Category Archives: books

Project Gutenberg Founder Made eBooks As Free As The Air

Michael Hart, inventor of the ebook and founder of Project Gutenberg, has died at age 64. His vision of freely accessible digital texts curated on the Internet, in the public domain, has had a defining influence on my life as a blind reader. Continue reading

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Swede Talk, Sweet Talk: the Summer of Stieg Larsson Continue reading

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Robert Maplethorpe’s Iconic Image of Patti Smith

Patti Smith receives the National Book Award tonight for Just Kids, the memoir of her friendship with photographer Robert Maplethorpe. He took the photo of Smith on the cover of Horses, the debut album that made her the Queen of Punk in 1975. She told the story of how this iconic image was made in an interview on NPR’s Fresh Air Continue reading

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Billy Collins on Richard Brautigan: “An American Brand of Surrealism”

Poet Billy Collins has written an introduction for a new edition of Richard Brautigan’s Trout Fishing in America, a 1960s bestseller that ranked with Steppenwolf and The Hobbit in every hippie’s paperback library. The book cover photo of a mustachioed … Continue reading

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Just Kids: Patti Smith Remembers Robert Mapplethorpe

Patti Smith met Robert Mapplethorpe on her first day in New York City in the summer of1967. They were both kids from stern religious backgrounds who yearned to be artists. Smith tells the story of their relationship in a new … Continue reading

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Now Reading: Walter Mosley

I started reading Fear of the Dark by Walter Mosley, and all hope of productive labor today is hereby canceled. It’s the third novel in Mosley’s Fearless Jones series. The erstwhile private eye is a randy but impecunious used book dealer named Paris Minton. My kind of sleuth! Continue reading

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Gravity’s Rainbow Turns Noir In L.A.

Critic John Powers on Thomas Pynchon’s new novel, Inherent Vice: I know people who swear that Pynchon has saved their lives. But I know others who say he is literally unreadable. Nobody will say that about “Inherent Vice,” his loosey-goosey … Continue reading

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Mouffe at the Movies: Sue Lyon’s Lolita

We finished Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita today — reading it aloud, mind you — and almost immediately asked ourselves the question posed by the trailer for Stanley Kubrick’s 1962 movie adaptation. “How could they make a movie out of Lolita?” My … Continue reading

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Bringing Twitterature to the Masses

I like to think I am well-read, even as a blind flaneur who works constantly to negotiate access to books. When conversation turns to some obscure old warhorse from the canon, I like to joke that I didn’t finish the … Continue reading

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A Pearl of Consciousness in an Oyster of Physicality

Book reviewer David Gates crafts this marvelous phrase in summarizing a scene from Samuel Beckett’s Molloy: Early in Samuel Beckett’s trilogy of novels, the inwardly articulate but outwardly brutish derelict Molloy, used to being immured in his own lurching, stinking … Continue reading

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