The Ballad of Black Tom by Victor Lavalle

The Ballad of Black Tom by Victor Lavalle is a good time. If I say that it’s just a good read, does that do it a disservice? Do you think I mean to say that it’s not really a great book with something to say? Is calling a book simply a good read marking it down a bit in your estimation? In mine? I don’t mean … Continue reading The Ballad of Black Tom by Victor Lavalle

Sunday Salon: Why the Booker Short List Ruins my Reading and Other Bookish Items

I’m one of those people who get excited over the Man Booker Prize.  Almost every year, once the long list is announced, I head over the my local library to get as many of the nominated books as I can.  Typically, there are a few not yet available in America, and there are a couple my library doesn’t have yet. So I check out two … Continue reading Sunday Salon: Why the Booker Short List Ruins my Reading and Other Bookish Items

Sunday Salon: Elizabeth Bishop vs. Frank O’Hara and Several Other Projects I’m Rambling Through

I’ve got a couple of daily reading projects going on lately. I’m working my way through Laozi’s Dao di Jing for the second time. Laozi was a philosopher who lived in China about the time of Confucious.  According to legend, Laozi was asked to write his philosophy down by a border gaurd who insisted on it as payment for allowing him to leave China. The … Continue reading Sunday Salon: Elizabeth Bishop vs. Frank O’Hara and Several Other Projects I’m Rambling Through

How to Teach The Old Man and the Sea to 7th Graders

I teach two sets of 7th grade English to GATE students this year, so when I found a partial class set of Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea in the back of the book room, I thought why not give it a go.  See what happens.   What follows is my advice for anyone considering using The Old Man and the Sea with … Continue reading How to Teach The Old Man and the Sea to 7th Graders

Autumn by Ali Smith

This is a troublesome book. Ultimately, I enjoyed it, I was moved by it, I came to see its excellence. But it was a bumpy road getting there. I’ve been reading the Booker Long List blind for the most part.  I got as many of the books as my local library allows without reading anything about them, or much about them. (There are a few … Continue reading Autumn by Ali Smith

New Favorite Book/Old Favorite Book: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

This is at least the third time I’ve read Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, maybe the fourth.  So I can’t really say it’s a “New Favorite Book” but I can say that it certainly holds up to re-reading. So that’s what I’m going to discuss here, the pleasures and perils of re-reading. There are some books that can be correctly understood in completely different fashions each time you read … Continue reading New Favorite Book/Old Favorite Book: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Jane Austen Read All A-long Book Two (Pride and Prejudice) and Man Booker Longlist Reading

I’m taking a break from my recent stint of Man-Booker Prize Long List books to read Jane Austen’s second published novel Pride and Prejudice for the Jane Austen Read All A-long. You can still sign up for the remaining five books here.  I will get to the famous openng sentence later today. I’ll be reading Pride and Prejudice on the ferry boat this week as I go back … Continue reading Jane Austen Read All A-long Book Two (Pride and Prejudice) and Man Booker Longlist Reading

Arrival by Ted Chiang

  There is some damn fine writing in Ted Chiang’s volume of short stories Arrival originally published as Stories of Your Life and Others. So much than the next time you hear someone say that fantasy and science fiction tend to be badly written, you should direct them to any of Ted Chiang’s stories. They may not be your cup of tea, but they are all very well … Continue reading Arrival by Ted Chiang

Midnight Rising: John Brown and the Raid that Sparked the Civil War by Tony Horowitz

In the radio interviews Tony Horwitz did last year for his latest book, Midnight Rising, he made the claim that the raid on Hapers Ferry, Virginia led by John Brown could be seen as the first battle in America’s Civil War.  An interesting proposition, I thought. While his book is a very good read, it’s much more of a straightforward account of John Brown’s later … Continue reading Midnight Rising: John Brown and the Raid that Sparked the Civil War by Tony Horowitz

Selected Poems of Frank O’Hara; Beginning a New York Find

I found a copy of The Selected Poems of Frank O’Hara at Westider Books in New York last week which I bought on David Bowie’s recommendation. Not personal recommendation but one given in a list of essential reading that I found shortly after he died. I bought Frank O’Hara’s book even though I didn’t like the other book I read from Mr. Bowie’s list. I don’t read … Continue reading Selected Poems of Frank O’Hara; Beginning a New York Find

My New Favorite Play: Indecent by Paula Vogel

See that text in the picture.  That’s a projection, a device that will be used throughout Paula Vogel’s wonderful new play Indecent. There will be one towards the end that says “An impossibly long line.”  It will break my heart. This is the fourth play C.J. and I have seen on our trip to New York and the first one to truly earn the standing … Continue reading My New Favorite Play: Indecent by Paula Vogel

4 Books in 4 Days: Literary NYC Update

I’m sort of keeping to my book buying pledge at this point. With modifications. The original goals was to buy one book at each bookstore I visit. While this may have forced a few purchases I wouldn’t have made, I think it would have resulted in fewer purchases overall. First day in New York, first bookstore I visit, two books bought. But no books purchased, … Continue reading 4 Books in 4 Days: Literary NYC Update