Tag Archives: Literature

Love is the slowest form of suicide–Fiza Pathan

AN INTERVIEW WITH AWARD-WINNING AUTHOR FIZA PATHAN OF MUMBAI, INDIA
Fiza Pathan, a very young self-published author, recently was awarded three prestigious book prizes, one at the London Book Fair and two at the New England Festival of Books.

This is a penetrating interview with her editor, Margaret Langstaff, about how and why she writes. Shocking candor, shocking themes.
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“A Child Was Born in a Cave to Save the World”

Joseph Brodsky was an emigre poet from the Soviet Union who lived in New York City, and won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1987. He was an amazingly gifted, modest man.  He wrote in English after emigrating as an … Continue reading

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Something to Argue About! The Ten Greatest Novels of All Time?

I ran across this short video recently and thought bloggers here might find it worth pondering. It is a kind of hasty overview of these great works, a little daffy at points, but in aggregate, it is a selection worth … Continue reading

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Oh, The Joys and Hardships of Revision!

As every serious writer knows, a good book has to be assiduously and meticulously revised to reach a satisfactory (if not “perfect”) state before publication.  After the initial flush of inspiration, one must go back over the text word by … Continue reading

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100 Notable Books of 2014 – NYT

[Just another tidbit of wit (?)] The year’s notable fiction, poetry and nonfiction, selected by the editors of The New York Times Book Review. Worth reading (pardon the pun), the list, that is. FICTION & POETRY ALL OUR NAMES. By … Continue reading

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T.S. Eliot Reads “The Journey of the Magi” – Ancient Intonations

T.S. Eliot

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Skimming over the Surface of Our Lives and Missing the Point

A disturbing and all too true assessment of our writing, lives and our times. Read it. Your life depends on it. A Memoir Is Not a Status Update  by Dani Shapiro On the absence of depth, insight and hard won … Continue reading

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“A Good Man Is Hard to Find”– A “Perfect” Short Story?

(c) Copyright  2014 Margaret Langstaff, All Rights Reserved It occurs to me as I approach writing an appreciation of this story that a reader’s ability to respond to it, let alone appreciate it, is not a sure thing anymore today. … Continue reading

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In Her Own Voice: Flannery O’Connor Reads Aloud A GOOD MAN IS HARD TO FIND

This recording will add tremendously to the reader’s understanding of this classic story. Straight from the horse’s mouth, a great author in her own voice tells the story in the way she wanted it to be heard and interpreted. This … Continue reading

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Hot tip for aspiring writers today: Ploughshares Emerging Writers Contest

The prestigious literary magazine Ploughshares with a long distinguished history of discovering and publishing tomorrow’s literary greats, has announced this year’s “Emerging Writers Contest.” Go for it, hatchling writers!  Whether you win or not, you will get experience and exposure, … Continue reading

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“The grandmother did not want to go to Florida.” Flannery O’Connor’s Mastery of the Short Story Form

(c) Copyright 2014,  Margaret Langstaff, All Rights Reserved. “The grandmother did not want to go to Florida” is the first line in O’Connor’s short story masterpiece, “A Good Man is Hard to Find.” It is a masterful opening line in … Continue reading

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“What Each of Us Is Seeking the Poet Already Knows” – Harvard Classics (now free online)

Poetry: A General Introduction. HARVARD  CLASSICS The Harvard Classics have just now become available–for free– online. The nearly 60 books in this series are so well written, erudite, thoughtful and stimulating, that I want to share them with you. If … Continue reading

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Coming Soon from Cedar Hill Press … a new novella about a very remarkable woman

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Scrapers and Slackers, Particularly Students: Take Note

Hate to be a bear about this, but have discovered to my intense annoyance that some of my posts about Emily Dickinson‘s works and Flannery O’Connor as well as an assortment of other exhortations to writers and fulminations about other … Continue reading

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Flannery O’Connor on Writing: You Are Always Bounded by What You Can Make Live …

Here  are a few short ones (all I have time for right now, apologies) but they may keep a certain sort thinking, chewing on them, for a while in spite of their brevity– “The sense of place is very highly developed in Southerners.” The … Continue reading

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Fllannery O’Connor on “The Meaning of a Story”

From THE HABIT OF BEING: THE LETTERS OF FLANNERY O’CONNOR, P.437 [O’Connor was frequently aggravated and frustrated by mis-readings and misunderstandings of her work by people who she felt should know better and who should have had the intellectual background … Continue reading

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Flannery O’Connor on Writing

Once one gets through the hesitancy and uncertainty of her youthful  scholarship student ruminations at the Iowa’s Writers Workshop in  THE HABIT OF BEING, the view broadens, the pace quickens and the takeaway for a writer scouring the book for useful tips and affirmation grows exponentially. I … 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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What a Lady, What a Writer

As I’m sure you know, Alice Munro won the Nobel Prize for Literature this year on the basis of a lifetime of writing plain spoken, deeply felt and viscerally moving short stories about the intricacies, snares and joys of human … Continue reading

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Art Is Not for Everybody

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A Rare and Precious Gift – “What’s So Funny” Part Two

“Humor has in it a liberating element … “It refuses to be hurt by the arrows of reality or to be compelled to suffer. It insists that it is impervious to the wounds dealt by the outside world, that these … Continue reading

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The Rigors of Writing and The Shocking Plunge into Reality

Though I still have my hair and teeth, I can attest to the truth of O’Connor’s ballsy statement. I would  add that The Plunge into Reality is also often highly disruptive, can make a mess of the rest of one’s life, … Continue reading

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What’s So Funny?

     Neuroscientists Think (?) They’ve Nailed Laughter–NY Times I wonder what Mark Twain or Woody Allen or David Sedaris (even) would make of this recent NY Times piece.  Would that I could get their reactions. Endorphins!  The source of the pleasure … Continue reading

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Ah, Victory!

I have always enjoyed Joseph Conrad’s work, but have approached it rather haphazardly, catch as catch can, picking up a novel here and there, savoring it, then moving onto something else, usually a more sunny optimistic novel or book, for … Continue reading

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Split the Lark–and You’ll Find the Music?

           A recent online exchange with a fellow blogger about the inexpressible and inexplicable nature of really great books brought to mind the following poem by Emily Dickinson. I thought I’d share it with you for it captures so concisely and … Continue reading

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New Online Emily Dickinson Archive

This reclusive, intensely shy and private poet, virtually ignored by the literati during her 19th century  lifetime, has acquired a staying power and an exponentially growing reputation today that would have shocked the socks off the people who knew her … Continue reading

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On the Need for Critics, and the Means by which their Field might be Improved

Originally posted on digital didascalia:
In an interview with Nathan Rabin over at the A.V. Club in May of 2007, Louis C.K. remarked with pointed reprobation the distinction between critic and reviewer:  To me, there’s a huge difference between criticism…

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The Ghost of Flannery O’Connor: A Self-Portrait

 All right, let me be upfront about this before we wade into deep water: Every time I look at this painting, I get the distinct impression it was intended to be humorous, ironic and self-deprecating. Rather than the halo of … Continue reading

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“Numerous Prominent Female Thinkers Lack Wikipedia Entries”

Ahem. Exxxccuuuse, me! But, dear ole Wikipedia, this really stinks. Not that I’m surprised, really, or even shocked (even). I’ve sensed this for several years when I shot over to Big W to get the basic info on contemporary women … Continue reading

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Skeered to Death! The Headless Horseman Rides Again!

     It never fails, every October, in advance of Halloween, I think of this nightmarish freak featured so prominently in Washington Irving‘s timeless tale THE LEGEND OF SLEEPY HOLLOW. What a rip roaring hair-raising tale for kids of all ages … Continue reading

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“By Night when Others Soundly Slept”

  I had an fairly elaborate post in the works for National Poetry Day, but alas, life intervened and blew it out of the water for the time being.  I will finish it and post it later, but I ran … 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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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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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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Love Fled

The creative person’s life is full of bunny trails, astonishments/surprises (most pulled off by the powerful imagination which hides out, resides in the murk of the unconscious.  It will not be thwarted; it will prevail.). One thing leads to another.  … Continue reading

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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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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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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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Oranges in a Sunny Chair: Wallace Stevens’ “Sunday Morning”

Sunday traditionally has been a time for reflection, easy speculation, and many of us call a truce with the nattering details of our lives to indulge our senses and explore with greater interest and attention the possible sense in things (if anything). Poetry, the best, … Continue reading

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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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