Category: Literature

Reality or Insanity?

Illness can be described as an abnormal functioning of the body due either to infection or some other failure in the system of organs and processes. Naturally, we associate illness as unpleasant, as it is usually accompanied by physical suffering, restriction from normal activity and death. It’s the suffering—or, more specifically, how to get rid […] 

Books or Brown Bags?

Chipotle has a tendency to make headlines for more than just its burritos, which, full disclosure, along with being born, hitting my first home run and achieving puberty, are the best thing that ever happened to me. Eat guilt free, they say. The ingredients are fresh, never frozen. The beef is grass-fed, the chicken is […] 

Shaking History

Sometimes a novel can have a therapeutic quality. The reader gets to travel to distant time and place spending a few hours on the sunny heaths of pastoral England, or hurtling through outer space for human race-saving heroics. There’s value in escape. Summoning the imagination allows you to take a timeout from the difficulty of […] 

Progressive Futility

Their world is a counter-culture paradise or organic food and yoga. Relationships are supplanted by organized orgies. Death is an occasion to organize blame. Explosions happen all the time and seem to be creeping closer and closer. We’re told a war is on, but it’s hard to identify the enemy. Della, who narrates the reader […] 

Imagined History

Julian Barnes’s A Sense of an Ending  In a novel, “History,” is an idea. Its accuracy is unassailable. The events of the story may coincide with those of reality but even in the most historical of “historical fiction” the facts always serve the imagined narrative. Julian Barnes’s The Sense of an Ending is interested in […] 

A Lonely, New World

George R. Stewart’s Earth Abides  Isherwood “Ish” Williams is a young man who defines himself as an “observer.” He believes himself free of the desire for company, so when he is one of a handful of people spared from a worldwide epidemic, he sees it less a tragedy than an opportunity for experiment and discovery. “To […] 

Ballard, Media and Art

More Media Prescience In my last post, I discussed the ways in which Billy Wilder augured the future of media culture in his 1951 film, “Ace In The Hole.”  Along similar lines, JG Ballard‘s short story, “Studio 5, The Stars” anticipates the paradox of the insatiable need for content, and the failure to create anything of […] 

Other People: Growing Closer and Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land

Valentine Michael Smith arrives to Earth a blank slate. He is the picture of innocence, untainted by individualism or the antincipation of suffering. In order to survive in a new world, he must “grok” every concept and detail of his surroundings. The people around him initially identify this word as a Martian translation of the […] 

The Only Story

The unnamed protagonist wanders the streets of Christiana (present day Oslo), psychotic with starvation. He is constantly aware of money, but only insofar as a meal ticket. He is a writer of philosophical articles, which when healthy he churns out in all-night manias, and then submits them to magazines for a pittance. But that is […]