Monday, February 26, 2007

The Top Ten: Writers Picks Their Favorite Books

Click to find out: What are your top ten?

Here's my current--and always evolving--list, in no particular order:

1. The Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Milan Kundera

2. The Times Are Never So Bad by Andre Dubus

3. Birds of America by Lorrie Moore

4. Mrs. Bridge by Evan S. Connell

5. Wise Blood by Flannery O'Connor

6. The Complete Short Stories by Flannery O'Connor

7. As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner

8. Childhood by Harry Crews

9. The Orchid Thief by Susan Orlean

10. Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim by David Sedaris

Friday, February 23, 2007

"Time for Reading" by Lindsay Waters: it's worth your time.

An excerpt:

The issue is more than just savoring literary experience. I am suggesting that there is more than meets the eye in reading, literally. If we attend to the time of reading, we might notice that our relationship to a literary work changes over time. One consequence is that we begin to be charitable to "bad" readers, whether they are our students, our acquaintances, or our former selves. Most important, though, we learn to drop the idea that we can neatly distinguish good from bad reading because we realize that, at some time in the past, we were not up to reading a particular work. Or perhaps we see that while we missed a great deal, we did respond strongly to parts of the work. It begins to make sense, then, to track our career with a certain work, in order to open it up as literature.

Keats gave us a key insight into reading in his poem "On First Looking Into Chapman's Homer," about reading the English poet and dramatist George Chapman's translation of Homer's epics. As often as he had read Homer, Keats wrote, "Yet did I never breathe its pure serene/Till I heard Chapman speak out loud and bold."

I have increasingly come to believe that the key to reading is rereading. Paradoxically, rereading a literary work is not a quick business, but usually slower than the first time round. We learn that the first time we read too fast, and in a complicated feedback mechanism what was deeply buried in the text can emerge.

To read this piece (slowly and more than once) in its entirety, click here.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007


It's about you.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Fear of and Outrage over a Scrotum

Our children must be protected from the word "scrotum."


Saturday, February 3, 2007

No writer means more to me

An excerpt from "In Search of Flannery O'Connor" by Lawrence Downes.

O’Connor’s short stories and novels are set in a rural South where people know their places, mind their manners and do horrible things to one another. It’s a place that somehow hovers outside of time, where both the New Deal and the New Testament feel like recent history. It’s soaked in violence and humor, in sin and in God. He may have fled the modern world, but in O’Connor’s he sticks around, in the sun hanging over the tree line, in the trees and farm beasts, and in the characters who roost in the memory like gargoyles. It’s a land haunted by Christ — not your friendly hug-me Jesus, but a ragged figure who moves from tree to tree in the back of the mind, pursuing the unwilling.

For more, click here.

Friday, February 2, 2007

The final Harry Potter book due out on July 21, 2007; what will replace him?

Click here.