Monday, March 1, 2010


Get out there and read. It frees the mind from the moronic barrage of advertisement-driven entertainment and sound byte reductions of reality. It's the long form, the extended meditation, the architecture of intellection. It helps clarify our own thoughts and feelings. It reminds us how to think for ourselves.
If you can't find a good book, read a magazine. Here are some of our favorite stories from the newsstand in the past few months:

Looking for life lessons? Paste magazine chronicles "signs of life in music, film & culture." They've given us some life lessons from Martin Scorsese. Read "Salute Your Shorts" HERE.

"Life Lessons," directed by Martin Scorsese, starring Nick Nolte and Roseanne Arquette; the only good thing about the trilogy "New York Stories." A cranky old painter with a beard who argues with his Muse may seem too close to home for sheer escapist entertainment, but that's not what Marty does anyway. He does more than just entertain. You might call this short "Mean Streaks."

Trying to write? Trying to write a novel? Trying to write a decent sentence? The Guardian UK asked writers Elmore Leonard, Zadie Smith, Richard Ford, Jonathan Franzen and more for some fiction-writing rules. The resulting collection of lists, "Ten Rules for Writing Fiction," is loaded with tips. Read it HERE.

We all know about pedophiles in the priesthood. The New York Review of Books has a fascinating story about pedophiles who go into law enforcement, specifically the Texas Youth Commission, the state's juvenile detention agency in the godforsaken West Texas town of Pyote. Read "The Rape of American Prisoners" HERE.

Roger Ebert fought cancer for years and underwent disfiguring surgery that left him unable to speak. He still writes prolifically. His story is sad and inspiring. Read the Esquire portrait, "Roger Ebert: The Essential Man," HERE.

In case you missed this in 2009, here is "Tent City, USA," in which George Saunders spends a week in a homeless camp outside of Fresno. Saunders, a brilliant short story writer, documents the comedy, tragedy and grisly details of life in the tents in this moving piece from (surprisingly enough) GQ. Read it HERE.

Another favorite from 2009: Joshua Wolf Shenk, writing in The Atlantic, followed a study at Harvard that followed 268 undergraduates throughout their lives that resulted in "the broadest longitudinal study we have on lives and happiness." Read "What Makes us Happy," HERE.

One more thing: Walter Kirn, author of "Up in the Air," contributed this review of Sam Shepard's new short story collection, "Day Out of Days," to the New York Times Book Review. As usual, Kirn is whipsmart and colorful, shell-gaming us with jazzy connections and painterly descriptions and just the right degree of snark, and the review stands as a great piece sui generis. Read it HERE.

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