a book about style and form


I read at least one book about writing every month. Because nobody sends me these for free, this means I buy at least one book about writing each month. I know you are imagining my bookshelves, but rest easy, most of these are now ebooks. Slightly cheaper and much easier to transport. 

The books are not always great reads and there are some I wouldn’t recommend for that reason. Others I don’t recommend simply because they are a little more niche than I imagine most people who read this blog would want. In other words, they are not advice. They are either based in formal research or the result of professional experience. So yes I buy books by language scholars, which I’m not, and by writers, which I might be sometimes – in between teaching and researching and administrative duties. 

Last month I particularly enjoyed reading Amitava Kumar’s (2020)

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At the End of Love’s Road with Michelangelo Antonioni

Great director/auteur!

1960s: Days of Rage

“Michelangelo Antonioni’s L’eclisse is about the end of one love affair and the beginning of another. It’s also about how hard it is to believe in relationships and create meaning out of them. This is the Antonioni film that hits me the hardest—in spite of the fact that I can’t describe the intricacies of the plot in detail. It has maybe my favorite opening and ending in any movie, but apart from that I couldn’t tell you what happens. It’s not that the scenes are forgettable; rather, they’re incidental. L’eclisse is not as contained a movie as La notte or L’avventura, which have more identifiable arcs. But it’s such amazing filmmaking. I first saw L’eclisse in the nineties on a VHS I’d ordered from a British company. I was probably still in my late teens, but I knew I wanted to make movies. Of course you should see the film…

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Frantz Fanon – The Political Writings from Alienation and Freedom

1960s: Days of Rage

Fanon Can’t Save You Now: “The 23 essays that appear in The Political Writings were extracted from the collection of recently discovered writings by Frantz Fanon called Alienation and Freedom, first published in French in 2015. Edited by Jean Khalfa and Robert J. C. Young and translated by Steven Corcoran, The Political Writings largely draws from Fanon’s contributions to the radical Algerian independence newspaper El Moudjahid, and they date from August 1957 to February 1961. Each was written in direct response to events in an ongoing anticolonial revolution, at the center of which was May 13, 1958, and its aftermath. Featuring 21 essays from El Moudjahid, The Political Writings functions as a long-lost companion to Toward the African Revolution, first published in 1964, three years after Fanon’s death. There are lingering questions and controversies surrounding the authorship of these essays — all of them unsigned and…

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Sounds of Silence – Simon & Garfunkel (1966)

1960s: Days of Rage

Sounds of Silence is the second studio album by American folk rock duo Simon & Garfunkel, released on January 17, 1966. The album’s title is a slight modification of the title of the duo’s first major hit, ‘The Sound of Silence‘, which originally was released as ‘The Sounds of Silence’. The song had earlier been released in an acoustic version on the album Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M., and later on the soundtrack to the movie The Graduate. Without the knowledge of Paul Simon or Art Garfunkel, electric guitars, bass and drums were overdubbed by Columbia Records staff producerTom Wilson on June 15, 1965. This new version was released as a single in September 1965, and opens the album. ‘Homeward Bound‘ was released on the album in the UK, placed at the beginning of Side 2 before ‘Richard Cory‘…

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White Rabbit Press – Joe Dunn and Graham Mackintosh (1957–1972)

1960s: Days of Rage

Stan Persky, Lives of the French Symbolist Poets (1967)

The first book of the White Rabbit Press was Boston poet Steve Jonas’s Love, the Poem, the Sea & Other Pieces Examined, published in 1957 with a cover by San Francisco artist Jess Collins. It was followed closely by poet Jack Spicer’s breakthrough book After Lorca in the same year (‘Things fit together. We knew that—it is the principle of magic.’). The press was owned by Joe Dunn, who started it to print the work of the group who surrounded Spicer at The Place in North Beach, a bar owned by Leo Krikorian, an alumnus of Black Mountain College. Dunn, who worked for Greyhound Bus Lines in San Francisco, took a secretarial course at Spicer’s insistence and learned to operate a multilith machine. He produced the first ten or eleven titles of the press at work, squeezing out time…

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Rolling Stone: Supreme Court Rules 6-3 That the Planet Should Burn

Diane Ravitch's blog

The Supreme Court issued a major ruling limiting the authority of the Environmental Protection Agency to curb emissions from power plants. This will have a major negative effect on curbing climate change.

Rolling Stone says the Court voted to let the planet burn.

The Trump majority strikes again.

West Virginia v. Environmental Protection Agency stemmed from the Clean Air Act, an Obama-era law that mandated certain emissions regulations. West Virginia was one of several fossil-fuel-rich states to sue the EPA over the regulations, leading the Supreme Court to rule that the Clean Power Plan (the part of the Clean Air Act that called for emissions regulations) must be suspended until the courts could upheld its legality. The Trump administration issued its own industry-friendly plan that may have even increased emissions, but it never went into effect, either. The courts struck the Affordable Clean Energy plan down just as the former…

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The Golden Spur – Dawn Powell (1962)

1960s: Days of Rage

In Search Of a Father By Morris Gilbert (1962): “Dawn Powell for some decades has been whipping up successive human comedies of the most fastidious disenchantment. With her, the comic spirit is a mordant one; her knowingness is proverbially satanic. She has always had a precocious and highly esteemed gift for outrage. In The Golden Spur, she is again at her most outrageous, and again goes swinging on her patented Ohio-New York pendulum–a thoroughly familiar one for her, a native of little Shelby, Ohio, and a habituÈ of the metropolis. As early as 1940, a reviewer was observing that her eight novels (to that date) ‘have progressed steadily from Ohio sunshine to Manhattan madness.’ Here it is still the case–not to imply any suggestion of repetitiveness. The phenomenon that New York is filled and possessed, year in, year out, with successions of provincials who presently become New York’s New…

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NY Times: How the Proud Boys Organized and Led the 1/6 Insurrection

Diane Ravitch's blog

The New York Times created a 17-minute video showing conversations and actions among the leaders of the odious Proud Boys as they directed the mob on 1/6/21. The PB referred to the other members of the mob as “normies,” people who were naively swept up in their efforts to storm and capture the U.S. Capitol and stop the certification of the election.

It is a dramatic video of those who nearly carried out a coup intended to keep Trump in power.

A recent poll shows that most Republicans believe that the insurrection was the work of Antifa and other enemies of Trump. If that were true, Trump would have sent in the National Guard at once. Anyone who believes that Antifa was running the riot is delusional.

The video reminds us how close we came to a coup.

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The Price – Arthur Miller (1967)

1960s: Days of Rage

The Price is a two-act play written in 1967 by Arthur Miller. It is about family dynamics, the price of furniture and the price of one’s decisions. The play premiered on Broadway in 1968, and has been revived four times on Broadway. It was nominated for two 1968 Tony Awards. Miller stated that he wrote the play as a response to the Vietnam War and the ‘avant-garde plays that to one or another degree fit the absurd styles.’ The play opened on Broadway at the Morosco Theatre on February 7, 1968 where it played until the production moved to the 46th Street Theatre on November 18, 1968. The play closed on February 15, 1969 after 429 performances. The opening cast included Harold Gary as Gregory Solomon, Pat Hingle as Victor Franz, Kate Reid as Esther Franz, and Arthur Kennedy as Walter Franz. The Price was nominated for…

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Supreme Court Overturns Roe and Miranda Rights

Diane Ravitch's blog

As expected, the US Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, which stood for half a century as a guarantee of women’s reproductive rights. About half or more states have already passed or are about to pass laws banning abortions, even for women who were victims of rape or incest, even for women whose life is in danger. The “right to life” so prized by anti-abortion activists does not include the life of the woman.

As was not quite so expected, the Supreme Court gutted the Miranda rights of people who are arrested. Police may fail to tell prisoners of their legal rights, including their right to remain silent.

The Trump Court is remaking and redefining the law in a radical way. There is nothing “conservative” about their willingness to toss out precedent. There is something very radical about the jackhammer they are using to change social and legal norms.


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