Tag Archives: books

“The Fortunes and Misfortunes of the Famous Moll Flanders”

I confess, Moll has kept me up past my bedtime three nights in a row! Where’s Kim Novak when I need her? I’m reading as lively a version produced by the Library of Congress (NLS). Narrated by Barbara Caruso, that audiobook is available only to blind readers, so I can’t share it here. Nonetheless, you can listen to it, too, via a LibriVox audio book that is freely available in the public domain, as an MP3 download or a live stream. Continue reading

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The Scarlet Letter

Hester Prynne holds her infant daughter Perl in an engraved illustration from an 1878 edition of The Scarlet Letter. [Source: Wikimedia Commons]

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Roger Ebert’s Computer Voice Will Break Down Barriers

I was very pleased too hear Roger Ebert speak via voice synthesizer yesterday on NPR. I listen to the same kind of machine voice day in, day out. That’s how I read, how I write and edit the words you’re reading now. It isn’t weird or the stuff of science fiction, like 2001: A Space Odyssey. It’s no big deal. Like disability itself, it’s an everyday fact of life. Ebert’s comfort level with his surrogate voice will help a lot of people to get used to that kind of accommodation, too.

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Finding A Balance Beyond 9/11

I’m reading Colum McCann’s fine novel, Let the Great World Spin, winner of the National Book Award in2009 . It is widely acclaimed as a post-9/11 novel even though its setting is 1974 New York, when Philippe Petit made his audacious high-wire walk between the towers of the World Trade Center. McCann’s Prologue describes that scene as it was apprehended from ground level on the streets of lower Manhattan. Reading it took my breath away. I heard in McCann’s phrasing the sprawling democratic lists and rolling cadences of Walt Whitman’s “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry.” It’s a robust expression of a long literary tradition.

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Flashbacks: Ken Kesey’s CIA-Sponsored Acid Trip

The new documentary Magic Trip: Ken Kesey’s Search for a Kool Place chronicles the hallucinogenic adventures of Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters as they rode the Magic Bus across America in 1964. The bus driver was none other than Neal Cassidy, the inspiration for Dean Moriarty in Jack Kerouac’s novel On the Road. The saga was immortalized in Tom Wolfe’s best-seller The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test.

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