October 2011

Books and Reality

I remember recognizing how literature and authenticity collided when I was sitting alone at a fake French bakery in New York City reading The Heart is a Lonely Hunter. Perhaps to one who has not read this novel, the title is melodramatic; however, it is clear that its protagonist, Mick Kelly, would be seeking out anything other than a romantic interaction at a coffee shop. I certainly wasn’t lonely; I just wanted a salad. But that’s not the trope to which we’ve become accustomed in American literature; instead, look at Hemingway, look at Fitzgerald, and you’ll see that a girl alone—her literary/dreamy mindset typified specifically by a novel—in a café wants a young boy to buy her latte. I didn’t want a latte, but regardless, the waiter looked at me a little sadly and put extra foam on the drink that I bought for myself.

The Subversive Novelist: Writing America From "The Road"

Traveling like Jack Kerouac is one of the best ways to cut ties with bureacracy and produce something truly fulfilling in the process.

On the Road may be one of the most influential American novels of the 19th century, exploring as it did what it meant to be a modern man in the midst of unprecedented industrialization. Now, in the 21st century, we're going through a very different, but equally destabilizing, upheaval: the age of the internet and what it has meant for global commerce. The economy is down, income disparity is up, and the face of the united States is changing daily. What better time than to take to "the road", like Kerouac, and experience the new United States? Write prolifically, meet lots of people, and maybe gain some insight what it means to be an American now, in 2011. Of course, we live in a different age than Kerouac did, so it might be necessary to take a few precautions.

Philip Roth's "Everyman"

I had never read one of America’s great novelists, Philip Roth, until I finally got around to reading his novella, Everyman. The book doesn’t have a complicated structure or unusual sentences like many of his contemporaries—in fact, the book isn’t difficult to read at all. Instead, it offers straightforward insight and situations about death that are relevant to everyone, not only individuals who may be nearing the end.