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Poem of the Week

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Dog Around the Block

by E. B. White

Dog around the block, sniff,
Hydrant sniffing, corner, grating,
Sniffing, always, starting forward,
Backward, dragging, sniffing backward,
Leash at taut, leash at dangle,
Leash in people’s feet entangle—
Sniffing dog, apprised of smellings,
Love of life, and fronts of dwellings,
Meeting enemies,
Loving old acquaintance, sniff,
Sniffing hydrant for reminders,
Leg against the wall, raise,
Leaving grating, corner greeting,
Chance for meeting, sniff, meeting,
Meeting, telling, news of smelling,
Nose to tail, tail to nose,
Rigid, careful, pose,
Liking, partly liking, hating,
Then another hydrant, grating,
Leash at taut, leash at dangle,
Tangle, sniff, untangle,
Dog around the block, sniff.

 
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Posted by on May 18, 2019 in American Lit, fiction, poetry

 

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Brightly

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If you need help finding a book for a child or teen, Brightly is a site that’s sure to help. Used by librarians and teachers, Brightly offers reviews and lists of books for every sort of reader, e.g. 20 Early Chapter Books for Boys, 14 Best Books for Kindergarten Graduation Gifts, 7 Picture Books that Celebrate Great Teachers, Books for Star Wars Obsessed Kids, and more. It’s easy to search by age or interest. The site publishes new articles regularly. In addition to book posts, Brightly offers articles on parenting with topics including social media and kids, communication and dealing with perfectionism. It’s a terrific resource.

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Posted by on May 17, 2019 in book lovers, Children's Lit

 

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Quote

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There are perhaps no days of our childhood we lived so fully as those we spent with a favorite book.

MARCEL PROUST

 
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Posted by on May 15, 2019 in fiction, quotation, The Reading Life

 

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Henri Duchemin and His Shadows

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I discovered this book via Literature-Map.com, which predicted I would like Emmanuel Bove’s writing. Boy, was that first prediction right. I’m now going to read more of the books it suggests.

A modern writer, Emmanuel Bove (1889 – 1945), has been described by Peter Handke as “the poet of the flophouse and the dive, the park bench and the pigeon’s crumb . . . a deeply empathetic writer for whom no defeat is so great as too silence desire.”

A collection of short stories, Henri Dechemin and his Shadows takes us inside the hearts and minds of the narrators. Each is down and out, but also very perceptive and wise.  The narrators navigate shame, homelessness, breaking relationships and infidelity painfully aware in a way that reminded me of Dostoyevsky of their own pain and motivation as well as that of their wife or friend who was causing it. This wisdom didn’t lessen the hurt.

Bove’s style is succinct. He has no verbose descriptions. The gets to the crux of what needs to be said and leaves it at that. I think it made for more powerful stories, though some may disagree. While Bove writes of characters in dire straits, he’s more positive than Sartre or Beckett. Though Bove’s characters have it hard, they often see the positive. They know that tomorrow may be better and there’s hope.

 
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Posted by on May 14, 2019 in fiction, French Lit

 

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Partisan Journalism

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In his well researched book Partisan Journalism: A History of Media Bias in the United States, Jim Kuypers traces the history of American journalism back to America’s founding and shows the history of journalism’s connection to party politics. Each era differs, of course. The changes in media from newspapers to radio and television and now the Internet make a marked difference in journalism. After all, few disagree with McLuhan who told us “The media is the message.”

This is clearly shown in the impact of the decrease in newspaper subscribers, who’d at least glance through most sections of the paper, and Internet readers, who hop by clicking from one link to the next, perhaps never seeing stories unrelated to their core interests.

I know from my research into the 19th century that newspapers were clearly affiliated with political parties. It was customary for each paper to annually declare which party they were aligned with. Now that practice is no more, but it’s not hard to determine that PBS*, MSNBC, CBS, CNN, etc. lean towards the Dems and Fox News leans towards the GOP. Kuypers does spend a good chapter on surveys of journalists, which confirm what I’d heard about a slant in journalists vis-a-vis in membership in and donations to the Democrats. (Roughly over 85% of journalists identify themselves as Democrats. Even a majority of Fox News employees donated to Democrats in 2012.) There’s a lot of solid data, along with the sources so you can double check it all.

Rather than rehash every section let me share an excellent summary and review:

[F]ocusing on the warring notions of objectivity and partisanship [ . . . ] Kuypers shows how the American journalistic tradition grew from partisan roots and, with only a brief period of objectivity in between, has returned to those roots today. The book begins with an overview of newspapers during Colonial times, explaining how those papers openly operated in an expressly partisan way; he then moves through the Jacksonian era’s expansion of both the press and its partisan nature. After detailing the role of the press during the War Between the States, Kuypers demonstrates that it was the telegraph, not professional sentiment, that kicked off the movement toward objective news reporting. The conflict between partisanship and professionalization/objectivity continued through the muckraking years and through World War II, with newspapers in the 1950s often being objective in their reporting even as their editorials leaned to the right. This changed rapidly in the 1960s when newspaper editorials shifted from right to left, and progressive advocacy began to slowly erode objective content. Kuypers follows this trend through the early 1980s, and then turns his attention to demonstrating how new communication technologies have changed the very nature of news writing and delivery. In the final chapters covering the Bush and Obama presidencies, he traces the growth of the progressive and partisan nature of the mainstream news, while at the same time explores the rapid rise of alternative news sources, some partisan, some objective, that are challenging the dominance of the mainstream press. This book steps beyond a simple charge-counter-charge of political bias
For more, click here.

The best part of the book was how it shows readers how to look out for framing, selection and emphasis and the sort of questions to see how television journalists shape the news to fit their agenda.

I recommend people read Partisan Journalism and take the time to fact check as you go.

*My near daily source.
My other regular source since I believe in learning from all sides.

 

 
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Posted by on May 8, 2019 in book review, fiction, non-fiction

 

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How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia

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Moshin Hamid’s How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia has a title with a title that rings like Crazy Rich Asians, but the similarities end there. Hamid drew me in with his unique second-person narration. The book is set up like a self-help book that addresses the readers as “you.” This “you” is a young boy born into poverty in an unnamed Asian country, which reminded me of Thailand or possibly Malaysia.

The structure and p.o.v. engaged me from start to finish as did the realism that to get “filthy rich” in some places you probably need to study hard, move away from your hometown, cheat, pay bribes and use the occasional thug. In addition to the protagonist “you” the other main character is the sexy girl from “you’s” hometown. She’s referred to as “pretty girl” and she also leaves her hometown and makes the most of her looks to make it big.

The book not only shows the characters’ successes, but also their fall as their opportunities dwindle and they reconnect in their not-so-golden years.

The story is engaging and feels real. Being “filthy rich” isn’t necessary spending your time buying designer goods. It includes worrying about your family, drifting apart from your spouse, facing legal battle, begging kingpins for their help and ending up distant from your son. The book is beautifully written and tells a unique story.

 
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Posted by on April 24, 2019 in book review, fiction

 

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Happy Birthday, Will!

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In honor of Shakespeare, some actor’s sharing of taste of his genius.

 
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Posted by on April 23, 2019 in British Lit, British literature, classic, drama

 

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