Monday, September 17, 2018

Hillary Leftwich on "Free Car"

"Alex Kudera’s 'Free Car' is not a story about a car. It’s a story about a car taking a man through a series of events that lead to his 'situation,' or 'stagnant stuckness.' How memory is a tricky thing, and what the brain can recall in its own ghost patterns isn’t always what is remembered when we need it to be. 'Free Car' is reminiscent of what we will do once we are pushed across our own bottom line and realize even in our own day-to-day hustles, a certain amount of satisfaction can still be found." 

 ~~Hillary Leftwich 
Ghosts are Just Strangers Who Know How to Knock forthcoming from CCM 2019. Website:  Twitter: @hillaryleftwich

Thursday, September 13, 2018

After Noon by Don Riggs

After Noon
I eat lunch with a group of older men.
Some of them are older than me; others,
my own age, are older than most people
around us--"kids," we call them, teenagers
and twentysomethings, many of them born
this side of Y2K, whereas we have
lived most of our lives in the previous
century. Students don't know what I mean
when I refer to recent books written
back in the 1980s, and those from
the 'sixties and 'seventies, when the Now
Generation was in the ascendant,
have receded to the Middle Ages,
which I consider myself still part of.

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


"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.

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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 ...