All posts filed under: Book Reviews

In Defense of Polyculture

comments 16
Book Reviews / Reflections

There’s a way in which identity politics are a luxury. To engage in them, you at least need a voice. Over the past several months I’ve listened to Sam Harris’s interview with Charles Murray, for instance, his subsequent debate with Ezra Klien of Vox magazine, and a later interview by Harris of Coleman Hughes. These were interesting segments that collectively explore the residual difficulties of speaking about the issue of race in America—among other things. […]

The Round House, A Review

comments 7
Book Reviews

Louise Erdrich’s novel The Round House is first and foremost a good story. If I was to recount the basic narrative in less than a page—as you would if someone asked you, “what was that one about?”—I think you’d find it interesting even then, and for me it would be hard to do so without wandering off into some enticing narrative thicket. That’s not something we can say about every book that toys with literary […]

The Sellout, Satire At Its Finest

comments 13
Book Reviews

In his landmark paper “What Is It Like to Be a Bat?” philosopher Thomas Nagel suggested that an organism is conscious when there is something that it is like to be that organism. It’s a beautiful definition, I think, and one that can be expanded to all sorts of questions of identity. What is it like to be American? To be a farmer? To be an art critic? To be a woman? To be Latino? […]

On the Discovery of Everything…

comments 10
Book Reviews

I should give a warning here. Unless you’ve already read the book To Rise Again At a Decent Hour by Joshua Ferris, after reading this post you’ll know a great deal more about it than you did before. I’ve tried not to give too much away, but of both joy and necessity I’ve said more than a little. I think regardless of what I’ve noted here, the wit and audacity of Ferris’s prose merits a read […]

Inspiration and Grace

comments 37
Book Reviews / Reflections

When I was in high school I underwent one of those sea changes that sweep through us. My mother was hospitalized for a time for treatment of Multiple Personality Disorder, my dad lost his job, we made weekly trips down to the church’s food pantry, and eventually my parents separated. The real weight of it occurred during my senior year. One of the interesting things that came out of this was the freedom to leave […]

A Review of Lincoln in the Bardo

comments 20
Book Reviews

This morning I finished George Saunders’ novel Lincoln in the Bardo, which I greatly enjoyed. I enjoyed it not only for the quick flecks of prose that struck like the tongue of a benevolent snake; not only for the scenes of the self-evinced departed rummaging through their own private psychoses, e.g. the Bardo; not only for the utterly imaginative mechanisms and rules of the in-between to which they clung; but for the manner in which […]

The Art and Skill of Living From the Heart

comments 36
Book Reviews

What does it mean to live from the heart?  And why does it matter? In my experience, every difficulty I’ve ever faced has manifested itself as a rift between my heart and my mind—between what can be known most profoundly when words are left behind, and what presents itself as a seemingly irrefutable conclusion of the mind’s learning.  When this happens we tend to look at circumstance as the genesis of difficulty, without realizing that […]

Surrendering to the Creative Self

comments 26
Book Reviews / Science

In this, the second of three pieces developed in response to Ka’s quotation challenge, I want to explore briefly the ideas and work of Christopher Alexander, an architect, writer and thinker whose work has had a profound impact on me.  The quotes I’ve selected all come from his four volume series entitled The Nature of Order.  I don’t remember exactly how I discovered this work, but I do remember knowing instantly that I desired to […]

Intersections of Everything

comments 15
Book Reviews / Course Ideas / Science

Earlier this week I discovered Ka’s invitation to write a few blog pieces around favorite quotations.  The challenge was framed as three posts, each built around one quotation, or as one post with three quotations.  I realized quickly it would be enjoyable to find a few quotes that I like, and to share them and explain my enthusiasm for them, but then found it was quite a difficult task to narrow down my selections.  I […]

The Necessity of Considering Time… (and Meaning–?)

comments 29
Book Reviews / Science

I took some time off to visit my mother for a few days recently, one minor consequence of which was the necessity of making an eight hour drive twice in a relatively short period of time.  My answer to this dilemma was to download the audio version of physicist Lee Smolin’s book Time Reborn.  It has been a while since I’ve had the chance to dig into this type of book, and as one very […]