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Posts from the ‘News and Notes’ Category

Who Was Nat Turner?

Nat Turner was a real guy.

So, while The Confessions of Nat Turner is a novel, it’s very much based on fact. Nat was a slave in Virginia who led a revolt and killed more than 50 white people in the 1830s.

Nat was bright. He could read and write at an early age, and he actually knew more about the Bible than many pastors in town. Turner was so smart, in fact, that after the rebellion many states passed laws that limited the education of blacks and made sure a white minister was present at all African-American services.

The racist slaveowners believed that Nat’s education played into his awareness of the injustice of his condition. Hence, the revolt.

As bright as Turner was though, he might have been a little crazy too.

On May 12, 1828, Nat Turner was working in the fields when he . . .  Read more

Bill Clinton’s 21 Favorite Books

Although I’m not a big fan of politicians, I’ve always kinda, sorta liked Bill Clinton.

He’s always seemed like an approachable guy who would be easy to talk to, play a round a golf with, and drink a pint at a bar.

Not that this is any surprise, but he’s well read too, which makes him even more likeable. He’s a smart dude.

In 2003, CBS listed Clinton’s 21 favorite books—all on display at the Clinton Library in Little Rock, Arkansas. The list is interesting and diverse: Read more

Say Hello To Pottsville

Ever heard of Pottsville, Pennsylvania?

Until last week, the answer to that question, for me, was a firm “no.”

Pottsville is the hometown of author John O’Hara, who wrote Appointment in Samarra. In the literary community, O’Hara is either loved or scorned (but mostly scorned) for being a brutal self-promoter. Though he’s widely disliked, his novels are impressive and played a major part in making him famous.

So when a famous author is from small town USA, you might think he might be the reason said town gets “put on the map.” But, in this case, you’d be wrong.

In fact, John O’Hara might only be the third most famous thing to ever come out of Pottsville. What are the two others? Read more

Thomas Pynchon WILL NOT Make Fun of Homer Simpson

As I mentioned while reading Pynchon’s The Crying of Lot 49 (Gravity’s Rainbow is still waiting), Pynchon has appeared in a couple of episodes of The Simpsons. He’s a fan of the show, and producer Matt Selman is a fan of him, so it’s a perfect fit.

Selman tweeted a photo of Pynchon’s edits to a script from one of the episodes he appeared in. He took issue with his cartoon representation making fun of Homer’s weight: Read more

Richard Ford Meets Stephen Colbert

Richard Ford appeared on Stephen Colbert’s show a few years ago to promote his novel, Canada.

Colbert, as only he can, talks about how offended he is that the novel isn’t named America.

It’s a pretty humorous exchange between the two about Canada, guns, writing, and being famous. Colbert’s awesome, and Richard Ford does an outstanding job of staying with him the whole time. Read more

If It Bleeds, It Leads

“The cheap drama artists of my profession are…specialists at nosing out failure: hinting a fighter’s legs as suspect once he’s over thirty and finally in his prime; reporting a hitter’s wrists are stiff just when he’s learned to go the opposite way and can help the team by advancing runners. They see only the germs of defeat in victory, venality in all human endeavor. Sportswriters are sometimes damned bad men, and create a life of lies and false tragedies.”

- The Sportswriter by Richard Ford

Grantland Rice is perhaps the most famous sportswriter in history. He wrote in the first half of the 20th Century, and he most famously coined the name of Notre Dame’s “Four Horsemen” in 1924.

In fact, he likely penned the most famous lede in sportswriting history. Read more

The One Book You Shouldn’t Carry In Thailand

Apparently, it’s a bad idea to read 1984 in Thailand.

If you’re heading to Bangkok, leave your George Orwell at home.

An in-flight magazine for the Philippines Airlines recently published its 5 tips for traveling to Thailand. The article says, “Despite being under military control, Thailand is very safe for tourists. If you want to blend in, try these for good measure.”

In addition to offering advice about passports and selfies with soldiers, the magazine says, “Don’t carry George Orwell’s dystopian novel, 1984. You don’t want to be mistaken for an ‘anti-coup protestor.” Read more


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