Monthly Archives: February 2011

Remember the 1340s?

Remember the 1340s?  We were doing a dance called the Catapult.   You always wore brown, the color craze of the decade. … Everything was hand-lettered then, not like today. (“Nostalgia,” Billy Collins) The Middle Ages are a tricky topic: in … Continue reading

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The only engine of survival

What’s a Pharisee?  If your answer is based on Christian tradition, then you will have a picture of a hypocrite obsessed with pointless regulations, very like Major Frank Burns.  Like most such one-sided pictures, this vilification stems from a grudge; … Continue reading

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Six degrees of reincarnation

I’ve recently read David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlass and The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, and they have reminded me how much our expectations shape our experience of reading. Cloud Atlas is a palindrome novel of six nested stories–that is, … Continue reading

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All in the family

You’ve probably noticed that when Old Testament names make one of their periodic comebacks, it’s always Jacob and Joshua and Noah and never Onan. To be sure, Shelster once worked at an office where the boss would bring to work … Continue reading

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These fragments I have shored against my ruin

A certain person in my house is taking a class on poetry as therapy.  It is easy for me to imagine how the act of writing might be therapeutic, and I suppose one of the ways I tend to interpret … Continue reading

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Burning with a Jim-like flame

Today James Joyce turns 129, and I have been thinking about “The Dead,” the long story that ends Dubliners.  It is Joyce at his most Poldy and his least Stephen, that is to say, his most warm-hearted and his least … Continue reading

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