Tag Archives: Saul Bellow

The Art of Funny

Saul Bellow laughing

Stunning Sentences

In a recent interview, George Saunders said, “Writing is about charm, about finding and accessing and honing one’s particular charms.” For me, humor has overwhelming, alluring charm. Anyone who can make me laugh instantly takes on a special, shimmering gold aura. As one student once wrote in my teacher evaluation, “I learned a lot, but she laughs a lot.”

Alas, usually I’m the audience, laughing at the joker, because the only person in the world who thinks I’m funny is my husband. (Though everyone thinks he’s funny). It’s a sad thing, since my work-in-progress novel is supposed to be a romantic comedy.

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Technology is Making Poetry Awesome Again

Despite what Wattpad is doing to the novel, a new program called RapPad has given everyone an excuse to read poetry.

RapPad was designed to help aspiring rappers write the hottest computer generated rhymes. Over at Mental Floss, linguist Arika Okrent recently used the “Generate Line” function to combine famous opening lines with existing rap lyrics. For example:  Continue reading

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Inventory: The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach

The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach
Why read Moby Dick?
Status: Called

REVIEWS OF “THE ART OF FIELDING” ARE EVERYWHERE, so there’s no need to add another extended solo to the chorus. Simply put, this is an excellent book. It had me up past bedtime turning pages like nothing I’ve read in years.

Harbach writes with an easy depth reminiscent of Steinbeck’s “East of Eden” or Bellow’s “The Adventures of Augie March.” “Fielding” follows in that distinctly American tradition of wildly entertaining philosophical texts, with stories of farmer scholars and noble, soldier poets. It’s a tradition I and many others, including Harbach and his characters, also associate with baseball and it’s athlete philosophers.

There is some flatness in the people, who tend to be drawn from a combination of everyday humanity and the graduate-level humanities of their academic setting, and I have a sense that “Fielding” could have been even better had Harbach packed more into his people and the events that bring them together.  It’s interesting that he didn’t write on and on, since Melville’s expansive and deeply detailed “Moby Dick” is not just an obvious influence, but damn near a character in the story.

Still, it’s hardly a complaint to say — after closing the book and considering how soon you have to be up for work in the morning — that you wish there was more to read.

Do you want to trade paperbacks?

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