The Pale King, by David Foster Wallace

The book is scheduled for release on April 15, 2011 so the message of Bookstores, Fans Outraged Over Pale King Ebook Release is understandable…lawsuits coming? And here is some early criticism of the soon to be posthumously published book—”The reduction of Wallace to an empathy machine.”

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Andrew Klaven, Beowulf & Thrillers

A fine essay on Beowulf by Andrew Klaven with a reference to Thrillers: 100 Must Reads, which includes his essay.

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Fruitlands—One of History’s Most Unsuccessful Utopias Ever

From 3 Quarks Daily, the story of an 1843 vegan commune in Massachusetts called Fruitlands, with further clarification at Literary Review, a book review of Fruitlands: The Alcott Family and Their Search for Utopia by Richard Francis. It’s about author Louisa May Alcott’s dysfunctional (my word) family and the “notorious catastrophe” that ensued.

The comment from Nate Zuckerman pretty much corresponds to my sentiments:

A nice review …however, this might have been the worst of the communes, or experiments, but the “better” one, Brook Farm, also failed. What then does this teach or tell us about such undertakings?

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William Faulkner Audios

This Newsweek article is dated, but a treasure can be found at UVA’s link below—by Malcolm Jones July 20, 2010:

Faulkner speaks! Fifty years after he spent two years as writer in residence at the University of Virginia, the school has posted online recordings of the two addresses, the dozen readings, and the 1,400 questions that students, faculty, and interested townspeople of Charlottesville, Va., posed to the author. For Faulkner fans, these 28 hours of talking and reading are Christmas in July.

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10 Famous Authors Who Went Hollywood

Found here with videos and commentary, via First Thoughts. They are: Dorothy Parker, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Raymond Chandler, William Faulkner, John Steinbeck, Evan Hunter, Stephen King, Larry McMurtry, Dave Eggers, and Nick Hornby.

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Elmore Leonard Interview—”The Dickens of Detroit”

The interview can be read at Metro Times, found at Paul Davis in Crime.


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Watchmaker or Music Maker

Frank Wilson’s column at When Falls the Coliseum provides some brief but thoughtful commentary on the nature of God, implying that God is other than we are, hardly the modern progressive view. In a world seemingly committed to philosophical materialism, religious fundamentalism, or pantheistic humanitarianism, it’s difficult to even have a conversation—kudos to Frank for shedding some light.

And I liked this C.S. Lewis quote: “We all want progress, but if you’re on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; in that case, the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive.”

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Not the 50 books you must read before you die

Found at First Thoughts; and of course there are plenty of comments. The list is at The Telegraph. I particularly enjoyed his comment on #39, a book I stopped reading at the half-way point vowing never to revisit:

Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt

A lovely book about an Irish childhood, although indirectly responsible for a decade of misery memoirs: “No, Daddy, not there” etc.

And #11. I slogged through it, recalling little enjoyment in doing so:

One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez

Like trying to get to grips with seven generations of your Colombian exchange student’s family tree.

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Review: “The Use and Abuse of Literature”

This book review of The Use and Abuse of Literature, by Marjorie Garber (Hat tip Fred Lapides) opens with:

Why read? You’d think that with the e-book and the Internet, with Google searching and channel surfing, the experience of curling up with a good book is as archaic as a buggy ride. You’d think, too, that with graphic novels and celebrity memoirs, and with Wikipedia offering their entries in “simple English,” the very idea of literature itself had disappeared and, along with it, the language of craft and cadence that made memorable all writers from Shakespeare to Shaw.

Not so, argues Marjorie Garber, in “The Use and Abuse of Literature,” an immensely readable yet vastly erudite reflection on the history of literary writing, literary criticism and the social value of both. Garber, a renowned Harvard professor, offers us a lesson in community and common sense in her book. Less a polemic than a meditation, she poses all the central questions of a literate person’s life: What do we mean by literature today? Why study it? Is there a form of writing that is not literary?


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10 Great Documentaries Available on Demand

I’ve not yet seen any of them, but mental_floss blog has the list—available via Netflix. They look interesting. And yes, there are ten, but only nine show trailers.

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