Wednesday, April 26, 2017

new five-star review for Auggie's Revenge

This new five-star review of Auggie's Revenge at Goodreads lifted my spirits:

"I don't often read comedies (or watch them for that matter. I haven't watched a sitcom in years). I'm much more drama oriented. That being said, this book was wonderful. Dark humor is my favorite style of comedy, and this book certainly fits into the dark humor genre. 

"This is a much different book than Fight for Your Long Day. . . In fact, I enjoy this book quite a bit more than the first novel (which is saying something, because I liked that book a lot). I started out reading slowly because my schedule didn't allow much time to read, but by the middle, I couldn't stop. I kept staying up late to get further and further into the very engrossing tale. Watching Michael's life unfold in the way that it did was morbidly fascinating. 

"There's a bit of absurdity to the humor, especially as the novel progresses. Michael's situation, already bad because of his job as an adjunct, spins somewhat out of control. It is all of his own making, of course. No one can undo a life better than the person living it. There's a fair bit of philosophy imbued within the novel (relevant because Michael is a professor of Philosophy). In a way, Michael's path in the novel follows a philosophical path, from simple existentialism to an almost Dada like life near the end of the book. All in all, I would highly recommend reading Auggie's Revenge.

"This is very much a book about Philadelphia and Pennsylvania. They are both characters in this novel. Fairly current events, though fictionalized, play a large role in the novel, especially near the end. As someone who has made Pennsylvania his home, and who loves Philadelphia, I was glad this was the case."

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Zen and the Art of. . .

Because I recently checked out a copy of the 25th anniversary edition, I could pull a Fred Exley and commemorate Robert M. Pirsig's passing as Exley did with Edmund Wilson's writing after Wilson died (see Pages from a Cold Island). Exley made reading Edmund Wilson a religious experience after his North Country neighbor passed on. Although I appreciated Pirsig's Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, I wasn't as completely enamored of it as Exley was of Wilson's work. All the same, it's a death worth noting, and Zen is a great book I may reread this summer. has a nice obituary.

And here's a Pirsig quotation that the writer Jenny J. Chen found among a selection at Literary Hub:

"Mountains should be climbed with as little effort as possible and without desire. The reality of your own nature should determine the speed. If you become restless, speed up. If you become winded, slow down. You climb the mountain in an equilibrium between restlessness and exhaustion. Then, when you are no longer thinking ahead, each footstep isn’t just a means to an end but a unique event in itself. This leaf has jagged edges. This rock looks loose. From this place the snow is less visible, even though closer. These are things you should notice anyway. To live only for some future goal is shallow. It’s the sides of the mountain that sustain life, not the top. Here’s where things grow."
- The Zen and Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
Rest in peace, Robert M. Pirsig

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Sontag and Hem on solitude and the writing life

Thanks to an Annie Rose Facebook share, I read Ernest Hemingway's thoughts on solitude and the writing life from his 1954 Nobel Prize speech. The entry begins with Susan Sontag:

“One can never be alone enough to write,” Susan Sontag observed. Solitude, in fact, seems central to many great writers’ daily routines — so much so, it appears, that part of the writer’s curse might be the ineffable struggle to submit to the spell of solitude and escape the grip of loneliness at the same time.

Follow the link for more.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

No-No Boy by John Okada

I read somewhere in the before and after material of the University of Washington edition of No-No Boy that John Okada's family urged his wife to discard his writing after his death from a heart attack at age 47. She burned all of his manuscripts and journals, so that the already published No-No Boy and a note about a page in length are all that remain of the writing of the first Japanese-American novelist. 

On the other hand I've noticed a peculiar lack of interest from friends and family in my manuscripts, journals, papers, and Walter Kaufmann mass-market paperback Nietzsches kept chilled in an unheated storage space in North Philadelphia. The rent continues to inch ahead there, but not once has a storage-space manager called to alert me to the busy clangs of manic relatives beating on the lock and door of my space, intent on setting fire to my literary remains. For now, my papers survive, as do I, soon to make it past the goalpost of 47 although I haven't helped my chances with recent entree and sandwich selections.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

thank you, #CEA17.

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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 ...