MIchael Moorcock: The Anti-Tolkein

Passing on this article from the New Yorker

A couple of quotes:

Moorcock’s first editorial in New Worlds.

“More and more people are turning away from the fast-stagnating pool of the conventional novel — and they are turning to science fiction (or speculative fantasy). This is a sign, among others, that a popular literary renaissance is around the corner. Together, we can accelerate that renaissance.”

“In 1978, Moorcock did a more thorough takedown in an essay called “Epic Pooh,” in which he compares Tolkien and his hobbits to A. A. Milne and his bear.”

Age of Anger by Pankaj Mishra

It is more than time for all of us to think about the flaws in the worlds we believe in, the worlds we are trying to achieve, and the worlds we inhabit.  Our dream worlds don’t admit everyone nor do they acknowledge the pain we have caused, and continue to cause for the lifestyles we live.  Mishra’s Age of Anger  does some of the work, but he misses in many ways. He focuses on thinkers as representative of times and the actors in those times. The driving force of many of his ideas is Rousseau.  He also tends to lump together the angers of Trump voters, Brexiteers and ISIS in a way that is too glib.  Many of you have well thought out arguments about these topics, and Mishra will prompt you to resurrect those.

Franklin Foer in the New York Times:
Liberalism has no choice but to sincerely wrestle with its discontents, to become
reacquainted with its moral blind spots and political weaknesses. Technocracy —
which defines so much of the modern liberal spirit — doesn’t have a natural grasp of
psychology and emotion. But if it hopes to stave off the dark forces, it needs to grow
adept at understanding the less tangible roots of anger, the human experience
uncaptured by data, the resentments that understandably fester. A decent liberalism
would read sharp critics like Mishra and learn.

Richard Evans in The Guardian:
Of course it is right to point to the downside of “modernisation”, however the term is conceived: in particular the violent and sometimes genocidal impact of European imperialism on other parts of the world in the 19th century, and the poverty and exploitation engendered by industrialisation. If 19th-century Europe was generally peaceful, its peace was punctuated by episodes of extreme and bloody violence. But history is a many-sided phenomenon. It cannot in the end be made to serve the interests of explaining the present through the vast and questionable arguments Pankaj Mishra puts forward in this thought-provoking book.

Book Notes – Fred Marchant

My good friend, Fred Marchant has contributed to this series at Largehearted Boy

In the Book Notes series, authors create and discuss a music playlist that relates in some way to their recently published book.

The poems in Fred Marchant’s autobiographical collection Said Not Said generously observed and filled with wisdom.

Publishers Weekly wrote of the book:
“Poet, editor, and translator Marchant displays an unflinching tenderness in a collection of sonically and architecturally precise poems. Whether describing mental violence or political conflict, he seeks the humanity in despair and the spirit of dreams and memories.”

In his own words, here is Fred Marchant ‘s Book Notes music playlist for his poetry collection Said Not Said:

Fred’s Playlist

Your read what Fred has to say about the music here at Largehearted Boy

Kindle Flames are Dimming

From an article in The Guardian by Paul Cocozza from April 27, 2017.  ​”The stack of hardbacks and paperbacks on the bedside table has grown so tall it has spawned sub-stacks on the floor.”

There are fewer new readers of digital books, and they tend to consume physical books as well. 

“It’s not about the death of ebooks,” Daunt says. “It’s about ebooks finding their natural level. 

RIP Robert M. Pirsig

ZatAMM meant a whole lot to me.  I still haven’t figured out how well the philosophy holds up, but it inspired me when I became a teacher–even though I read it at a time when I would not have become a teacher if you had threatened that Donald Trump was going to be president of the country I lived in, if I didn’t–and the idea of quality is powerful in so many parts of my life.  I love it more for the fact that my son read it and lives out many of the principles that Pirsig espouses.

This is the cover that will always live in my memory, even though the book fell apart some time ago.

New York Times Obituary
The Guardian obituary
Original New York Times review by Edward Abbey
WashingtonPost
LitHub
BoingBoing

Websites:
Levity

Before the Fall by Noah Hawley

Before the FallWhat first drew me to Noah Hawley’s current novel was the fact that the first two seasons of FX’s Fargo were some of the tensest, tightest, most strikingly filmed television programmes ever. Hawley is the show runner for the show, he writes a majority of the episodes and directs some of them.  To take someone else’s vision and remake it while keeping a sense of the original takes guts and skill. Noah Hawley

Before the Fall is all Hawley’s own work.  A private plane crashes in the Atlantic on the way from Martha’s Vineyard to New York.  On board are David Bateman, the founder and CEO of a Fox News type network, Ben Kipling, a  financier–“a blue-eyed shark in a tailored button-down shirt,” and Scott Burroughs, an artist.  The wealthy men have wives–Maggie is present in the story,  but the Ben’s wife is barely there.  Also on the plane are the crew and the Batemans’ children.  Only two of the characters survive, but everyone’s story is told.  The narrative moves forward with as Hawley looks back at the lives of most of the characters. As the book proceeds, and more of the story happens in the present, the back stories are still there.

While creating a mystery, Hawley manages to develop empathy for the crooked, the troubled and the heroic–not equally but enough to have woven a human tapestry from characters whose connection is the plane crash brought in later are treasury agents investigating financial misdeeds, the National Transport Safety Board the FCC, the FBI. Some of these agents become characters in the story.

Hawley examines how the media respond to the accident that killed on of their own and it becomes clear that the story takes over from the truth.  Some of the media are actively working that way, especially Bateman’s leading anchor, Bill Cunningham, others are just following the sensationalist’s lead.

But at the centre of the story are the two survivors and their bond even as the harsh world of finance, tabloid media and excessive world circle around them.

I came to the book from good TV, and went away with questions about TV and found a good book.Fargo Logo

The Guardian review of the book

George Saunders – By the Book

george-saunders-by-the-bookSomething makes me trust GS, and now I want to read: Things I already wanted to read; Moonglow, Swing Time,The Attention Merchants, We Have Always Lived in the Castle, and things I now want to read: Good Clean Fun (Nick Offerman), Words Without Music (Philip Glass), Resurrection (Tolstoy), and a slew of short stories.

I love that what most moves him are “depictions of goodness that are not fraudulent or sentimental.”

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/16/books/review/george-saunders-by-the-book.html