In my new essay for CounterPunch, I write about the work of one of the most profound and brilliant poets and multidisciplinary artists, Himali Singh Soin. Her work provokes us to deeply consider the climate crisis, ecological destruction, nuclear radiation, and friendship and love. I had the pleasure of interviewing her for the story. Read at CounterPunch.
Tag Archives: Literature
A Review of Norman Mailer’s Political Writing
I have new essay in the Washington Monthly on the political work of Norman Mailer, and his strengths and weaknesses as a writer and social critic. He was prescient about the rise of fascist politics in the US, but off the mark on many other topics. Above all, he was fascinating, and composed some of the finest sentences in American literature. Read at the Washington Monthly.
New Story at the Bulwark: The Right’s Antisemitism Problem, and the Left’s
I’ve written an new essay for the Bulwark on the abhorrence and menace of antisemitism in the United States, focusing on how it is rising in the form of deranged conspiracy theories, hate crimes, and threats of violence. The reaction from the media, the political left and right, and broader culture is a collective yawn. Referencing the work of the Anti-Defamation League, the American Jewish Committee, David Baddiel, Dara Horn, and Ben Tanzer, I examine the why and how. Read at the Bulwark.
New Essay on David Foster Wallace for CounterPunch
I’ve written an essay on the last completed work of the brilliant and masterful writer, David Foster Wallace. The novella is not only a great read, but has much to teach a nation that has become one big “wastoid.” Read at CounterPunch!
Profile of National Book Award-Winning Poet, Martín Espada
I recently had the immense pleasure of interviewing recent National Book Award winner, Martín Espada. We discussed his life and work, including poetry and radical politics, and right wing book bans, which have twice eliminated his work.
My lengthy profile of Espada is available to CounterPunch subscribers: “‘Put the Blood Back In’: Martín Espada on Poetry, Book Banning, and Radical Politics”
A New Essay on Joan Didion’s Political Writing
I have a new essay at Salon about the political writing of the recently deceased Joan Didion. It is obvious that Didion was one of the greatest literary artists in the US, but most people do not realize that she was also one the country’s most astute political analysts. Like few others, she sliced through the layers of lies in our public discourse, exposing how racism, middle class fear and complacency, and oligarchic oppression sabotage genuine democracy.
Read the essay at Salon.
New Interview with James Lee Burke on Literature, Organized Labor, Corporate Evil, and the Dumbing Down of America
It was my pleasure to, once again, interview one of America’s greatest novelists – the prolific and brilliant, James Lee Burke. At 84, he has authored an outstanding new novel, Another Kind of Eden. We discussed the new book, along with many related sociopolitical issues, including organized labor, the corporate destruction of “traditional America,” and the plot to dumb down America. Read our conversation at CrimeReads.
Literature and Class: An Essay on Willy Vlautin’s “The Night Always Comes”
In a new essay for CrimeReads, I write about one of the best novels I’ve read in recent years, Willy Vlautin’s The Night Always Comes. Not only a riveting story with characters who feel as alive as your next door neighbors, it is also a brilliant exploration of class struggle and the abuse of the working class in present day Portland, and more the broadly, the United States. In addition to reviewing The Night Always Comes, I also explore the rich tradition in crime literature of dealing with class struggle in the United States, and the dearth of contemporary stories that present the financial precarity of life in the “world’s wealthiest nation.”
New Writing at CrimeReads: Ernest Hemingway’s Politics, “Out of Time”
I’ve recently written two essays for the outstanding literary website, CrimeReads. The first is a review of Hemingway’s underrated novel, To Have and Have Not – an essay that doubles as an exploration of Hemingway’s radical politics.
For lighthearted fare, I joined the CrimeReads tradition of recommending getaway movies for the pandemic. My choice is the 2003 potboiler starring Denzel Washington, Out of Time.
What is a “factoid”? How a misunderstood word explains Trump
In his masterful blend of biography and novel, Marilyn, Norman Mailer invented the word “factoid” to describe untrue ideas many people accept as real only because they have appeared in the mass media for many years. “It is possible,” Mailer wrote, “that Richard Nixon has spoken in nothing but factoids for his entire political career.”
Donald Trump, like no other president of American history (not even Nixon), is a factoid politician.
Read my essay on factoids and Trump at Salon.