Oh No, It’s Arno Schmidt

Did you know that Germany had its own James Joyce? He was a lunatic of a writer who <royally> manipulated punctuation and lived in  a wor[l]d of punnified prolexecution. In honor of all things confusing, welcome to the works of Arno Schmidt. It's hard to tell where to start with this guy, but give Nobodaddy's Children a shot. […]

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Time Has Come Today

In a world of work schedules, TV schedules, phone reminders, personalized alarms and all the clocks harassing you every time you look at a wall, it's easy to forget how accustomed we are to time. We barely know what it is, but it means so much. Every now and then, it's nice to take the time to […]

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Where Are Your Gods Now?

Nothing makes for drama like tales of old, mad gods. We can reread our mythology books as much as we want, but then again, it's much more fun to think up what these gods would do if they were around today. Bacchus is a graphic novel collection by Eddie Campbell, who worked on From Hell with Alan Moore. […]

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The Play’s the Thing

It's easy to pretend you like the theater. All you have to do is complain about what's popular. But if you don't have the time or money to appreciate the theater in person, the library has plenty of ways to marvel at the stage. L.A. Theatre Works shrinks popular and classic plays into a radio-friendly […]

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Around the Worlds

There's a neat subgenre of history that wants to tell the entire story of human civilization. A lot of the older ones are very much focused on Europe, with a chapter or two devoted to those vague people somewhere else who were doing whatever. For some reason, I find this combination of bias and ambition strangely charming, and […]

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All In the Family

What would it take to build a dynasty? To gather together ambitious relatives, pump out ambitious children and use your collective skill to own a good chunk of the world? You'd figure these people would just wind up killing each other in the end, but some can make it work. I don't quite have the same drive […]

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Firestarters

Politicians, activists, blowhards, pundits, loudmouths and the like all pretend to think they're on the vanguard of a glorious revolution. One quick dip into history proves it's all been done before. Just when you think you've been inspired, you hear about someone who was led by the messages of angels. Donald Spoto's Joan follows Joan of Arc […]

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Based On a True Story

I love it when authors and filmmakers claim that their works are based on true stories. It usually means that the original story went through so many different versions, there's no way to tell anymore what's true and what's false. Fur trapper Hugh Glass had a string of bad luck in 1823 when, in the […]

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How Do We Know That?

The world can be an unknowable blob, and we just can't figure it out. Whether it be history, science, psychology or whatever, unraveling how we know what we know can be just as confusing as knowing the stuff to begin with. That's why I'm fascinated by books about the research and discovery we use to learn […]

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That’s Not My Western

America loves a simple western. Maybe we'll cheer for a hero, or maybe we'll be gutsy revisionists and cheer for an antihero. Whatever the case, we get to have a grand old time watching strangers shoot each other. There are books out there, however, which take the American West and make it the mystery that called […]

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