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141. Power Politics
142. A History of Reading in the West
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143. The Broken Estate : Essays on
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144. The Wisdom of James Allen II:
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145. The Cynics: The Cynic Movement
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146. Voices from the Front : Letters
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147. The White Album
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148. Six Memos for the Next Millennium/the
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149. Maxims (Penguin Classics)
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150. The Commerce of Everyday Life
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151. The Vintage Mencken
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152. Mauve Gloves & Madmen, Clutter
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153. Imaginary Homelands: Essays and
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154. The Necessary Angel : Essays on
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155. Art and Culture (Beacon Paperback,
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156. Making a Literary Life
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157. Against the Beast: An Anti-Imperialist
158. The Best American Essays 2002
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159. Collected Prose
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160. Maybe (Maybe Not) (Maybe Not :

141. Power Politics
by Arundhati Roy
list price: $12.00
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Asin: 0896086682
Catlog: Book (2002-02-01)
Publisher: South End Press
Sales Rank: 29427
Average Customer Review: 4.62 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Arundhati Roy, the author of The God of Small Things, explores the politics of writing and the price of "development" driven by profit. Roy challenges the idea that only "experts" can speak out on such urgent matters as nuclear war, the human costs of the privatization of India's power supply by U.S.-based energy companies, and the construction of monumental dams in India. Includes new essays written since September 11. ... Read more

Reviews (8)

5-0 out of 5 stars I was almost brought to tears.....
As someone who is admittedly and shamefully, completely ignorant about the current socio-political situation in India, I was nevertheless nearly moved to tears at the heroism of how so many displaced villagers gathered up the courage to protest the outrages of being forced to abandon their homes due to pointless and environmentally-harmful "big dams"

I also felt great outrage over how unfairly Roy was being persecuted by her own government and courts for simply writing what she believes in. However, through her bravery, she never even contemplates leaving her country for greater personal (or economic)security but stays on to fight the good fight. Truly commendable person. And this is a powerful book surely not to be missed.

4-0 out of 5 stars Fresh take on globalization
Arundhati Roy bristles at being called a "writer-activist" (too much like sofa-bed, she says), but the rest of us should be grateful that the author of "The God of Small Things" is taking on the establishment, here and in India.

Part of Mrs. Roy's greatness is that she is not colored by the partisan debates that influence the dialogue on issues such as globalization in America. She is an equal-opportunity critic, taking on Clinton and Bush. Although other authors pledge no allegiance to either side of the aisle, Roy has a fresh perspective, and has a take on globalization that I haven't found in works by American authors.

This book is set up as a collection (a rather random collection) of several essays. The first essay gives a wonderful perspective of globalization (ie. the expansion of American business interests) from a foreign perspective. She examines the impact of the global economic movement on the actual people being affected by it at the lowest level. She reveals the influence of the privatization of the electric industry through the eyes of India's poorest citizens.

The second essay goes in-depth into politics in India, primarily addressing the enormous number of dams being built in the country, and the impacts (economic, environmental, social) that they will have. Mrs. Roy explicitly recounts how Enron scammed the Indian government into building new power generators, and how this will cost India hundreds of millions per year while lining the pockets of American business interests.

Critics will say that "Power Politics" is devoid of hard facts and analysis, but there can be no doubt that this book is worth a read. She may lack the economic background of Stiglitz, but her passion and style, in addition to her ability to articulate the important issues in the globalization debate in a readable manner, will be appreciated by anyone with an interest in global economic expansion.

5-0 out of 5 stars Power Politics is a great read for anyone
Roy is a great author, and she commands her energy to making us aware that we really should evolve as a race. Her insights in the "Bush Regime" are scary, I did not know how terrorizing Rumsfeld/Cheney policies were. If you are consverative or liberal, this is a book to read. It is time we (Americans) really take back our terrible (double standard) foriegn policies which are now affecting us regular Americans.

5-0 out of 5 stars Power vs. People
In Power Politics, Arundhati Roy gives us a window onto India from which we can see international corporations, the judicial and political systems of India, and most poignantly, the human beings affected by these powers. In this depiction of the opposition of power and people, those of us who are sympathetic to people will have our eyes and our hearts opened by this amazing young writer's clear, polite emphatic voice, while those aligned with the power side may find a rationale to dismiss Ms. Roy's prose with the callousness of the Enron executive who authorized $13 million to 'educate' Indian politicians about the virtues of dams that would destroy the homes of millions and shackle the people to enormous long term debt in exchange for the capacity to produce energy at prices far beyond the people's capacity to pay. Of course, the implications of Power Politics go beyond the borders of India. Preferable to The Cost of Living which is also excellent.

5-0 out of 5 stars Clarity, Depth, Detail and Style Up the Wazoo
A B S O L U T E L Y ~ A M A Z I N G

This book is first and foremost a case study of the "civil war" being waged against many Indian citizens by their own government, in the name of development. Asside from that, this book is also a work of art. A gifted writer and profound thinker who has taken up the pen for the sake of social justice. If you can't afford it, write me and I'll loan you my copy! ... Read more

142. A History of Reading in the West (Studies in Print Culture and the History of the Book)
by Guglielmo Cavallo, Roger Chartier, Lydia G. Cochrane
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Asin: 1558494111
Catlog: Book (2003-10-01)
Publisher: University of Massachusetts Press
Sales Rank: 370675
Average Customer Review: 3 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (1)

3-0 out of 5 stars Could be better
The content is wonderful! The book provides much insight to different reading practices and how they change through the years. But...

1. The footnotes need to be on the same page as the text. It is hard to keep your place when you constantly have to flip to the back of the book. Also, if the notes were on the same page, I could see whether or not I needed to read the footnote for more information.

2. Provide tranlations of foreign quotations. I don't know about you, but it has been a while since I had a foreign language course.

3. Some of the chapters could be better edited. For example, in chapter 8 ("Protestant Reformations and Reading"), contributing author Jean-Francois Gilmont needs to pinpoint dates more clearly. He mentions a twenty-year span in which the separation of the printed book from the hand-lettered book was finally completed, but says it happened soon after Luther preached against indulgences (p. 214). If Luther talked to the Archbishop of Mainz in 1518 about indulgences, isn't it logical that it was not in 1540 that the separation was complete?

4. The style of writing seems to jump from readable to dry. I know each chapter is by a different author, but is there any way there could be more fluidity from chapter to chapter? ... Read more

143. The Broken Estate : Essays on Literature and Belief
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Asin: 0375752633
Catlog: Book (2000-07-18)
Publisher: Modern Library
Sales Rank: 124265
Average Customer Review: 4.45 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

This book recalls an era when criticism could change the way we look at the world. In the tradition of Matthew Arnold and Edmund Wilson, James Wood reads literature expansively, always pursuing its role and destiny in our lives. In a series of essays about such figures as Melville, Flaubert, Chekhov, Virginia Woolf, and Don DeLillo, Wood relates their fiction to questions of religious and philosophical belief. He suggests that the steady ebb of the sea of faith has much to do with the revolutionary power of the novel, as it has developed over the last two centuries. To read James Wood is to be shocked into both thinking and feeling how great our debt to the novel is.

In the grand tradition of criticism, Wood's work is both commentary and literature in its own right--fiercely written, polemical, and richly poetic in style. This book marks the debut of a masterly literary voice.

"In America, where he now makes his home, consensus is building that James Wood, a thirty-four-year-old English-man, is the best literary critic of his generation. . . . Wood is not just a keen critic, our best, but a superb writer. James Wood is the kind of writer James Wood admires most: daring, meaty, boldly metaphoric and unequivocally committed."--Adam Begley, Financial Times

"After finishing one of James Wood's essays, I always feel that I have been in the company of a man who reads more perspicaciously and writes more incisively than almost anyone producing criticism today. His ability to transform complex, anxious thought into lucid, exciting prose is everywhere present in this wonderful book, as is an atmos-phere of civility, good sense, and justice."--Janet Malcolm

"In these essays a very bold intelligence illuminates literature and culture with a dashing fluency."--Elizabeth Hardwick

"In a distinctively impassioned voice, James Wood advances some formidable arguments for what fiction and the truthful deployment of the imagination can be. He is one of literature's true lovers, and his deeply felt, contentious essays are thrilling in their reach and moral seriousness."--Susan Sontag

"He is a true critic: an urgent, impassioned reader of literature, a tireless interpreter, a live and learned intelligence, good writing company. He has adopted the essay as his own; he uses it to write, in a way the serious writer does. That's to say, he drives his ideas hard; he hungers for metaphor . . . learned . . . cunningly brilliant."--Malcolm Bradbury, The New Statesman

"A book that makes you feel, having closed it, as if your mind has been oxygenated. While most reviewers tend to fall back on preconceived notions of good style, based mainly on their desire not to be challenged by fiction, Wood stands out for his desire to re-mint critical thought. He has the capacity to alert you all over again to the wonder of a single cadence, pulled out of the heart of a novel. He also forces you to reconsider what it is we mean when we say that a novel is real, is true, is great. There is no more, really, that we can ask of a critic."--Natasha Walter, The Independent on Sunday

"In this climate, James Wood's book is not just a pleasure in itself but a sign that things do not always necessarily go downhill. . . . 'Serious' books on literature and belief abound, but we have very few critics who can vie with Jarrell and Toynbee, who can remind us that talking about literature is a part of what literature is about, and talking about it with passion, precision, and out of a rich store of reading is a rare and precious gift: it is good for all of us that James Wood has it and we have James Wood."--Gabriel Josipovici, Times Literary Supplement

"James Wood has been called our best young critic. This is not true. He is our best critic; he thinks with a sublime ferocity. To enter Wood's mind is to cross a threshold: from the reviewer commonplaces that often pass for essay-writing into the intellectual daring that portends literary permanence. He is, for the moment, our Hazlitt. He may become something more."--Cynthia Ozick

"James Wood is an authentic literary critic, very rare in this bad time."--Harold Bloom

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Reviews (11)

4-0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, with the promise of better things to come.
'The Broken Estate' is one of the best volumes of literary criticism to have been published in the last ten years. It's plain that James Wood has immersed himself in comparative literature. That he is so young is further cause for excitement (and jealousy). I happen to disagree with Wood's assessments of some of the writers dealt with here, but I can't help admiring how seriously and enthusiastically he makes his case in each essay. The one fault I find -- and it's a localised one -- is in his writing. His prose is generally graceful, and all the essays are carefully structured, but he can lose himself in abstractions or flights of fancy. Wood demolishes the lofty pronouncements of George Steiner -- his 'imprecisions and melodramas'-- while occasionally indulging in the same sort of thing himself: the first two sentences of his introduction, for example, make no discernible sense. I don't think these lapses damage his arguments, but they distract the reader's attention, however briefly, from the main thrust of the essay. But this is a minor cavil. On the evidence of the work contained in 'The Broken Estate', we may have found the coming century's Edmund Wilson.

5-0 out of 5 stars Brilliant and passionate: criticism at its finest
James Wood is a critic of the highest order, whose passionate engagement with literature is evident in every single essay in this magnificent collection. His sentences are gorgeous, his readings of an inspiring astuteness, and his metaphors scintillating. He is opinionated, to be sure; but even if you disagree with some of his judgments, you will feel only inspired and invigorated by these essays. If you care deeply about literature, you can't afford not to read this book.

5-0 out of 5 stars Not the urgent problem
I can think of many reasons not to read literary criticism. It often seems to me that literary essays are nothing more than pretentious displays of erudition, showy namedropping. A question that vexes me sometimes is where do these critics find the time to read all that they supposedly do? And if they truly have read the seemingly countless number of books which their writing not-too-subtlety implies, wouldn't they be too over-read and, consequently, under-lived to be able to distinguish good from bad? The mark of a good critic is their ability to identify the next generation of greatness; it is all too easy to look back and stamp approval on those whom consensus has already been formed. In this way critics can survive by faking it, riding the tide of the latest trends.

No doubt it is too early to tell whether James Wood falls into the category of great critic. Based on this series of essays and the many others of which I have read by him, I can't recall him getting over-excited over a contemporary writer. Usually he focuses his energy on devaluing writers, which is fine by me since I almost always agree with him. But I can attest to the quality of James Wood in one important aspect: he is not faking it. I know this because of the things that he and I have read in common. His observations always ring true, his references always hit the mark in making his points, and his theses achieve dazzling heights of illumination. Reading James Wood is an intimidating experience because of his command of a seemingly endless supply of literary ammunition. It makes me feel as though I have not read anything really.

I do think, however, that The Broken Estate focuses too much on a problem that is perhaps less urgent for contemporary readers than it is for Wood. He is obsessed with a binary problem of belief: either the Christian Jesus or atheism. There is no such binary problem anymore. Even among contemporary Christians it is frequently not that simple. Not only are there, obviously, other religions to chose from, but there are an infinite number of ways to relate to the ideal of god in a non-religious way. The urgent question of our time seems to be "god or no god", with nominal religion serving only as an incidental issue. This is not to deny, of course, that the vast majority of people are still nominally religious. I hope Wood, in the next phase of his stellar career, focuses on this truly urgent problem of belief.

5-0 out of 5 stars repetitive to say...but brilliant
Criticism for people who want to read something smart and insightful about books. It's a book for those who appreciate thinking long and deep about literature, who appreciate being introduced to aspects of language and content they may never have previously considered, who take literature seriously and feel no need to apologize for it. There simply is no critic writing today as consistently well about literature as Mr. Wood and this book is a perfect introduction to why he has acquired such a reputation at such a comparatively young age. You may find yourself disagreeing but you will be forced to think hard as to why.

2-0 out of 5 stars Highly Overrated
This is literary criticism for people who don't like to read fiction. Or rather, for people who read novels just to squeeze them for big, important, gloomy ideas: alienation, the madness of being, the meaninglessness of world without God, and so on.

Actually, Wood writes quite well about God. Religion is the subject of his handful of good essays: in particular his look at God-haunted Herman Melville and the autobiographical title essay which explores Wood's own loss of religious faith. But spilt religion is his measure for all human experience, which is a strange point of view for someone who almost always writes about novels. Novels tend to be rather pagan, agnostic, compromised affairs. Which might explain why Wood usually writes about novelists without saying much about their novels. With Iris Murdoch, for example, he concentrates on her essays; his few words about her fiction--A FAIRLY HONORABLE DEFEAT--are just plain wrong. With other authors, such as Updike or Morrison, Wood picks at a sentence or two to suggest their prose style, then jumps ahead to their overarching themes and big ideas. He has almost nothing to say about characters or story, which for some of us is the meat and meaning of fiction. It's no surprise that Wood's favorite contemporary novelist, W.G. Sebald, is someone who's pulled off the difficult trick of writing novels WITHOUT characters or story.

Now and then Wood can come up with a nice turn of phrase, but this is a highly overrated critic: narrow, incurious and priggish. ... Read more

144. The Wisdom of James Allen II: Three Classic Works from the author of As a Man Thinketh, includes; Light on Life's Difficulties, Above Life's Turmoil, The Life Triumphant
by James Allen, Andy Zubko
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Asin: 1889606073
Catlog: Book (2002-12-05)
Publisher: Laurel Creek Press
Sales Rank: 26280
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Book Description

James Allen, a 19th century English writer, is best known as the author of the best-selling, inspirational classic, As a Man Thinketh. For over a hundred years, this timeless work has motivated readers to lead more successful, effective, and peaceful lives. James Allen is also the author of over twenty other books, that are lesser known but equally powerful. The Wisdom of James Allen II is the second book in the Laurel Creek James Allen Wisdom series. It combines 3 of his classic works in one volume and includes: Light of Life’s Difficulties, Above Life’s Turmoil, and The Life Triumphant.

James Allen was an advocate of ethics in all the areas of our lives. His goal was to reveal universal spiritual principles to the masses in order to relieve people of their suffering, empower the individual, and thus uplift humanity. Allen's works focus on teaching personal responsibility, finding the cause of personal problems within our own selves, and revealing how each of us can harness our personal power to master our own destinies. The wisdom contained in his works provides a valuable guide for life. ... Read more

145. The Cynics: The Cynic Movement in Antiquity and Its Legacy (Hellenistic Culture and Society)
by R. Bracht Branham, Marie Odile Goulet-Caze
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Asin: 0520216458
Catlog: Book (2000-06-01)
Publisher: University of California Press
Sales Rank: 213292
Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

This collection of essaysthe first of its kind in English bringstogether the work of an international group of scholars examining theentiretradition associated with the ancient Cynics. The essays give a historyof themovement as well as a state-of-the-art account of the literary,philosophicaland cultural significance of Cynicism from antiquity to the present. Arguably the most original and influential branch of the Socratictradition,Cynicism has become the focus of renewed scholarly interest in recentyears,thanks to the work of Sloterdijk, Foucault, and Bakhtin, among others.Thecontributors to this volumeclassicists, comparatists, and philosophers draw ona variety of methodologies to explore the ethical, social and culturalpracticesinspired by the Cynics. The volume also includes an introduction,appendices,and an annotated bibliography, making it a valuable resource for a broadaudience. ... Read more

Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars bow wow
This pleasurable book fills a need by representing the Cynics in one affordable volume. The essays are diverse in the topics and time periods addressed, from Greece to Goethe and beyond. View the table of contents to preview the extravaganza. On the whole, the essays are clear and compelling reading for all interested in how different people have received some ideas of the Cynics. Be sure to note the academic fireworks in the footnotes for the most polite disagreements among contributors. ... Read more

146. Voices from the Front : Letters Home from the Soldiers of Gulf War II
by Frank Schaeffer
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Asin: 078671462X
Catlog: Book (2004-10-10)
Publisher: Carroll & Graf
Sales Rank: 22069
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Book Description

Frank Schaeffer draws on his relationships with America's military families to gather a timely and powerful collection of writing from the soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. Like Keeping Faith and Faith of Our Sons, Voices from the Front bridges the divide between those who are in, or who have family members in the military, and the rest of us who can take that service for granted. It is a book about the intimately emotional and human side of military service. While Faith of Our Sons reflected this war through the homefront struggles of a quietly courageous community of families, Voices From the Front takes us directly to the often invisible front lines in Iraq and Afghanistan: from first deployment to patrols to combat to field hospitals and, in some cases, homecoming. As Schaeffer has written of a group he has come to think of-politics apart-as the next greatest generation, "We need to know the men and women in combat better and to understand what they are going through." Powerful, moving and undeniable, Voices from the Front tells the story of this war in the voices of the Americans who are living-and dying-in it every day. ... Read more

147. The White Album
by Joan Didion
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Asin: 0374522219
Catlog: Book (1990-10-01)
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Sales Rank: 50372
Average Customer Review: 3.91 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

First published in 1979, The White Album is a mosaic of the late sixties and seventies. It includes, among other bizarre artifacts and personalities, the dark journeys and impulses of the Manson family, a Balck Panther Party press conference, the story of John Paul Getty's museum, the romance of water in an arid landscape, and the swirl and confusion of the sixties. With commanding sureness of mood and language, Joan Didion exposes the realities and dreams of that age of self-discovery whose spiritual center was California.
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Reviews (11)

4-0 out of 5 stars Many mornings after the 60s
The White Album was published in 1979, and most of the material here is from the 1970s. Even so, the book is at least as much about the 1960s as is Slouching Towards Bethlehem. Like that book, this is a collection of essays from various publications, plus some previously unpublished material. It's a mixed bag. The title piece is quite strong, as is "On The Morning After The Sixties," proving, perhaps, that the 1960s really were Didion's one true subject. There's other good stuff here, too, and the book is actually sort of underrated, since so many observers rate it a poor second to Slouching Towards Bethlehem. But the Didion style is actually quite strong in this volume, sharply observed, carefully written, personal without being confessional, and always flirting with detachment but not quite achieving it. Obviously some people just can't stand Didion's essays, and this book would hardly change their mind; but if you're open to her style, this is worth reading.

5-0 out of 5 stars fantastic
Do you ever have a group of authors that you just can't differentiate in your mind? I get that sometimes with writers, particularly those who I haven't read as they were writing. Like I finally just read a book by Eric Hoffer, whose stuff I'd always seen around but who I continually confused with Eric Fromm, Eric Erickson and a couple other guys who were popular in the '60s. Similarly, I've never been able to keep Joan Didion, Nora Ephron and Joyce Carol Oates straight, but I was sure I didn't like at least a couple of them and had no desire to sort through and figure out which. What a revelation then to pick up a book of Joan Didion's essays; they are terrific.

The first collection, Slouching Towards Bethlehem, opens with an introduction by the author, in which she says that the title is a reference to Yeats's great poem The Second Coming, with which many of the essays share an apocalyptic vision :

'Slouching Towards Bethlehem' is also the title of one piece in the book, and that piece, which derived from some time spent in the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco, was for me both the most imperative of all these pieces to write and the only one that made me despondent after it was printed. It was the first time I had dealt directly and flatly with the evidence of atomization, the proof that things fall apart

It is this realization that animates both this collection and The White Album (which should really be read together), the sense that American society was splintering in the 60s and 70s and that traditional moral and cultural restraints could no longer hold it together. Whether she's writing about a sensational murder or profiling California celebrities, discussing student demonstrations, the Black Panthers or the Women's Movement, or portraying her own physical and emotional problems, the consistent theme is one of the breakdown of the social order, or of the American psyche. But there's also a strong subtext which shows that the center, though embattled, really is holding; it is the margins, both at the upper and the lower ends of the social spectrum which are falling apart. The real danger lies in the middle's loss of confidence in it's own beliefs, a crisis of faith.

The disintegration at the bottom of the social scale is most clear in her reporting on crime, drug culture and the inanity of youth, racial and gender politics. But she lays the blame squarely, and fairly, at the feet of Middle America, as here when she's discussing the failure to provide any guidance to America's youth :

At some point between 1945 and 1967 we had somehow neglected to tell these children the rules of the game we happened to be playing . . . These were children who grew up cut loose from the web of cousins and great-aunts and family doctors and lifelong neighbors who had traditionally suggested and enforced the society's values. ... They are less in rebellion against society than ignorant of it, able only to feed back certain of its most publicized self-doubts, Vietnam, Saran-Wrap, diet pills, the Bomb.

They feed back exactly what is given to them. Because they do not believe in words--words are for 'typeheads,' Chester Anderson tells them, and a thought which needs words is just one more of those ego trips--their only proficient vocabulary is in the society's platitudes. As it happens I am still committed to the idea that the ability to think for one's self depends upon one's mastery of the language, and I am not optimistic about children who will settle for saying, to indicate that their mother and father do not live together, that they come from 'a broken home.' They are sixteen, fifteen, fourteen years old, younger all the time, an army of children waiting to be given the words.

Now, normally, those words would come from parents, clergy, schools, etc., but self doubt inhibited their willingness to impart them, and kept them from enunciating these ideals to the rest of society.

The reason for their timidity is made apparent in a batch of essays which celebrate middle class good sense and sensibilities while contrasting them to the snobbishness and self-righteousness of elites. In essays on John Wayne, Howard Hughes, the J. Paul Getty Museum, and the Reagan-built California Governor's Mansion, Didion shows how out of touch intellectual opinion is with these symbols that the rest of us find so appealing. Here she is on the mansion :

A guard sleeps at night in the old mansion, which has been condemned as a dwelling by the state fire marshal. It costs about $85,000 a year to keep guards at the new official residence. Meanwhile, the current governor of California, Edmund G. Brown, Jr., sleeps on a mattress on the floor in the famous apartment for which he pays $275 a month out of his own $49,1000 annual salary. This has considerable and potent symbolic value, as do the two empty houses themselves, most particularly the house the Reagans built on the river. It is a great point around the Capitol these days to have 'never seen' the house on the river. The governor himself has 'never seen' it. The governor's press secretary, Elisabeth Coleman, has 'never seen' it. The governor's chief of staff, Gray Davis, admits to having seen it, but only once, when 'Mary McGrory wanted to see it.' This unseen house on the river is, Jerry Brown has said, 'not my style.'

As a matter of fact this is precisely the point about the house on the river--the house is not Jerry Browne's style, not Mary McGrory's style, not our style--and it is a point which presents a certain problem, since the house so clearly is the style not only of Jerry Brown's predecessor but of millions of Jerry Brown's constituents. Words are chosen carefully. Reasonable objections are framed. One hears about how the house is too far from the Capitol, too far from the Legislature. One hears about the folly of running such a lavish establishment for an unmarried governor and one hears about the governor's temperamental austerity. One hears every possible reason for not living in the house except the one that counts : it is the kind of house that has a wet bar in the living room. It is the kind of house in which one does not live, but there is no way to say this without getting into touchy and evanescent and finally inadmissible questions of taste, and ultimately of class. I have seldom seen a house so evocative of the unspeakable.

In such a situation, where the proclivities of the opinion-making class had diverged so far from the preferences of the middle class, it would have taken an inordinate amount of courage for middle America to hold it's ground, even more so in the face of the concurrent rebellions by youth, feminists and people of color, all of them attacking traditional tastes, beliefs, and mores.

The piece though that most dramatically illustrates this dichotomy and demonstrates just how embattled was Middle America and how arrogant were the intellectuals is the quite devastating, Bureaucrats. In straightforward fashion, all the more effective because understated, she relates the efforts of the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) to, in the words of it's director : "pry John Q. Public out of his car," by creating Diamond or HOV (High Occupancy Vehicle) lanes on the thruways, beginning with the Santa Monica :

Of course this political decision was in the name of the greater good, was in the interests of 'environmental improvement' and 'conservation of resources,' but even there the figures had about them a certain Caltrans opacity. The Santa Monica normally carried 240,000 cars and trucks every day. These 240,000 cars and trucks normally carried 260,000 people. What Caltrans described as its ultimate goal on the Santa Monica was to carry the same 260,000 people, 'but in 7,800 fewer, or 232,200 vehicles.' The figure '232,200' had a visionary precision to it that not automatically create confidence, especially since the only effect so far had been to disrupt traffic throughout the Los Angeles basin, triple the number of daily accidents on the Santa Monica, prompt the instigation of two lawsuits against Caltrans, and cause large numbers of Los Angeles County residents to behave, most uncharacteristically, as an ignited and conscious proletariat.

She goes on to show that the bureaucrats at Caltrans are bent on reengineering the behavior of motorists regardless of their resistance and of the disastrous results. The coup de grace is delivered in the final sentence : "Yesterday plans were announced to extend the Diamond Lanes to other freeways at a cost of $42,500,000." It's one of the finest essays I've ever read, exposing the arrogance of little men with too much power.

Throughout, the two books are filled with terrific stuff like this and more memorable sentences than you can count. The only weak spots are the predominantly personal essays, which I could have done withou

4-0 out of 5 stars People and places of the 60s and 70s
Joan Didion's essays are sharply observed and very personal. She informs us of her fragile mental state in the very first essay, in which she describes a pervasive sense of detachment that she felt from the world. She then goes on to deliver a collection of well-written profiles on personalities, places, and the concerns of the time (late 60s-early 70s). Didion inserts herself and her personal issues into these pieces on ocassion, which no doubt contributes to the accusation by some that she is a whiner. On the contrary, I feel that it was courageous for Didion to reveal herself this way and that the awareness of the narrator as a fragile, flawed individual rather than an omnipotent, god-like commentator pronouncing judgement on its subjects gives a unity and a perspective to these disparate pieces that they would not have possessed otherwise.

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent writing
Didion is a master essayist with an excellent command of the English language. The quality of her prose alone justifies a 5-star rating.

1-0 out of 5 stars Superficial.
Only two articles were worth-while reading: one about Doris Lessing and the other about Hollywood. The others were totally unimportant.
The author doesn't play in the same league as, for instance, a Simon Leys (about China) or an Ian Buruma (about Japan). ... Read more

148. Six Memos for the Next Millennium/the Charles Eliot Norton Lectures 1985-86 (Vintage International)
list price: $12.00
our price: $9.00
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Asin: 0679742379
Catlog: Book (1993-08-31)
Publisher: Vintage
Sales Rank: 89603
Average Customer Review: 4.88 out of 5 stars
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Italo Calvino cast his lofty thoughts toward the pending millennium long before the rest of us. Now that the zeitgeist has caught up with him, it seems a good time to revisit his Six Memos for the Next Millennium, an investigation into the literary values that he wished to bequeath to future generations. Calvino, the author of Invisible Cities, If on a Winter's Night a Traveler, and other postmodern fictional works, was to deliver these five "memos" (there was to be a sixth) as Harvard's Charles Eliot Norton Lectures in 1985-86, but he died before doing so. These lectures are dense, rigorous, and seemingly full of contradiction. The first is a paean to lightness (though "light like a bird," as Paul Valéry wrote, "and not like a feather"). Lightness is followed by quickness (without "presum[ing] to deny the pleasures of lingering"), exactitude, visibility, and multiplicity. The perfect antidote to writerly laziness. ... Read more

Reviews (8)

5-0 out of 5 stars il futurismo
A new italian Futurist Manifesto, but this time a good one.

5-0 out of 5 stars nurturing concepts for all creative genres
It was a an Italian virtuoso contrabassist who told me to read these Lectures. Stefano plays all the arduously difficult new music literature for the contrabass. He travels with a violoncello,so he can play all that repertoire as well. When he plays this music he often ponders Calvino, five primary conceptual corridors toward what he thought of as literature,but music as well can be contemplated with these ideas. "Lightness", well music has a density, Mozart played games with it, and interpreting Mozart can be a treatise in the dialectic,the transformations and timbral modulations of lightness to heaviness.,ask any violinist.Calvino of course expounds on Kundera's popular book, on the weight of the lifeworld of living in the East,the coal-dusted passageways,or of a fallen love,begun transgressivly there as well. Dante is a frequent pilgrim(example) here the lightness of snow falling imperceptibly on the mountainside. "Quickness", but not how fast things move,(our Silicon Valley) odious airjets that may puncture the ozone layer,or violins, but the quickness of an image to transform our consciousness,to lighten it up from the cruel oppression of citylife.That's poetry. I think.Robert Musil is here as well, the complexity,the numbering imagination of his transitory work to modernity the opening two decades of this century,his "Man Without Qualities" a seemingly endless work.And Gedda's "Awfull Mess. . . " on the street a probing detective novel of complexity of a murder in Rome,on the way to the Labor Bureau of the Roman Government. In music I frequently think of Visibility when I have nothing to transport me into the bowels of a Bruckner or an Antheil Symphony,what do I see in the music,like the weight of this century in the "Largo" from the "Fifth Symphony" of Shostakovich.Multiplicity as well another Calvino chapter is here,sprouting its wings like a peacock, all around us if we only have the patience for it. To phanthom and explore all images of a work as looked at through a plexiglass. We seldom do that. How exact is art, "Exactitude" is what Leonardo di Vinci lived his life with, rewrote almost everything,Calvino tells us, as Leopardi,the Essays.

5-0 out of 5 stars Five Stars for Six Memos
My interest in reading this collection of essays stems from a curiousity about narrative structure. I found that, while Calvino writes candid insertions about his own works, and while he writes with great fluency of ancient, medieval, contemporary world writers, the power of this short book lies in his erudite observations and keen, bits of wisdom. Here's a sample: "Saving time is a good thing because the more time we save, the more we can afford to lose" (p. 46), and this one, "Were I to choose an auspicious image for the new millennium, I would choose this one: The sudden agile leap of the poet-philosopher who raises himself above the weight of the world, showing that with all his gravity he has the secret of lightness, and that what many consider to be the vitality of the times--noisy, aggressive, revving and roaring--belongs to the realm of death, like a cemetary for rusty, old cars" (p. 12).

Calvino writes about five different qualities of literature: Lightness, Quickness, Exactitude, Visibility, and Multiplicity (he had intended to write a sixth chapter on Consistency, before his untimely death). He examines these qualities closely, using his own facile language as the medium.

Read it, by all means.

5-0 out of 5 stars Masterful thought provoking and inspiring essays
This is truly one of the greatest books I have ever read. Inspires and helps generate new thoughts and ideas. Calvino was truly a master. This could be read over and over for a lifetime.

5-0 out of 5 stars Fluent as a novel
Sure you never read an essay written in such a fluent style. It is like a friendly conversation on a sofa, with one of the best Italian writer and critic af the century. ... Read more

149. Maxims (Penguin Classics)
by Francois LA Rochefoucauld, Leonard Tancock
list price: $12.95
our price: $9.71
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Asin: 014044095X
Catlog: Book (1982-01-01)
Publisher: Penguin Books
Sales Rank: 61000
Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

This is the first-ever French-English edition of La Rochefoucauld’s Réflexions, ou sentences et maximes morales, long known in English simply as the Maxims. The translation, the first to appear in forty years, is completely new and aims – unlike all previous versions – at being as literal as possible. This involves, among other things, rendering the same word – for example, amour-propre as self-love – as consistently throughout as good sense allows. This also means that the translators have made every effort to maintain La Rochefoucauld’s word order. This allows the reader the best vantage point for viewing La Rochefoucauld’s dramatic and paradoxical juxtapositions of words and ideas, juxtapositions of the utmost importance to understanding his thought. Despite the translation’s concern with literalness, careful attention has been paid to the nuances of the literary character of the Maxims.

In addition, this work contains a series of detailed indices that will greatly aid the reader in finding just the right maxim. Also included is the original French index of the work.

At the heart of La Rochefoucauld’s Maxims lies the attempt to disclose the great disparity between the exaggerated self-estimation of men and women and their actual condition. As La Rochefoucauld (1613–1680) unremittingly unmasks various pretenses, he elaborately exposes the complexity of motives which underlie and inform human conduct: whereas many endeavor to reveal a unity in plurality, La Rochefoucauld endeavors to reveal a plurality in unity. Playful, yet serious, humorous, ironic, yet direct, poetic, yet philosophical, the Maxims penetrate to themes at the center of reflection and judgment about the human situation. Worthy of study at any time, the Maxims are especially relevant in the strange times in which we live.

This edition includes the 504 maxims of the definitive, fifth edition of 1678, along with 137 other maxims which were either withdrawn from earlier editions or published posthumously. In addition to the maxims, La Rochefoucauld’s self-portrait and Cardinal de Retz’s portrait of La Rochefoucauld are also included. ... Read more

Reviews (6)

5-0 out of 5 stars The 'Maxims' as a Classic of 'Crooked Wisdom.'
The famous Indian classic, Kautilya's 'Arthasastra,' a treatise which deals with the attainment of worldly ends, distinguishes between two kinds of wisdom - Straight and Crooked. To the former belong (to use Western examples) such works as 'The Imitation of Christ' by Thomas a Kempis, a work which teaches how, ideally, the virtuous should live, while overlooking the fact that often it would be extremely impractical and socially disastrous to live in such a way.

The second class of books, those which teach the art of 'Crooked Wisdom,' is exemplified in the East by Kautilya's 'Arthasastra' itself, and in the West by such works as Balthasar Gracian's 'The Art of Worldly Wisdom,' Francesco Guicciardini's 'Maxims and Reflections of a Renaissance Statesman' (Ricordi), and by the present collection of Maxims by La Rochefoucauld.

These books are both highly realistic and extremely practical, for they depict, not man as he is supposed to be, but man as he is with all his selfishness, stupidity, ambition, arrogance, malice, laziness and other imperfections, and they teach the art of how, not merely to survive, but even to thrive in the midst of our far from perfect fellow men and women. And, certainly in the case of La Rochefoucauld, this teaching is done with great precision and wit.

'Crooked Wisdom,' then, should not be understood as the product of a crooked mind, but as the clear-sighted wisdom one needs to survive in a world teeming with such minds, a world, as Tancock says, involved in a "sordid struggle of self-interests, a scramble for power, position, and influence in which the foulest motives and methods [are] decked with labels such as duty, honor, patriotism, and glory."

La Rochefoucauld seems to provoke two very different kinds of reaction. Fully paid up members of the rose-tinted spectacles club, are shocked and horrified by his portrait of man and society, and they tend to dislike both the man and his book.

The more realistically inclined, however, will savor his bite and wit and will readily acknowledge the self-evident truth of much if not all of what he says. The man was undoubtedly brilliant, not only in terms of the many profound insights he gave us - particularly those having to do with 'amour propre' or self-love - but also in terms of the skill with which he translated those insights into pithy and memorable maxims.

Tancock defines the maxim as the expression of "some thought about human motives or behavior in a form containing the maximum of clarity and TRUTH with the minimum of words arranged in the most striking and memorable order" (my caps). La Rochefoucauld's aim, in short, was simply to tell the truth, and to tell it for our benefit.

The maxim as a literary genre was cultivated in his milieu, and La Rochefoucauld's were polished to a high state of perfection, for they had to satisfy a critical and sophisticated audience. Seven years were devoted to refining them, during which the circle of his aristocratic friends and fellow habitues of Mmme de Sable's salon repeatedly offered advice and criticism.

The 'Maxims,' then, although the product of an individual sensibility, also become in a sense the product a collective effort, having emerged from a serious and civilized salon whose interests were psychological, literary, and linguistic. Anyone who feels inclined to dismiss them might keep this in mind.

I discovered La Rochefoucauld many years ago, and have always been a great admirer of his Maxims. Once read, they are never forgotten. They have a way of burrowing deeply into the mind, and the fact that they tend to recur in those moments when we are reflecting on life and mulling over our experiences seems to me a kind of proof of their veracity.

One that has always struck me as particularly significant is Maxim 22 : "Philosophy easily triumphs over past ills and ills to come, but present ills triumph over philosophy." Or, in the words of the Red Queen : "Jam yesterday, jam tomorrow, but no jam today." If such truths are not exactly cheering, this in no way detracts from their being true.

There is an enormous amount to be learned by the honest and open-minded reader from La Rochefoucauld's 'Maxims,' especially if they also have a sense of humor. But the 'Happy Days! Happy Sky!' school, whose main requirement of a writer would seem to be that he should confirm them in their beautiful illusions, would be wiser to look elsewhere for edification. La Rochefoucauld is not a writer for the faint of heart, nor for those without a sense of humor.

5-0 out of 5 stars La Rochefoucauld is Very Important
FERDINAND-DREYFUS, Un philanthrope d'autrefois: La Rochefoucauld-Liancourt, 1747-1827 (Paris, 1903). Translated to English. WJH (François-Alexandre-Frédéric).

Born at La Roche-Guyon, on 11 January, 1747; died at Paris, 27 March, 1827.

Opposed during the last years of the reign of Louis XV to the government of Maupeou, and the friend of all the reformers who surrounded Louis XVI, he owed to the influence of these economists the favour of the king. Having little liking for the military profession he devoted himself to scientific agriculture. During the rage for rural life which characterized the last years of the old regime, La Rochefoucauld made his estate at Liancourt an experimental station, whishing to improve both the soil and the peasantry. He introduced new methods of farming, founded the first model technical school in France (intended for the children of poor soldiers), and started two factories. Politically, he was a partisan of a democratic regime of which the king was to be the head, and throughout his life was faithful to this dream. Deputy for the nobility of Clermont in Beauvaisis at the States-General, he voted unhesitatingly for the "reunion of the three orders". it was he who in the night which followed the taking of the Bastille (14 July, 1789) roused Louis XVI, saying: "Sire, it is not a revolt, it is a revolution." He presided at the Constituent Assembly from 20 July to 3 August, 1789. On the night of 4 August he was one of the most enthusiastic in voting the abolition of titles of nobility and privileges. As grand master of the wardrobe he accompanied Louis XVI from Versailles to Paris on 5 and 6 October, 1789. As president of the committee of mendicancy, he made a supreme effort at the Constituent Assembly to organize public relief; he determined the extent and the limits of the rights of every citizen to assistance, determined the obligations of the State, and established a budget of State assistance which amounted annually to five millions and a half of francs, and which implied the national confiscation of hospital property, of ecclesiastical charitable property, and of the income from private foundations.

Liancourt is one of the most undiscerning representatives of the tendency which led the revolutionary state to destroy all collective forms of charity. Absolutely devoted to the person of Louis XVI as well as to the doctrines of the Revolution, he secured for himself in 1792 the lieutenancy of Normandy and Picardy, so as to prepare for the flight of the king as far as Rouen; but Louis XVI refused to place himself in the hands of constitutional deputies. La Rochefoucauld-Liancourt emigrated shortly after 10 August, and resided in England until 1794, afterwards in the United States (1794-7). He took advantage of his residence in that country to write eight volumes on the United States to induce Washington to interfere in favour of Lafayette, and to gather ideas upon education and agriculture which he attempted later to apply in France. After 18 Brumaire, Napoleon authorized him to return to his Liancourt estate, which was restored to him. This former duke and peer gloried in being appointed, during the first Empire (1806), general inspector of the "Ecole des arts et métiers" at Châlons, of which his Liancourt school had been a forerunner. The book "Prisons de Philadelphie" which he composed in American and published in 1796, was meant to initiate a penitentiary reform in France at the Restoration in 1814 he begged but one favour-to be appointed prison inspector. In 1819 he became inspector of one of the twenty-eight arrondissements into which France was divided for penitentiary purposes. Louis XVIII gave him back neither the blue ribbon nor the mastership of the wardrobe, and in the House of Peers he sat with the opposition.

La Rochefoucauld-Liancourt was the Franklin of the Revolution. An aristocrat by birth, a liberal in his views, in touch with all the representatives of the new commerce, he availed himself of this concurrence of circumstances to become the leader of every campaign for the people's protection and betterment; improvement of sanitary conditions in hospitals and foundling asylums, reorganization of schools according to the theories of Lancaster, whose book he had translated (Système anglais d'Instruction). He brought into use the methods of mutual instruction, and the pupils between 1816 and 1820 increased from 165,000 to 1,123,000. In 1818 he established the first savings bank and provident institution in Paris. On 19 Nov., 1821, he founded the Society of Christian Morals, over which he presided until 1825. It was at times looked upon with suspicion by the police of the Restoration. At its meetings were such men as Charles de Rémusat, Charles Coquerel, Guizot the Pedagogue, Oberlin, and Llorente, historian of the Inquisition. Broglie, Guizot, and Benjamin Constant were chairmen in turn, and Dufaure, Tocqueville, and Lamartine made there their maiden speeches. In these meetings provident institutions, rather than charitable ones, were discussed; slavery, lottery, gambling were combatted, and the matter of prison inspection was taken up. When La Rochefoucauld-Liancourt died, the Restoration would not permit the students of Châlons to carry his coffin, and the two chambers were much concerned over such extreme measures. La Rochefoucauld-Liancourt was a typical philanthropist, with all that this word implies of generous intentions and practical innovations; but also with a certain naïve pride, inherited from the philosophy of the eighteenth century, which led him to mistrust the charitable initiative of the Church, and to forget that the Church, the most perfect representative of the spirit of brotherhood, is still called in our modern society to win the victory for this spirit by putting it to practical uses, as she alone can.

5-0 out of 5 stars The Truth Hurts
These maxims, though brief, speak volumes about their author and the human condition. Francois duc do La Rouchefoucauld was cursed with a double nature which led him in his career as a courtier to, as Leonard Tanner puts it in his introduction "romantic self-dedication followed by bitter disillusion." After the fighting in Paris of 1652 he retired to a quiet life of contemplation and the society of such friends as Mme de Sevigne, who's letters give us such a vibrant window upon that age. It was during the many meetings he had with these friends that the first maxims evolved, and which he would continue to compose and perfect until his death in 1680. Nothing quite like them had ever existed before in European literature, and their precision and bleak though biting wit would shape the style of French letters for centuries to come. Essential reading for the student of the school of hard knocks.

5-0 out of 5 stars The arch-cynical "moraliste"
La Rouchefoucauld flashes his deadly epigrammatic knife-blade and, with ruthless precision, he sets about stripping the flesh off all that reasonable and upstanding people respect -- virtue, moderation, compassion, love and reason itself. With poise, elegance and control, he deploys the literary form of the aphorism, though despite the balance, the brevity and the stylistic grace, one cannot mistake his intention: the destruction of moral prejudices and received opinions. Some of his axioms are timeless: -- "There are some bad qualities which make great talents." -- "If we judge love by the generality of its effects, it resembles hatred rather than friendship." -- "Interest speaks all sorts of languages, and plays all sorts of parts, even that of disinterestedness." With his icy, seemingly dispassionate precepts, he deliberately glories in paradox and presents a mordant picture of human nature. Stylistically as well as substantively, he was a forerunner of the aristocratic anarchist Nietzsche.

5-0 out of 5 stars World class aphorisms
Be warned! La Rochefoucauld is not a very edifying writer. He doesn't believe in making people better. Instead he says: "Virtue wouldn't go very far if it were not for vanity keeping it company." The Maxims offer one of the most disillusioned views of human nature in world literature. What really recommends them, however, is their clarity and elegance. Again and again they have been compared to diamonds.

La Rochefoucauld (1613-1680) is the most famous of the French moralists who dissected human behaviour in razor-sharp aphorisms. Get this volume to discover a tradition of thinking which is largely alien to English literature, with the notable exception of Oscar Wilde. "Most young people feel they are just being natural when they are nothing but gross." ... Read more

150. The Commerce of Everyday Life : Selections from The Tatler and The Spectator (Bedford Cultural Editions)
by Joseph Addison, Richard Steele
list price: $19.95
our price: $19.95
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Asin: 0312115970
Catlog: Book (1998-04-15)
Publisher: Bedford/St. Martin's
Sales Rank: 63922
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Book Description

This volume offers a selection of essays from The Tatler and The Spectator (1709-1714). The accompanying texts include excerpts from other periodicals such as The Guardian, The London Spy, and The Female Tatler; advertisements; and selections by Defoe, Ward, Flecknoe, Gay, Mandville, Pope, and Swift. A general introduction providing historical and cultural background, a chronolgy of Addison's and Steele's lives and times, an introduction to each thematic group of documents, headnotes, extensive annotations, a selected bibliography, and illustrations make this volume a unique scholarly edition of the periodical papers that helped define eighteenth-century culture and standards.
... Read more

151. The Vintage Mencken
list price: $13.00
our price: $9.75
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Asin: 0679728953
Catlog: Book (1990-03-17)
Publisher: Vintage
Sales Rank: 23174
Average Customer Review: 4.29 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (7)

5-0 out of 5 stars Where They Poured Coca-Cola Just Like Vintage Wine
Things aren't what they used to be; but what's more, they *really* were, and you can get no better picture of the first half of the American century than this book provides. Primarily consisting of Mencken's *The Free Lance* columns for the Baltimore Sun-Times, this book provides a picture of a Mencken even most literati are unfamiliar with today; the scrupulous, knowledgeable, sceptical reporter. And if such a trade be considered optional from the observer's standpoint, perhaps this is why current "curmudgeonly" pretenders to this ever-lovin' Democrat's throne as cultural critic do all of the (easy) carousing and none of the spadework Mencken performed for literati (including the odd "Aframerican" and bluestocking).

But, as this book shows, there was more to the Roaring Twenties and other poorly-remembered eras than even buncombe and carnivals, and more to Mencken's attitude towards American mores than haberdashery. However, what there is not more to is Mencken's loathing of FDR: it is simply a sign of a sea-change in American life, where the stumbling, angry, concerned "competent" Mencken represented began to be waved away by a well-supported, knowing hand -- eventually to great acclaim. What would good ole H.L. Mencken have to say about the present? He would too sad to speak. But he reveled in his time: and the result is solider than any effort at Christian charity, however learned.

3-0 out of 5 stars A Writer and His Times
H. L. Mencken was born in Baltimore in 1880 and for his developmental years was a "bookworm." He resolved to pursue a more active life as he grew and discovered his niche in journalism. In 1899 he went to work for the Baltimore Morning Herald and found the going difficult at first, but as he persisted he discovered that was where he was most suited and kept the title "newspaperman" the rest of his life. He remained in his home town and continued to live in the home his family had lived in rather than seeking career advancement in larger markets. One of the first essays in this collection is one he wrote about his hometown, "The Baltimore of the Eighties." Another early one describes the local YMCA. His piece on Theodore Dreiser contains a segment on the art of communicating via the written word. A tribute to William Jennings Bryan which was published in the American Mercury in 1925 is included in this collection. Other pieces are on the people, times, circumstances, and issues of the era in which he made his observations. While I do not agree with him on many topics, his work demonstrates the efforts of a skilled writer.

5-0 out of 5 stars Mencken was a great newspaper journalist and writer
Please read this book for a refreshing view from a highly intelligent author from the early 20th century...Mencken was *not* a confirmed racist - this tag was applied to him when some of his personal diaries were published and his writings were compared against the current day "PC" language test. If you were to strike up a conversation with any person 90 years ago I would think their speech would shock modern sensibilities on the race issue. In Menckin's case, I encourage you to read about his actions in the race issue - the fact that as an editor he published African-American authors when no other mainstream publications would do so. That he opposed segregation and had many friends he actively and publicly supported that were of a diverse nature religiously and racially.

If you want a good weekend read with bookends from the beginning and the end of the twentieth century, pick up "The Vintage Mencken" and "Eat the Rich" or "Parliament of Whores" from P.J. O'Rourke, the current HL Mencken scholar at the Cato Institute. You will have a refreshing libertarian infusion which will help you withstand the current New Left and Religious Right babble that is so pervasive in the media these days.

3-0 out of 5 stars A good intro - but I expected a little more
Mencken was a well known editor, book reviewer and writer. The selected essays are interesting and often very funny, but I somehow expected a more comprehensive and well-rounded selection of his writings. The book is certainly entertaining and sometimes insightful - hence a purchase to be considered. However, a better job could have been done in selecting the material for the book - including perhaps a selection of his famous aphorisms.

4-0 out of 5 stars Vicious without being vengeful.
I can't recall when I first read this--maybe 30 years ago. You just wanna write a Mencken-tinged missive to your Congressperson afterward. But Mencken could be vicious without being vengeful, something few public personae are capable of today. The piece on Valentino is incredible: the Valentino-Mencken tete-a-tete would make great theater, I think. Mencken would be really uncomfortable in today's simplified soundbyte world: here was a confirmed racist who promoted the Harlem Renaissance & condemned segregation in public places. Still, his essays on Baltimore in the 1880s, Lincoln, & chiropracty are the American language in shining armor. Anyone who wants to write well should read this. To paraphrase Keats, it's all ye need to know! ... Read more

152. Mauve Gloves & Madmen, Clutter & Vine
list price: $14.95
our price: $14.95
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Asin: 0553380591
Catlog: Book (1999-10-05)
Publisher: Bantam
Sales Rank: 228328
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Book Description

If generals prepare for the last war, the politicians run on yesterday's issues. Never was this truer than in the 1970s. Our elected elite couldn't get a handle on the times.

But Tom Wolfe could. In fact he gave the era its name -- "The Me Decade." And like an artist briskly painting the passing scene, he captured it in stories and essays. This collection includes the best -- "Pornoviolence," "Funky Chic," "The Man Who Always Peaked Too Soon" plus the story for which this collection is named.

"Wolfe sees it fresh and tells it true...great vivacity and intelligence." (The Observer) ... Read more

153. Imaginary Homelands: Essays and Criticism, 1981-1991
by Salman Rushdie
list price: $14.95
our price: $10.17
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Asin: 0140140360
Catlog: Book (1992-04-01)
Publisher: Penguin Books
Sales Rank: 130417
Average Customer Review: 4.14 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (7)

4-0 out of 5 stars Eclectic Essays
This is an excellent collection of mostly short pieces about a variety of subjects. From politics to religion to literature, Rushdie is well informed and opinionated. I found him particularly good on Islam and India. This kind of book is great for the gym or train, since most of the pieces are quite short. Two of the last pieces give his perspective on the fatwa that turned his life upside down after the publication of The Satanic Versus. I was intrigued to see that he regrets delaying the paperback publication version for three years as a concession to the Islamic radicals (I remember waiting for the paperback version so I could see what it was all about).

4-0 out of 5 stars An inconsistent but nice collection for Rushdie fans
IMAGINARY HOMELANDS is a collection of Salman Rushdie's writings from 1981 to 1991. They include essays, book reviews, interviews, and random musings dating from the beginning of his popularity after his novel MIDNIGHT'S CHILDREN until the third anniversary of the death fatwa pronounced on him by the Ayatollah Khomeini for his book THE SATANIC VERSES.

As with any collection of essays, IMAGINARY HOMELANDS is inconsistent and not every essay will interest every reader. However, there's sure to be a lot of gems here for fans of Rushdie. The literary legacy of the 1980's is quickly being erased from the popular memory, and readers today are forgetting the output of that underappreciated decade. There are reviews here range from one of Graham Greene's last novels to physics superstar Stephen Hawking's A BRIEF HISTORY OF TIME. Reading IMAGINARY HOMELANDS today is important to refresh one's knowledge of the 1980's from a literary standpoint. Also, Rushdie proves himself again a man deeply troubled by oppression. He often mentions Pakistan's ruthless US-supported General Zia, and in "A Conversation with Edward Said" deals with the issue of Palestinian identity. His review of V.S. Naipaul's "Among the Believers", a journal of travels through the new Islamic states that sprung up in the 80's, and his two essays on the reaction of Muslims to THE SATANIC VERSES are helpful works to read in this time when dealing with Islamic extremism is such a driving force in international relations. Critics have often found Salman Rushdie hard to classify, wondering if he is an Indian or British writer, or a "Commonwealth" novelist, and Rushdie confronts the madness of classifying everything in "There Is No Such Thing As Commonwealth Literature".

If you enjoyed greatly the wry irony of THE SATANIC VERSES and other Rushdie novels, IMAGINARY HOMELANDS may interest you. While it won't engage the average reader, fans of Rushdie will get a lot out of this collection.

5-0 out of 5 stars "good criticism"(?)
some of my friends and i have formulated some good points of "good criticism" which includes writing in a manor that allows for the reader to believe that his/her point may not be correct, but somehow drive their point in further at the same time. Rushdie does this in an amazing way.

4-0 out of 5 stars The Opinions of an Opinionated Man
For all those who have read and loved a Rushdie novel, Imaginary Homelands provides more of the same biting humor, insightful thoughts, and elegant prose as Rushdie shares with us his thoughts on everything from censorship to Stephen Hawking. A fair amount of time is spent on criticisms of various novels and authors and I, for one, found it fascinating to see what such an acclaimed author thinks of his peers. Given that this volume contains numerous essays, you will definitely want to pick and choose what to read and will probably end up doing so over an extended period of time. But you must at least take the time to read a little. As always, Rushdie's language is beautiful and forthrightness admirable.

4-0 out of 5 stars lively essays that explain a lot
These essays are interesting, if only because they tell us at long last what kind of mind could possibly have produced novels like _Midnight's Children_ and _The Satanic Verses_. The answer: a very playful, very thoughtful one. The essays and reviews here are not always very deep (sometimes they sound more like book reports than like reviews), but they always have a freshness and stylistic beauty that is enviable to say the least. There is a wonderful sense of humour at work here. Even the essays I disagree with I revisit now and then out of admiration for Rushdie's writing.

That said, there are some pieces in here whose contents equal or surpass their forms. The Carver obit is sad and fitting, and the more personal essays are poignant insights into the author's condition. ... Read more

154. The Necessary Angel : Essays on Reality and the Imagination
list price: $9.00
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Asin: 0394702786
Catlog: Book (1965-02-12)
Publisher: Vintage
Sales Rank: 241908
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155. Art and Culture (Beacon Paperback, 212)
by Clement Greenberg
list price: $20.00
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Asin: 0807066818
Catlog: Book (1971-06-01)
Publisher: Beacon Press
Sales Rank: 135361
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

"Clement Greenberg is, internationally, the best-known American art critic popularly considered to be the man who put American vanguard painting and sculpture on the world map. . . . An important book for everyone interested in modern painting and sculpture." — The New York Times ... Read more

Reviews (2)

5-0 out of 5 stars The best art criticism you will ever read
This is the best book of criticism of early/mid 20th C. art ever written, maybe the best one that ever will be written. it is the fundamantal text for the art of the period. Giving it 5 stars, or 10 stars, seems meaningless. If you want to know about the art of this time, look at the art, then read this book. After that you can get into the details.

4-0 out of 5 stars Clement is a cool cat
Clement Greenberg does an excellent job of explaining how the individual and society experience and identify art.His essays on avante-garde, kitsch, and modernist painting are especially interesting, although hissocialist "tendencies" tend to undermine objective discussion andmix art and politics (not always inseperable anyway, though).If you readGreenberg, you should also check out T.J. Clark, who takes issue with manyof Greenberg's ideas. ... Read more

156. Making a Literary Life
list price: $13.95
our price: $10.46
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Asin: 0345440463
Catlog: Book (2003-08-26)
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Sales Rank: 36697
Average Customer Review: 4 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

As Carolyn See says, writing guides are like preachers on Sunday—there may be a lot of them, but you can’t have too many, and there’s always an audience of the faithful. And while Making a Literary Life is ostensibly a book that teaches you how to write, it really teaches you how to make your interior life into your exterior life, how to find and join that community of like-minded souls you’re sure is out there somewhere.

Carolyn See distills a lifetime of experience as novelist, memoirist, critic, and creative-writing professor into this marvelously engaging how-to book. Partly the nuts and bolts of writing (plot, point of view, character, voice) and partly an inspirational guide to living the life you dream of, Making a Literary Life takes you from the decision to “become” a writer to three months after the publication of your first book. A combination of writing and life strategies (do not tell everyone around you how you yearn to be a writer; send a “charming note” to someone you admire in the industry five days a week, every week, for the rest of your life; find the perfect characters right in front of you), Making a Literary Life is for people not usually considered part of the literary loop: the non–East Coasters, the secret scribblers.

With sagacity, a magical sense of humor, and an abiding belief in the possibilities offered to “ordinary” people living “ordinary” lives, Carolyn See has summed up her life’s work in a book so beguiling, irreverent, and giddily inspiring that you won’t even realize it’s changing your life until it already has.
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Reviews (37)

5-0 out of 5 stars Unique Voice & Style Make This Book a Joy to Read
Carolyn See, novelist, memoirist, teacher, and book reviewer for the Washington Post, has written a wonderful volume about writing well while striving to live a literary life. Starting with a person's first glimmer of an idea about wanting to write, and then carrying on through the whole process of writing, revising, and publishing, See shares her advice and often laugh-out-loud observations. For instance, writing about revising, she says: "Revision is when you first get to recognize the distance between what you wanted to write, what you thought were were writing, and what you actually did write. That recognition often makes you want to throw up" (p. 177).

I loved this book! Carolyn See does a marvelous job describing the pitfalls and peaks of making a literary life while at the same time telling the reader about her own process and experiences-sometimes as guides to follow and other times as cautionary tales. Her sage take on things coupled with a unique voice and style make this book a joy to read. Whether you are already a writer or merely contemplating a literary life, this lively, touching, and entertaining book will speak to you. Highly recommended. ~Lori L. Lake, Midwest Book Review

5-0 out of 5 stars A most excellent book for the aspiring writer
Do you want to learn how to 'court' an editor? Want to learn how to get with the 'IN' crowd within the literary world? Then this book is for you.

Writers, take note. This is another weapon/treasure to keep in your writing world's arsenal.

The upbeat note that it inflicts upon the reader/writer will not be soon forgotten. I'm still impressed with the way Carolyn See dishes out the information in this book. Not only does she give incredibly comedic, heroic and downright interesting information, but she follows most of these up with examples from her own life.

You can get to know your target editors by getting to know your target editors. Sound simple and redundant? It ain't. Amazingly, most of the things you'll need to succeed aren't necessarily in your desk or a computer file. They're in your head and your heart. And Carolyn See shows us how to tap into both areas.

Like 'Bird By Bird' (by Anne Lamott), this book has earned a special place on my bookshelves.

A+ rating in my book!

5-0 out of 5 stars This one is about YOUR writing life.....
Carolyn See writes "Making a Literary Life" directly from her heart. Naturally, then, it is angled from her particular point of view and has suggestions some of the other reviewers might find a bit unattractive - and what I read in her words was this: Create your life as a writer who is fully herself.

If that "fully herself" means writing personal notes - so be it. (I think this is something which sets a writer apart. I know as a publisher and editor who occasionally receives hand written notes.... They stand out from the onslaught of form letters, hastily scribed emails, etc.)

What is YOUR "fully yourself" action or practice which makes YOU are writer and forms YOUR literary life?

See glides through her examples with heartfulness, with truth, with integrity and with a wry sense of humor which helps you to say "Thank goodness she is human, and just like me... and survived being obsessed with the written word."

My favorite words in this entire book are these: "We live in a beautiful, sentient universe that yearns for you to tell the truth about it. If you love this world and this craft, they will lift you to a place you can't begin to imagine."

The writers who "get" those words will enjoy this work. Those writers who don't understand those words might be disappointed upon reading this book.

My heart-hope is you will both believe those words and live those words as you create your literary life.

5-0 out of 5 stars See the Writing Life Through Expert Eyes
In Making a Literary Life, Carolyn See tells us about the reality of living a writer's life. As she says, "How I wish this were a made-up story. But it's not." Distilled from years of teaching at UCLA, her writing instruction is practical and yields proven results. Her information on rewriting is priceless. The inside view of the publishing industry is something I've looked for in writing books and couldn't find until now. I consider this a highly readable manual for success, and her work is proof that See effectively uses what she teaches. Whine though some will, she's right on target about charming notes, too. It's wrapped in positive attitude along with encouragement to have fun and enjoy the journey. Buy it and improve your writing and your life.

5-0 out of 5 stars Sit at the feet of a great teacher
Making a Literary Life makes you feel as though you're sitting in, incognito, on one of See's classes at UCLA, where she does, in fact, teach English. While mostly a collection of anecdotes, peppered throughout is advice on how to actually apply butt to chair, the first and most important step to becoming a writer. There are also sections on character, plot, and point of view, but this is not a formulaic approach to the craft of writing. She uses wit, hilarity, wisdom, experience, and compassion to provide writing insights to writers, wannabes, and ordinary readers who appreciate a well written book by a master of her craft. ... Read more

157. Against the Beast: An Anti-Imperialist Reader
by John Nichols, Gore Vidal
list price: $15.95
our price: $10.85
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Asin: 1560255137
Catlog: Book (2005-01-30)
Publisher: Nation Books
Sales Rank: 175780
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Book Description

"Our form of government, our traditions, our present interests, and our future welfare, all forbid our entering upon a career of conquest," argued William Jennings Bryan, Colin Powell's predecessor as America's Secretary of State. American anti-imperialist tradition dates back to before the Declaration of Independence: Presidents Washington and Jefferson warned against imperialism in their farewell addresses to the country, Abraham Lincoln led the fight in Congress against wars of conquest, Henry David Thoreau spent his celebrated night in jail as part of a protest against an imperialist war, and Frederick Douglass, Jr., and Dr. W. E. B. Du Bois wrote extensively on expansionism. As the Bush administration seeks to spread American influence further than ever before, more Americans are asking whether imperialism threatens to destroy not just distant lands but the United States itself. Against the Beast collects the writings, speeches, comments, and cartoons of American anti-imperialist campaigners from four centuries, making the case that this finest of American traditions must be respected and renewed. ... Read more

158. The Best American Essays 2002 (The Best American Series)
list price: $27.50
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Asin: 0618213880
Catlog: Book (2002-10-15)
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
Sales Rank: 139293
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Since 1986, the Best American Essays series has gathered the best nonfiction writing of the year and established itself as the best-selling anthology of its kind. The Best American Essays 2002 is edited by Stephen Jay Gould, a preeminent scientist and distinguished writer on evolution and other topics. His writings include The Mismeasure of Man, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award, Ever Since Darwin: Reflections in Natural History, The Panda"s Thumb, and Full House: The Spread of Excellence from Plato to Darwin. ... Read more

Reviews (6)

4-0 out of 5 stars Very timestamped, some powerful pieces
I stumbled upon this gem a few weeks ago at a used book store. What made me buy it (I didn't have time to finish reading it in-house) was the essay "Winner Take Nothing." It's a poignant tale of a middle age man coming to terms with the nature of his relationship with his father, particularly in light of his fahter's aging. It alone is worth the price of admission: it really lingers with you, and does what good literature should, it may alter the way you view your world, and even your parents.

Unlike the editor, I love confessional, stream of conscious, intensely personal narratives, and post 9/11 2002 (the year in which the essays were taken from) are loaded with them. Being that we are away from September 11, you may find the 9/11 essays enlightening in a long-term context, or you may just be a little saturated (like I was). It depends on the person.

The essays that really stand out in my mind of a non WTC variety are "My Father's Brain" and another one on a woman's journey with her son with a debilitating illness. These both haunt you and give a satisfying commentary on the nature of love, family, memory, human self-preservation and the darker aspects of duty: guilt, selfishness, fatigue and even resentment. I found "My Father's Brain" to be particulary well written and structured.

I think what's so great about these essays is: they're alive. Essays can have all the stimulating quality of warm milk. But these essays are *essays,* but they do more than just prognosticate and drone on in correct format. They educate, they emote, they live and they entertain. And I think that is why this volume was so enjoyable.

5-0 out of 5 stars a chance to have CANCERLAND essay by barbara ehenreich
this essay was printed in Harpers and isn't available ANY WHERE else but in this book. It is easier to buy this book than to look for an old issue of Harpers. This is the BEST essay on breast cancer imho. It is wise and perceptive and cuts through a lot of the pink stuff of breast cancer activism. elsa dorfman, NoHairDay collective. Cambridge, MA

4-0 out of 5 stars Thought provoking and absorbing
I had the false impression that the writing and thoughts in this year's Best American Essays would be overwhelmed by the events of September 11, but this book provides a lot of breadth and depth. Gould's selections are excellent; I can't think of a single essay here that does not have some kind of redeeming value. Jacques Barzun's The Tenth Muse and Mario Vargas Lhosa's "Why Literature?" are the requisite but eloquent pieces about the nature and necessity of art. Danielle Ofri's "Merced" is a standout piece: about how a young doctor learns about the fallibility of medicine through a patient's unsolvable illness. I disagree with the reviewers here who found Gore Vidal's "The Meaning of Timothy McVeigh" unworthy of inclusion in the volume; the essay shows another view on the perpetrator of the Oklahoma City bombing that warrants us to consider why some people commit acts of terror, though the piece ultimately fails when Vidal utilizes tired and trite anti government rhetoric. Nicholas Delblanco's "The Countess of Stanlein Restored" is an absorbing history of the origins and restoration of a Stradivarius cello. Adam Mayblum's "The Price We Pay" does not have the polish and pyrotechnics we expect from some of these essayists, but his straightforward telling of his escape from the World Trade towers on September 11 makes for a harrowing recounting of the events.

4-0 out of 5 stars still going strong
This year's installment of the Best American Essays is a great selection (but then aren't they always). It was one of the last projects Stephen Jay Gould finished before he died last May. Of course there are all kinds of arguments that can be made for and against certain selections being included and not included.

Three essays really got to me as the best of the bunch (and essays that I imagine I'll reread again and again in the future). The first is Franzen's essay on his father's decline in Alzheimer's. It's a touching essay that is well-written, humorous at times, and helps to understand the `human' reaction to the disease. The other essays is Bernard Cooper's "Winner Take Nothing" which is a very funny interplay between a father and son who don't understand each other. I remember reading it in GQ, and thinking that this essay surely would be selected for the Best American series. Nicholas Delbanco's essay "The Countess of Stanlein Restored" is a wonderfully written essay that covers the history of violin making and the restoration of one of the more famous violins, and anyone who loves music will love this essay.

Barbara Ehrenreich has an essay discussing her ordeal with breast cancer, and what makes this essay so good is that it isn't all the hopefulness and joy you find in others of its type, rather she deals with the real emotions she felt-the bitterness. And with an almost tongue-in-cheek humor. Sebastion Junger has his `typical' style essay dealing with the fight for freedom in Afganistan. It's well-written, like his work tends to be. Andrew Levy's essay on Robert Carter III shows why we don't know who Carter is-he just isn't quite interesting enough to write about. There's also an interesting essay by Danielle Ofri on one incident in her medical school training (this essay has convinced me to pick up her collection of memoir essays on med school). There's a great essay by Darryl Pinckney dealing with a middle-aged, middle-class black man getting busted for marijuana possession. It's funny and frightening at the same time. Typical New Yorker material though. Gore Vidal has an essay on McVeigh-which is at times well-written, but at other times borders on the paranoid and juvenile. It is an interesting read though. And the final essay of the collection is Wolfson's "Moonrise" which is another autobiographical essay dealing with the illness of a relative-this one of her son. It's a touching essay that fills the reader with sadness and joy.

Some of the weaker essays are: Jacques Barzun's "The Tenth Muse" which is part biography of Clifton Fadiman and part question on culture, but doesn't ever say anything. And there are the group of obligatory 9-11essays, though not the best I've seen. Amy Kolen has an extremely dull essay, "Fire," which I found so boring, I couldn't even finish it.

3-0 out of 5 stars Average But Still Worthy
Is it not odd that one of the most competent and serious of the seemingly endless number of Houghton Mifflin's "Best American Series" so far, in 2002, has but one other Amazon review three months after publication and after a holiday-advertising blitz? (I know Eggers' AMERICAN NONREQUIRED READING 2002 is supposed to seem whimsical and therefore attractive--but along with "Best American Recipes," I question Houghton Mifflin's sagacity. What's new for 2003--"Best American Greeting Cards"?)

I agree with the sole other Amazonian that this is far from the strongest volume in the series. Gould, in his last act of editing, admits in the introduction that he spent most of his time writing, not reading. Here, it seems his editorial judgment was more swayed by authorial track records and the Topic of the Moment (9-11) than by the enduring nature of the essays' prose itself. Or perhaps Gould simply had a tin ear with respect to style, so intrinsic to the success and timelessness of creative nonfiction.

Taste is personal, too. I concur with the other reviewer that Franzen's "My Father's Brain" and Vidal's "The Meaning of Timothy McVeigh" are lackluster essays--but unlike him, I wasn't bowled over by Delbanco's "The Countess of Stanlein Restored," about a cello's restoration.

My favorite essay by far was Mario Vargas Llosa's "Why Literature?" Filled with bon mots and wisdom, this essay is the one I found most enduring and worth rereading. "Good literature, while temporarily relieving human dissatisfaction, actually increases it, by developing a critical and nonconformist attotude toward life."This, and dozens of other quotable lines, made me sigh with recognition and underline/bracket the text.

My next favorite was Andrew Levy's portrait of Robert Carter III, "The Anti-Jefferson." I never had heard of Carter and was convinced by Levy that he should be better known and revered in American history.

My remaining favorites are as follow: Jacques Barzun's "The Tenth Muse," a critique of popular culture; Rudolph Chelminski's "Turning Point," my favorite of the many 9-11 essays, which focuses on the artist Philippe Petit, who tightrope-walked between the Twin Towers in 1974; Bernard Cooper's "Winner Take Nothing," about the writing life and father/son relationships; Atul Gawande's "Final Cut," about the dwindling popularity of autopsies; Sebastian Junger's "The Lion in Winter," about war reporting, the Taliban, and Afghanistan; Amy Kolen's "Fire," a disturbingly memorable exploration of the 1911 Triangle factory fire; Adam Mayblum's "The Price We Pay," a first-hand account of 9-11 which, despite its rawness, maintains vitality and relevance; Louis Menand's "College: The End of the Golden Age," an insightful critique of higher education in America; Danielle Ofri's "Merced," a poignant reflection by a physician; Darryl Pinckney's sociologically-astute "Busted in New York," about being jailed for pot smoking; Joe Queenen's brief and wry "Matriculation Fixation," about parental obsessions with childrens' educational paths; John Sack's illuminating "Inside the Bunker," which examines the psychology of Holocaust-deniers; and, finally, Penny Wolfson's haunting, impressionistic, poetic meditation on life, disability, and art entitled "Moonrise."

Six remaining essays go unmentioned. I found them ordinary. However, if you take this reviewer's word for it, there remains prose worth perusing in this less-than-stellar but still-worthwhile addition to a series worth perpetuating. ... Read more

159. Collected Prose
by Charles Olson, Donald Allen, Benjamin Friedlander, Donald Merriam Allen, Robert Creeley
list price: $24.95
our price: $24.95
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Asin: 0520208730
Catlog: Book (1997-11-01)
Publisher: University of California Press
Sales Rank: 567537
Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Early in his career, Robert Creeley believed that his greatest contribution to literature would be in prose. Although he has since established himself as one of the most influential poets of the twentieth century, his remarkable body of prose work--instilled with a deep understanding of language and narrative form--remains an essential part of his oeuvre.

In addition to his first book of short stories THE GOLD DIGGERS, a novel THE ISLAND, a radio play LISTEN, and MABEL: A STORY, this omnibus edition includes two previously uncollected stories. ... Read more

Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars Despite a bad design still a MARVEL of a book
Charles Olson is THE giant of post-war American poetry. Massive in every way - 6 foot 7 & a half inches tall, enormously influential as writer & teacher, a voracious reader, intense visionary, a mind second to none & a heart as big as the planet, his poetry & prose should be on every curriculum & syllabus in every school & university on the planet. What is so exciting about his work is that it proposes not just a new way of looking at things, but a new & vital way of engaging with life & destiny (ENERGY & INSTANT is how he put it) - "the poet is the only pedagogue left, to be trusted" - he teaches "man, that participant thing, to take up, straight, nature's, live nature's force". As you can see his prose is difficult & takes time to get used to - best to read it aloud & let its energy transform you as much as its meaning: energy transferral is how Olson saw communication & to receive energy you must first give it, & to bring energy from the page you must first bring it into the air in the act of speech: language for Olson was as much physical as mental - "I believe in God as fully physical" - & when you read Olson you feel yourself in the grip of energy - what he called the WILL TO COHERE - THE PROJECTIVE ACT - the very grip of LIFE, which flowed thru him with such intensity. His style is crucial to his message - FORM IS NEVER MORE THAN AN EXTENSION OF CONTENT - which brings me to my only quibble with this book (& it's a major one) - its design. Olson was a real stickler for design - layout & typefaces were crucially important to him because they all contributed to the impact of the page on the reader, which is why I cannot understand the reason for the cool (the last word you'd ever call Olson - he was too hot even to get close to), sans serif, bland layout of the pages in this book. Olson often capitalises phrases - like he's shouting them at you - here they're barely a whisper. Is all I can think is that the book was designed by someone more familiar with fashion than with the contents - a big mistake I'm afraid because a lot of the power is lost. Anyway, that said, it is all here - Call Me Ishmael, Human Universe, Additional Prose & other snippets, & the photo on the cover is wonderful. As I see it, Olson's big mistake was not living a long enough life - not completing his work - not actually having the intelligence to see & feel his life as a complete entity - not actually having the heart (as Spinoza had) to realise that ENERGY & INSTANT are in fact, in essence, the same, & that if one lives a responsible life & looks after ones health because certain things can only be learnt at a certain age & one must live that long at least, then time is consumed & one comes to something real & godly which Olson never managed, despite the promise of the final poems. The archaeologist of morning died TOO young & I miss him. ... Read more

160. Maybe (Maybe Not) (Maybe Not : Second Thoughts from a Secret Life)
list price: $6.99
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Asin: 0804111154
Catlog: Book (1995-04-01)
Publisher: Ivy Books
Sales Rank: 166220
Average Customer Review: 4.67 out of 5 stars
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Book Description


I once began a list of the contradictory notions I hold:

Look before you leap.

He who hesitates is lost.

Two heads are better than one.

If you want something done right, do it yourself.

Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Better safe than sorry.

Out of sight, out of mind.

Absence makes the heart grow fonder.

You can't tell a book by its cover.

Clothes make the man.

Many hands make light work.

Too many cooks spoil the broth.

You can't teach an old dog new tricks.

It's never too late to learn.

Never sweat the small stuff.

God is in the details.

And so on. The list goes on forever. Once I got so caught up in this kind of thinking that I wore two buttons on my smock when I was teaching art. One said, "Trust me, I'm a teacher." The other replied, "Question Authority."



... Read more

Reviews (3)

4-0 out of 5 stars If you like Robert you'll like this.
If you like Robert Fulghum's other books you'll really enjoy this book. If you haven't read Robert try his first best seller 'All I needed to know I learned in Kindergarden' It's his best work and will give you an idea of how enjoyable this guy's views and stories on life are to read.

5-0 out of 5 stars Wonderful.
This book was a joy to read. It was quick reading, humorous at times, thought provoking at others.

5-0 out of 5 stars If you want some funny hours reading...
This is one of the best books I have read in the last months! Many daily situations that you have with yourself are present. May be or may be not you will love it, but I am sure you will ever remeber many funny situations in your real life. Try it. It is cheap, easy for reading, good for our spiritual side... ... Read more

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