“The percentage of fiction which can hold its place with succeeding generations is, I believe, much smaller than critics suppose. Every generation has a right to insist that its own enjoyment of of experience is in one respect the best enjoyment, because the most complete.” – Grant Overton, editor-in-chief, The World’s 100 Best Short Stories
You can find some good books at the library. A couple of years ago Lea and I were at our local library donating some books and ran one of those periodic sales libraries have when they get rid of perfectly wonderful books for no reason at all. So, because I’m no fool, I grabbed some good buys.
I bought a set of ten leather bound volumes – first editions, mind you – called The World’s 100 Best Short Stories. Published by Funk and Wagnalls in 1927 and edited by a newspaper editor, writer, and critic named Grant Overton, the set is organized thematically to allow readers to sample stories according to their interests. Besides the “Adventure” theme in Volume 1, there are volumes themed “Romance,” “Mystery,” and “Humor,” for instance. The range of authors goes from popular short story authors of the time of these volumes’ publication like the pictured Richard Connell to classic members of the literary canon such as Victor Hugo to figures who straddled both the popular and literary worlds such as Robert Louis Stevenson. It’s a terrific collection of enjoyable (and enlightening) reading for any mood.
What dd this nifty collection set me back, you ask? Two bucks. $2. Two hundred cents.
Yeah, I got a deal. Continue reading
Bob Dylan’s award feels like a sop to a generation many of whose finest artistic talents took a popular art form (the rock song) and raised it to unheard of heights of artistry in both musical expression and lyrical content.
Part 2 of a series.
“Life is more or less a lie, but then again, that’s exactly the way we want it to be.” – Bob Dylan
Bob Dylan has won the Nobel Prize for Literature and I have been struggling with how I feel about that. Like many, my first response on being told the news was astonishment. It felt to me momentarily as if it were 1967 again when The Times of London gave a full page, serious, and respectful review to Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and in an editorial in that same newspaper William Rees-Mogg, less than a month later, excoriated the British criminal justice system for its heavy handed treatment of Mick Jagger and Keith Richards to maximum sentences for a minor drug bust in a now classic editorial titled “Who Breaks a Butterfly on a Wheel?”
It felt, then, like the counter culture was winning, that finally, to use a truly quaint term, “the establishment” was seeing the world as my g-g-generation saw it. Mick and Keith should be set free by “The Man” to make more music and Sgt. Pepper was great art.
Zeitgeist is a helluva drug, isn’t it? Continue reading
Dylan is one of the greatest artists of his time. But his genius wasn’t about Literature.
Part 1 of a series.
The Nobel Committee today awarded American folk icon Bob Dylan its annual prize for Literature. Not surprisingly, reactions have been mixed.
I’m a bit torn myself. There is no questioning at all the immensity of Dylan’s artistic accomplishments, and there’s perhaps even less argument to be had over the influence he has wielded not only over popular music, but over the larger culture. It is simply impossible to imagine what the US would look like today had he never been born, but we can start by considering his role in the anti-war movement of the ’60s. In truth, you could look at his centrality to the revolts that eventually led to the end of that war and make a case that he deserved the Peace Prize.
And what about the who’s who of musical artists who followed in his steps? A very small catalog of those who owe their souls to Dylan would include these names, and if there’s nobody on here that you love and admire you just don’t like music. Continue reading
Did Elizabeth lift England to greatness or did England make Elizabeth the great queen she became?
“Through all her [Elizabeth’s] wavering and inconstancy, her hesitation and uncertainty, there was one faithful element – her sense of responsibility to her position.” -Katharine Anthony
My latest foray into reading is a classic biography that I found in an antique store. In the mid 1920’s Literary Guild was founded as a competitor to the successful Book of the Month Club. Carl Van Doren, a noted biographer and critic was selected as the first chairman of Literary Guild. Katharine Anthony’s Queen Elizabeth was a best seller for Literary Guild in 1929.
It’s easy to understand why. Anthony writes with the fluidity and ease of a novelist. Though Queen Elizabeth was a quick read, it never felt under researched or careless. Tudor scholars would probably dispute some of the facts as Anthony presents them given that new information about Elizabeth and the Tudor dynasty has likely been discovered. But for compelling narrative, Anthony holds her her own with luminaries such as the aforementioned Carl Van Doren, Barbara Tuchman, David McCullough or Doris Kearns Goodwin. Continue reading
“Haggard’s heroes attain a legendary stature as their adventures strip away what Tarzan, Lord Greystoke, calls ‘the veneer of civilization,’ and perpetually confront them with danger and death.’ – Robert Morsberger, Afterword to King Solomon’s Mines
This begins with Ursula Andress.
Back in junior high, when my buddies and I were the sort of slobbering idiots about girls and women that one our current POTUS candidates seems to be in advanced middle age, Hammer Films, the British film company that specialized in remakes of Dracula, Frankenstein, and the Mummy announced that it was releasing a new film version of the H. Rider Haggard adventure novel, She. More important to my crowd’s budding libidos, the film would star original Bond girl (there’s a respectful term) Ursula Andress (Andress was the first Bond girl, appearing in the first James Bond film, Dr. No, as the tastefully named Honey Ryder).
We dutifully, lustfully went to see She – which was a typical Hammer film: a lot of fun once one put one’s critical thinking skills on hold. In the aftermath of that experience, and without telling my friends, who would have laughed at my bookishness, I decided to read Haggard’s novel.
It was a lot of fun, too, and a damned sight better than the movie, Ursula Andress notwithstanding. I planned to go on and read King Solomon’s Mines, too, but something distracted me (probably baseball or a guitar) and I never got back to the Haggard universe.
Until last week. Continue reading
By focusing on Bill Clinton’s infidelities and affairs, Donald Trump, his followers and any media who follow his lead, are participating in a classic sexist dismissal of a woman in favor of a male in her life.
About 20 years ago, I had a Harley: a 1995 black Road King. We decided to add an oil cooler to the engine and I went to pick it up. The shop we bought the bike at was all the way on the East Side of town, so I went to the closer store on the West Side of Cleveland. I knew exactly what I needed.
So I popped in and walked up to the parts counter. And proceeded to be ignored. By three parts guys. And they ignored me. And ignored me. I was finally reduced to asking for assistance. I told them what part I needed–by number. They then had the nerve to quiz me about the bike: model, year, other accessories, and a bunch of other questions. Everything but “Does your husband know you’re buying this oil cooler?” Continue reading
I’m not asking who you’re voting for. I’m asking what kind of human being you are.
I’m sure you’ve read what Donald Trump said by now, but let’s watch the video and read the transcript just to make sure we’re all on the same page.
I was considering titling this essay “Donald Trump is a referendum on our character.” But it isn’t “our.” A significant majority of Americans hate Trump, including millions who are going to vote for him anyway.
So today I want to talk about you. You’re not at all comfortable with Donald Trump. Continue reading