Category Archives: literature

In the sunset of dissolution …

In the sunset of dissolution, everything is illuminated by the aura of nostalgia, even the guillotine. I don’t know why but a year or two ago, I copied this sentence in a notebook. It comes from “The Unbearable Lightness of

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Is deceit worse than murder?

Last Saturday I was watching the HD version of the Met’s Cosi Fan Tutti (“So do they all”), a lovely opera for those who like Mozart’s music. The opera is a farce, full of the confusion of disguise and lost

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How Sherlock Changed Everything ….

It’s always amazed me that Sherlock Holmes has his own independent life. He’s more than Conan Doyle’s creation; he’s his own man, more real than his author. And it’s not Conan Doyle who changed the world by anticipating modern day

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Thinking about murder again

Why is murder so popular? Even if we’re not part of the mob or a terrorist group; even if we’re not serial killers; even if we don’t believe in bearing arms – most of us indulge ourselves nearly every time

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The End of Books

Pundits keep worrying that books will disappear, replaced by digital tracts, and that people are doing less and less reading. They’re communicating in quick tweets and something summary called a chat. Grammar and spelling are things of the past. It

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There are words, and then there are words….

Not very long ago, I found myself at a friend’s 75th birthday party, despairing aloud about the deluge of words that engulfs our world. A somber, very sober, man leapt to the defense of  language and good writers. There’s nothing

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Writing in a world awash in words

Years ago, when I went to college in San Francisco, I was distressed by the numbers of people who wanted to write. My writing was to be special – more stylish, more moving, more profound than theirs. Besides, I had

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Truth and fiction

History is after all only a pack of tricks we play on the dead,” said Voltaire. Well, maybe it’s not quite that bad–but memory is certainly unreliable. There are as many versions of history as there are historians. There are

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Let America be America Again

Many years ago, in the middle of a project about the pillaging of the earth by various coal companies, I worried that America wasn’t America and never had been. There was no “shining city on a hill,” only a country

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Poets and Old Age: Emily Dickinson

One of our best poets about growing older and about death was Emily Dickinson. And the best known of all her poems about the subject was this one. The Chariot Because I could not stop for Death, He kindly stopped

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