Posts by: Daniel Gumbiner

Sentence and Solas

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If you didn’t see it this weekend, Michael Cunningham, author of The Hours, wrote an astonishingly incisive op-ed about the myriad ways in which literature is a product of translation. Cunningham suggests, borrowing, ostensibly, from T.S. Eliot’s essay, “Tradition and the Individual Talent,” that almost all contemporary work is some sort of veiled translation of […]

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Close Reading

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Jonah Lehrer has an article in Wired on the ways by which e-text might affect our reading processes. Lehrer begins by briefly summarizing the “neural anatomy” of how we read: we have a “ventral route,” which, for a literate person is instinctual, quasi-unconscious reading and a “dorsal stream” which we use whenever we have to […]

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Happy (Early) Birthday Ray Bradbury!

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UCLA has a number of videos up to celebrate Ray Bradbury’s 90th birthday, which is this Sunday. In one of the videos Bradbury explains, unequivocally, how he made it to 90: “You have to love life completely.  I have been in love with life everyday of my life.”  The best way to describe Mr. Bradbury?  […]

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Growing Up American

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The Guardian’s Book Blog lauds the American coming-of-age novel and asks why the British don’t possess the same bildungsromanic aptitude.  Judy Blundell, Jandy Nelson and Simon Rich are cited as contemporary examples of our natural proclivity for the genre. Interestingly, the most iconic coming-of-age-novel of my child hood, The Adrian Mole Diaries, was written by […]

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“To Have a Second Lanuage is to Have a Second Soul”

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How much does language shape our thinking capabilities?  Does it exist only as a tool to reproduce/translate thought or does it take an active role the production of thought? Lera Boroditsky, a professor of psychology at Stanford, examines the dialectic by which language both reflects and shapes thought. At the end of the article Boroditsky […]

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Absolutely Specific

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This Recording has a feature on the interviews between Mel Gussaw and Harold Pinter. Certain excerpts are absurdly quotable.  For example, “MG: Do you feel that you have to guard against emotion?  HP: I don’t quite understand you.”  There are also some particularly incisive sections concerning the hazards of lyricism.

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New York Alki

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Rumpus contributor Ryan Boudinot, author of The Littlest Hitler, talks with I09’s Charlie Jane Anders about his forthcoming novel, Blueprints for the Afterlife. The novel takes place in a full-scale replica of Manhattan in Puget Sound (cue Synecdoche, NY comparison).  Boudinot explains how, in the novel, he strove to replicate Murakami’s ability to have, “concrete […]

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Love and Serfdom

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Check out Deborah Soloman’s terrific, ultra-quippy interview with the author of Absurdistan, Gary Shteyngart. Shetyngart touches on the death of silence, Russia’s antiquated notions of espionage and the state of American fiction.  Also, if you haven’t already, read Shteyngart’s phenomenal personal essay in last week’s Book Review, and stay tuned for our very own Rumpus original […]

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In Defense of Shirley Jackson

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Salon’s Laura Miller attempts to contextualize the work of Shirley Jackson (her “parton saint of oddballs”) within the American canon. Jackson, most famous for her story “The Lottery” (which you probably read in high school), was, Miller suggests, too “gothic” to be grouped alongside the curt realism of the Great 20th Century American (male) Novelists […]

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Anything to be Liked, to be Reassured

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This Recording has a feature on Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald’s letter correspondences circa 1930.  Fitzgerald appears insecure, liquored and thoroughly nostalgic while Zelda’s letters detail her consumption of sedatives and her struggle with Fitzgerald’s alcoholism and periodic inattention.

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Re: The Rest of the World

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A grounding letter to the editor by Tony Skalicky of Jersey City, NJ, regarding David Pogue’s review of David Kirpatrick’s The Facebook Effect, reminds us that, “Until Facebook starts growing crops and irrigating fields, most of humanity will remain outside its purview.”

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On Saving Letters

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PBS Newshour’s Zoe Pollock holds an epistolary interview with New Yorker editor Ben Greenmen concerning his new collection of epistolary fiction, What He’s Poised to Do. Things get epistly real quick: Greenman, the former New Times film critic, discusses the impalpable nature of the digital age, reminds us what we lost when we stopped writing […]

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The Ascetic Fetish

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Check out Flavorpill’s list of the 20th Century’s “most reclusive authors.” Is anonymity, as Salinger once said, “a writer’s greatest gift?”  How limiting is the idea that writers are, by definition, hermetic?  It seems that writers who like to promote themselves or entertain at readings tend to get characterized as “showmen” or accused of “glad-handing.”  But isn’t entertainment […]

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Standardized Redactions

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“What could be the purpose of an exercise testing students on such a lacerated passage — one which, finally, is neither mine nor true to my lived experience?” -Annie Dillard I can’t say I’m surprised that the standardized testing cosmos is methodically censored – it always seemed to possess an otherworldly wholesomeness.  But the extent […]

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A Man We Would Very Much Like to Cut Our Hair

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Swan Songs offers three vignettes of America’s increasingly scant tradesmen.  From Mr. Rogers ex-barber to the last standing champion of mechanical based typesetting, the Americana-drenched series from True/Slant makes us think about what we lost when we stopped using our hands.

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On Beating Writer’s Block

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“It operates in marginal subcultures and it stars determined though hapless dreamers… It pits the art of violence against the violence of art.” Katherine Dunn – who ostensibly dematerialized after her 1989 novel Geek Love (which was nominated for a National Book Award) – has a short story in the summer issue of the Paris […]

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Michael Chabon on Mavi Marmara

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“This is why, to a Jew, it always comes as a shock to encounter stupid Jews. Philip Roth derived a major theme of Goodbye, Columbus from the uncanny experience. The shock comes not because we have never encountered any stupid Jews before — Jews are stupid in roughly the same proportion as all the world’s […]

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The Diaries of Cesare Pavese

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“I should be perfectly happy if it were not for the fleeting pain of trying to probe the secret of that happiness, so as to be able to find it again tomorrow and always. But perhaps I am confused and my happiness lies in that pain. Once more I find myself hoping that, tomorrow, the […]

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BPGlobalPR

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“Safety is our primary concern. Well, profits, then safety. Oh, no- profits, image, then safety, but still- it’s right up there.” “You don’t go drilling 5000 feet underwater with the tools you want, you do it with the tools you have. Very basic tool logic.” Is there anything funny about 5,000 barrels of oil spilling […]

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DHS Does Not Approve

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“I had wanted to make an interpretation of me giving all of myself to my work… I wanted to convey that the cans were exploding with color, and that’s how my art was being created.” – Rene Gagnon, street artist In case anyone forgot, the Department of Homeland Security does not approve of – we […]

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