If you think you can write a three-minute-pop-song piece of fiction, get crackin’ and send it in to NPR by January 23. They’re having another “Three Minute Fiction” writing contest. I’m working on my entry already.
Because, let’s face it, when you’re into literature, having your story read on All Things Considered is pretty much the coolest thing imaginable. It would be like having your unknown band’s single become a sudden super-smash on pop radio.
Every time I open ‘The Grapes of Wrath’ it takes my breath away. I love the biblical cadences, the way it sounds like the Book of Genesis in its prose and the severity of the circumstances. Let us pray…
"To the red country and part of the gray country of Oklahoma, the last rains came gently, and they did not cut the scarred earth."
"The sun flared down on the growing corn day after day until a line of brown spread along the edge of each green bayonet. The clouds appeared, and went away, and in a while they did not try any more."
"The surface of the earth crusted, a thin hard crust, and as the sky became pale, so the earth became pale, pink in the red country and white in the gray country."
"The dawn came, but no day. In the gray sky a red sun appeared, a dim red circle that gave a little light, like dusk; and as that day advanced, the dusk slipped back toward darkness, and the wind cried and whimpered over the fallen corn."
"The men were silent and they did not move often. And the women came out of the houses to stand beside their men - to feel wether this time the men would break. The women studied the men’s faces secretly, for the corn could go, as long as something else remained."
In eighth grade I read “The Catcher in the Rye” at the urging of English teacher / advisor / mentor Ransom Griffin, but I didn’t fully get it.
Reading it now, I’m struck by the focused genius of the book. The big achievement is Salinger’s ability to express everything we need to know about Holden Caulfield through the character’s voice and inability to express himself, and a few important stage directions.
It’s one of those books that makes you reevaluate what you’re doing. The bar looks higher than it did before.
Re-editing 'Huckleberry Finn' is stupid and cowardly
A couple scholars are editing the N-bomb out of Huckleberry Finn and changing other racial references. Their misguided hope is that fewer school districts will ban the book, and more kids will read it.
While getting more kids to read this essential work is a great idea, hacking around in Mark Twain’s writing… eh, not so much.
Facing our history in all its glory and ugliness is the only way to learn from it. Sugarcoating the bad parts of Huck Finn would strip the work of its power. It’s intended to be uncomfortable - that’s where the reflection and learning kicks in.
So my open missive is this: Leave Huckleberry Finn just the way it is, and require it in every high school English class. Y’ain’t gonna solve any problems by dodging ‘em.
Derek Sivers, the paradigm-busting founder of CD Baby, is generously sharing his notes on Peter Bevelin’s book “Seeking Wisdom.”
It looks like a great book, but one I don’t really have time to read at the moment, as I have nine books on my ‘urgent’ list. So to be given his condensed notes is like being allowed to skip forward a couple spaces in the big board game of my reading list.
If you’re interested (and why wouldn’t you be?), the link is here: http://sivers.org/book/SeekingWisdom