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21. The Best American Essays 2004
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22. The Art of Fiction : Notes on
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23. One Man's Meat
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24. The Plot Thickens... Harry Potter
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25. Stranger Than Fiction : True Stories
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26. Under the Duvet : Shoes, Reviews,
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27. Hooking Up
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28. Slouching Towards Bethlehem :
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29. How Reading Changed My Life (Library
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30. Letters To A Young Therapist (Art
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31. The Brief Bedford Reader
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32. Loud and Clear
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33. A Collection of Essays
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34. Self-Reliance and Other Essays
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35. The Writing Life
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36. Here Is New York
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37. Crafting the Very Short Story:
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38. Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches
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39. How to Be Alone: Essays
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40. For the New Intellectual

21. The Best American Essays 2004 (Best American Essays)
list price: $14.00
our price: $10.50
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Asin: 0618357092
Catlog: Book (2004-10-14)
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
Sales Rank: 2103
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Book Description

Since its inception in 1915, the Best American series has become the premier annual showcase for the country's finest short fiction and nonfiction. For each volume, a series editor reads pieces from hundreds of periodicals, then selects between fifty and a hundred outstanding works. That selection is pared down to the twenty or so very best pieces by a guest editor who is widely recognized as a leading writer in his or her field. This unique system has helped make the Best American series the most respected -- and most popular -- of its kind. Here you will find another "splendid array of unpredictable and delectable essays" (Booklist), chosen by the Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Louis Menand, another collection with "delights on every page" (Dallas Morning News). The Best American Essays once again earns its place as the liveliest and leading annual of its kind. ... Read more


22. The Art of Fiction : Notes on Craft for Young Writers
by JOHN GARDNER
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Asin: 0679734031
Catlog: Book (1991-06-04)
Publisher: Vintage
Sales Rank: 11095
Average Customer Review: 3.83 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (42)

4-0 out of 5 stars Good, not god-like
Okay, first the negatives. Mr. Gardner is (was) a hard-core literary snob. He has no use for 'pornography', horror, science fiction, romance, or anything like that, and at times seems to view the whole purpose of writing as more an extension of the practice of philosophy than as either an art or a craft.

However, within that context he still has a lot of good advice that any writer, including what Gardner would describe as a 'trash' writer, would do well to consider. His chapters on fiction as the art of producing a credible dream-like state in the reader are right on target, and his discussion of the roots of various types of fiction (the short story, the folkloric tale, etc.) are highly edifying. His Helen of Troy example of step-by-step story building could be used to add depth and complexity to even the most straightforward of genre tales.

Overall, I must give hearty approval to this book, even though I feel sure that the author would not give hearty approval to me!

3-0 out of 5 stars The Good Stuff is Buried in Wordy Prose
I'm a journalist and writing teacher and do not think this book is very well-written or reader-friendly. It's dense, wordy, sometimes pompous and intimidating, too. At times, Gardner seems to be putting down young writers. I made myself read his book since I've been hearing that it's a classic for years. Finally, after three attempts, I got to some good stuff in it--i.e. don't put yourself between the reader and the story or say things like, 'Mary saw...'--just tell us what she saw and make it more direct. But there is far too much to wade through! I much prefer books like BIRD BY BIRD or IF YOU WANT TO WRITE for inspiration (they don't put you down)and SELF-EDITING FOR FICTION WRITERS for craft (a gem of a book, beautifully written). If this book were not written by a noted novelist, I doubt that it would have been published without substantial editing. I think it's more disheartening than encouraging of young writers and writers in general.

4-0 out of 5 stars Still relevant for writers today
I recently re-read this classic book on writing fiction, and found it as relevant today as it was when it was first published. Because Gardner strives for "higher art", his musings and instructions for the beginner go much deeper than ordinary how-to books. His lengthy chapter titled "Interest and Truth" gets to the heart of what fiction needs to be, whether one is writing literary fiction or a crime novel. His "Common Errors" chapter, although relatively short and sounding as basic as one can get, offers some of the best advice on how to improve one's writing, from suggestions to creating dynamic sentences to how to imbue narrative with emotion. "Technique" covers topics such as paying attention to rhythm and word choice and building narrative suspense. Although I yawned during the chapter on plot - Gardner's diagrams and attempts at describing structure were too mechanical for my tastes, I'm sure some readers will read it voraciously. Likewise, his thorough compilation of writing exercises will have some reaching eagerly for their keyboards. I found that the sections that had interested me on my first reading years ago were not the same ones that intrigued me this time, suggesting that this book can grow with the writer.

The biggest flaw in this book, and one which might drive some readers away, is Gardner's personal biases. His intense interest in myth and classics drove his fiction, and it weighs heavily in the examples he provides. Also, he favors examples from his contemporaries - Barthleme, Coover, Barth - who might not interest younger writers who read a different set of cutting edge authors. Still, you need not be familiar with Gardner's examples to understand his points, as he himself makes few assumptions about the reader/student.

Even professional writers can benefit from Gardner's reminders since a revisiting of ideas can only sharpen one's fiction. Aspiring writers will leave these pages with an eagerness to attack their own work and with a set of wise guidelines to help them achieve their best work.

1-0 out of 5 stars old-fashioned elitist boredom
This is a fairly helpful book for those born before the '70s-- a time when "a yarn" wasn't an archaic term. Does it give some helpful hints? Sure, there's the obvious ones like show don't tell and all characters have free will. But fiction has changed a lot since Henry James (thankfully), and this book might be better left unread. Plus, I don't buy the "only people who aren't well-read don't like it" argument. I've read nearly all the books mentioned and I still wish I never bought this book.

5-0 out of 5 stars Goes Beyond Technique
This writer goes beyond mere technique and talks about what fiction really is and how it works its magic. Any writer wants to use fiction should have this understanding of the fiction tool.

Get it. It might be slow going at first because you have been dumbed down. Stay with it and something will happen deep in your brain. It will be good. ... Read more


23. One Man's Meat
by E. B. White
list price: $14.95
our price: $10.17
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Asin: 0884481921
Catlog: Book (1997-07-01)
Publisher: Tilbury House Publishers
Sales Rank: 30057
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Nonfiction Large Print Edition In print for fifty-five years, One Mans Meat continues to delight readers with E.B. Whites witty, succinct observations on daily life at a Maine saltwater farm. Too personal for an almanac, too sophisticated for a domestic history, and too funny and self-doubting for a literary journal, One Mans Meat can best be described as a primer of a countrymans lessonsa timeless recounting of experience that will never go out of style. ... Read more

Reviews (4)

3-0 out of 5 stars A simpler time...
Once upon a time i belonged to a book club. This was one of our choices. I have been trying to pull out fragments of memory. What i recall most fondly is that E.B. White's observations were tinted with a certain innocence. Why did we become so jaded? The last 50 years have brought along a heightened level of cynicism, and it was refreshing to read a grown man's slightly naïve comments.

At the same time, after a while I became a bit bored with the simplistic remarks of life in the country. My own shortcoming, not the book's.

5-0 out of 5 stars A war-time celebration of the American Experiment
This collection of essays is such a fine book; it deserves a much better commentary than it currently has here. And given the times we live in, its subject matter is particularly timely for American readers -- the period of history leading up to the attack on Pearl Harbor and the early years of the war effort -- all told from the point of view of a thoughtful writer on a small farm in Maine.

White had moved there with his wife and young son from New York, where he'd been writing for The New Yorker, and took up country living, turning his attention to the annual round of the seasons, farm work, the nearby seaside, and the company of independent rural people. Most of the essays in this collection were written and published monthly in Harpers from July 1938 to January 1943. In them, there is White's awareness of the ominous threat of fascism emerging in Europe, as well as the vulnerability that Americans felt as they found themselves facing prolonged armed conflict with powerful enemies. These were dark days, and they provide a constant undertone in these otherwise upbeat essays about rural and small-town life.

And they are upbeat, celebrating the pleasures and gentle ironies of daily life with a few side trips into the world beyond -- the birth of a lamb, paying taxes, farm dogs, hay fever, raising chickens, Sunday mornings, radio broadcasts, civil defense drills, a visit to Walden pond, a day at the World's Fair, and unrealistic Hollywood portrayals of the pastoral. There is also here his famous essay "Once More to the Lake."

In many ways, the world he writes about is gone forever. But it's a world whose spirit remains at the heart of the national identity -- participatory democracy, individualism, citizenship, self-discovery, and self-reliance. Reading these essays, while they are often about seemingly trivial matters, you sense White's deepening faith in the American Experiment -- a belief in America as a work in progress.

And, of course, there is the famous White style, both simple and elegant. Its language, sentence structure, and movement of thought convey both sharpness of mind and generosity of spirit, in a manner that looks and sounds easy, but it is very hard to imitate. I recommend this book to anyone with an interest in the WWII homefront, the essay as a literary form, and a curiosity about rural life before farm subsidies and agribusiness.

5-0 out of 5 stars The Window Into White's Soul
Understanding E.B. White is not an easy task. He was a reserved man, very straightforward in his writing and simple in nature. However, White found that he was able to express himself with his writing, and none of his books is a more direct window into his soul than "One Man's Meat." Written over the course of White's later years of living on a Maine farm, this book contains witty accounts of geographic novelty, reminiscences on the promise of youth, and powerful insights into the little things in life that can make all the difference. No reader of E.B. White can gain a full knowledge of what the man was all about without having thoroughly digested this book.

5-0 out of 5 stars More satisfying than banana pudding.
For one who aspires to write well--the most delicious book I've ever read. The words "witty" and "sharp" come to mind, but poorly describe White and his work. Maybe, no words do with any degree of accuracy and right praise. ... Read more


24. The Plot Thickens... Harry Potter Investigated by Fans for Fans
by Galadriel Waters
list price: $18.95
our price: $18.95
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Asin: 0972393633
Catlog: Book (2004-11-10)
Publisher: Wizarding World Press
Sales Rank: 1972
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Book Description

Have you got your wits about you?

JK Rowling challenged her fans to use their wits, and now her fans have responded. She's dribbled clues through her interviews, website, and of course the books. Where are the hints and how should we interpret them?

If you're tired of chewing on your quill alone, pondering the possibilities, then join 53 fans from 10 countries, as they investigate cauldronfuls of sly clues, shedding new light on the mysteries hiding within JK Rowling’s pages. Her bubbling brew of characters is becoming thick with suspects:

* What's up with Aunt Petunia?
* Is Gilderoy permanently disabled?
* Is Percy really a git?
* Where is Gran Longbottom’s allegiance?
* How does time travel work?
* Is there still something odd with Mad-Eye?
* Whose side is Snape on?

Through the magic of the Internet community, our authors have been brought together from the Mighty MuggleNet "Chamber of Secrets" and "New Clues" forums to discuss the clues and hints in the Harry Potter septology. Transfigured from Internet posters to new authors, they have written The Plot Thickens...Harry Potter Investigated by Fans for Fans brimming with new thoughts and theories on what may be one of the best-loved literary epics of all time. Just like Wizarding World Press's Ultimate Unofficial Guide to the Mysteries of Harry Potter this new book can be a great starting point for those fans who wish to examine the series in depth.

As the plot begins to truly thicken, these author-sleuths have conjured a collection of discussions, character analyses, and theories that will hook up your fireplace flue to the busiest Brain Room outside of the Department of Mysteries. Read fascinating scrolls that delve below the surface of over 60 topics, and peer ahead to what is yet to come. Share in the bouts of speculation. Investigate with your fellow fans as they weave together the threads of this mystery...worry with them over what tragedies still await our beloved Harry.

Wizarding World Press invites you to come, join our discussion, as from one fan to another we respond to JK Rowling's challenge by using our wits to decipher this great mystery. Here is a unique, fun book, and a unique opportunity to experience the magic.

Note: Major spoilers included! Do not read this unless you have read all five Harry Potter books. The Plot Thickens...Harry Potter Investigated by Fans for Fans is a collection of articles by international authors--it is not the Ultimate Unofficial Guide to Book 5. ... Read more


25. Stranger Than Fiction : True Stories
by CHUCK PALAHNIUK
list price: $23.95
our price: $16.76
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Asin: 0385504489
Catlog: Book (2004-06-15)
Publisher: Doubleday
Sales Rank: 1212
Average Customer Review: 3.92 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Chuck Palahniuk's world has always been, well, different from yours and mine.The pieces that comprise Stranger than Fiction, his first nonfiction collection, prove just how different, in ways both highly entertaining and deeply unsettling.Included are encounters with alternative culture heroes Marilyn Manson and Juliette Lewis; the peculiar wages of fame attendant on the big-budget film production of the movie Fight Club; life as an assembly-line drivetrain installer by day, hospice volunteer driver by night; the really peculiar lives of submariners; the really violent world (and mangled ears) of college wrestlers; the underground world of iron-pumping anabolic-steroid gobblers; the immensely upsetting circumstances of his father's murder and the trial of his killer—each essay or vignette offers a unique facet of existence as lived in and/or observed by one of our most flagrantly daring and original literary talents.

... Read more

Reviews (12)

2-0 out of 5 stars yeah, right.
Imagine if *talented* documentary filmmaker Michael Moore set up a tripod in a trailer park and just pressed 'record,' returning at the end of the day to claim the filled tape, you would have the first segment (titled 'People Together') of Chuck Palahniuk's new book, "Stranger Than Fiction," a nonfiction anthology. This first section might have you falling in and out of consciousness, as I was, with the author's description of boondock sex shows and combine demolition derbies, and...zzzzzzzz. Oh, sorry, nodded off for a moment. The second section, 'Portraits', is a series of blandly-written interviews with pseudo-celebrities (Juliette Lewis, Marilyn Manson, and a suck-up to Ira Levin, the only author who would write anything kind about Palahniuk's "Diary"). And the third section, 'Personal'--the most brief and interesting--deals with a handful of real-life experiences that have influenced Palahniuk's work (including the disturbing details of his father's death).

Unfortunately, this autheticity and interest enters far too late to have any chance of redeeming this flat, meandering book, which seems to have no rhyme or reason except to help Mr. Palahniuk pay his bills this month. The stylistic cleverness, sharp satire, and dark humor that punctuated "Fight Club," "Survivor," and "Lullaby" seems like a distant ghost Palahniuk has lost contact with, and it shows. I'm really beginning to wonder if the aforementioned novels were as great as I remember them being, and if I just wasn't swept up in the tidal wave of philosophical brilliance in "Fight Club" that caused me not to question the author's authority. For a while, Palahniuk seemed to be ushering in an era of renewed expectation for modern fiction, but with his increasing yearly output, it's becoming painfully obvious he's having a hard time keeping up. I'd rather wait five years for one well-developed narrative or memoir instead of receiving two substandard pieces of writing in a year. But like Marilyn Manson, Palahniuk's shock value has ceased to be shocking, his style has become predictable, and if he hopes to keep his fan base, he'd better concentrate on expanding his talents outward as opposed to keeping them confined, as he has with "Stranger Than Fiction." Another total letdown, redeemed somewhat by the last section.

5-0 out of 5 stars I Loved It
A fantastic book. A bit of a departure from "Fight Club" but still a great book. I have to agree it has a lot in common with "My Fractured Life" which is good. The strangeness in fact has wonderful pull and reward. I loved it.

3-0 out of 5 stars Possessing a few full and a few hollow promises.
I started reading Chuck Palahniuk's books a few years ago when I read Fight Club and loved it, so Stranger Than Fiction seemed like an interesting read, and for the most part it was. It's nonfiction, and the stories it tells are interesting while giving us a little insight on how Chuck's mind actually works.

What we're given is a compilation of stories and articles Chuck had written for magazines, so for those of us that don't buy into magazines, it's interesting to finally see some of the stuff he's written for them. The downside is that not all of the stories are interesting.

The stories about steriod use, a day as a dog, the submarine, and the psychics are all great reads, ones that I enjoyed a lot. The personal ones were also good, which felt more like excerpts from a novel he may have written than magazine articles, but there are also the boring ones, which unfortunately bring the score down a few notches. I was personally bored by the article about castles. I bought the book to hear more Palahniuk's voice, and some of the articles do deliver, but then there are others that do not have the voice or sounds a little rough around the edges.

All in all, it's good if you have a little time and want to read another Palahniuk book, but don't be expecting another Fight Club.

5-0 out of 5 stars In Fine Company
Crazy, sick, and wickedly good. These are just a few ways to describe my wandering feelings about 'Stranger Than Fiction' by Chuck Palahniuk as he wanders from subject to subject. His meandering thoughts that always seem to come back home to make a point and come together in fascinating round about story fashion is amazing. Really the only true comparisons are 'My Fractured Life' by Rikki Lee Travolta and 'Tenacity of the Cockroach' from the editors of The Onion newspaper. 'Stranger Than Fiction' is on the same level of brilliance as both of those books. It is just as unpredictable and engrossing, and just as rewarding.

5-0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Departure
I have always been a fan of Chuck Palahniuk's fiction writing and really enjoyed this foray into the facts behind his fiction. The combination of facts and editorializing with witty storytelling is very similar to Rikki Lee Travolta's "My Fractured Life" (which I bought because of comparisons to Palahniuk's writing style in "Fight Club" and "Diary"). Fans of "My Factured Life" will really enjoy this departure for Palahniuk. ... Read more


26. Under the Duvet : Shoes, Reviews, Having the Blues, Builders, Babies, Families and Other Calamities
by Marian Keyes
list price: $12.95
our price: $9.71
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Asin: 0060562080
Catlog: Book (2004-01-01)
Publisher: Perennial
Sales Rank: 8873
Average Customer Review: 3.38 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

From the acclaimed bestselling author of Sushi for Beginners and Angels comes a collection of personal essays on shopping, writing, moviemaking, motherhood and all the assorted calamities involved in being a savvy woman in the new millennium.

Her novels are read and adored by millions around the world, and with Under the Duvet, Marian Keyes tackles the world of nonfiction. These are her collected pieces: regular bulletins from the woman writing under the covers.

Marian loves shoes and her LTFs (Long-Term Friends), hates realtors and lost luggage, and she once had a Christmas office party that involved roasting two sheep on a spit, Moroccan-style. She's just like you and me ...

Featuring a wide compilation of Marian's journalism from magazines and newspapers, plus some exclusive, previously unpublished material, Under the Duvet is bursting with funny stories: observations on life, in-laws, weight loss, parties and driving lessons that will keep you utterly gripped -- either wincing with recognition or roaring with laughter.

... Read more

Reviews (13)

5-0 out of 5 stars A True Feel of the Emerald Isle
What a joy ... just like finding a pot of gold under a rainbow! Marian Keyes has us longing for a return to the Emerald Isle with a fun book that is best read by sticking a finger in the pages and finding the start of a chapter!

From an author who writes in bed readers will be transposed into the Irish mindset and if you really try you can slow the pace of your life and be one with the Irish for a moment or two.

The anthology of columns shows that Marian's writing has great effect for a quickie read as well as being enveloped in her novels.

3-0 out of 5 stars Mostly for Fans
Under the Duvet is the latest of a small genre that consists of the short non-fiction works (columns, essays, random thoughts) of writers who are better-known for their novels. George Orwell may fit this category, but I am thinking more along the lines of Alice Thomas Ellis and Sue Townsend. ...

So how does Marian Keyes's new book measure up? Under the Duvet starts promisingly, with a short piece about the life of a not-so-glamorous novelist, and a previously unpublished essay about the eight months she wrote a cosmeticscolumn for a magazine. These are probably the best bits in the book.

Maybe you have to enjoy the fiction of the author to also enjoy their non-fiction. I confess I have not read any of Keyes's fiction. There's too much in Under the Duvet about shopping and shoes for my taste, but readers of Keyes's fiction might find that a plus.

Some of the pieces are on subjects that desperately need an original angle, but are not getting it here. For instance, on her trip to Los Angeles, Keyes predictably mentions the smog, [breast] jobs and botox, and the fact that no one walks. And I probably wouldn't have noticed her over-fondness for the word "eejit" (idiot) if I had read these pieces over time, rather than in two days.

Still, I enjoyed reading these essays and columns, and although they haven't inspired me to read Keyes's fiction[.] ...

4-0 out of 5 stars True to life stories
i have read several of marian keyes' books and this one makes me feel like i know the author a little bit. it is nice to know that authors are human and not just tied up in the sometimes glitzy world they present in their books. if your life is not perfect and you haven't done everything right then you might just find this book comforting.

2-0 out of 5 stars Disappointing
I've liked or really liked most of Ms. Keyes' novels, but this book was a total disappointment. Boring and trite and totally not worth the money. Try her fiction stories instead.

1-0 out of 5 stars A Review
I have read several of Marian Keyes books. They were entertaining. However, 'Under the Duvet' makes Webster's Dctionary interesting reading. ... Read more


27. Hooking Up
by Tom Wolfe
list price: $13.00
our price: $9.75
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Asin: 0312420234
Catlog: Book (2001-10-12)
Publisher: Picador
Sales Rank: 6027
Average Customer Review: 4.08 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

In Hooking Up, Tom Wolfe ranges from coast to coast observing 'the lurid carnival actually taking place in the mightiest country on earth in the year 2000.' From teenage sexual manners and mores to fundamental changes in the way human beings now regard themselves thanks to the hot new fields of genetics and neuroscience; from his legendary profile of William Shawn, editor of The New Yorker (first published in 1965), to a remarkable portrait of Bob Noyce, the man who invented Silicon Valley, Tom Wolfe the master of reportage and satire returns in vintage form.
... Read more

Reviews (49)

4-0 out of 5 stars a mixed bag
Wolfe's collection 'Hooking Up' is described as a book that talks about sex, courtship, and the 'hooking up' of males and females in today's society. It's not exactly that. What it is, is a collection of essays and fiction collected by Wolfe and thrown together. Nothing wrong with that, but I want to make sure no one is fooled like I was. That being said, it is a pretty good collection of work. It's divided into five parts.

Part 1 (Hooking Up) contains the title essay, one which deals with sex and courtship, then and now. Wolfe doesn't deliver anything new or shocking here.

Part 2 (The Human Beast) contains 3 essays. The first deals with the rise of Pentium and the silicon revolution. Wolfe's skill as a journalist is evident here, but the reading is a bit slow. Both of the other essays deal with the digital revolution. It's a topic Wolfe can write about, but not one that is enjoyable to read.

Part 3 (Vita Robusta, Ars Anorexica) contains four essays. My favorite piece that I've read by Wolfe is "My Three Stooges." Wolfe uses his wit to poke fun at Updike, Mailer, and John Irving, who attacked Wolfe's _A Man in Full_ when it was published. It's a great essay, and you see Wolfe's talents in full. I loved it. There is also his essay "The Invisible Artist" which contains Wolfe's thought on 'modern art' and the sculptor who designed the sculpture at the Viet Nam Memorial and other works we all recognize, but don't know the artist (and even, as Wolfe points out, may not consider the works art).

The next section contains Wolfe's novells "Ambush at Fort Bragg", which is the only fiction in the collection, but it's a good story.

The final section is 'The New Yorker Affair' in which Wolfe spoofed the New Yorker by doing a profile of their editor. It's a great section.

The New Yorker Affair, Ambush at Fort Bragg, and my favorite essay "My Three Stooges" show Wolfe at his best, and they alone are worth the price of the collection. And I'm sure you'll get some enjoyment out of the other pieces as well.

5-0 out of 5 stars another great read
Although not every essay will be appreciated equally by all readers, the overall quality of Wolfe's writing is superb, and this book is a great read. One of the most important essays he has ever written is here, "In the Land of the Rococo Marxist...", wherein he raises a vital question we should all be asking: What did we hear from all the Marxists, pro-Communists, and leftist liberals when Communist died, and all its flaws were revealed forever? Why didn't any of the blind, ignorant people who supported these empty excuses for "civilization", and who repeatedly excused those "evil empires" (i.e., the Soviet Union and Communist China), have any excuse or apology for the rest of us? Many supposedly-educated people supported those political states for years, ignoring all evidence of their evil and repressive nature, and now that they have been absolutely proven wrong, Wolfe wonders where they are now. He is asking why they have no comment, no excuse, no explanation, and the reader, after reading Wolfe here, wonders also. The author does a fabulous job reviewing some of their now-dead views and leveling proper criticism. His essay on this topic is extremely interesting and relevant. His pieces on the history of Silicon Valley (Noyce), "Two Young Men Who Went West.", and on "Hooking Up" are both quite good, although for different reasons. "Two Young Men..." gives such a detailed history of the cultural and historical background of the Silicon Valley developments, it is a "must read" for all who are affected by digital technology--which is to say, nearly everyone. "Hooking Up" is an eye-opener for most readers over the age of 25 or 30. I've heard people I work with use that phrase many times, and I thought I knew what they meant; now that I've read Wolfe's piece, I sure have to re-think some of those conversations. Read and learn. Some criticism that Wolfe's pieces in this work are of uneven quality seems unjustified when you consider the extreme high quality of the best and the fine quality of the rest. A very entertaining and informative book, and it is sure to be thought-provoking for most who pick it up.

4-0 out of 5 stars Wolfe Scores
I've previously enjoyed The Right Stuff and Wolfe's two novels, but I had never read any of his essays or short stories. "Hooking Up" was an excellent, accessible introduction into these genres. The essays in the book cover a range of topics about modern America including its sexual mores, the rise of technology, art and contemporary novels. He makes many great arguments for the greatness and unique character of America and uses his intelligent wit, knowledge of philosophy and historical facts to make strong cases. His writing, as always, is excellent and the stories were insightful. This collection also includes a novella that is both fun and concise (not always Wolfe's strong suit). I think this is a fabulous book for Wolfe fans like myself, but also good for people who want a quick introduction to him without committing to an 800 page novel. Further, it would be great reading for people interested in American Studies and provides a good starting point for lengthy debates. This is a very good book and well worth purchasing.

4-0 out of 5 stars More than half of book is great!
I am a fan of Tom Wolfe because I have so often put down books of fiction thinking, "This ding-a-ling author is just making all this stuff up. It is not informative, nor inspiring and has no relevance to my life.I don't have time for this!" With Wolfe I feel like he is a more honest friend, sharing more real experiences. He gives at least some actual clues about aspects of America that affect me, but I might otherwise never see....There are also wonderful references to Nietsche, American and European history, many American novelists, and there is a great prescription on how to write a good novel.
BUT I was disappointed in much of these essays. My favorite essay may have been "...the Rococco Marxists"...and I was surprised that he was not more critical of certain American professors. He may have politely suggested otherwise but ended with the conclusion that "all" many college professors "really want" is 'to be aloof from the bourgeois'...Monks want to be aloof like this. Is he saying they are holy monks? These professors enjoy many aspects of celebrity: wonderful long vacations all over the world, fine houses, cars, restauraunts, hotels, a sex life better than the most of us? More importantly they may have profound effects on our very powerful class of lawyers and judges, people in the media, etc. I was left with the impression that Wolfe is more worried about offending his own peer group than speaking honestly about some of these issues.
Re: "Ambush at Fort Bragg"....Was it really necessary to have one of the villains go on at great length about his fellow villains' heroic deeds at Mogadishu...a retelling of "Blackhawk Down" ...when they were confronted with damning evidence that the 3 of them had murdered a homosexual in their unit? I think Wolfe might argue 'Yes, that is the whole point...' but it seemed in bad taste, and curious as Wolfe is elsewhere saying some very patriotic things. Surely there was a better way to do this piece. And what is with throwing pies at a miserable jewish insider again? The TV news producer was jewish wasn't he? Is Wolfe running out of funny ideas? Aren't all his jewish friends getting pissed off?....
I loved the stories about the Fairchild Semiconductor founders, and the Harvard zoology-Ant-genius who caused such a controversy; I was puzzled that there was not discussion of the old, non-controversial view that man is part genetic traits and part social learning (nurture vs nature) This Harvard professor did not invent 'trait theory'. ....I didn't like "The New Yorker" parody and related pieces and couldn't finish them... prfairley@hotmail.com

2-0 out of 5 stars I just don't think he's that original.
Of Tom Wolfe, I've read thus far: Hooking Up, A Man in Full, and Bonfire of the Vanities -- but I think I'm done. His "observations" -- and his capacity for observation is the very quality for which so many reviewers are lamentably insistent upon praising him - evince, at best, a rudimentary understanding of modern culture, and most of his readers under 40 know it; or at least those who haven't been [swayed] by his reputation (though that, too, is waning). Bonfire was hardly of the earth-shattering importance with which so many ebullient reviewers infused it, and continue, in reviewing other novels, to offhandedly proliferate; A Man in Full was quite a lot worse, particularly the parts where Wolfe felt obliged to demonstrate his "keen ear" for the African American argot; and now he's gone and proven himself a pontificating windbag. One is actually embarrassed (the sort of vicarious embarrassment one feels violated for having been forced to experience) when he musters the effrontery to upbraid Updike, Irving and Mailer for their unanimous dislike of his meandering, clumsy novel with its contrived dialogue and characters and its idiosyncratic plotline, which ironically might not have been so utterly bereft of charm in Irving's hands. ... Read more


28. Slouching Towards Bethlehem : Essays
by Joan Didion
list price: $14.00
our price: $10.50
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Asin: 0374521727
Catlog: Book (1990-10-01)
Publisher: Noonday Press
Sales Rank: 30199
Average Customer Review: 4.39 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Universally acclaimed when it was first published in 1968, Slouching Towards Bethlehem has become a modern classic. More than any other book of its time, this collection captures the mood of 1960s America, especially the center of its counterculture, California. These essays, keynoted by an extraordinary report on San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury, all reflect that, in one way or another, things are falling apart, "the center cannot hold." An incisive look at contemporary American life, Slouching Towards Bethlehem has been admired for several decades as a stylistic masterpiece.

Contents:

I. LIFE STYLES IN THE GOLDEN LAND
Some Dreamers of the Golden Dream
John Wayne: A Love Song
Where the Kissing Never Stops
Comrade Laski, C.P.U.S.A. (M.-L.)
7000 Romaine, Los Angeles 38
California Dreaming
Marrying Absurd
Slouching Towards Bethlehem

II. PERSONALS
On Keeping a Notebook
On Self-Respect
I Can't Get That Monster out of My Mind
On Morality
On Going Home

III. SEVEN PLACES OF THE MIND
Notes from a Native Daughter
Letter from Paradise, 21° 19' N., 157° 52' W
Rock of Ages
The Seacoast of Despair
Guaymas, Sonora
Los Angeles Notebook
Goodbye to All That
... Read more

Reviews (18)

5-0 out of 5 stars America's finest essayist, at her finest
I have owned several copies of this book, and have given away more copies than I can count. It's a book I come back to, at least once a year since 1980, when I first read it. It seems to me to be better and better each time. The times it's about may be long gone, but the issues at the heart of these essays haven't changed much at all.

Much has been made of Didion's take on California, and this book is laden with essays about the place, and the people, and a particular time that - as other reviewers here have noted - has a different resonance in popular culture than the one she presents here. Didion herself recently professed some alarm at the idea that she is an expert on the place (in 'Where I Was From'), but there's no doubt that she's provided more food for thought about contemporary culture than almost anyone else.

But the real strength of her writing is in her prose style, in which not a single sentence is sloppy, or ill-considered. Her style is distinctive, but it's not just for show. There are other fine essayists working today, but few are as disciplined and considered as Didion in the way they write.

It's probably a toss-up as to whether this book or 'The White Album' is a better place to start with Didion's work. I think 'The White Album' is a more cohesive collection, but there are better individual essays in 'Slouching', including the sublime essays in the 'Personals' section. And chances are that once you've read one, you'll read the other, and in that case it makes sense to start with the earlier collection, which is this one.

4-0 out of 5 stars American Anomie
This classic 1968 work is justly renowned as Joan Didion's finest collection of essays. Its central theme - and the theme behind much of what Didion writes - is the atomisation of American culture, the way in which things have fallen apart and left millions adrift from the cultural and ethical moorings that their ancestors took for granted. 33 years later, it is ironic to look back on the period that the writer depicts with such grim pathos when it is celebrated as a time of idealism and freedom by the survivors of the sixties. Many pieces in the first and third sections of the book ("Lifestyles in the Golden Land" and "Seven Places of the Mind") seem rather dated; the piece which made the most impression on this reviewer was the least ambitious of the group; to me, the portrait of Comrade Laski of the CPUSA-ML is a tiny masterpiece of irony. The pieces from the second section ("Personals")were much more enjoyable, especially "On Keeping a Notebook" and "On Self-Respect." Overall, "Slouching Towards Bethlehem" is more memorable for the author's endearing prose style than for the individual essays.

5-0 out of 5 stars Superb
For anyone who, like me, is an outsider, but is fascinated by Los Angeles and California, this is a must-read. I read it before a recent California trip, and felt my journey was enriched for it.

5-0 out of 5 stars just call the whole thing great
These simple but strong essays will stick with you forever. Haunting images are everywhere. The first piece about a woman who kills her husband made me think of many uncomfortable things... and how the murder itself becomes the symbolic loss of a whole country. You can picture that burning Volkswagon long after you put down the book... While each essay is an homage of some sort, as well as an elegy, I still think the final one Goodbye to all That captures Didion's style more memorabley and sadly than the others. New York City as she describes it becomes almost mournful and bittersweet. Doesn't everyone who's been to NY remember their first time there? A fine collection of original reporting.

4-0 out of 5 stars Accurate Purveyor of American Culture
Joan Didion set the precedent for contemporary non-fiction in this, her most famous series of essays about American life. Though some of them are a bit dated (especially for younger readers who may not have directly witnessed the unfolding of the 60s), they do represent a wide cross-section of the best and worst of our society. "Slouching Towards Bethelem," the title essay, is written with such a deadpan manner it's hard not to laugh at loud at some points (Example: when a strung out kid asks Didion her age and she replies "32", he pauses then reflects, "Don't worry...there's old hippies, too.") But Didion is more than a casual observer of events...she really delves into the history of California and its people, so this is less a "light" read, but enjoyable and educational nonetheless. ... Read more


29. How Reading Changed My Life (Library of Contemporary Thought)
by ANNA QUINDLEN
list price: $10.00
our price: $7.50
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Asin: 0345422783
Catlog: Book (1998-08-25)
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Sales Rank: 11844
Average Customer Review: 4.44 out of 5 stars
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Amazon.com

A recurring theme throughout Anna Quindlen's How Reading Changed My Life is the comforting premise that readers are never alone. "There was waking, and there was sleeping. And then there were books," she writes, "a kind of parallel universe in which anything might happen and frequently did, a universe in which I might be a newcomer but never really a stranger. My real, true world." Later, she quotes editor Hazel Rochman: "Reading makes immigrants of us all. It takes us away from home, but, most important, it finds homes for us everywhere." Indeed, Quindlen's essays are full of the names of "friends," real or fictional--Anne of Green Gables and Heidi; Anthony Trollope and Jane Austen, to name just a few--who have comforted, inspired, educated, and delighted her throughout her life. In four short essays Quindlen shares her thoughts on the act of reading itself ("It is like the rubbing of two sticks together to make a fire, the act of reading, an improbable pedestrian task that leads to heat and light"); analyzes the difference between how men and women read ("there are very few books in which male characters, much less boys, are portrayed as devoted readers"); and cheerfully defends middlebrow literature:

Most of those so-called middlebrow readers would have readily admitted that the Iliad set a standard that could not be matched by What Makes Sammy Run? or Exodus. But any reader with common sense would also understand intuitively, immediately, that such comparisons are false, that the uses of reading are vast and variegated and that some of them are not addressed by Homer.
The Canon, censorship, and the future of publishing, not to mention that of reading itself, are all subjects Quindlen addresses withintelligence and optimism in a book that may not change your life, but will no doubt remind you of other books that did. --Alix Wilber ... Read more

Reviews (18)

5-0 out of 5 stars a friendly essay
Anna Quindlen has always written in a friendly, accessible style, and in this essay she explores a topic dear to [our] hearts: reading. Furthermore, she articulates what many of us feel -- that reading is not just for literary critics and deconstructionists; that there is as much validity in reading for pleasure as in reading for improvement; that there is a delicious paradox in such a solitary activity leading to a sense of community.

Through her personal anecdotes, Quindlen relates shared experiences: of having a professor sneer at a book she loved (I had the same thing happen with Michener -- a wonderful author who has never been taken seriously by the literati); of the first book that made her look at the world in a new way (for me it was The Hobbit); of being the only kid in the neighborhood who'd rather be reading than playing kick-the-can (oh, yes!); of the joy of sharing good books with others.

The author includes 11 top-ten lists (e.g. Books That Will Help a Teenager Feel More Human, Books I Would Save in a Fire).

Quindlen's work in general, and 'How Reading Changed My Life' in particular, is the stuff at the soul of [...] a joyful community of readers. As she says, "Reading has always been my home, my sustenance, my great invincible companion". There are so many gems; [...], you will probably enjoy this little book.

5-0 out of 5 stars A nice reminder that it's OK to read instead of doing stuff
I hesitated to shell out $8.95 plus tax for such a slim volume, but I am glad I did. I had recently skimmed an old copy of Mortimer Adler's How To Read A Book and found it utterly utilitarian. Ms. Quindlen's short but insightful book, on the other hand, succeeds in conveying the pleasure of reading for no particular reason other than the pleasure of reading. She gives a heart-warming account of her own history and experiences as a reader. This part of her book makes a wonderful story for young readers. (Her thoughts on technology are less convincing. Kids today are so much more at ease with computers than we are that it won't be hard for them to make the switch to electronic books-the size of which will shrink while their capacity expands within the next few years.) Definitely recommended by this reader.

4-0 out of 5 stars Manifesto for the bookworms of the world
It is impossible not to feel the kinship that this book provides. The title, for one thing, is spot on. Books do change your life, and the love of reading is one of the greatest gifts i have received. Like Quindlen, i remember discovering books as a little girl, and what a wonderful window into the world they were (and continue to be). She verbalizes what i'm sure many of us had felt for ages. Thank you for doing that!!!

5-0 out of 5 stars She Understands Your Need to Read
This book is a wonderful way for readers to understand themselves, if they don't already. Quindlen shows that we're NOT weird because we read, we're NOT escapists who can't handle the real world, and we're NOT anti-social. We're just in love with words and the power of stories. In only 84 pages, Quindlen tackles the reasons why we read, reading and technology, why classics should not be crammed down our kids' throats, and much more. Her Top Ten lists alone are worth the price of the book. As great as this book is for readers, it makes an even better gift for friends and family members who DON'T understand our need to read. A must read, a must-have.

5-0 out of 5 stars A love letter to readers from a sister reader
Anna Quindlen's "How Reading Changed My Life" is a charming and inspiring blend of autobiography and informal cultural criticism. In the book Quindlen reflects on books, reading, and readers.

Quindlen notes, "While we pay lip service to the virtues of reading, the truth is that there is in our culture something that suspects those who read too much, whatever reading too much means, of being lazy, aimless dreamers [...]." These, and many other insights in this book, really resonated with me. Throughout the book, Quindlen celebrates what she calls a "lively subculture" of truly serious readers.

Quindlen reflects on differences in men's and women's reading practices, on book groups, on skirmishes over "The Canon" of great books, on banned books, and on other topics. She tells how reading helped her keep her sanity during the "year of disarray" after the birth of her second child, and recalls how she fell in love with John Galsworthy's "Forsyte Saga." Ultimately, she explains why she believes that new technologies will not make old-fashioned books (versus online books) obsolete.

HRCML is full of wonderful passages, such as a remembered epiphany over D.H. Lawrence. This short book concludes with a few reading lists: "10 Nonfiction Books That Help Us Understand the World," "The 10 Books I Would Save in a Fire (If I Could Save Only 10)," etc. If you are a serious reader, I predict that, like me, you will recognize a kindred spirit in these pages, and will rejoice. ... Read more


30. Letters To A Young Therapist (Art of Mentoring)
by Mary Pipher
list price: $12.95
our price: $10.36
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0465057675
Catlog: Book (2005-04-13)
Publisher: Basic Books
Sales Rank: 47066
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Intimate and inspiring lessons from beloved author and therapist Mary Pipher

Mary Pipher's groundbreaking investigation of America's "girl-poisoning culture," Reviving Ophelia, has sold nearly two million copies and established its author as one of the nation's foremost authorities on family issues. In Letters to a Young Therapist, Dr. Pipher shares what she has learned in thirty years as a therapist, helping warring families, alienated adolescents, and harried professionals restore peace and beauty to their lives. Letters to a Young Therapist gives voice to her practice with an exhilarating mix of storytelling and sharp-eyed observation. And while her letters are addressed to an imagined young therapist, every one of us can take something away from them.

Long before "positive psychology" became a buzzword, Dr. Pipher practiced a refreshingly inventive therapy--fiercely optimistic, free of dogma or psychobabble, and laced with generous warmth and practical common sense. But not until now has this gifted healer described her unique perspective on how therapy can help us revitalize our emotional landscape in an increasingly stressful world. Whether she's recommending daily swims for a sluggish teenager, encouraging a timid husband to become bolder, or simply bearing witness to a bereaved parent's sorrow, Dr. Pipher's compassion and insight shine from every page of this thoughtful and engaging book. ... Read more

Reviews (6)

5-0 out of 5 stars Letters to a Young Therapist by Mary Pipher
Mary Pipher is an understanding therapist. The author realizes
that families solve many problems on their own. The role of a
good therapist is to realize that he/she cannot eliminate all
ills in the world. In addition, people have limits. The author
shows examples of how a healthy person can grow and learn from
an experience. People enjoy the process of working toward goals.
The attainment of the goal is not always the most joyful
event.Instead, it is the extensive process of socialization
involved in reaching the new plateau. The author also explains
that too much endurance of others permits them to be slackers.
Endurance is a balancing trait which has limits. The author
illustrates how fortunate children benefit by having
parents able to assist in sorting through the avalanche of
life's choices. She cautions writers to show up faithfully,
be diligent, pay attention, tell the truth and avoid becoming
too attached to the results. A good writer must learn to be
dispassionate. Compassion should be coupled with clearheadedness.
Lastly, the author described the importance of reflection
with a reference to Charles Dickens. For every hour he wrote,
Dickens would walk an hour to reflect. This book makes for
good general reading. The author provides passages extolling the
beauty of nature, the need for pets to complement a household
and many more tidbits too numerous to enumerate here.
Finally, she provides some thoughts on marriage which is defined
as the triumph of faith over experience. The book would make a
good addition to a personal library.

5-0 out of 5 stars Bound to become a classic!
As a Social Worker in private psychotherapy practice, I find that sometimes the work can be isolating and at times I question whether I should make more of an effort to consider the latest trends in psychotherapy. Mary Pipher affirms that the classic skills that make a good therapist such as compassion, empathy, listening skills, reframing and the ability to induce a sense of calm are timeless. Furthermore, even if I wasn't a therapist I think I would still devour this book because her writing is a pleasure to read. I highly recommend it for anyone just starting their career in therapy or those who have been in the field for decades. This book is bound to become a classic!

5-0 out of 5 stars Love this book
As a grad student in a counseling program, I picked up this book after hearing a portion of Ms. Pipher's interview with Diane Reams on NPR.I read this book in two evenings.It has a lot of good advice, not just for therapists, but also for clients.She has a very soft, nurturing way of writing which I found delightful.I would highly recommend this book.

5-0 out of 5 stars A poetic look at the art of healing.
In her magical new book, "Letters to a Young Therapist," Mary Pipher uses enchanting and lyrical prose to express her feelings not only about therapy, but also about such topics as nature, marriage, ethics, and happiness.This book is a compilation of letters that Pipher wrote to a graduate student in psychology. Pipher's letters are filled with gentle humor and a profound understanding of human nature.

Since Pipher began her career as a therapist in 1972, she has learned a great deal about her clients and herself, and this book is the fruit of all that she has learned.She emphasizes that therapy is more of an art than a science, and that therapists bear an enormous responsibility to treat their clients with great care.

Pipher's ideas are a breath of fresh air in a society that is quick to bash easy targets.For instance, it is fashionable for people to blame their parents and other family members for their problems, but Pipher believes that individuals must ultimately take responsibility for their own choices in life.She also believes that the family unit is so important that we should do everything in our power to support and strengthen it rather than undermine it.

Pipher waxes poetic when she speaks of the power of metaphor and storytelling to enhance people's lives and imbue their experiences with greater meaning.Pipher is not only a gifted therapist.She is also a talented writer who understands the power of language to change lives.I recommend this book highly for its warmth, wisdom, compassion, and insight into what makes life worth living.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Gem- And Not Just for Therapists!
This little treasure is loaded with wisdom and insights one might expect to find in a much larger tome. Dr. Pipher shares her personal and clinical stories in a gentle friendly way that makes you nod your head, and say "aha".

What makes this book so remarkable is that, whether one is a therapist or not, the words spill over and warm you like a down comforter.

Pour yourself some hot cocoa, take a deep breath, and read this one slowly. You'll be glad you did.

-Terry Matlen, ACSW ... Read more


31. The Brief Bedford Reader
by Jane E. Aaron, Dorothy M. Kennedy, X. J. Kennedy
list price: $39.95
our price: $37.75
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0312399367
Catlog: Book (2002-07-30)
Publisher: Bedford/St. Martin's
Sales Rank: 118405
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (2)

5-0 out of 5 stars The Brief Bedford Reader is excellent
I purchased this book to use as a text for a composition course I teach. It features excellent sections on composition topics like cause and effect, narration, process analysis, classification, etc. The selections in the book really are "brief". Most are between three and five pages long. The topics and authors addressed are real-world, high interest issues that make great discussion pieces. Personally, I enjoyed reading the selections. They are excellent casual reading pieces.

4-0 out of 5 stars The Bedford Reader
An excellent collection of stylistically important works. Very well-organized and informative as well as fun to read. ... Read more


32. Loud and Clear
by Anna Quindlen
list price: $24.95
our price: $16.47
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Asin: 1400061121
Catlog: Book (2004-04-06)
Publisher: Random House
Sales Rank: 16968
Average Customer Review: 4.83 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (6)

5-0 out of 5 stars Recommended for prior fans of Quindlen's writings
Anna Quindlen is one of America's best-known novelists and a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist, so it's no mystery her Loud And Clear commentary on American society and life would translate well to audio, with her exceptional upbeat style and personal voice. Recommended for prior fans of Quindlen's writings who here will find her voice brings her perspectives on American culture to life.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Winner!
The essays in LOUD AND CLEAR cover a variety of subjects from motherhood, welfare, and feminism in an engaging and witty way.
If you enjoyed Anna Quindlin's columns in Newsweek or the NYTimes, or just enjoy great writing, you'll definately enjoy this book. Debbie Farmer, author of 'Don't Put Lipstick on the Cat!'

5-0 out of 5 stars The Missing Wise Woman in Your Life
Every woman wishes she had an "Anna Quindlen girlfriend," that wise woman who is living the same life you are, but sees the real meaning behind everyday events. Loud and Clear is the next best thing, a collection of columns and speeches that reflect her unique gift. You trust her because her values and love for her family shine through. Use it for your book group to weed out the people you don't like -- they won't get it. Give it to the women you do like -- they will.

4-0 out of 5 stars Entertaining, Thought-Provoking and Self-Assured
Anna Quindlen --- or perhaps someone who works for her publisher --- seems to have a curious affinity for the word "loud." Her last two books of collected columns were respectively titled LIVING OUT LOUD and THINKING OUT LOUD. Now comes another serving from the same pot, LOUD AND CLEAR.

A curious choice of word --- for Quindlen does not come across as a loud literary voice.

The 65 short pieces in LOUD AND CLEAR are drawn from her popular columns in the New York Times and Newsweek. Two or three of them are obviously speeches that she delivered on unspecified occasions. They deal, from her own very personal standpoint, with a nicely varied array of subjects, many of them geared especially to women readers: childrearing, feminism, health care, welfare reform, women in the workplace. There are also comments on such issues as gay rights, gun control, the death penalty, school prayer, the sexual problems in today's Roman Catholic church, 9/11 and politics in general. Her stance is pretty much on the liberal side, but she generally avoids the hectoring, sermonizing tone that can alienate even a sympathetic reader.

Certain moments in her personal life seem to bulk large in Quindlen's thoughts --- the early death of her mother, her relationships with her siblings and with her own children, her decision to leave a dream job at the Times to become a freelance novelist. These subjects pop up in different contexts throughout LOUD AND CLEAR. The pieces are not arranged in any chronological order but only loosely by subject matter. The reader must note the date on each one to orient himself. A few of the pieces bear no date, but are still certainly worth reading.

Quindlen is a bright and quotable writer. Even those who may disagree with her views, if they appreciate good writing, will enjoy reading this book. She pleads, for example, for American kids in the midst of their frantic and over-scheduled lives, to be given "the gift of enforced boredom" --- i.e., time to simply sit back, do nothing much and savor the life around them. "From one generation to another," she observes pertly, "the complaint is always the same: They are not like us." You can call this book a bag of literary popcorn, if you wish --- available in bite-size pieces and hard to resist --- but, unlike popcorn, these small essays do make you think about life --- hers and your own.

One of the best pieces in this book is a reflection inspired by a production of Waiting for Godot, in which Quindlen's son was appearing. The lesson drawn from Beckett is that young people should look within themselves, to their own dreams and capabilities, for direction in life, and not wait for the arrival of some external event, person or seal of approval. It is a worthwhile lesson, deftly expressed.

The book is certainly not free from clichés, and Quindlen's reflections on 9/11, written immediately after the event, seem inadequate at a distance of two-plus years --- but so of course do the reflections from that time of many other writers.

Anna Quindlen's large fan club will not be disappointed in this latest potpourri of her pieces. Most of them retain their whimsy and freshness nicely between hard covers. One only hopes that her next collection will not be titled FOR CRYING OUT LOUD.

--- Reviewed by Robert Finn

5-0 out of 5 stars INVIGORATING, INSPIRING, INFORMING
Popular novelist, Pulitzer Prize winning columnist Anna Quindlen is a phenomenon. To read her is to be invigorated, inspired, and informed. To hear her read her work is to press this audio on friends, saying, "You simply have to listen to this!"

First written for the New York Times and Newsweek, this selection of articles is penned in trademark Quindlenese - candid, provocative, thoughtful, and insightful. Few subjects escape her discerning eye as she thinks aloud about raising children, politics, the aftermath of 9/11, global events, and more.

People Magazine said, ".....Quindlen is so good that even when you disagree with what she says, you still love the way she says it." How true.

One marvels at her artful phrasing, her sagacity and sense of humor. Listening to "Loud and Clear" is both a privilege and a pleasure.

- Gail Cooke ... Read more


33. A Collection of Essays
by George Orwell
list price: $14.00
our price: $10.50
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0156186004
Catlog: Book (1970-06-01)
Publisher: Harcourt
Sales Rank: 13863
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Amazon.com

Imagine any of today's writers of "creative nonfiction" dispatching a rogue elephant before an audience of several thousand. Now, imagine the essay that would result. Can we say "narcissism"? As part of the Imperial Police in Burma, George Orwell actually found himself aiming the gun, and his record--first published in 1936--comprises eight of the highest voltage pages of English prose you'll ever read. In "Shooting an Elephant," Orwell illumines the shoddy recesses of his own character, illustrates the morally corrupting nature of imperialism, and indicts you, the reader, in the creature's death, a process so vividly reported it's likely to show up in your nightmares ever after. "The owner was furious, but he was only an Indian and could do nothing.... Among the Europeans opinion was divided.The older men said I was right,the younger men said it was a damn shame to shoot an elephant for killing a coolie, because an elephant was worth much more than any damn Coringheecoolie."

This essay alone would be worth the cover price, and the dozen other pieces collected here prove that, given the right thinker/writer, today's journalism actually can become tomorrow's literature. "The Art of Donald McGill," ostensibly an appreciation of the jokey, vaguely obscene illustrated postcards beloved of the working classes, uses the lens of popular culture to examine the battle lines and rules of engagement in the war of the sexes, circa 1941. "Politics and the English Language" is a prose working-out of Orwell's perceptions about the slippery relationship of word and thought that becomes a key premise of 1984. "Looking Back on the Spanish War" is as clear-eyed a veteran's memoir of the nature of war as you're likely to find, and Orwell's long ruminations on the wildly popular "good bad" writers Charles Dickens and Rudyard Kipling showcase his singular virtues--searing honesty and independent thinking. From English boarding schools to Gandhi's character to an early appreciation of Henry Miller's Tropic of Cancer, these pieces give an idiosyncratic tour of the first half of the passing century in the company of an articulate and engaged guide.Don't let the idea that Orwell is an "important" writer put you off reading him. He's really too good, and too human, to miss. --Joyce Thompson ... Read more

Reviews (16)

5-0 out of 5 stars Political, but not in conventional ways.
Orwell was anti-fascist as the last reviewer wrote, but he was also anti-communist,having seen it first hand in Spain. His life as an author was quite dymnamic. You can see a change in his politics from book to book. His early death leads you to wonder what Orwell would have written about the space age. This book is so well written that you will find enjoyment in subjects that you care nothing about. His Essays on Dickens and Kipling were more insightful than the semester in college I spent on 19th century English Literature.

His reflections on Ghandi expose the flaws that most Ghandi fans ignore or hide. He then goes on to celebrate the man for his virtues.

His look at Henry Miller was amazing. Orwell saw through the shock value of Miller's 1930s autobiography and recognized great writing when his contemporaries dismised the work as pornography.

Orwell's easy language coupled with genius-level insight make this a book to read again and again.

5-0 out of 5 stars A left-wing and anti-fascist bible.
These essays range from the highly political to writing about human nature. In one essay Orwell points out that in most people there exists an idealistic part of the personality and a part of the personality that seek comfort and tells us to look after number one.

In England Your England (taken from Orwell's book The Lion and the Unicorn) Orwell asks whether the English ruling class is evil or stupid, which he also asks in Looking Back on the Spanish War.This is asked in connection with the fact that the ruling class appeased Hitler.

Although England Your England is good it shows Orwell at his weakest in making predictions-- such as the view that only a socialist nation can really fight effectively.

In the essay Marrakech the poverty of North African Arabs is shown, also the poverty of the Jews, along with the anti-semitism of Europeans in North Africa..

Perhaps Orwell is a little too harsh on Charles Dickens in the essay about this great English author.

I can only convey a little in this review. Read this book and enjoy the Orwell's experience!. Once one has read Orwell's great non-fiction, with an open mind, one cannot quite think exactly like one though before. The power of his reasoning is great-and this is why some people don't want you to read Orwell.

5-0 out of 5 stars Great with tea and obligatory biscuit
George Orwell, writer of such great classics as "No Winston, two plus two is five" and "All animals are equal" truely outdid himself with this book. His essay, "Such, and Such Were the Joys," is worth the price of the book alone. The descriptions therein, in the vein of 1984, are detailed and vivid to the point where I almost feel as if I remember and understand Orwell's childhood better than my own. In this essay one also catches a glimpse of what made Orwell the writer he was: a poor, pessimistic, sickly lad whose talent could have created it's own entire cannon if he'd lived longer and enjoyed a more work conducive atmosphere. For every reader who breathes to read, this book is an oxygen tank. (like the one they have at the bottom of the slopes in Aspen.)

4-0 out of 5 stars Good Stuff, Mostly
Note that all the essays in this collection are available online, most of them at multiple sites.

This sample of Orwell's essays is representative but perhaps a little too small. At least two other essays, "A Hanging" and "Lear, Tolstoy and the Fool" should have been included.

"Such, Such Were the Joys" is a moving reminiscence of boarding school, where Orwell had a miserable time as a frail student on "reduced fees".

"Charles Dickens" is a long piece of literary-social criticism. It is insightful on Dickens the man and his politics, and how they relate to his work. Orwell notes the class limitations on Dickens's outlook, but feels that in spite of them, Dickens is a "free intelligence".

"Rudyard Kipling" is an essay in the same style. Orwell admits Kipling's faults but feels that despite them, he produced better poetry than most of his contemporaries. This is put down to his writing about/for a class with a sense of responsibility.

"The Art of Donald McGill", "Raffles and Miss Blandish" and "Boys' Weeklies" are essays that analyse public sentiment through a survey of popular literature and art. These essays are the best in the genre, and definitely among Orwell's best essays.

"Inside the Whale" is an essay about contemporary (1920-1940) serious literature. Parts I and III praise Henry Miller's Tropic of Cancer; part II reviews literature between the wars. The image of a transparent whale (inside which Henry Miller sits) is arresting, but this essay is not otherwise a very good one. Orwell says several obvious or false things about 1920s writers, misrepresents the Auden group, and is somewhat hyperbolic about Henry Miller.

"England your England" is an essay about the English national spirit, and is very revealing about Orwell's own patriotism.

"Looking Back on the Spanish War" -- Orwell fought with a Trotskyist militia in Spain; his experiences are recounted in Homage to Catalonia. This is a brief reminiscence. Hopefully it will inspire you to read the book.

"Politics and the English Language" has been very influential; its thesis is that the use of cliches and euphemisms leads to muddy thinking which makes totalitarianism bearable. It includes his six rules of good writing. Orwell also makes this point in the brilliant appendix to 1984.

"Marrakech" and "Shooting an Elephant" are essays about colonialism. The latter describes it from much closer range; it describes an experience Orwell had as a colonial administrator in Burma and is one of his most famous essays.

"Reflections on Gandhi" discusses Gandhi's personal ethics and political philosophy. Orwell's critique of Gandhi is memorable:

"The essence of being human is that one does not seek perfection, that one is sometimes willing to commit sins for the sake of loyalty, that one does not push asceticism to the point where it makes friendly intercourse impossible, and that one is prepared in the end to be defeated and broken up by life, which is the inevitable price of fastening one's love upon other human individuals. No doubt alcohol, tobacco, and so forth, are things that a saint must avoid, but sainthood is also a thing that human beings must avoid."

"Why I Write" is an account of Orwell's development as a writer. Orwell claims that the political purpose was foremost in all his writing, and ends this essay with the famous aphorism that "good prose is like a windowpane."

4-0 out of 5 stars The end of all isms....
Orwell was not only a keen observer of human nature and somebody who had the guts and foresight to condemn extremism from all corners he was also essentially a great humanitarian. The care he takes in using discriminating language and urging others to do so is a great legacy and one we are in dire need of today in this era of thoughtless engineering and sloganeering and aliteracy among the literate. His disemination of Gandhi and his sceptical stance towards hero worship is also badly in need of being reread and rejuvinated. All saints should be pronounced guilty until proven innocent would be a laudable addition to public life, or church for that matter. Orwell is without missionary zeal except when it comes to writing itself which he describes as a disease as well as a cure and a matter of seriousness for soul evaluation.
Anything penned by the man who gave us the following explanation for fascism is worth contemplating:
"The dog which performs his tricks because he is afraid of the whip is not yet well trained enough. The really well trained dog does his somersaults without being asked to perform." ... Read more


34. Self-Reliance and Other Essays (Dover Thrift Editions)
by Ralph Waldo Emerson
list price: $2.00
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Asin: 0486277909
Catlog: Book (1993-10-13)
Publisher: Dover Publications
Sales Rank: 5083
Average Customer Review: 4.14 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

The six essays and one address in this volume outline the great transcendentalist’s moral idealism as well as hinting at the later scepticism that colored his thought. In addition to the celebrated title essay, the others included here are "History," "Friendship," "The Over-Soul," "The Poet" and "Experience," plus the well-known and frequently read Harvard Divinity School Address.
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Reviews (14)

5-0 out of 5 stars Mighty thoughts that can shake your life!
This is one of the greatest books I have ever read. I know that many people don't like to read essays of any kind, but all I can say is that Ralph Waldo Emerson is simply different! Nobody has the gift to write essays and analyze life like him.

His words and ideas are so powerful and deep that we soon realize that they didn't come only from a brilliant mind, but also from a warm-hearted soul!

That's exactly what this book is about: Its sentences break through your brain and penetrate right into your soul! Emerson's optimistic view on human beings and life can only reinforce our courage in mankind and, especially, in ourselves!

What else can I say? His speech is direct, he defends all the good values, tell us to have confidence in ourselves and show us that passing through life with dignity is a matter of choice and courage, and that it simply doesn't change with time. It was like this a thousand years ago, it will probably follow the same rules a thousand years f! ! rom now.

This is the book I grab to comfort my spirit when I'm having difficult times... :) It is a guide that make us believe that anything is possible when we really want it! " Self-Reliance ", one of the essays inside this book, is a masterpiece in its own and I believe it should be studied in every high school, instead some of the crap we are usually obliged to read!

This book can shape your spirit and your mind. It is also possibly THE BEST self-help book you could ever own and, yet, a great literary work.

I would rate this book as ageless and I'm sure the future generations will be still interested in it, in the same way we are in those ancient Greek and Roman texts.

This is precious culture and food for your soul as a bargain! Do not waste more time. READ IT!!!

5-0 out of 5 stars Mind Gems
If you can get past his thick language, Emerson is a gem. He mind is both quick and deep, and therefore is enduring. You start seeing common things in an uncommon way. He is a poet-philosopher par excellence.

This selection provides sampling of Emerson's over-all thought. Keep in mind that he is part of the Transcendentalist movement, which was part of the broader religious revival in the mid 1800's. This is the era of Emerson, Thoreau, Dwight L. Moody, Robert Owen and Joseph Smith. You can feel the energy crackling off pages of this book. There is something about this time period that rushed upward.

His essays on "Self-Reliance" and "Experience" are must for all adolescents. We need to cut the teeth of our mind on other people. We need to learn form Emerson, and be better for it.

The genius of the format is that provide the print without any frills, unctuous commentary, or boring exposition. This book is all meat, which is really what we want.

1-0 out of 5 stars Okay, Whatever!
The only reason I even give this silly book 1 star is because of Mr. Emerson's numerous attempts, although ill-spent, to try and humour his readers. Please, such drivel...and from a self-proclaimed genius?! All I can say is that Mr. Emerson obviously wouldn't have understood the intricacies of the computer industry if he were alive today. I have my A+ certification...I bet he never could have certified in anything (even something lame like linux)!

5-0 out of 5 stars An American Philosopher
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) is one of America's pre-eminent philosophers. Born into a long line of ministers and preachers, Emerson went to Harvard at the tender age of 14, where he studied to fulfill his destiny and become a minister. Emerson eventually dropped out of this line of work, embarking on a career as a public speaker and serving as the intellectual center of a group called the Transcendentalist Club. This Dover edition contains some of Emerson's best-known essays, specifically "Self-Reliance," as well as his address to the Harvard Divinity School.

Emerson's philosophy, although sometimes painfully explicated upon in his own writings, is best summed up by the word "individualism." To Emerson, it is the individual that should be the fulcrum point in all aspects of life. Emerson then took this philosophy and applied it to a myriad of subjects.

In "History," the first essay in this collection, Emerson attempts to weave his belief in individual expression into the study of historical events. Emerson argues that a reliance on dates, places, and figures is not nearly as important as reaching within oneself to discover the whole of history. This is important because every man contributes to history, and every man can see himself in any history from any part of the world. Emerson also argues that history, as we presently know it and study it, ignores important fundamentals such as metaphysics and nature. What Emerson seems to attempt with this essay is to create a sort of "unified field theory" of history, a history that encompasses every aspect of the human experience, and one in which everyone takes part.

"Self-Reliance," Emerson's masterwork, attempts to explain how man should retain his individualism in the face of society. It is society that stifles the individual, and the trick is to be true to yourself and your conscience. Law should not be, and is not, above the individual. Again, conscience should rule the day. Every man must follow his conscience even if doing so endangers his role in society. This tension between the individual and society Emerson enumerates continues to reverberate to this day.

In his address to the Harvard Divinity School, a real charmer that got Emerson banned from the school for years, he addresses individualism in the context of religion. Emerson, himself a trained minister who eventually resigned his pulpit, urges those about to embark on a career in the clergy to reach inside themselves when preaching. Don't rely on the same old tired formulas everyone else relies on, Emerson says, but see what the holy word means to you and then express what you find to your flock in your own way. It's easy to imagine what people who believe that religion is about rote memorization and rituals eons old thought about this speech. They hated it, and hated Emerson for delivering it to the young people in the audience.

Several other essays round out the collection, all of them utilizing Emerson's keen sense of the power of the individual. That Emerson is still in print today while some of his contemporaries are not is proof enough of the power and influence of his thought. Whether you agree with his arguments or not (and there is much here to disagree with), there is no denying that he has been enormously influential to American thinkers of his time and those who have come after him.

5-0 out of 5 stars Important Advice
Although I was a bit leery about deciphering Emerson's 19th century English, I decided to read "Self Reliance" after two people recommended it to me. Now, I am very glad that I read it! Yes, the language was a bit tricky at times, but the wonderful message that Emerson speaks about transcends all barriers of time. The concept of which Emerson writes about is a simple one: the importance of man's trust in himself. Yet, at times, trusting ourselves and creating our own pathways can be very difficult things to do. Emerson points out that we subconsciously rely on others -- on things that others have taught us -- as models for how we should think and act. But to be "great," you have to look past everything you've been taught and ignore the judgments of those that loathe your inner self reliance. Emerson tells us to remember that Pythagoras, Socrates, Jesus, Luther, Copernicus, Galileo, and Newton were all judged harshly for their self reliance, yet they reap the greatest rewards of all men.

Emerson also has this to say about what it means to be self reliant: "Let a Stoic open the resources of man, and tell men they are not leaning willows, but can and must detach themselves; that with the exercise of self-trust, new powers shall appear; that a man is the word made flesh, born to shed healing to the nations, that he should be ashamed of our compassion, and that the moment he acts for himself, tossing the laws, the books, idolatries, and customs out the window, we pity him no more, but thank and revere him, -- and that teacher shall restore the life of man to splendor, and make his name dear to all history."

Clearly, Emerson's poetic words are true -- there is a great deal of power in becoming self reliant. Personally, I thought that "Self Reliance" was an awesome, inspiring essay. I think that it is one of the only essays that has ever made me want to go out and change my life. Emerson is truly a masterful orator, and I therefore recommend picking up a copy of "Self Reliance." It probably contains some of the best advice you'll ever get. ... Read more


35. The Writing Life
by Ellen Gilchrist
list price: $28.00
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Asin: 1578067391
Catlog: Book (2005-03-01)
Publisher: University Press of Mississippi
Sales Rank: 67253
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Book Description

Celebrated author Ellen Gilchrist has played many roles---writer and speaker, wife and lover, mother and grandmother. But she never tackled the role of teacher.

Offered the opportunity to teach creative writing at the University of Arkansas, she took up the challenge and ventured into unknown territory. In the process of teaching more than two hundred students since her first class in 2000, she has found inspiration in their lives and ambitions, and in the challenge of conveying to them the lessons she has learned from living and writing.

"The Writing Life" brings together fifty essays and vignettes centered on the transforming magic of literature and the teaching and writing of it. A portion of the collection discusses the delicate balance between an artistic life and family commitments, especially the daily pressures and frequent compromises faced by a young mother. Gilchrist next focuses on the process of writing itself with essays ranging from "How I Wrote a Book of Short Stories in Three Months" to "Why Is Rewriting So Hard?"

Several essays discuss her appreciation of other writers, from Shakespeare to Larry McMurtry, and the lessons she learned from them. Eudora Welty made an indelible impact on Gilchrist's work. When Gilchrist takes on the task of teaching, her essays reveal an enriched understanding of the role writing plays in any life devoted to the craft. Humorous and insightful, she assesses her own abilities as an instructor and confronts the challenge of inspiring students to attain the discipline and courage to pursue the sullen art. Some of these pieces have been previously published in magazines, but most are unpublished and all appear here in book form for the first time. ... Read more


36. Here Is New York
by E. B. White, Roger Angell
list price: $16.95
our price: $11.53
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Asin: 1892145022
Catlog: Book (1999-07-01)
Publisher: Little Bookroom
Sales Rank: 21118
Average Customer Review: 4.69 out of 5 stars
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Amazon.com

"On any person who desires such queer prizes, New York will bestow thegift of loneliness and the gift of privacy." So begins E.B. White's classic meditation on that noisiest, most public of American cities. Written during the summer of 1948, well after the author and editor had taken up permanent residence in Maine, Here Is New York is a fond glance back at the city of his youth, when White was one of the "young worshipful beginners" who give New York its passionate character. It's also a tribute to the sheer implausibility of the place--the tangled infrastructure, the teeming humanity, the dearth of air and light. Much has changed since White wrote this essay, yet in a city"both changeless and changing" there are things here that will doubtless ring equally true 100 years from now. To wit, "New Yorkers temperamentally do not crave comfort and convenience--if they did they would live elsewhere."

Anyone who's ever cherished his essays--or even Charlotte's Web--knows that White is the most elegant of all possible stylists. There's not a sentence here that does not make itself felt right down to the reader's very bones. What would the author make of Giuliani's New York? Or of Times Square, Disney-style? It's hard to say for sure. But not even Planet Hollywood could ruin White's abiding sense of wonder: "The city is like poetry: it compresses all life ... into a small island and adds music and the accompaniment of internal engines." This lovely new edition marks the 100th anniversary of E.B. White's birth--cause for celebration indeed. --Mary Park ... Read more

Reviews (16)

5-0 out of 5 stars Truman Capoteish, in a Way
This short piece reads rather like some ultra-simplistic pieces I've read from Truman Capote's legendary hand. But it is an ultra-simplicity that goes hand in hand--just as is the case with Mr. Capote, of course--with an enormous passion and poetic sensibility. Mr. White got high on New York City, and his ability to transpose this feeling onto me--and certainly others than me--positions him, with this single short masterpiece, and as far as my literary sensibilities go, among the likes of Ray Bradbury, Lewis Carroll, Thorne Smith and--yes, Truman Capote.

5-0 out of 5 stars Past is Prologue
This book, really an expanded essay, should be required reading for the nation... White's words put a poignantly human face on the city's people. His observations about the three types of New Yorkers - natives, commuters, and relocated dreamseekers (ie. immigrants) ring as true today as they did 53 years ago. With the passing of two generations, only his population figures have changed in magnitude, and the ethnicities he cites have further diversified. Nevertheless, White succinctly captures the city's thrills and excitement, grandeur and cultural vibrancy, as well as its intimacy and small town neighborliness, then as now. To quote the author, "no one should come to New York to live unless he is willing to be lucky"....

5-0 out of 5 stars No one should come to NYC to live ....
... unless he is willing to be lucky.

NYC, notes E.B. White, is neither a state capital nor a national capital, but a capital of the world.

Written in June 1948, White captures the essence of new York which does not change, and not the minute details which he acknowledges will change many times over within minutes. "To bring New York down to date", he writes, "a man would have to be published with the speed of light --- and not even Harper's is that quick."

White writes how, more so than the natives and commuters, newcomers to New York is what gives the city her passion. How at any given location, one is near a site where someting that would make front-page news in a small town is a foonote in this teeming city where big things happen every day. How NYC is amazing because it does not have enough air and light yet nevertheless its population increases and survives. How the city is tolerant because the incredible diversity and international community it hosts would be a radioactive powder keg if it didn't. Why else is the United Nations headquartered there?

Perhaps what is most amazing is in 1948, White wrote "The subtlest chang in New York is somthing people don't speak much about but that is in everyone's mind ... a single flight of planes no bigger thana wedge of geese can quickly end this island fantasy, burn the towers, crumble the bridges, turn the underground passages into lethal chambers, cremate the millions." The city is both the perfect target and the perfect demonstration of nonviolence, he says. This is why it is a capital of the world.

5-0 out of 5 stars None better than E.B. White
Prompted by his son-in-law to return to New York City to write a magazine article, E.B. White wound up writing one of the most elegant, compact and poignant books on the subject. And although White rhapsodized about the New York of youth, and was a little saddened by the New York he was revisiting in the mid-40s, there is no doubting his love and fascination with Gotham. His descriptions of a walk through The Park in the evening, the sounds of ships' horns in the distance, and the comings and goings of commuters are especially provocative.

One of the central theses of this little tome is that so much of the destinies of New Yorkers are measured in inches. He describes how everyday New Yorkers can wind up inches away from a celebrity at a luncheonette, and that at any time you can be as close to or as distant from any significant event or person. He describes the fate of one New Yorker who was crushed by a falling piece of masonry from an old building. If that person had been six inches away in any direction on the sidewalk, that person would've gone on living. A matter of inches.

And so it is with this slender volume, which is not even a half- inch thick. And yet it, like the crowded little island of Manhattan, is filled with so much richness, humanity, and life that it draws you in like a supermagnet. And only E.B. White could have pulled off something as beautiful as this book. Buy it, read it.

Rocco Dormarunno, author of The Five Points.

5-0 out of 5 stars A gem
Like the Elements of Style, the timeless writing manifesto that White revised and rewrote for generation after generation of scribes, Here is New York has lasting appeal.

White captures a very large city in a very small book. Yet the end this slender volume is as satisfying as a weighty tome because White seems to get the philosophy of New York right.

And I must agree, the final pages seem to eerily fortell September 11, 2001.

If you already love New York, or if you want to know why so many do, pick this baby up and guarantee yourself a good night's reading. ... Read more


37. Crafting the Very Short Story: An Anthology of 100 Masterpieces
by Mark Mills
list price: $40.40
our price: $40.40
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Asin: 0130867624
Catlog: Book (2002-06-20)
Publisher: Prentice Hall
Sales Rank: 218164
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38. Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches (Crossing Press Feminist Series)
by Audre Lorde
list price: $14.95
our price: $10.17
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Asin: 0895941414
Catlog: Book (1984-04-01)
Publisher: Crossing Press
Sales Rank: 53654
Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

essays & speeches ... Read more

Reviews (5)

5-0 out of 5 stars Incredible essays
No poems this time around, folks: prose that gets under your skin and into your head. The late, great Audre Lorde, known primarily for her poetry over the years, wrote what is one of the most compelling books on sociology, sexuality, racism and the nature of human character and existence in the last 20 years. Her charges are damning, but dashed with more than a spoonful of hope when appropriate, and it is impossible to walk away from this book unchanged.

No New Age-isms, no agendas...just common-sense reactions to everyday experiences told in a way that not only everyone can understand, but in a way everyone SHOULD understand.

5-0 out of 5 stars One of the most important books I have ever read...
This book is a compilation of material Lorde wrote in the 70s 80s. Lorde is one of the foremost writers on the subjects of patriarchy, sexism, homphobia and race relations that the West has ever seen. She talks about how to make change and helps the reader truly understand the situation of people who are underprivileged and discriminated against in our society. Of all the books I read in my Women's Studies classes, this is the one that stayed with me. It is at once intellectually challenging and accessible. I particularly enjoyed her "Notes from a Trip to Russia" and "An Open Letter to Mary Daly." The piece that has had the most impact on my life, however, is "The Masters Tools," which is a blueprint for change. She is giving us the keys we need to not only improve our own lives, but the world as a whole. Lorde's words ring as true today as they did when the book was first published. A must read!!!

5-0 out of 5 stars One of the great intellectual testaments of the 20th century
Although Audre Lorde distinguished herself as a poet, her prose writings are an indispensable part of her overall literary achievement. "Sister Outsider" is an excellent collection of her prose from the late 1970s and early 1980s. This book brings together essays, speeches, journal entries, and an illuminating dialogue between Lorde and sister poet Adrienne Rich. While each piece stands alone as a complete and thought-provoking gem, the book as a whole constitutes one of the most extraordinary intellectual testaments of the 20th century.

Lorde writes from her perspective as a Black woman, a lesbian, a feminist, a poet, a mother, a teacher, and a cultural activist. Her voice is forthright and unsparing in moral outrage, yet filled with hope and poetic beauty. One of the core themes unifying this collection is her incisive analysis of the interlocking, overlapping axes of difference, privilege, abuse, and resistance. As she deconstructs such phenomena as homophobia, racism, and sexism, Lorde is both intellectually ambitious and down-to-earth; in her arguments with academic figures, she never forgets the real impact of discrimination and violence upon those who live outside the relatively privileged worlds of academia.

Each piece in "Sister Outsider" makes a unique contribution to the overall impact of the book. "Notes from a Trip to Russia" is a fascinating historical document from the Cold War era. "Poetry Is Not a Luxury" serves as an important part of Lorde's artistic manifesto. "An Open Letter to Mary Daly" offers an illuminating glimpse into some of the tensions within the feminist movement of the 1970s. And "Grenada Revisited" is a powerful counterpoint to the Reaganite view of a military action in the Caribbean. The other eleven pieces are equally thought-provoking.

In the essay "The Master's Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master's House," Lorde expands upon the title statement by adding, "They may allow us temporarily to beat him at his own game, but they will never enable us to bring about genuine change." Lorde's powerful writings may just give us readers some real tools that we can use to bring about "real change"--both within ourselves and in our society.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Wonderful Collection of Essays!
_Sister Outsider_ is a masterpiece. It contains some of the most insightful and thought provoking femist essays of our time. Lorde addresses a plethora of issues that face her as a woman, a lesbian, an African American, and a lesbian. This text is invaluable not only to people who fall within these categories but to anyone who operates on any level within a diverse society.

5-0 out of 5 stars BUY THIS NOW!!!!!!!!!!!!
Audre Lorde was one of the most amazing, beautiful women of this century. She is truly inspirational and mind-blowing. Sister Outsider is a book of essays, all of them really well-written, insightfull, and thought provoking. The essay that the "Your silence will not protect you" quote is from is in this book and it is beautiful. Please get this book, read it and tell others about it. "When I dare to be powerful and to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether or not I am afraid" -Audre Lorde ... Read more


39. How to Be Alone: Essays
by Jonathan Franzen
list price: $14.00
our price: $10.50
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Asin: 0312422164
Catlog: Book (2003-10-01)
Publisher: Picador
Sales Rank: 7490
Average Customer Review: 3.89 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

From the National Book Award-winning author of The Corrections, a collection of essays that reveal him to be one of our sharpest, toughest, and most entertaining social critics

While the essays in this collection range in subject matter from the sex-advice industry to the way a supermax prison works, each one wrestles with the essential themes of Franzen's writing: the erosion of civil life and private dignity; and the hidden persistence of loneliness in postmodern, imperial America. Reprinted here for the first time is Franzen’s controversial l996 investigation of the fate of the American novel in what became known as "the Harper's essay," as well as his award-winning narrative of his father's struggle with Alzheimer's disease, and a rueful account of his brief tenure as an Oprah Winfrey author.
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Reviews (28)

4-0 out of 5 stars Beating around the bush
"How to Be Alone" proves two things about Jonathan Franzen: he's smart and he's an incredible writer. Everything else in this great collection of essays is open to interpretation.

Franzen uses this book to share his thoughts on subjects ranging from the state of contemporary fiction to sex guides to the criminal justice system. Though his opinions are included, he rarely seeks to make a strong point. Indeed, fanatics of structured argument will be put off by Franzen's aloof, circuitous approach. Franzen chooses instead to show us how he thinks.

Rich with off-hand anecdotes and the winning prose that garnered Franzen the National Book Award for his novel The Corrections, these essays are all very personal. The author doesn't seek to convince the reader to take up his often liberal viewpoints; he merely wants to share his thoughts. Take it or leave it. In the end, the title "How to Be Alone" has more to do with how to be an distinct individual than how to isolate one's self from the world. He could have called it How to Be Yourself.

While the prose is continually entertaining, the essays seem to go down slightly in quality as one moves through the book. After opening with the touching story of his dealing with his father's battle with Alzheimer's Disease, then a unique look at the right to privacy in America, and the so-called "Harper's Essay" about the death of the American novel, some of the remaining essays get a little frivilous. A perfect example is the essay "Mr. Difficult," which starts out addressing the novelist's obligation the reader, but quickly turns into a summary of the irony underlying the carrer of obscure (in several senses) author William Gaddis.

But even when Franzen leads the reader on a long and winding road with no real destination, it is fun to be in the car, just to see how he drives.

4-0 out of 5 stars A Celebration of Reading, Writing, and LIfe
A reviewer of one of Jonathan Franzen's earlier novels wrote that Franzen, through his work, reminds us of the importance of serious fiction. I could not agree more. Franzen writes fiction with meaning, with a purpose disturbingly rare among modern day writers. His work culminated with last years critically acclaimed work, "The Corrections." That book told us that he was without a doubt one of the countries best novelists. This compilation of Franzen's essays tells us that he can be an extremely insightful and honest cultural critic.

Not every essay in this collective work is golden, but most are. They vary wildly in their concentrations, from Franzen's disturbingly honest recount of his father's battle with Alzheimer's disease to his life as a young writer in New York. Views on popular culture, tobacco companies, the post office, politics, the rise of cities and the sad death of intellectual life are all presented in Franzen's enjoyable and easily understood style.

The title of the collection stems from the idea that readers and lovers of the written word should celebrate their uniqueness. Far too many people in Imperial America are unhappy and lonely, a sad situation. The reader is forced to cringe when presented with Franzen's collection of apocalyptic facts concerning the battle between books and the mass media (books are nearing their last stand, at least in this era). Franzen has some good tips for the lonely reader, such as throwing out the TV, which, as Franzen convincingly argues, is the root of nearly all evils in our world (too little humor to be comfortable).

Other essays examine Franzen's disgust and love of consumerism and the ignorance it spawns. One slightly whimsical but sad entry concerns the everyday drudgery of a federal penitentiary. Also revealed is Franzen's famous dispute with Oprah, a cultural force so strong the casual Franzen stood no chance.

A joy to read and a book to learn from.

1-0 out of 5 stars Very disappointing
I found the book extremely disappointing. The essays are neither personal enough to be engaging, nor deep enough to be intellectually stimulating. He talks about his personal life in such a detached and cold voice that even the pieces that had a potential of being extremely moving (like the one about his father) end up lifeless and just plain boring. I kept looking for something clever in the book, but instead the word "pseudo-intellectual" kept coming to my mind, as I could not find any depth to this writing.
Overall, I found the tone of the book to be too whiny and lacking in wit. A waste of my money.

4-0 out of 5 stars I like Franzen.
It thrilled me when he did not acquiesce to Oprah and his essays validate my high opinion of this writer. His concern for our nation of non-readers is shared by many. It is frightening that millions of children grow up under the supervision of a television - with no bedtime book to encourage thoughts and dreams. It's not surprising that our young people do so poorly in school and later on in business. One needs to know how to read in order to succeed. High praise for this author for doing his part to insure that we have good books to read.

4-0 out of 5 stars Smartly Written and Thought Provoking
I picked this up not knowing much about Jonathan Franzen. Rather, with a 74-mile commute to work, I resonated with the title. However, after listening to the essays, I resonated with the author. Now I'm a Franzen fan! Yes, he's cranky, pretentious, egotistical, and probably a good candidate for counseling. However, a honest look at social systems could tilt us all a little towards the negative. I found his essay on his father's struggle with Alzheimer's to be intensely powerful, the essay detailing the Chicago postal system less so. Franzen is a true wordsmith, crafting clever and evocative sentences that delight the reader (and, presumably, the author as well). So, while he may be a little judgmental and boorish at times, I wouldn't let it preclude you from enjoying his writing. You may, however, want to rethink inviting him to Christmas dinner. ... Read more


40. For the New Intellectual
by Ayn Rand
list price: $7.99
our price: $7.99
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Asin: 0451163087
Catlog: Book (1984-03-01)
Publisher: Signet Book
Sales Rank: 36609
Average Customer Review: 3.29 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (55)

5-0 out of 5 stars A manifesto against nihilsm and wake up call for the brain.
Let it be known that For The New Intellectual is a book dense with psychological insights and eye opening rational objectivism. This reader was awed by Ayn Rand's crisp writing, and cutting wit. Liberals will be immediately offended, but for those without philosophical bias, Rand is difficult to dismiss. The book includes the essay, "For the New Intellectual" as well as excerpts from We the Living, Anthem, The Fountainhead, and many speaches from Atlas Shrugged. The beginning essay is more than worth the price of admission, while the excerpts gave this first time Rand reader a good sense of where to turn next. Ayn Rand's philosophy is truly life affirming and hard with truth. Truth hurts sometimes, and Rand is not easy answers for idle minds. Rather, her philosophy dares to look starkly at where man's moral code has come and where it has led us. Ayn Rand seperates herself from all other thinkers that I've experienced because of her perspective as a 20th Century American. While many of her ideas find their root in Friedrich Nietzsche's philosophy, she stands alone-- offering a positive solution for mankind. She absolutely asserts that man is the end in himself, and that his happiness on earth is his proper goal. For the New Intellectual is both a slap in the face and fire in one's pants. Some will answer Ayn Rand's call for a new moral code and meaning to life, and as she says of the others, "leave them to heaven.&quot

5-0 out of 5 stars Maybe you are disgusted by the fact...
After I had read For the the Intellectual, I found myself craving to find more knowledge of her philosophy, I saw in a winderfully flowing style the actual points of Ayn Rand's philosophy. Unlike many of those who read this book(probably only the portions they needed to convince themselves of this Author's psychosis) and posted their reviews, I was not revolted by these words. I have seen these things around me all my life, and if Ayn Rand had not published her philosophy, I surely would have published something very similar eventually. It seems to me that the people who are turned away by this book are the people that take the most benefit from the current moral scheme. The people who are the fanatic crazy types about this philosophy are the one's who have been drained of their entire essence and wish to unlock their inner capabilities. If you wish to simply be able to live fully, fully for yourself, and wish to use YOUR potential to the fullest extent, then I suggest you read this stunning piece of work. And please take not that it is philosophy, and not an exact account of history

5-0 out of 5 stars one of the best
This is definitely the best book I read in a long time. Ayn Rand's Objectivism philosophy is fascinating to anyone that loves freedom, capitalism, and reason. This is not a book that any closed-minded socialist-like thinker should read (i.e. people that believe in increased federal government control over our lives). This book rightfully criticizes the intellectuals of the 20th century that promoted socialist programs and even socialism itself. Ayn Rand was a real thinker that reminded me of how great this country was and still could be if we return to what we were when this country was created by our democratic, capitalist, and intellectual founding fathers. I am looking forward to the Atlas Shrugged movie that is in the making.

1-0 out of 5 stars Mat
Anyone who starts their review of this foul book by saying that it is "one of the best philosophical books I've read" obviously hasn't read enough philosophical books.
Ayn Rand is the Ann Coulter of the 1960's; The "new intellectual" she praises in the title is actually her romanticized "Businessman," or he who applies his mind only to the creation of profit for himself and thus security for his family and ideas. She essentially argues that any effort that does not contribute directly to a free-market economy is counter productive. A truly ugly set of ideas.

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent Book
This book helped put things in perspective. We get further acquainted with Rand's brilliant philosophy of "objectivism."
Rand's perception of human nature were far ahead of her time.

Thanks to my friend Chris Artig in college for introducing me to Ms. Rand.

Jeffrey McAndrew
author of "Our Brown-Eyed Boy" ... Read more


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