The Unbearable Lightness of Being

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Milan Kundera begins with a somewhat abstract and philosophical exposition on the unbearable lightness, or weight, of being. It is pretty much all tell, and no show. And yet I loved it. I thought it was pure genius. Putting it negatively, the myth of eternal return states that a life which disappears once and for all, which does not return, …

The Recognitions

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I hate William Gaddis. As a would-be writer, Gaddis has had no direct influence on me. And yet, pretty much everything I have done, or planned to do, or started to do, as a writer, which I genuinely thought to be fresh or innovative, I have come to discover has pretty much already been done by him. The invasion or …

Winter’s Tale

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If someone had told me what Mark Helprin’s Winter’s Tale was about, I don’t think I would have read it. Written in 1983, the plot is three parts Gangs of New York, two parts Age of Innocence, with a dash of Dickens and a pinch of Lord of the Rings. A turn-of-century “period piece” set in and around the city …

The Road

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There’s really not much to this book. You know exactly where it is going. And yet, when you get there, it’s still moving. At the beginning, McCarthy pretty much tells you, flat out, what the dilemma is. (Will the father be strong enough to do what’s necessary, when the time comes?) Which, at the time, I thought was fairly “on …

Herzog

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I think I would have probably liked and appreciated Herzog more had I read it a long time ago. I read Philip Roth’s introduction, and noted his comment that Herzog was like an American Leopold Bloom, except that “in Ulysses, the encyclopedic mind of the author is transmuted into the linguistic flesh of the novel, and Joyce never cedes to …

A Taste of Reality on “Top Chef”

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Despite taking Latin for five years, I still managed to eke out only a 3 on the AP. Not having placed out of the language requirement at college, Latin was an appealing alternative to the spoken language requirements, which consisted of three quarters instead of only two, as well as a pretty intensive early morning lab. Latin 1 was a …

Richard Pryor and Borat

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I don’t think there is really any comedian around who does what Richard Pryor did. Comedians tell jokes. They make observations. Sometimes they do impressions, or impersonations. But Richard Pryor was like a method actor. He would get into character. Or multiple characters. And play them out. Some of what he said was funny in the “ha-ha” sense, but a …

B.S. or BCS?

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As someone from New Orleans, (host of the Sugar Bowl), I am admittedly biased in favor of the traditional bowl system. But there seem to be several reasons, aside from money and tradition, to favor it over a play-off system. First of all, it’s generally pretty clear who the National Champion is. There is sometimes a lot of debate about …

Photography

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I don’t really consider photography “art”, at least in the same way I would view an oil painting. Particularly with the development auto-focus and one-hour processing and now especially with the advent of digital photography, things have become so democritized that it’s virtually impossible to set oneself apart as an “artist”. Yet I find photographs themselves aesthetically pleasing and, (in …

The Crying of Lot 49

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When I was living in D.C. during my junior year of college, I found, somewhere, a recording of Dylan Thomas reading A Child’s Christmas in Whales and listened to it over and over again. I had this internship at the DSCC, and would spend some spare time working on these “lyrical” or “poetic” pieces in prose. There’s a certain voice …