Land is Our Land although I'm momentarily so deep in the weeds with my own problems and concerns that for now this blog is the best I can do on Ken's behalf. Please see Goodreads for my other recent reads.

Featured Post

Auggie's Revenge: Reviews, Interviews, and Excerpts

Book Reviews: "The Teaching Life as a House of Troubles," by Don Riggs, American, British and Canadian Studies , June 1, 2017 ...