Dreams in a Mirror: The Sarashina Diary

We tend to think of diaries as private records written for our own personal reflection or amusement. But journals are sometimes kept for publication with a wider audience in mind. And while Anglo-Saxon bards were still bellowing about the deeds of Beowulf, the noblewomen of Japan had already perfected this literary form into an instrumentContinue reading “Dreams in a Mirror: The Sarashina Diary

Born to Be Eternal: Hermann Hesse’s Steppenwolf

At the dawn of the twentieth century, new technologies seemed to burst into existence like morning glories opening to the sun. The airplane and automobile shrank the globe while telephone and radio connected its inhabitants in unforeseen ways. Along with these innovations, fresh perspectives in the arts seemed to ripen on every intellectual tree andContinue reading “Born to Be Eternal: Hermann Hesse’s Steppenwolf

Teaching Stone Men to Walk: Farid Ud-Din Attar’s Conference of the Birds

Toward the end of The Conference of the Birds, the poet presents us with a striking image. A man in China has become a stone;He sits and mourns, and at each muffled groanWeeps melancholy tears, which then are foundAs pebbles scattered on the ground. 1 It’s an evocative passage that invites the reader to seekContinue reading “Teaching Stone Men to Walk: Farid Ud-Din Attar’s Conference of the Birds

Book Release Announcement: Telegonos is Available!

My play Telegonos is now available for sale through Darkly Bright Press! If you love classics, please stop by and check it out. When the son of Odysseus and the goddess Circe sets out to seek his father’s land, disaster strikes, and the wanderers are shipwrecked on a mysterious island. As dreams and omens gatherContinue reading “Book Release Announcement: Telegonos is Available!”

Becoming Visible: Ralph Ellison’s Classic in the era of Black Lives Matter

“Could a greater miracle take place than for us to look through each other’s eyes for an instant?” – Henry David Thoreau. I used to believe that racism was a thing of the past, a relic of a bygone era. Like polio or child labor, it had vanished into the pages of history. I imaginedContinue reading “Becoming Visible: Ralph Ellison’s Classic in the era of Black Lives Matter”

How to Talk to Cats: Haruki Murakami’s Kafka on the Shore

Searching for a way to describe a new style of painting in the 1920s, Franz Roh invented the term “magic realism.” However, like the fictions that would later bear this name, the designation showed little regard for neat distinctions between the various arts. With a wink, it quickly slipped away the frames of pictures andContinue reading “How to Talk to Cats: Haruki Murakami’s Kafka on the Shore

The Uses of Ambiguity: The Good Soldier Schweik

Ever since the time of Juvenal, and probably before, satirists have been hard at work deflating the pretensions of their societies and speaking truth to power with a wink and an air of feigned sincerity. Some, like Swift and Voltaire, channel their “savage indignation” into creating a better world. Others, like Pope, gently mock theContinue reading “The Uses of Ambiguity: The Good Soldier Schweik

The Scraps of the Books: The Fiction of Cordwainer Smith

“The story is simple. There was a boy who bought the planet earth. We know that, to our cost. It only happened once, and we have taken pains that it will never happen again.” These words begin one of the most surreal science fiction novels of all time, Norstillia by Cordwainer Smith. Along with TheContinue reading “The Scraps of the Books: The Fiction of Cordwainer Smith”

The Mirror that Exploded: Don DeLillo’s Cosmopolis

Stendahl once remarked that a novel is a mirror walking along a road. 1 This quote offers an apt metaphor since, of all the forms of literature, the novel often most closely reflects the society and movements of the times in which it is written. But in Don DeLillo’s Cosmopolis, either the mirror or theContinue reading “The Mirror that Exploded: Don DeLillo’s Cosmopolis