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Posts from the ‘Author Profiles’ Category

What Did Jack Kerouac and Junior Seau Have In Common?

So what do Jack Kerouac and Junior Seau have in common?

Who is Junior Seau, you might ask? He’s a Hall-of-Fame linebacker who played in the NFL for 19 seasons, retiring in 2009. Three years ago, after years of battling CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy), Seau put a shotgun to his chest at committed suicide at the young age of 43.

CTE is a fairly new discovery in the football world. It’s brought on by years of repeated brain trauma–either concussions or simply getting hit in the head over and over. Hundreds of players have been diagnosed with CTE, or shown symptoms consistent with the condition, either post-mortem or after retiring. Famous players like Tony Dorsett, Bernie Kosar, Jim McMahon, and Brett Favre are part of that list. The condition has become quite a controversy, with some players retiring very early in their careers out of fear of suffering from CTE later in life.

So what’s all this got to do with Jack Kerouac?  Read more

Salman Rushdie: “Everyone is upset all the time.”

If you’re easily offended, and if you’ve never read Salman Rushdie’s work, then you might want to stay away from it.

Rushdie has a dark sense of humor and doesn’t mind poking at different aspects of culture and religion. After publishing Satanic Verses in 1988, Rushdie routinely received death threats. In 1989, Ayatolla Khomeini–Iran’s spiritual leader at the time–pronounced a fatwa calling for Rushdie’s execution. I’m guessing Rushdie doesn’t vacation in Iran. He’s still on the hit list of Islamic extremists, like Al Qaeda, to this day.

I’ll talk more about this next week…but, for now, let’s just say Rushdie probably doesn’t have a lot of tolerance for easily offended people.

NPR interviewed Rushdie about his latest novel, Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights, and I thought this bit was insightful: Read more

What Were You Doing When You Were 24?

Zadie Smith wrote a novel.

And said novel, White Teeth, wasn’t just a novel she threw together, got some clip art for the cover, and self-published on Amazon.

White Teeth is a novel that won countless awards when it was published in 2000, including The James Tait Black Memorial Prize, the Whitbread Book Award in category for first novel, the Guardian First Book Award, the Commonwealth Writers First Book Prize, the Betty Trask Award, and–oh, yeah–the novel was placed on that little thing called the All-Time 100 novels list in 2005.

This was her first novel. I repeat…her first novel!  Read more

Why Was Evelyn Waugh “Apalled” By His Own Work?

The critics love Brideshead Revisited. As you know, it’s on the Time list–that’s why I’m reading it–but it’s also #80 on the Modern Library list of English-language novels in the 20th Century. Newsweek listed the novel as one of its 100 best books of world literature, and the BBC lists it at #45 on its literature list.

By all accounts, this is literature at its finest.

However, the novel’s author, Evelyn Waugh, wasn’t a fan of his own work. In 1950, he wrote to Graham Greene saying “I re-read Brideshead Revisited and was appalled.”

Waugh doesn’t even hold back criticizing the novel in the Brideshead Revisited preface: Read more

The New Yorker Profiles Muriel Spark

The New Yorker, as expected, wrote an outstanding profile of Muriel Spark in 2014.

Check out the whole piece if you’re interested, but I thought I’d highlight a couple of passages.

This first one talks about the nature of a typical Spark protagonist. Read more

The Lifelong Rift Between Muriel Spark And Her Son

Muriel Spark passed away in 2006 at the age of 88.

In her will, Spark left her entire estate (valued at millions of dollars, according to The Standard) to a female friend of over 40 years.

The surprise here is that Spark’s only son, Robin, got nothing from her estate. She went so far as to write a sealed letter detailing her reasons for cutting him out of the will in case his attorneys came after the money. Read more

Conversations With Marilynne Robinson

Today’s video comes courtesy of the University of Iowa and the Big Ten Network.

As an aside, who knew the Big Ten network produced high-brow literature pieces like this? I thought it was strictly sports.

As an SEC guy, I’ve got to say—um, where you at SEC? Let’s get some William Faulkner documentaries sandwiched in between college baseball games this spring!

Anyway, Marilynne Robinson is on faculty at the University of Iowa and, five years ago, she was interviewed as part of the “Conversations from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop” series.

She talks about her three famous novels—Housekeeping, Gilead and Home—as well as her writing process. It’s an excellent interview if you have the time. Read more


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