Category Archives: Thoughts on Writing, Reading & Books

Flogging the artist

It’s easy to consider the 1960s as the time when the various counterculture movements in the world’s industrialized nations reached their peaks for both potency of influence and hypocrisy of intent. There was plenty of money to be made on the backs of those who very loudly proclaimed a disdain for money, and there was […]

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What is the point of poetry?

Congratulations to George Saunders on his recent Man Booker Prize win for┬áLincoln in the Bardo, a book that tells the story of Abraham Lincoln visiting the grave of his young son and encountering the voices of the many dead. I haven’t read the work myself, and given the size of my reading list I probably […]

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Readers and (their) writers

Nietzsche once remarked (paraphrasing) that if one cannot find true companionship among the living then one should seek it from the dead – in books. To pick up a book is to begin a journey of an unknown duration and unforeseen destination. It is to embark with a number of travel mates, some of whom […]

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Writing about writing

There’s an old saying that “Those who can’t, teach.” (And fans of School of Rock will remember Jack Black’s character’s immediately juxtaposed corollary: “And those who can’t teach, teach gym.”) I don’t think that’s true, or at least not often true, but it is funny and it is thought-provoking. Many, maybe most of us, certainly […]

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Writing’s seasons

The rains come in spring (and summer and fall if you live in East Asia), the wheat, corn, rice, grows tall and proud, ripens, and is harvested. The soil rests, recovers, and the late winter or early spring sees another round of preparing, planting, tending, waiting. The moon waxes and wanes, the temperatures rise and […]

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Dylan’s speech, or Black and white lovers

Bob Dylan has once again been accused of plagiarism. This time though it’s not about his lyrics but rather about the acceptance speech he recently delivered to the Nobel Prize Committee just before the deadline that, if he had missed it, would have disqualified him from receiving the prize money. The manner in which it […]

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Rewriting humanity

What is a book supposed to do in the world? What is your book supposed to do in the world? I know, I know, writers have enough to think about, and more than enough to juggle, as it is without raising such bothersome questions. And after all, isn’t a well told story justifiable by itself? […]

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The truth in fiction

I can’t recall exactly where I read this but I think it might have been a book by Karen Armstrong; certainly it was a book on mythology. To paraphrase: the truth in a myth is not in the events it relates but in its reflection on ourselves. A myth is “true” in the sense in […]

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Time and spending time

For those of us living in post-industrial/digital societies the central question now facing us, and it is one that faces us daily, has become: How do I spend my time? For nearly all of us the daily struggle simply to stay alive has been removed as a topic of concern, in one way or another […]

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Must we come to terms with money?

Ebooks can be given away very easily, Smashwords has a simple setting for this and even allows it specifically for libraries while other users pay whatever non-zero price you’ve decided on. Amazon’s Kindle, similarly, allows all sorts of ways that pricing and royalties can be adjusted. What is transferred from producer to consumer is, after […]

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