Archive for The Writer’s Notebook

Provocations: “Generation X” by Douglas Coupland; “Suicide Blonde” by Darcy Steinke

Provocations: Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture by Douglas Coupland; Suicide Blond by Darcy Steinke. This combined commentary and book review was first published in “The Wichita Eagle” on Sunday, January 17, 1993 on the editorial page. It was announced by the somewhat downbeat…

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Perspectives: On Creativity and the Human Brain: “The Age of Insight: The Quest to Understand the Unconscious in Art From Vienna 1900 to the Present” by Eric Kandel

Perspectives: A Perspective on Creativity and the Human Brain: “The Age of Insight: The Quest to Understand the Unconscious in Art From Vienna 1900 to the Present” by Eric Kandel Eric Kandel is a cognitive psychologist, neurobiologist and Novel Laureate with a special interest in…

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Lessons Not Learned: “Hillbilly Elegy” by J.D. Vance; or, how not to write a memoir.

Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J.D.Vance (Harper Collins, New York, 2016) $27.99 “Hillbilly Elegy” achieved its undeserved fame during a time when the topic of White Rage was hot. Its jacket blurbs announce an “instant classic” and the…

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Why Write? A Master Class on the Art of Writing and Why it Matters by Mark Edmundson—Better yet, why bother with this book?

Why Write? A Master Class on the Art of Writing and Why it Matters by Mark Edmundson (Bloomsbury, New York 2016) Mark Edmundson is a professor at the University of Virginia with books to his credit like Why Teach? and Why Read? Why Write? un-limbers…

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Sorrows of the Digital Age: Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping us Hooked by Adam Alter

Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked by Adam Alter (Penguin Press, New York 2017) Nobody in their right minds would now be anything but concerned about the rise of addictive behaviors, especially as they relate to digital electronic…

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Perspectives: Noam Chomsky–What is the Common Good? (Must Reading for Donald J. Trump)

What Kind of Creatures are We? by Noam Chomsky, Columbia University Press, New York, 2016 (Chapter 3: What is the common good?) Now that the fragile version of American democracy is imperiled through inattention, demagoguery and oligarchy, Noam Chomsky’s new book about human life presents…

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Provocation: How Does Stuff Like This Get Published? The Answer Below. “One of the Boys” by Daniel Magariel

  One of the Boys by Daniel Magariel (Scribner, New York, 2017, $22) This terrible novel is endorsed by the famous George Saunders, and the almost-as-famous Mary Karr, “ever generous” (no kidding) teachers of Mr. Magariel at Syracuse University, where the author took his MFA….

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Books for Living by Will Schwalbe—A collection of thoughtless banalities and cliche’s about the “reading life”

FROM: Books for Living by Will Schwalbe (Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 2017) “Reading is the best way I know to learn how to examine your life. By comparing what you’ve done to what others have done, and your thoughts and theories and feelings to…

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Winter Notes on Summer Impressions by Fyodor Dostoyevsky—The Underground Man does London, 1862

FROM: Winter Notes on Summer Impressions by Fyodor Dostoyevsky (Criterion Books, New York, 1955, forward by Saul Bellow) Notes on the Liberal Bourgeoisie, Alienation, the Struggle for Survival:  In 1862 Dostoyevsky visited London to see the famous Crystal Palace, a capitalist and imperialist wonderland of…

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Age of Anger by Pankaj Mishra

Age of Anger: A History of the Present by Pankaj Mishra (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York, 2017) On Nine-Eleven George W. Bush “awoke” to a reality he defined in the coming months as Good against Evil, with the “evil doers” a set (never precisely…

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