Titles in “The Reader” Series

The Reader and the Paywall Poem The Reader and the Wally Moon Foul Ball The Reader and the Pool Hall Doggerel The Reader and the K of C Third Degree The Reader and the Professor Who Knew It All The Reader and the Screwball PCH Big Sur Rally of 1972 The Reader and the Walled…

Why Read Poetry?

Much of modern poetry is unintelligible or seems incoherent. That’s not modern poetry’s problem though. The problem with modern poetry is the absence of a general interest reader of poetry. Cautious readers avoid the crafted, arched bridges called poems precariously balanced over esoteric estuaries. But was there ever a general interest reader of poetry? Well,…

…more on the disappearance of newspapers

I walked out to fetch the morning paper this morning, and the news hit me before I had even slid the thin paper from its plastic sleeve, for the paper was so slight, surely the headline would say something more about the disappearance of newspapers. Almost. The headline in today’s Oregonian heralds the coming forced disappearance of…

Bless me critic, for I have read…

So-called Easy Reads should not be confused with Easy Writes. There are no easy writes. “Writing is hard, even for authors who do it all the time,” Roger Angell reminds us in the “Foreword” to the fourth edition of “The Elements of Style,” the lately lambasted as prescriptivist poppycock handbook that nonetheless many still enjoy…

Mosaic Writing

McLuhan suggested we pay a price for literacy. There’s a difference between illiteracy and non-literacy. An illiterate person can neither read nor write written texts in his native language, while a non-literate person’s language has no written text, no alphabet. It’s moving from non-literacy to literacy where a price is paid: “The visual makes for…

The Art, Woe, Slop, and Toe of the Book Review

In an era of sinking readership, closing bookstores, the disappearance of newspapers, and Google making us stupid, who cares about book reviews? The book review is the grownup version of the book report, the nefarious writing assignment where students first learn to plagiarize. Publishing is in a hard market, as they say in the insurance…

Reading Directions for Thoreau’s Walden

Walter Harding was the secretary of the Thoreau Society when he wrote the short article for The Massachusetts Review titled “Five Ways of Looking at Walden.” The article opens with a narrative description of the types of people who read Thoreau and attended the Society meetings, and these were, in short, anyone and everyone, folks…

Mapping a Reading of Thoreau’s Walden

We might be tempted, reading Walden, and wanting, for some reason, something more, answers, perhaps, though we might not yet know the questions, to split the difference (and the infinitive) and to quickly Google “Thoreau.” (I just did, and got 22 million results in about half a second.) Eventually, we might stumble across Walter Harding’s…

More on the disappearance of newspapers…

More evidence of the disappearance of newspapers: page 2 of the “a&e” section of last Friday’s Oregonian contains a small announcement: “Regal Cinemas discontinued its movie listings, which were advertising, from The Oregonian.” Regal has a full menu website with links to Hershey’s, Coca-Cola, 200k likes on facebook, 24k tweeters…; what does it need The…

On Another Modest Proposal; or, Twitters with the Editors

We dropped in on our anon friends over at LROD this morning, reading the morning blogs over a cup of Joe, always interested in the latest rejection news, and followed a suggestion to an article by Bill Keller over at the New York Times Magazine, “Let’s Ban Books, or at Least Stop Writing Them,” about…

A Portrait of the Retiring Reader

At El Camino College in the late 1960s I met an old man and an old woman in a literature class. I fell into talking with them outside class one day, waiting for the professor to arrive. The old man said he was recently retired from a life of work that had permitted him little…

Common Earworm Remedies and the Mutant Earworm

Thanks a compost heap to the Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg (April, 2011) for re-infecting readers with a term we already could not forget – earworms. Earworms are snippets of jingles or songs that unwanted, uninvited, and unannounced crash the polite party of our otherwise peaceful thoughts. We now have a mutant version that has crawled through…