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Good Grief!

by Alexander M. Stern July 17, 2014

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  Long before everyone's childhood was ruined by the Internet, a few things were still sacrosanct. Chief among these was Peanuts, Charles Schulz's ode to childhood fears, failure, and disappointment. Schulz never sugar-coated childhood; never romanticized ...

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Writing Is Rich

by B.A. Nilsson May 29, 2013

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  The ranks of well-known cartoonist-writers include James Thurber and Lou Myers, but unlike Robert Hughes, who moved from cartooning to art criticism, or Ad Reinhardt, whose cartoons were criticism, John Updike never professionally pursued his ...

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Natural and Unnatural Selection

by Gene Mirabelli January 23, 2013

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  Hardly anyone actually reads Charles Darwin nowadays, but most people know about him and his work. In the world of science, his ideas are foundational for an understanding of how different species come into existence, ...

Rabbits Before Wizards

by Darryl McGrath October 25, 2012

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  Once upon a time, a British bureaucrat who had never published anything and who had no aspirations of being a novelist finally ceded to the pleadings of his little girls that he write down the ...

Siri Doesn’t Speak Greek

by B.A. Nilsson October 17, 2012

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  Michael Frayn knows the elements of a mistaken-identity farce. He summoned one of the most rip-roaring festivals of confusion to the stage in his play Noises Off; his novel Headlong wove a farce around the ...

The Mechanics of Genius

by Jeff Nania June 13, 2012

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Genius is something that can be cultivated. Creativity is not the bastion of the select few. Alpha waves allow creative insights. The prefrontal cortex is what allows us to follow our creative pursuits through to ...

Invade My Privacy

by Josh Potter May 30, 2012

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Memoir. The genre name alone can be enough to strike terror in the heart of readers and writers alike. For such a seemingly benign proposition—the recollection of personal experience—there’s an unnerving danger to both sides ...

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Still Unnamable

by Josh Potter April 26, 2012

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The Flame Alphabet By Ben Marcus Knopf, 289 pages, $25.95 In the world that Ben Marcus renders, the writing of a novel would be a fatal act of violence—to the reader and author alike. It’s an irony that ...

It’s Only a Paper Moon

by Josh Potter January 12, 2012

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Much is often made of the “music” of Japanese author Haruki Murakami’s work. The 62-year-old best-selling novelist owned a jazz club as a young man and riddles his stories with bits of lyrics and references ...

Do the Locomotion

by Jeff Nania December 14, 2011

  Have you ever misplaced your phone, knowing that it would turn up, but not knowing for the life of you where? This seems to have been the initial error (or blessing, depending on your view) ...

The Missing Link

by Darryl McGrath April 13, 2011

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The Land of Painted Caves By Jean Auel Crown, 768 pages, $30 Before there was Harry Potter, long before there was Twilight, there was the story of an orphaned little girl who lived in a fantastic, ...

Literary Open House

by B.A. Nilsson January 19, 2011

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I knew that falling down your own stairs at some point is nearly inevitable. I knew that it can be lethal, especially to oldsters. I didn’t know that you can blame the staircase for it. ...

Steal This Book

by Josh Potter February 25, 2010

Let me begin by saying, I wanted to hate this book. Thing is, it’s a sentiment Tao Lin counts on. Long before I picked up Shoplifting From American Apparel, a svelte novella in a series ...

About a Boy, Sitting Shiva

by B.A. Nilsson January 28, 2010

Jonathan Tropper’s novels are often compared to those of Nick Hornby. Tropper’s protagonists, invariably male, typically suffer a hilarious series of emotional and physical torments en route to a resolution in which sheer peace is ...

Rudderless

by Margaret Black January 21, 2010

As Liam Pennywell explains to his 4-year-old grandson, Noah didn’t need a rudder or a compass for his ark. He just needed to stay afloat until the waters receded. Liam sees himself as having lived ...