Tag: Literature

ChatGpt – If I like these books what else would I like

If I like these books what else would I like:
The Exorcist
Rule of the Bone
The Beginning of Spring
Watership Down
The Penitent

Based on the books you listed, here are some recommendations for similar books:
  1. “The Shining” by Stephen King – Like “The Exorcist,” this is a classic horror novel that explores the darker aspects of human nature.
  2. “The Catcher in the Rye” by J.D. Salinger – Like “Rule of the Bone,” this is a coming-of-age novel about a young protagonist who is trying to find his place in the world.
  3. “The Master and Margarita” by Mikhail Bulgakov – Like “The Beginning of Spring,” this is a literary novel set in early 20th-century Russia that explores the themes of love, art, and revolution.
  4. “Animal Farm” by George Orwell – Like “Watership Down,” this is an allegorical novel that uses animals to explore human society and politics.
  5. “The Power and the Glory” by Graham Greene – Like “The Penitent,” this is a novel that explores themes of sin, redemption, and faith, set against the backdrop of political turmoil.

New Black Canon – Books, Plays and Poems That Everyone Should Know – The New York Times

Pauline E. Hopkins, “Of One Blood” (1902-3)
Chester Himes, “Lonely Crusade” (1947)
Fran Ross, “Oreo” (1974)
Alison Mills Newman, “Francisco” (1974)
James Alan McPherson, “Elbow Room” (1977)
William Demby, “Love Story Black” (1978)
J. California Cooper, “The Wake of the Wind” (1998)

Jean Toomer, “Balo” (1922)
Eulalie Spence, “The Starter” (1923)
Lorraine Hansberry, “Toussaint” (1961)
Charles Gordone, “No Place to Be Somebody: A Black-Black Comedy” (1969)
Adrienne Kennedy, “An Evening with Dead Essex” (1973)
Andrea Hairston, “Lonely Stardust” (1998)

Esther Popel, “Flag Salute” (1934)
Bob Kaufman, “The Collected Poems” (1965-78)
Gwendolyn Brooks, “In the Mecca” (1968)
Ishmael Reed, “A Secretary to the Spirits” (1978)
Dolores Kendrick, “The Women of Plums: Poems in the Voices of Slave Women” (1989)
Melvin Dixon, “Love’s Instruments” (1995)
Ai, “Vice: New and Selected Poems” (1999)

The New Black Canon: Books, Plays and Poems That Everyone Should Know
A guide to some of the undervalued 20th-century works that testify to the richness of the Black American literary archive.


In the Desert – Stephen Crane

In the desert
I saw a creature, naked, bestial,
Who, squatting upon the ground,
Held his heart in his hands,
And ate of it.
I said, “Is it good, friend?”
“It is bitter—bitter,” he answered;

“But I like it
“Because it is bitter,
“And because it is my heart.”


“In the Desert”[1] is the name given to a poem written by Stephen Crane (1871–1900), published in 1895 as a part of his collection, The Black Riders and Other Lines. “In the Desert” is the third of fifty-six short poems published in this volume. The poem is short, only ten lines, and briefly describes an interaction between the speaker and “creature, naked, bestial” encountered “in the desert”, eating his heart.

Carnivalization – Bakhtin Dostoevsky Criticism

Bakhtin argues that Dostoevsky always wrote in opposition to modern tendencies toward the “reification of man”—the turning of human beings into objects (scientific, economic, social, etc.), enclosing them in an alien web of definition and causation, robbing them of freedom and responsibility.[56] ‘Carnivalization‘ is a term used by Bakhtin to describe the techniques Dostoevsky uses to disarm this increasingly ubiquitous enemy and make true intersubjective dialogue possible. The concept suggests an ethos where normal hierarchies, social roles, proper behaviors and assumed truths are subverted in favor of the “joyful relativity” of free participation in the festival. In The Idiot, everything revolves around the two central carnival figures of the “idiot” and the “madwoman”, and consequently “all of life is carnivalized, turned into a ‘world inside out’: traditional plot situations radically change their meaning, there develops a dynamic, carnivalistic play of sharp contrasts, unexpected shifts and changes”.[57] Prince Myshkin and Nastasya Filippovna are characters that inherently elude conventional social definition, or—as Bakhtin puts it—anything that might limit their “pure humanness”. The carnival atmosphere that develops around them in each situation and dialogue (“bright and joyous” in Myshkin’s case, “dark and infernal” in Nastasya Filippovna’s) allows Dostoevsky to “expose a different side of life to himself and to the reader, to spy upon and depict in that life certain new, unknown depths and possibilities.”[58]


Turn Every Page – The Adventures of Robert Caro and Robert Gottlieb

Turn Every Page explores the remarkable fifty-year relationship between two literary legends, writer Robert Caro and his longtime editor Robert Gottlieb. Now 86, Caro is working to complete the final volume of his masterwork, The Years of Lyndon Johnson; Gottlieb, 91, waits to edit it. The task of finishing their life’s work looms before them. With humor and insight, this unique double portrait reveals the work habits, peculiarities and professional joys of these two ferocious intellects at the culmination of a journey that has consumed both their lives and impacted generations of politicians, activists, writers, and readers.

Visiting a Long-imagined Place, Flaubert Quote

Cairo, January 5, 1850
You ask me whether the Orient is up to what I imagined it to be. Yes, it is, and more than that it extends far beyond the narrow idea I had of it. I have found, clearly delineated, everything that was hazy in my mind. Facts have taken the place of suppositions – so excellently that it is often as though I were suddenly coming upon old and forgotten dreams.

Flaubert and Madame Bovary
Francis Steegmuller

RIP – Russell Banks

Russell Banks, Novelist Steeped in the Working Class, Dies at 82
He brought his own sometimes painful blue-collar experiences to bear in acclaimed stories exploring issues of race, class and power in American life.

A couple books of his I’d recommend:
Rule of the Bone
When we first meet him, Chappie is a punked-out teenager living with his mother and abusive stepfather in an upstate New York trailer park. During this time, he slips into drugs and petty crime. Rejected by his parents, out of school and in trouble with the police, he claims for himself a new identity as a permanent outsider; he gets a crossed-bones tattoo on his arm, and takes the name “Bone.”

The Sweet Hereafter
In The Sweet Hereafter, Russell Banks tells a story that begins with a school bus accident. Using four different narrators, Banks creates a small-town morality play that addresses one of life’s most agonizing questions: when the worst thing happens, who do you blame?

The Sweet Hereafter was made into a movie, which I also thought was great, check out it’s IMDB page.

Best Books I Read in 2022 that Weren’t Written in 2022

Selections mine. Descriptions from either Amazon or associated review or link. Listed in order of publication date.

English Journey – 1934
J. B. Priestley
Where I heard about it – David Bowie liked this and it was one of the books in Bowie’s Bookshelf: The Hundred Books that Changed David Bowie’s Life
Funnily enough, for all the bad news it imparts, English Journey is a consoling, optimistic read. This is down to Priestley’s tone, which, like his way with the mostly affectionately sketched characters he meets on his travels, is genial and uncontrived, or at least plays that way. Being a man of the people matters hugely to Priestley. He can’t resist a dig at “literary” writers who dismiss him as middlebrow but remain aloof from the poverty and suffering of ordinary folk. If T. S. Eliot ever wants to write a poem about an actual physical wasteland, he jokes, he should take a trip to North Shields.

Correlli’s Mandolin – 1995
Louis de Bernieres
Where I heard about it – This book was big in the 90’s.
The acclaimed story of a timeless place that one day wakes up to find itself in the jaws of history: “An exuberant mixture of history and romance, written with a wit that is incandescent” (Los Angeles Times Book Review).

The Smoking Diaries – 2001
Simon Gray
Where I heard about it – David Shields mentioned it in this NYTIMES interview
When he turned sixty-five, the acclaimed playwright Simon Gray began to keep this diary: not a careful honing of the day’s events with a view to posterity but an account of his thoughts as he had them, honestly, turbulently, digressively expressed. 

Stage Blood – 2013
Michael Blakemore
Where I heard about it – Amazon recommendation
Five tempestuous years in the early life of the National Theatre

The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace – 2014
Jeff Hobbs
Where I heard about it – New York Times 100 Notable Books of 2014
A heartbreaking journey from a New Jersey ghetto to Yale to a drug-­related murder.

Surfing with Sartre – 2017
Aaron James
Where I heard about it – NYTIMES Book review from 2017
Meet Aaron James. He is a professor of philosophy at the University of California, Irvine, and an accomplished surfer. His new book, “Surfing With Sartre,” aims to articulate the distinctive philosophical value of the surfer way of being. His conclusion is bold: “What the surfer knows, in knowing how to ride a wave, bears on questions for the ages — about freedom, control, happiness, society, our relation to nature, the value of work and the very meaning of life.”

Five Minutes to Kill – 2017
Fred Stoller
Where I heard about it – Amazon Recommendation
In the 1980s and the 1990s, HBO’s annual Young Comedians Special was the ultimate launching pad for emerging comics looking to break into the world of show business. The Young Comedians Special produced some of the most recognizable—and bankable—comedic stars of all time, including Sam Kinison, Bob Saget, Jerry Seinfeld, and Judd Apatow. But what about the ones who didn’t exactly make it?

Three Girls from Bronzeville – 2021
Dawn Turner Trice
Where I heard about it – New York Times 100 Notable Books of 2021
A former columnist for The Chicago Tribune offers a textured portrait of her 1970s childhood on the South Side, where three Black girls with similar aspirations ended up with wildly divergent fates.

Post War American Novel – Yale Syllabus

Richard Wright, Black Boy (American Hunger) (Harper Perennial Restored edition, 1993) 1945
Flannery O’Connor, Wise Blood (Farrar, Straus and Giroux) 1949
Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita (Vintage) 1955
Jack Kerouac, On the Road (Penguin) 1957
J.D. Salinger, Franny and Zooey (Little, Brown) 1961
John Barth, Lost in the Funhouse (Anchor) 1963-68 (selections)
Thomas Pynchon, The Crying of Lot 49 (HarperCollins) 1967
Toni Morrison, The Bluest Eye (Knopf) 1970
Maxine Hong Kingston, The Woman Warrior (Vintage) 1976 (selections)
Marilynne Robinson, Housekeeping (Picador) 1980
Cormac McCarthy, Blood Meridian (Vintage) 1985
Philip Roth, The Human Stain (Houghton Mifflin) 2000
Edward P. Jones, The Known World (Amistad) 2003
Jonathan Safran Foer,  Everything Is Illuminated (Mariner Books) 2005 (The student choice book for the class they had the podcast for, which was in 2008)

Course Number
ENGL 291

About the Course
In “The American Novel Since 1945” students will study a wide range of works from 1945 to the present. The course traces the formal and thematic developments of the novel in this period, focusing on the relationship between writers and readers, the conditions of publishing, innovations in the novel’s form, fiction’s engagement with history, and the changing place of literature in American culture. The reading list includes works by Richard Wright, Flannery O’Connor, Vladimir Nabokov, Jack Kerouac, J. D. Salinger, Thomas Pynchon, John Barth, Maxine Hong Kingston, Toni Morrison, Marilynne Robinson, Cormac McCarthy, Philip Roth and Edward P. Jones. The course concludes with a contemporary novel chosen by the students in the class.

Course Structure
This Yale College course, taught on campus twice per week for 50 minutes, was recorded for Open Yale Courses in Spring 2008