Tag Archives: James Baldwin

Linktopia

Jack Kerouac’s On the Road and John Steinbeck’s Travels with Charley were published within a few years of each other, but their visions of America and “the road” are much different. Compare and contrast. (We’ll put aside the question of just how far Steinbeck really got on his journey.)

How to play Gandalf the Gray, from the man who ought to know. Consider it a refresher for The Hobbit in eight months.

I had no idea there were so many Harry Crews fans in the ranks of alternative rock. But I’m not surprised at the writer’s cussed response to that fact.

James W. Hall speaks out in defense of “trashy” fiction. Since he moved from poetry to thrillers such as Under Cover of Daylight and Bones of Coral, he knows whereof he speaks. I’ve noticed that the novels of a supposedly downmarket writer like John D. MacDonald have a lot more to say about their era than much of the critically lauded works of the time.

James Madison and his slaves.

The Hustler magazine stylebook.

James Baldwin meets William F. Buckley Jr. The argument has a very familiar ring to it.

Robert Caro has been writing his biography of Lyndon Johnson for 38 years. That over half as long as his subject’s actual lifespan. The next volume of the epic comes out May 1. I revere Caro’s biography of Robert Moses, The Power Broker, but I have to admit I became exasperated with the length of Master of the Senate, the previous LBJ volume.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Friday finds

Yubaba

Hayao Miyazaki’s brilliant animated film Spirited Away, viewed as “a nightmare of capitalist Japan.” Considering that the story is set in a class stratified resort for the gods where even spirits are turned into consumers, under a greedy owner who steals the identities of her employees and turns anyone without a job into an animal, I’d say the analysis is at the very least arguable. (The fact that whiny Chihiro, the heroine, becomes a better and more resourceful person while maneuvering under Yubaba’s thumb deserves consideration as well.) Meanwhile, I’m eager for the U.S. release of Miyazaki’s latest film, Ponyo, on August 14.

The new issue of The Biographer’s Craft is up.

Luc Sante thinks Georges Simenon was an odd bird. Tell me about it.

Funny how the Scandinavian countries, with the most peaceful and happy people on Earth, produce so much bloodcurdling crime fiction.

James Baldwin’s years in Istanbul.

Chris Hannan lists the ten best books about the American frontier. Hannan’s rundown omits Butcher’s Crossing, Lord Grizzly, Flashman and the Redskins and Lonesome Dove, but he includes Roughing It, so what the hell.

Michael Chabon on the wilderness of childhood. Terrible Yellow Eyes offers works inspired by Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are. Click here to order the “fur edition” of the storybook for the upcoming film version.

Beck Hansen: Hey, I wanted to ask you about being from Los Angeles. You grew up there . . . Tom Waits: Yeah, Whittier, La Habra, Downey, that whole area. Yeah, Los Lobos, they’re from Whittier. So is Nixon. I remember Nixon’s market. He had his own family market. BH: He was? For some reason I thought he was from the Midwest. TW: No, California, and we used to get a visit every year from the Oscar Meyer wiener mobile, which was an enormous vehicle shaped like a hot dog. The driver was a Dwarf, and the wiener mobile would broadcast music while he sang the song “I wish I was an Oscar Meyer wiener.” He drew quite a crowd. Pretty exciting for a shopping center.

A love poem in an appropriate shape.

Poets describe the words that make them wince.

African album covers influenced by Michael Jackson’s covers.

Vladimir Nabokov vs. Alain Robbe-Grillet vs. Vladimir Nabokov vs. Alain Robbe-Grillet vs. Vladimir Nabokov vs. Alain Robbe-Grillet. . .

“Once experienced, it is hard to let Heart of Darkness go. A masterpiece of surprise, of expression and psychological nuance, of fury at colonial expansion and of how men make the least of life, the novella is like a poem, endlessly readable and worthy of rereading. Academics need write nothing more about it for another century. It should be handed back to readers simply to read, mark, learn and inwardly digest. Conrad composed a book where we see ourselves, darkly. Its relevance echoes forever, fizzing with understanding us then and there, and here and now, written for us all to live with today, whenever ‘today’ will be.”

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,