Eating (and Drinking) One’s Way to Heaven

Western religions tend to keep faith separate from the ins and outs of the everyday. Church is for Sundays, specifically from 10:00 am to 11:30 am. Amen. And those quotidian ins and outs, when taken literally, are simply not matters of decency, certainly not ones in which to involve the Almighty. As a result, one […]

Good Gossip

Just gonna call it: Naipaul dishing on Tolstoy smacking on Gandhi is the best thing I will read for the rest of this year. All three glorious days of it. From V. S. Naipaul’s “India: A Wounded Civilization.”

Litera-story

Above, evidence of the type of cultural history that is difficult to learn outside of literature. From Arundhati Roy’s “Ministry of Utmost Happiness.”

Good Gore

Sometimes a story is so good it doesn’t matter how it’s told. The facts against a flat surface remain dense, flamboyant, no matter how simply they are thrown. Which is not to say that Paul French’s “Midnight in Peking” is a poorly told, simple read. Quite the contrary. The Edgar Award-winning true-crime tale is the […]

Cosmic Communist Construction

Today I learned that Cosmic Communist Construction is a thing, or, at the very least, the very excellent title of a Taschen coffee table book. Below is one of the hundreds of sculptural images found in the book, which features mostly Soviet government construction—as well as the occasional sanatorium. Such galactic crush can in part […]

Suburbanization in Reverse

Last week’s Economist cover featured the death of the internal combustion engine via the electric car. The magazine contemplates a bright future where the air is clean, oil grabs become irrelevant, and people nap during their private commutes. Then, reverse suburbanisation as cities contract, converting now useless parking into homes, parks, offices. Efficient destinations everywhere. […]

Dora, the Dictadora

About to hop on a flight with this read on the women who loved the world’s worst men, written by Spanish uber journalist Rosa Montero, whom I saw speak at the Cartagena Hay Festival a few years back.  In “Dictadoras,” Montero digs deep to pile new dirt on the wives and girlfriends who warmed the […]

Crisis at Thirty

There is an undocumented age crisis that occurs in the early thirties. Indeed, the onset of this decade might mark the actual “coming of age.” Eighteen is still shrouded by the incredulous, protective shield of childhood, as is any age before twenty nine. But thirty-three is different. It is lucid and stunned and dismayed at […]

Plato on Women

  It seems Plato spent a weekend around young children before immortalizing his views on women and their abilities. From “Sophie’s World” by Jostein Gaardner.

Ayatollah Didn’t See It Coming

  From Roula Khalaf’s stupendously interesting article “Iran’s ‘Generation Normal,’” in this weekend’s Financial Times. 

Seen and Felt

Poetry bears witness to events that surround it, sure. But it is not the news. It is not an opinion column either. It dips its slippery toe into telling, showing, and expressing so as to permit each reader to recreate the very event over and over anew and on a personal basis. Such a feat is perhaps […]

We Did Not Stop the War

I think American poetry was right at the center of the American heart. But we did not change that heart. We did not stop the war. The war ended when the military wanted it to and Vietnam and her neighbors were plundered and leveled. We had such a powerful faith in the rightness of our […]

Making the Bhagavad Gita Work for You

After years of yoga, retreats and sessions with spiritual teachers, I was finally motivated to read the Bhagavad Gita, one of the oldest and most relevant Hindu texts ever written. Religious reading is hard. It is slow. It can even, at times, be boring.  But the Bhagavad Gita is an action-packed tale that gets to the point […]

A Young Adult Novel Written Entirely in Verse

I recently visited the main branch of the Miami Public Library System and was strongly impressed by what I found. Although the entire library was elegant, spacious, well-stocked and easy to decipher, the teen’s section was truly remarkable. There were large signs indicating that only 12-19 year-olds were allowed to use the area, which was equipped with […]

Go Medieval on Your Verse

One of my favorite blogs is called “Interesting Literature.” It is just that, a site with interesting, often very random, facts about literature and literary history. A few weeks ago they published a piece called “10 Short Medieval Poems Everyone Should Read.” Fear not. The poems included  are only a few lines long and translation is provided, […]

Collision

 The cover photograph of my edition of Nobel Laureate V. S. Naipaul’s “In a Free State” would be hilarious if only it were funny. 

Those White Cliffs of Dover

Last week, I wrote about a poem written by Randall Mann titled “Bernal Hill.” A discerning reader pointed at the near-obvious reference Mann’s poem makes to the classic “Dover Beach,” written in the mid-1800’s by English poet Matthew Arnold. I accept that the reference totally slipped my grasp, so I wanted to share Arnold’s poem this week. “Dover […]