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author of Date of Disappearance: Assorted Stories (2012)
-a preface: Five Characteristics of an "E-book World"
-chapter 1: The Technology of Individualism: How Print Helped Shape the Renaissance
Guide: Marshall McLuhan, author of Understanding Media and The Gutenberg Galaxy
-chapter 2: Technology & Ideology: Why Our Tools Are Never Neutral
Guide: Neil Postman, author of Amusing Ourselves to Death and Technopoly
-chapter 3: Neuroplasticity: What Do a Story from Ancient Greece and Decades of Brain Research Have in Common?
Guides: Socrates; Nicholas Carr, author of The Shallows
-appendix: some more key questions about e-books; more for reflection and discussion
Lackey: What’s the difference between [the] especially good [Rilke] biographies and your novel?M. Allen Cunningham: I think in part it’s this dual dimension in Lost Son, in which Rilke’s story is constantly overlaid by a more personal story of this figure in the literary future dialoguing with this ghost. Certainly, there are informational things to be found in Lost Son that can be obtained from the factual record too. Readers will come away from my novel knowing a lot about the factual circumstances of Rilke’s life. But Rilke’s story as fiction, as this relentlessly complex human narrative that is sensual in detail, poetic in perspective, intimately imagined, and aesthetically configured as a series of rhyming biographical events — that amounts to a contribution to the imaginative record concerning Rilke. I think that’s something worth making special note of in any discussion about biographical fiction. With any life-story that’s been around for some time, that’s been passed along in various forms down a few generations, we develop a historical record and, alongside that, we develop a complementary imaginative record, a body of understanding that is somewhat folkloric — disarming, alluring, complicating — in its effects. Which is not to say that this imaginative record is always necessarily unfactual. In the case of good biographical novels, it often cleaves very closely to facts while taking logical imaginative liberties. I can think of any number of serious biographical novels that contribute greatly to the imaginative record — DeLillo’s Libra, about Lee Harvey Oswald, comes immediately to mind, and so does Brian Hall’s I Should Be Extremely Happy in Your Company, about Lewis and Clark and Sacagawea. This imaginative record is something to value in itself, because it exemplifies mind meeting mind aesthetically across time — that is, in the most complex and characteristically human way. We should value the imaginative approach as well, however, for the reason that such an approach can actually contribute to the factual record. These things intersect and interrelate and enrich each other.
“If Rainer Maria Rilke had written a novel, it might look something like this . . . Lyrical . . . Philosophically rich . . . Moments of literary experimentation worthy of Virginia Woolf.” —KirkusAs it happens, this shriek-inducing literary blunder originates not with some meagerly paid, poorly read Kirkus reviewer, as the review quote would suggest. On the Kirkus site one may read the original sentence untrimmed:
“If Rainer Maria Rilke had written a novel about marriage, it might look something like this...”So it is the editorial and publicity staff of Alfred A. Knopf who have never heard of Rilke's The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge — that defining work of modernism. One may hope that they know who Rilke is, though one has cause for doubt.
“You put something down and you don’t know immediately what it is. It has always been like that. ... All you have to know is whether you’re lying or whether you’re telling the truth, you can’t afford to make a mistake about that distinction any longer.”
|Inklings Bookshop, Yakima WA|
1) we are bound to live more and more by the rules of whomever we enrich,and
Amazon may boast that its prospective use of drones is simply a further expression of its benevolent regard for The Customer, but for people everywhere a claim so outrageous ought to prompt some essential questions. For instance:2) this particular mega retailer has repeatedly demonstrated a rapacious desire to wreak fundamental changes both cultural (e.g., controlling the publishing landscape thanks largely to the data accumulated through e-reading over the shoulders of its device owners) and economic (e.g., predatory pricing and tax evasion).
Do I see myself as first and foremost a customer? Or as nothing else?
How many people would see themselves this way?
We are all much more than customers. We are citizens, artists, community members, mothers and fathers, teachers, tax-payers, Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, Jews, and Hindus, and as such we can recognize that there are greater, more enduring values than rock-bottom pricing, short-term “customer satisfaction,” and, well, the blithe acceptance, in service to these things, of the invasion of drones into our neighborhoods.Do I see my neighbors this way?
...Her fearlessness is brilliantly and relentlessly evident from "Black Tickets" onward, whether she's writing about wild sexuality (a recurrent theme), about the numb grisliness of war, or peering through the spectral lens of extreme disability, as in her unforgettable rendering of a mentally retarded boy's muffled cognition and ultra-lucid consciousness in 2009's "Lark & Termite." Phillips is a preeminent anywhere-goer of contemporary American literature. ...