Content Tagged ‘Tom Gilbert’

Swamped by ‘Infinite Jest’

January 11, 2013 | 13 Comments

Chris Hitchens, God & me, pt. 2

December 29, 2011 | 13 Comments

An aged man is but a paltry thing, A tattered coat upon a stick, unless Soul clap its hands and sing, and louder sing For every tatter in its mortal dress, Nor is there singing school but studying Monuments of its own magnificence —William Butler Yeats, “Sailing to Byzantium” II. The late Christopher Hitchens was like that dread baptismal tank. I cowered before him. Sure, I admired his courage and his skillful prolificacy—I saw him as a great if often …

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Chris Hitchens, God & me, pt. 1

December 24, 2011 | 9 Comments

That is no country for old men. The young In one another’s arms, birds in the trees —Those dying generations—at their song, The salmon-falls, the mackerel-crowded seas, Fish, flesh, or fowl commend all summer long Whatever is begotten, born, and dies. Caught in that sensual music all neglect Monuments of unaging intellect.  —William Butler Yeats, “Sailing to Byzantium”  for Tom, with Kierkegaard among the dark Danes I. Three years ago, as my mother lay dying, her youngest sister, Carolyn, died …

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Narrative among the dark Danes

February 8, 2010 | No Comments

Memoir, storytelling, and Soren Kierkegaard’s sideways quest. K. Brian Soderquist, U.S.A.-born and now a Danish citizen, co-author of Kierkegaard’s Concept of Irony, teaches my son Tom’s Kierkegaard class this winter in Copenhagen. While on a recent field trip, Brian conveyed to Tom and to his study-abroad classmates an interesting perspective on storytelling that resonates for all nonfiction writers and especially for memoirists: “I think we should keep in mind that on this trip we’re going to hear a lot of narratives—or …

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A meditation upon ‘Infinite Jest’

June 28, 2009 | No Comments

This is a guest post by my son, Tom Gilbert, a college sophomore majoring in philosophy. David Foster Wallace expressed dissatisfaction with the reviews for his ambitious  Infinite Jest. The 1,104-page book is so expansive that any attempt at a plot synopsis is useless; any sweeping thematic summation seems to feel reductive.  However, the novel’s polyphonic structure and character voices are illuminating in its discussion. The novel bears numerous similarities to Dostoyevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov in its character relationships.  Instead …

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Do readers see the constraints?

December 16, 2008 | One Comment

Solstice musings on poetry & nonfiction & Mom’s Christmas letter. When I read poems and when I (rarely) write them, I’m apt to think This is an essay! When poets gave up rhyme and meter, they exposed the fact that poetry and creative nonfiction can be one in the same, though poets are free to fictionalize. (Long ago I was taught the only definition of poetry is that the poet controls the length of his line.) The similarity does not …

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Melville’s thematic fluidity

November 30, 2008 | One Comment

This is a guest post by Tom Gilbert, my son, a college sophomore majoring in philosophy and film. “To write a mighty book you must choose a mighty theme.” –Herman Melville, Moby-Dick “Everyone knows I’m not a folk singer,” says Jude Quinn/Cate Blanchett/Bob Dylan at the end of I’m Not There, and I might have taken that a little easier if it was said to a superimposed LBJ or questioning reporter. But as it stood, right into the camera, with …

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