Category Archives: Rants

Mark Twain for President – 1879

MARK TWAIN * A Presidential Candidate I have pretty much made up my mind to run for President. What the country wants is a candidate who cannot be injured by investigation of his past history, so that the enemies of … Continue reading

Posted in American Literature, American Literature, Literary Lions, Literature, Mark Twain, Politics, Rants, writers, writing | 8 Comments

There’s Something About a Man in Uniform

This is off topic for this literary blog (unless I try to tie it to the many fine novels written about the travails of the military in wartime, which I won’t.).  But I observed an incident at the checkout at … Continue reading

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Hibiscus Christmas: A Child’s Christmas in Florida

(c) Copyright 2014, Margaret Langstaff, All rights reserved [I don’t know if this is kosher or cool to re-post an oldie like this, but it still speaks volumes to me and suggests pretty clearly what a weirdly different place Florida … Continue reading

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Dangerous Times

This is off-topic but has become THE topic for me recently as a result of some heartbreaking events I have observed and tried to ameliorate. So excuse the soapbox schtick and oratory but attend.  This is important. More important than … Continue reading

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The Music of Poetry: Prosody

OK, soapbox time. Maxed out. Had my fill of the effulgence of tone deaf poetry lately. Most poetry written today exhibits a tin ear on the part of the poet and dooms it from the get go. The problem with … Continue reading

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Good People Doing Great Things

Some recent events and encounters with certain passionate non-fiction authors have put a burden on my heart, a sense of responsibility or obligation  to help speed them on their way any way I can.  These are generous-hearted, non-judgmental, self-less souls … Continue reading

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Looking for Relief from a Flood of Email?

My recent hacking trauma has sent me to the ramparts, and I find myself increasingly on a soapbox railing against many things digital of late, things which are just plain stupid, often mean-spirited and a waste of time. [Bear with me, … Continue reading

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A Star in My Eyes

From the NY Times a few years ago and on my fridge behind a magnet ever since. Brodsky is or was – as a poet – so big, I hesitate to offer any commentary. That’s big (and maybe not dead … Continue reading

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Why Do We Read and Write Fiction?

In a strange coincidence both the New York Times and the New Yorker published within two days’ time (Dec.8 and 9) two thoughtful and resonant essays by top literary critics about fiction, its whys and wherefores, its challenges and attractions, … Continue reading

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My Inner Turkey

God got tired of animal sacrifices and “burnt offerings” ages ago (Psalms 40:6) and yet somehow we still haven’t gotten the message. This is a post-Thanksgiving “post” to assuage my after-the-fact, raging guilt over having yet again stuffed myself silly and had … Continue reading

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Art Is Not for Everybody

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What You Can Do Right Now to Make a Difference, a Tonic for Our Times

The following I suspect needs very little prologue, for as Shakespeare said, “the past is prologue,” (check the news, old and new), and as Flannery O’Connor said, “the violent bear it away.” ” Things fall apart, the center will not hold” … Continue reading

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The Universe According to Sarah Jo McCorkle of Viburnum Lane

TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN (e.g., anything with a pulse on this planet) A Matter of Ultimate Significance A Major Advancement in Human Knowledge  *S*H*O*C*K*I*N*G Paradigm Shift `Coming Soon from CHP   The Viburnum Lane Bubble Bath Hypothesis & The New … Continue reading

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Happy Roald Dahl Day! Hurray!

Originally posted on Harriet & dee:
Today, 13th September (which just so happens to be a Friday. Unlucky for some, but not me, all my days are full of lots of luck and loveliness) is Roald Dahl Day! On what…

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SALINGER To read or not to read? Get outta here

  I will make this short and to the point.  Vitriolic is not my customary tone in talking books. But. The new over-hyped “literary biography” of J.D. Salinger, SALINGER, is the biggest, most blatant rip off of an artist’s life and … Continue reading

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Bogland

Originally posted on scienceandartblog:
Seamus Heaney, the Irish poet who won The Nobel Prize for Literature in 1995, died last week aged 74. His 1966 poems Death of a Naturalist give the essence of his early life tending the soil as a…

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“Feeling into Words” by Seamus Heaney

“The poet is on the side of undeceiving the world. It means being vigilant in the public realm. But you can go further still and say that poetry tries to help you to be a truer, purer, wholer being.” SEAMUS … Continue reading

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Alligators All Around — Maurice Sendak

Originally posted on Biblioklept:
Go Gators, jeese. It’s footbaaaallll season AND HURRICANE SEASON. A coinky-dink that propels a tornadic plot with a stormy heroine (whose most distinctive quality? hoisting herself on her own petard) THE DEVIL, THE DIVA & THE DEEP BLUE SEA……….. http://www.amazon.com/Devil-Garnet-Sullivan-Florida-ebook/dp/B009R795CQ/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1377968491&sr=1-3Continue reading

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DON’T TRIP ON THE TROPES: “There Came a Day at Summer’s Full Entirely for Me”

(c) Copyright 2013, Margaret Langstaff, All Rights Reserved. Here is another beautiful example of Emily Dickinson‘s “sacramental” relationship with the natural world (cf., my previous posts).         THERE came a day at summer’s full Entirely for me; I … Continue reading

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“This book will part your hair”

Here in the dubious off-kilter state of Florida, it’s coming on “the season.” Those clued into what that means notice their hair stands on end with more alacrity than is usual at NOAA news of happenings (waves, depressions, rotations) as … Continue reading

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Why major in humanities? Not just for a good job — for a good life–today’s WASHINGTON POST

Thank God, someone wrote a cogent, well-informed and supported piece about this (so I don’t have to). If you want to be a one dimensional moron, go for the money and a tech or highly specialized job. If you want … Continue reading

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A Bird Came Down the Walk

For some reason my Dickinsonia instincts and my deep appreciation of her poetry kick in full blast in the summer and winter (“There’s a certain slant of light/On winter afternoons/That oppresses like the heft/Of cathedral tunes” etc). But today I observed … Continue reading

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Musing: Can you hear what I’m writing?

Smart young writer. Cites the right guys! Watch this doll, she’s onto something 😉

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Losing

It’s inevitable.  It’s part of life. It doesn’t get any easier. Loss piled upon loss probably can become too much for some people. After putting up the previous post about my poor ole sweet dogs and parrot, Eddie, Booger and … Continue reading

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Show Off Your Love For Public Radio With These NPR Temporary Tattoos

hilarious

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Name That Chick

I have been scarce around here because of 1) weather related events (featuring falling trees and tree frogs)  2) a contretemps with a “publicity consultant” 3) a nuclear war with my husband  (he lost as far as I am concerned, … Continue reading

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Charming Paintings of Vintage Books That Smoke, Drink, and Slip on Banana Peels

I’ve imagined these … and bet other writers have too but the images were hardly as whimsical and wonderful as these …  What fun these illustrations are ….

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Stanley Elkin, my main man

Originally posted on WHAT THE HELL:
Came across a piece on Bookslut about one of my earliest and most influential writer-heroes, Stanley Elkin. Apart from the usual roster of American and British hotshots — Dickens, Twain, Conrad, Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Faulkner…

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This just in from Amazon–“Margaret Langstaff, A customer just told us your review helped them shop for DEPRAVED AND INSULTING ENGLISH”

Hahahaha… glad to be of help. “To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield”  … even an inch to Bescumblers, Pizzles et al. When life has become alothen, this is a good alternative to allochezia. And an anodyne for … Continue reading

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Is the Real Vanishing?

Originally posted on Chad Ference:
Morgan Freeman, the actor with the godlike voice, works in mysterious ways. As it happened, he helped me to understand more fully the first chapter of Jean Baudrillard’s The Illusion of the End, a postmodern meditation…

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Have you read or are you reading PRESENT SHOCK by Douglas Rushkoff?

I am midway through it now and finding it disturbing, stimulating, revealing about many burning issues of our time. Particularly what Rushkoff has to say about: THE COLLAPSE OF NARRATIVE THE FALSE NOW THE DISSONANCE BETWEEN OUR DIGITAL LIVES AND … Continue reading

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The Origin Of Species: The Musical

Originally posted on Delight Through Logical Misery:
The curtains go up. On the Origin of Species, published on 24 November 1859 by Charles Darwin is considered (correctly I would argue) to be the foundation of evolutionary biology. Its original full title was On the…

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Writing 2.3 – A Contract with the Reader

Originally posted on brainsnorts inc.:
When I took a graduate class called “Writing the Novel” a few years ago, I learned two very important things.  First, if you tell a writer that her work in progress is a romance novel…

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Albert Camus and the ventriloquists

This blog and conversation are amazing and have given me a glimpse of a glimmer of hope that Literature might survive the onslaught of online thieves and snippers/quippers. One and all, the voices are authentic, intelligent and discerning. So rare … Continue reading

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You Can Always Count on NPR: “County sheriff’s dept to host several DUI checkpoints near the University of Florida”

[Recent local NPR public service announcement produced by college student interns] In other news …. this just in … a WUFT NPR special exclusive … Get to know your local law enforcement officials! You are cordially invited to attend one … Continue reading

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Bile Assaults: is bile really that bad?

Originally posted on Delight Through Logical Misery:
The four types of temperament proposed by humorism. Or how nobody has ever looked ever. Something had me thinking about bile recently. I can’t be sure what it was and I wouldn’t want…

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The Flower That Splits the Rocks: What Poetry Has to Do With Everything

  It is difficult to get the news from poems yet men die miserably every day for lack of what is found there.[21] William Carlos Williams 1883-1963 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Carlos_Williams Related articles spring… and all (in2thewood.com) The therapeutic capacity of POETRY (connectingmindbodybreath.wordpress.com)

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Raising Some Hell: The Inferno and Its Often Hellish Translators & Rips

(c) Copyright 2013, Margaret Langstaff, All Rights Reserved [Posting this here as a follow up to “Our Words Indict Us” (see below).] I’m on a bit of soapbox here, but I think these are important issues that discriminating readers, curious … Continue reading

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Virginia Woolf on Words

Good grief, I was just trying to say some of the same things, struggling to explain to someone the fragility and friability of language, what a writer can reasonably expect and accomplish with it, took a break and tripped over … Continue reading

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Our Words Indict Us

(c) Copyright 2013, Margaret Langstaff, All Rights  Reserved “What a piece of work is man.”  It takes genius to fully render him, both in time and for all time. Trying to verify a phrase and give correct attribution for a … Continue reading

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Until the Last Ding Dong of Doom: Faulkner’s Nobel Acceptance Address Still Speaks Volumes to Us as Writers Today

Ladies and Gentlemen, I feel that this award was not made to me as a man, but to my work – a life’s work in the agony and sweat of the human spirit, not for glory and least of all … Continue reading

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Quote of the Week via www.WriterzBlox.net ~ May 17th, 2013

Originally posted on WriterzBlox:
“At one time I thought the most important thing was talent. I think now that — the young man or the young woman must possess or teach himself, train himself, in infinite patience, which is to…

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A Few Voice Lessons for Young Writers

(c) Copyright 2013, Margaret Langstaff, All Rights Reserved There is a lot of Hoopdeedoodle (Elmore Leonard’s wonderful term) about the Secret Sacred Writing Mysteries only one click away and readily available to desperate earnest young writers. Publishers have clued into … Continue reading

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Some Telling Truths about Truth Itself by Authors Who Were or Are Intent on Telling the Truth

This is a thorny issue, and dangerous under the best of circumstances. But it is an inescapable one, an ongoing lifelong challenge, for serious writers.  So many acceptable dodges, evasions, even escapes, are handily available, and it’s far easier to … Continue reading

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You Have to Be Willing to Make a Fool Out of Yourself: Some Advice to a Young Writer

(c)Copyright 2013 Margaret Langstaff, All Rights Reserved I receive many emails and questions from young writers of fiction, serious novices who have literary aspirations. Many of them are well read and well educated and as a result are so in … Continue reading

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“When I have Fears that I may Cease to be” by John Keats (read by Tom O’Bedlam)

Originally posted on Learnalltheway:
John Keats, Portrait by William Hilton, after Joseph Severn (National Portrait Gallery, London). (Photo credit: Books18)   When I have Fears That I May Cease to Be BY JOHN KEATS When I have fears that I may…

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To Mark the 23rd Anniversary of Walker Percy’s Death

So encouraging, refreshing to see some still asking the hard questions. Percy is a great example, an inspiration to those that have the interest, courage and willingness to go out on a limb on the remote chance of locating the … Continue reading

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“Levels of Life” by Julian Barnes: a meditation on grief

Originally posted on The Argumentative Old Git:
In the 8th book of Ovid’s Metamorphoses, the gods Jupiter and Mercury, wandering the earth in disguise, find scant hospitality in the homes of the wealthy; however, they do find welcome from a…

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“’Dear Patron:’ A Savage Terrorist Attack on the Weakest Most Vulnerable Members of Western Civilization, Book Critics!”

[NOTE AND BACKGROUNDER: This is a slightly edited version—for reasons of privacy only—of a real  email a colleague of mine received recently.  Identifiers, names, addresses, urls etc. have been X’ed out.  Book Critics (sullied by some recurrent craven disreputable yellow-bellied … Continue reading

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Some Recent Articles of Interest to Writers

These are all dead on, IMHO. Worth reading if you’re serious … and committed. God knows the serious and committed among writers should be “committed” (terrible pun!) on some days after several hours of lonely toil at the craft.  Intelligent … Continue reading

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