Content Tagged ‘George Orwell’

DFW on CNF

November 17, 2014 | 12 Comments

Lepucki’s post-apocalypse novel

August 13, 2014 | 6 Comments

The plot of Edan Lepucki’s debut novel California is quite absorbing, but the story about her book is pretty engrossing as well. First a recap—then a review.

Award-winning author Sherman Alexie was a guest on Stephen Colbert’s television show, The Colbert Report, June 4 to discuss the dispute between Amazon and Hachette Book Group. Books by both Alexie and Colbert are part of the Hachette Group, as is Lepucki’s novel. Colbert had asked Alexie to recommend a forthcoming Hachette book that he liked. Alexie picked California. Colbert held up a copy of the book and implored his viewers, “the Colbert Nation,” to preorder California (but not from Amazon) to demonstrate their power. Powell’s Books in Portland, Oregon, agreed to handle the process. Before long, Lepucki found herself signing over 10,000 copies in just three days to meet those preorders. California was published July 8. Then, on July 21, Lepucki herself was a guest on The Colbert Show. Her book tour included a talk on July 30 at BookPeople in Austin, Texas, which I caught.

“I didn’t realize how much power Colbert had,” Lepucki told the audience. Someone asked how the unexpected event had changed her life.

“I’m in a different city every day. I know how hotels work now,” she replied. “It’s no stage. I’m on this publicity machine that is like a real monster. I figure it’ll end by September. I’m still a good ol’ girl.”

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My top 10 essays of all time

September 14, 2013 | 11 Comments

Not that you asked. Yet who can resist such lists? Not me. Even if they are ridiculous. There are so many great essays, how can any reader limit himself to ten? Imagine doing that with short stories. But recently I got sucked into reading a list of others’ favorites, and so I made my own. Even as I wrote it, I began to disagree with it.

My top essays are listed in more or less chronological order—but also somewhat in rank order, only because an essay like “Never Thirteen,” a source for me of such delight and admiration, is so recent that no one else, to my knowledge, has ratified its greatness. So I am ahead of the curve—or just quirky. And seeing someone expose his peculiar taste is a good reason to read his list.

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America’s greatest essay

August 29, 2010 | 2 Comments

“Uncle Tom’s Cabin is a very bad novel, having, in its self-righteous, virtuous sentimentality, much in common with Little Women. Sentimentality, the ostentatious parading of excessive and spurious emotion, is the mark of dishonesty, the inability to feel; the wet eyes of the sentimentalist betray his aversion to experience, his fear of life, his arid heart; and it is always, therefore, the signal of secret and violent inhumanity, the mask of cruelty.”—James Baldwin, “Everybody’s Protest Novel,” from Notes of a …

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Dave Eggers on journalism’s virtues

May 3, 2010 | 2 Comments

Author Dave Eggers burst onto the literary scene with his memoir A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius; his latest book, Zeitoun, is about the Homeland Security/FEMA ordeal suffered by a Syrian-American immigrant and his family in the wake of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. Eggers recently gave an interview to Jeff Gordinier for Creative Nonfiction (Spring 2010) in which he talked about the immersion journalism he undertook to report Zeitoun. He talked about the influence of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road …

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Frank Conroy on mystery & memoir

March 23, 2010 | 12 Comments

Frank Conroy (1936 – 2005), author of the classic memoir Stop-Time (which has the strangeness of true art about it), as well as novels and essays, was director of the Writers Workshop at the University of Iowa. He sat down for an interview with Lacy Crawford of Narrative magazine before his death. Some excerpts: “The power and almost obscene wealth of parts of America resemble nothing so much as the Roman Empire. I don’t understand why people aren’t completely scandalized …

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Farming & politics

November 12, 2009 | 2 Comments

The agribusiness establishment, grown paranoid between extremists and an ignorant society, now employs verbiage as cleverly as its opponents. Well, it tries. I shouldn’t have been surprised by the edict to use “harvest” instead of “slaughter” my my sheep society’s newsletter: a few years ago, the Farm Bureau, having fled from the beautiful concept “agriculture” for “agribusiness,” and stuck with its foes’ epithet “factory farms,” unveiled a new word for its sector to win hearts and minds: “agbioresource.” Rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it?

Politics is war, and truth, or at least a particular word, often is its first casualty. A new friend had been disgusted here in my new suburban environs when a hog farmer told Kiwanians that without Issue 2, the mainstream ag standards board written into Ohio’s constitution, to protect farmers from extremists “we’ll all have to become vegans.” Meanwhile, she said, in its pre-election advertisements HSUS cleverly positioned the issue as one of “food safety,” preying on fears of e-coli and antibiotics, a screen for its animal rights agenda.

As euphemisms go, “harvest” isn’t very misleading—such a concentrated philosophical argument and so deeply and obviously political. But we do kill animals as well as harvest them. Our society can’t wash its hands of physical labor and blood and get off the hook for what results: industrial agribusiness. At least the Muslim students took direct responsibility. But Americans seemingly refuse to accept that we live by death. This leads to the sentimentality of the brute; to mistreatment of weaker people, not just animals.

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