Monday, September 19, 2016

The Fall of the House of Usher by Edgar Allan Poe (Audiobook)

Wikipedia: "The Fall of the House of Usher" is considered the best example of Poe's "totality", where every element and detail is related and relevant.[2]

The theme of the crumbling, haunted castle is a key feature of Horace Walpole's Castle of Otranto (1764), which largely contributed in defining the Gothic genre. The presence of a capacious, disintegrating house symbolizing the destruction of the human body is a characteristic element in Poe's later work.[3]

"The Fall of the House of Usher" shows Poe's ability to create an emotional tone in his work, specifically feelings of fear, doom, and guilt.[4] These emotions center on Roderick Usher, who, like many Poe characters, suffers from an unnamed disease. Like the narrator in "The Tell-Tale Heart", his disease inflames his hyperactive senses. The illness manifests physically but is based in Roderick's mental or even moral state. He is sick, it is suggested, because he expects to be sick based on his family's history of illness and is, therefore, essentially a hypochondriac.[5] Similarly, he buries his sister alive because he expects to bury her alive, creating his own self-fulfilling prophecy.

The House of Usher, itself doubly referring both to the actual structure and the family, plays a significant role in the story. It is the first "character" that the narrator introduces to the reader, presented with a humanized description: its windows are described as "eye-like" twice in the first paragraph. The fissure that develops in its side is symbolic of the decay of the Usher family and the house "dies" along with the two Usher siblings. This connection was emphasized in Roderick's poem "The Haunted Palace" which seems to be a direct reference to the house that foreshadows doom.[6]

L. Sprague de Camp, in his Lovecraft: A Biography [p. 246f], wrote that "[a]ccording to the late [Poe expert] Thomas O. Mabbott, [H. P.] Lovecraft, in 'Supernatural Horror', solved a problem in the interpretation of Poe" by arguing that "Roderick Usher, his sister Madeline, and the house all shared one common soul". The explicit psychological dimension of this tale has prompted many critics to analyze it as a description of the human psyche, comparing, for instance, the House to the unconscious, and its central crack to a split personality. Mental disorder is also evoked through the themes of melancholy, possible incest, and vampirism. An incestuous relationship between Roderick and Madeline is never explicitly stated, but seems implied by the strange attachment between the two.[7]

Opium, which Poe mentions several times in both his prose and poems, is mentioned twice in the tale. The gloomy sensation occasioned by the dreary landscape around the Usher mansion is compared by the narrator to the sickness caused by the withdrawal symptoms of an opiate-addict. The narrator also describes Roderick Usher's appearance as that of an "irreclaimable eater of opium".

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Young Goodman Brown by Nathaniel Hawthorne (Audiobook) | SHORT STORY | Narrated by Frank Marcopolos

From Wikipedia: "Young Goodman Brown" is a short story published in 1835 by American writer Nathaniel Hawthorne. The story takes place in 17th century Puritan New England, a common setting for Hawthorne's works, and addresses the Calvinist/Puritan belief that all of humanity exists in a state of depravity, but that God has destined some to unconditional election through unmerited grace. Hawthorne frequently focuses on the tensions within Puritan culture, yet steeps his stories in the Puritan sense of sin. In a symbolic fashion, the story follows Young Goodman Brown's journey into self-scrutiny, which results in his loss of virtue and belief.

The story begins at dusk in Salem Village, Massachusetts as young Goodman Brown leaves Faith, his wife of three months, for some unknown errand in the forest. Faith pleads with her husband to stay with her, but he insists that the journey must be completed that night. In the forest he meets an older man, dressed in a similar manner and bearing a physical resemblance to himself. The man carries a black serpent-shaped staff. The two encounter Goody Cloyse, an older woman, whom Young Goodman had known as a boy and who had taught him catechism, in the woods. She complains about the need to walk and, evidently friendly with the stranger, accepts his snake staff and flies away to her destination.

Other townspeople inhabit the woods that night, traveling in the same direction as Goodman Brown. When he hears his wife's voice in the trees, he calls out but is not answered. He then seems to fly through the forest, using a maple staff the stranger fashioned for him, arriving at a clearing at midnight to find all the townspeople assembled. At the ceremony (which may be a witches' sabbath) carried out at a flame-lit rocky altar, the newest acolytes are brought forth — Goodman Brown and Faith. They are the only two of the townspeople not yet initiated. Goodman Brown calls to heaven to resist and instantly the scene vanishes. Arriving back at his home in Salem the next morning, Goodman Brown is uncertain whether the previous night's events were real or a dream, but he is deeply shaken, and his belief he lives in a Christian community is distorted. He loses his faith in his wife, along with all of humanity. He lives his life an embittered and suspicious cynic, wary of everyone around him. The story concludes: "And when he had lived long, and was borne to his grave... they carved no hopeful verse upon his tombstone, for his dying hour was gloom."

The story is set during the Salem witch trials, at which Hawthorne's great-great-grandfather John Hathorne was a judge, guilt over which inspired the author to change his family's name, adding a "w" in his early twenties, shortly after graduating from college.[2] In his writings Hawthorne questioned established thought—most specifically New England Puritanism and contemporary Transcendentalism. In "Young Goodman Brown"`, as with much of his other writing, he utilizes ambiguity.[3]

"Young Goodman Brown" is often characterized as an allegory about the recognition of evil and depravity as the nature of humanity.[4] Much of Hawthorne's fiction, such as The Scarlet Letter, is set in 17th-century colonial America, particularly Salem Village. To convey the setting, he used literary techniques such as specific diction, or colloquial expressions. Language of the period is used to enhance the setting. Hawthorne gives the characters specific names that depict abstract pure and wholesome beliefs, such as "Young Goodman Brown" and "Faith". The characters' names ultimately serve as a paradox in the conclusion of the story. The inclusion of this technique was to provide a definite contrast and irony. Hawthorne aims to critique the ideals of Puritan society and express his disdain for it, thus illustrating the difference between the appearance of those in society and their true identities.[5][6][7]

Literary scholar Walter Shear writes that Hawthorne structured the story in three parts. The first part shows Goodman Brown at his home in his village integrated in his society. The second part of the story is an extended dreamlike/nightmare sequence in the forest for a single night. The third part shows his return to society and to his home, yet he is so profoundly changed that in rejecting the greeting of his wife Faith, Hawthorne shows Goodman Brown has lost faith and rejected the tenets of his Puritan world during the course of the night.[8]

The story is about Brown's loss of faith as one of the elect, according to scholar Jane Eberwein. Believing himself to be of the elect, Goodman Brown falls into self-doubt after three months of marriage which to him represents sin and depravity as opposed to salvation. His journey to the forest is symbolic of Christian "self-exploration" in which doubt immediately supplants faith. At the end of the forest experience he loses his wife Faith, his faith in salvation, and his faith in human goodness.[5]

Herman Melville said "Young Goodman Brown" was "as deep as Dante" and Henry James called it a "magnificent little romance".[9] Hawthorne himself believed the story made no more impact than any of his tales. Years later he wrote, "These stories were published... in Magazines and Annuals, extending over a period of ten or twelve years, and comprising the whole of the writer's young manhood, without making (so far as he has ever been aware) the slightest impression on the public."[10] Contemporary critic Edgar Allan Poe disagreed, referring to Hawthorne's short stories as "the products of a truly imaginative intellect".[11]

Modern scholars and critics generally view the short story as an allegorical tale written to expose the contradictions in place concerning Puritan beliefs and societies. However, there have been many other interpretations of the text including those who believe Hawthorne sympathizes with Puritan beliefs. Author Harold Bloom comments on the variety of explanations; Stephen King has referred to the story as "one of the ten best stories written by an American". He calls it his favorite story by Hawthorne and cites it as an inspiration for his O. Henry Award-winning short story, "The Man in the Black Suit".[12]

A 1972 short film directed by Donald Fox is based on the story. It features actors Mark Bramhall, Peter Kilman and Maggie McOmie.

In 2011, playwright Lucas (Luke) Krueger, adapted the story for the stage. It was produced by Northern Illinois University. In 2012, Playscripts Inc. published the play. It has since been produced by several companies and high schools.

In 2015, singer Brandon Flowers adapted the story into a videoclip for the second track of his album "The Desired Effect", called "Can't Deny My Love" in which he himself portrays protagonist Goodman Brown.

Comic artist Kate Beaton satirized the story in a series of comic strips for her webcomic Hark! A Vagrant, which focuses on mocking Goodman Browns obsessive black and white morality, and his hypocrisy towards his wife and friends.[13]

Friday, June 17, 2016

Ulalume by Edgar Allan Poe || Narration by Frank Marcopolos

Ulalume" is a poem written by Edgar Allan Poe in 1847. Much like a few of Poe's other poems (such as "The Raven", "Annabel Lee", and "Lenore"), "Ulalume" focuses on the narrator's loss of his beloved due to her death. Poe originally wrote the poem as an elocution piece and, as such, the poem is known for its focus on sound. Additionally, it makes many allusions, especially to mythology, and the identity of Ulalume herself, if a real person, has been a subject of debate.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

[Publishing News] The Adventures of Enzo Prinziatta Continue in New Anthology

I was lucky enough to place a story I'm inordinately fond of, called "Icky," in George Donnelly's liberty-themed anthology, VALIANT, HE ENDURED. The antho leans toward sci-fi, and so my little literary fiction story was fortunate to even be considered. Its placement in the book, perhaps, provides a cleansing of one's skiffy palate to enable the reader to consume more of the skiffy goodness contained in the 16 other stories. Perhaps.

Anthologies are cool, though, because they enable a reader to sample a bunch of different writers in short doses in one book. Only a few years ago, you couldn't really put one of these together without a tremendous amount of time and capital expended on the project. With the rise of e-books, however, publishers now can put these compilations together without a crap-ton of resources. Which, when you think about it, is quite a boon to fiction readers, who now have access to such a wider array of writers and writing styles compared to the "bad old days" when only giant publishing houses could afford to produce something like this. Hooray for technology!

In any event, if you like liberty-themed sci-fi, or are curious about the ongoing adventures of a conflicted college baseball pitcher named Enzo Prinziatta, you might want to throw down $2.99 for VALIANT, HE ENDURED. Here is the Amazon (affiliate) link:

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

The Open Window by Saki (aka H.H. Munro)

Per Wikipedia: Hector Hugh Munro (18 December 1870 – 14 November 1916), better known by the pen name Saki, and also frequently as H. H. Munro, was a British writer whose witty, mischievous and sometimes macabre stories satirize Edwardian society and culture. He is considered a master of the short story, and often compared to O. Henry and Dorothy Parker. Influenced by Oscar Wilde, Lewis Carroll and Rudyard Kipling, he himself influenced A. A. Milne, Noël Coward and P. G. Wodehouse.[1]

Besides his short stories (which were first published in newspapers, as was customary at the time, and then collected into several volumes), he wrote a full-length play, The Watched Pot, in collaboration with Charles Maude; two one-act plays; a historical study, The Rise of the Russian Empire, the only book published under his own name; a short novel, The Unbearable Bassington; the episodic The Westminster Alice (a parliamentary parody of Alice in Wonderland); and When William Came, subtitled A Story of London Under the Hohenzollerns, a fantasy about a future German invasion and occupation of Britain.

Friday, April 29, 2016

A Moonlight Fable (aka The Beautiful Suit) by H.G. Wells | Read by Frank Marcopolos

A fable. With a suit of clothes. In the moonlight.

Wikipedia: The Beautiful Suit is a short story by H.G. Wells originally published under the title "A Moonlight Fable" in the April 10, 1909, number of Collier's Weekly. Written in the manner of Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tales, the story features but two characters: an unnamed "little man," and his mother. The mother has made "a beautiful suit of clothes" for the man, who takes inordinate delight in this possession.

Though he longs to "wear it everywhere," the little man's mother insists that he may wear his suit only "on rare and great occasions. It was his wedding-suit, she said." She covers up various parts (buttons, cuffs, elbows, "and wherever the suit was most likely to come to harm") to protect them. The little man wears it as such to church, but he is "full" of the "wild desire" to wear it free of "all these restrictions his mother set." One evening the uncommon quality of the moonlight inspires him, "terribly afraid, but glad, glad," to put on his suit without any of its protections. He opens his bedroom window and climbs "down to the garden path below." There, in a "night warmer than any night had ever been" and in a strangely exalted natural setting, he walks through the plants (some of them night-blooming and fragrant); night stock, nicotine, white mallow, southern-wood, lavender, and mignonette are mentioned. He goes through "the great hedge," regardless of "the thorns of the brambles" and "burs and goosegrass and havers" because "he knew it was all part of the wearing for which he had longed." He even wades "to his shoulders" through "the duck-pond, or at least . . . what was the duck-pond by day." Reaching the "high-road," and is a joined by a "dim moth" that comes closer and closer, "until at last its velvet wings just brushed his lips...." The next morning the little man is found "dead, with his neck broken, in the bottom of the stone pit," but wearing "a face of such happiness that, had you seen it, you would have understood indeed how that he had died happy, never knowing that cool and streaming silver for the duckweed in the pond."

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

The Lady, or the Tiger? by Frank R. Stockton, Jr.

From Wikipedia: "The Lady, or the Tiger?" is a much-anthologized short story written by Frank R. Stockton for publication in the magazine The Century in 1882. "The Lady, or the Tiger?" has entered the English language as an allegorical expression, a shorthand indication or signifier, for a problem that is unsolvable. This story makes people think beyond the normal perceptions.

Or does it?

Friday, April 15, 2016

The Waste Land by T.S. Eliot (Audiobook)

From Wikipedia:The Waste Land is a long poem by T. S. Eliot. It is widely regarded as one of the most important poems of the 20th century and a central text in Modernist poetry.[2][3] Published in 1922, the 434-line[B] poem first appeared in the United Kingdom in the October issue of The Criterion and in the United States in the November issue of The Dial. It was published in book form in December 1922. Among its famous phrases are "April is the cruellest month", "I will show you fear in a handful of dust", and the mantra in the Sanskrit language "Shantih shantih shantih".

Eliot's poem loosely follows the legend of the Holy Grail and the Fisher King combined with vignettes of contemporary British society. Eliot employs many literary and cultural allusions from the Western canon, Buddhism and the Hindu Upanishads. Because of this, critics and scholars regard the poem as obscure.[4] The poem shifts between voices of satire and prophecy featuring abrupt and unannounced changes of speaker, location, and time and conjuring of a vast and dissonant range of cultures and literatures.

The poem's structure is divided into five sections. The first section, The Burial of the Dead, introduces the diverse themes of disillusionment and despair. The second, A Game of Chess, employs vignettes of several characters—alternating narrations—that address those themes experientially. The Fire Sermon, the third section, offers a philosophical meditation in relation to the imagery of death and views of self-denial in juxtaposition influenced by Augustine of Hippo and eastern religions. After a fourth section that includes a brief lyrical petition, the culminating fifth section, What the Thunder Said, concludes with an image of judgment.

Saturday, April 09, 2016

Welcome to the Earbud Society: On the Future of Audiobooks

We now live in the Earbud Society. You see them dangling from ears in cars, all over college campuses, in Starbucks, and even the workplace (especially on elevators.) Social avoidance has never been easier, and yet research is showing that this audio-revolution is a great boon to society. And audiobooks, as a subset of “earbud content,” are only getting started as an art form.

Back in the dark ages of 2006, when I was attending broadcasting school, we didn’t have an agreed-upon name for them. The most established phrase was “books-on-tape,” which had a pretty good vernacularic run of it in the culture for a long time. It seemed daunting back then to even try to dislodge it from English usage. And how, exactly? Audio-stories? Mp3ater? Books-on-Mp3? Digi-books? Podiobooks? Digital books-on-tape? The possibilities seemed as endless as they were stupid-sounding.

Now, of course, the word “audiobook” has emerged as the preferred nomenclature for any “book on tape,” or the digital version of such at least. After I graduated from broadcasting school, it seemed a logical move for me to combine my English Lit degree with my shiny new broadcasting certification to create these audio thingies of public domain stories and poems. I posted the Mp3 files to my website, where they were immediately ignored by everyone. Then I combined them with a picture and posted them to YouTube, where the search function and massive user base made them discoverable. Now, I use the word “audiobook” for all of the “audio-literature” I produce, whether it be a short story, novella, poem, whatever. And it seems to be increasingly valuable for consumers to know what they are getting when a standardized word like this is used to describe these products.

One of the more intriguing aspects of audio for me is just how much you can use it to enhance boring-old, just-sits-there written text. Prominent examples of the practice of this most modern of arts are: the “Welcome to Night Vale” podcast, Scott Sigler’s podio/audiobooks, and the entire growing catalogue of online retailers like Audible, Apple, and others. According to Forbes magazine, 37% of Americans listened to audiobooks in 2011. That number has probably grown in the 5 years since. (Survey Monkey says that 33% of “young professionals” listen to audiobooks, so if you broaden that out to the population at large, it’s probably between 40–50%.) One of the biggest reasons for this, as summarized in that Forbes article (with the links to the research) is that for people who primarily learn through listening, audiobooks have been a God-send.

Beyond the whole debate over whether listening to audiobooks is better or the same as reading, I think we may find that audiobook performance as an art form could hold a lot of promise moving forward. On my YouTube channel, for example, I have posted videos of many different kinds of public domain stories and poems. Some listeners love my performance style, while others hate it. (A couple of quotes from the haters: “You sound like a fat drunk.” And: “Your reading absolutely RUINED this story!” Fun times.) But what I’ve been able to ascertain over the past five years is that if you do like my general style, voice, etc., the performance becomes its own thing, almost like a movie adaptation of a novel, although way more faithful to the original text, obviously. Music, sound effects, and even a full acting cast can be used to enhance the story. Here is an example of something I worked on a few years ago and then abandoned. I don’t think the plot of the story is necessarily all that great, but you can hear just how I’m trying to make it more of a production than the standard dry read (which some listeners would certainly prefer, I realize.)

With how convenient and portable audiobooks are, they seem like they’re here to stay. I think as their popularity grows, so will the diversity of styles that creators use to produce them. And that will certainly lead to a furtherance of audio awesomeness in the future, even if it means we’ll all have earbuds permanently super-glued to our ears. To paraphrase Kurt Vonnegut’s Gramps Ford, I can’t wait to hear what happens next.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

I Sing the Body Electric by Walt Whitman (Audiobook) | POEM

From Wikipedia: "I Sing the Body Electric" is a poem by Walt Whitman from his 1855 collection Leaves of Grass.

Its original publication, like the other poems in Leaves of Grass, did not have a title. In fact, the line "I sing the body electric" was not added until the 1867 edition. At the time, "electric" was not yet a commonly used term.[1]

In popular culture

In 1969, author Ray Bradbury published I Sing the Body Electric, a science fiction anthology named after the poem and including a short story by the same title. The short story was based on a 1962 Twilight Zone episode that Bradbury had also written.

"I Sing the Body Electric" is the title of a 1972 Columbia Records album by the jazz fusion group Weather Report.

"I Sing the Body Electric" is the title and first line of a song from the 1980 musical film Fame.

"I Sing the Body Electric" was the theme song heard in the PBS fitness and aerobics series Body Electric.

"I Sing the Body Electric" was referenced by Susan Sarandon's character, Annie Savoy, in the 1988 movie Bull Durham.

"I Sing the Body Electro" was the 1998 debut solo album of Kurtis Mantronik.

"I Sing the Body Electric" is the title of a 2011 song by the trip hop band Arms and Sleepers.

The 2012 song, "Body Electric", from Lana Del Rey's third EP, Paradise, alludes to Whitman in the lyric, "Whitman is my daddy." "I sing the body electric" is the song's chorus.[2][3] Part of the poem is recited in Del Rey's short film Tropico.

"I Sing the Body Electric, Especially When my Power's Out" is a poem by American poet Andrea Gibson (from the album 'Flower Boy').

"I Sing the Body Electric" was used in an Episode of the popular podcast Welcome to Nightvale, where it is somewhat parodied and made strange.

"I Sing the Body Electric" was performed by Klaus Schulze in Rouen France in April 1976 running time 49:11 and released on his Historic Edition CD in 1995 and reissued on his Ultimate Edition in 2000.


Wikisource has original text related to this article:

I Sing the Body Electric

Jump up ^ Loving, Jerome. Walt Whitman: The Song of Himself. University of California Press, 1999. ISBN 0-520-22687-9. p. 202

Jump up ^ "Lana Del Rey hates personal critics". STV. STV Group plc. Retrieved 5 October 2012.

Jump up ^ Moore, Alex. "Here’s Lana Del Rey’s new Walt Whitman-referencing track, ‘The Body Electric’". Death and Taxes. Retrieved 5 October 2012.

Friday, March 25, 2016

The Death of the Hired Man by Robert Frost (Audiobook) | POEM

This was a collaborative effort, and I think it turned out well. It's an interesting poem, too, in that Frost has a way to make a poem feel like a cinematic scene, or a scene from a play. His techniques are in full effect here, it seems.

From Wikipedia: Several themes are touched upon by Frost in this poem including family, power, justice, mercy, age, death, friendship, redemption, guilt and belonging. A major theme in the poem is that of the ‘home’ or homecoming. Despite the fact that Silas’ brother should seemingly be the natural home for Silas to die, he has chosen Warren and Mary’s farm. Warren wrestles with the idea that “Home is the place where, when you have to go there, / They have to take you in.” (Presumably he says this bitterly or sarcastically.) By saying this he is highlighting, at least at that point in the poem, that he does not feel obliged to put a roof over Silas’ head because of his betrayal of leaving the farm. Mary replies, more charitably: “I should have called it / Something you somehow haven’t to deserve.” Silas has evidently returned ‘home’ to the farm to try to reaffirm some meaning in his life before he dies by helping with the next season, and trying to redeem his relationship with Harold – neither of these pursuits are fulfilled. Perhaps it is also interesting to note that the poem does not blatantly imply that Warren and Mary have had children of their own. Childless marriage is a theme that Frost often addressed.

The poem shines light on Warren’s progressive moral slide from resistance to acceptance of his responsibility of providing a home for Silas’ death despite his wrongdoings. Should Silas be given a home that he perhaps does not deserve? Mary states that “he has come home to die: / You needn’t be afraid he’ll leave you this time.” Continuing on her theme of Silas’ worth she empathizes: “His working days are done; I’m sure of it.” Perhaps an also interesting side note is Frost's choice for Mary's name and her moral values. Through the obvious moral dichotomy at the start of the poem between Warren and Mary, it can be interpreted that Mary has slowly convinced Warren to offer Silas a room at the house; obviously his offering comes too late with Silas having died, arguably alone, beside the stove.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

SSLP #64 - Analysis of ALL THAT by David Foster Wallace | PODCAST

This is a discussion of the literary merits of the short story, "All That" by David Foster Wallace. I cleaned up the audio a little bit, but the quality during the group discussion is still not excellent. Sorry about that.

Monday, March 14, 2016

The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock by T.S. Eliot (Audiobook) | POEM

Wikipedia: "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock", commonly known as "Prufrock", is a poem by American-British poet T. S. Eliot (1888–1965). Eliot began writing "Prufrock" in February 1910, and it was first published in the June 1915 issue of Poetry: A Magazine of Verse[2] at the instigation of Ezra Pound (1885–1972). It was later printed as part of a twelve-poem pamphlet (or chapbook) titled Prufrock and Other Observations in 1917.[1] At the time of its publication, Prufrock was considered outlandish,[citation needed] but is now seen as heralding a paradigmatic cultural shift from late 19th-century Romantic verse and Georgian lyrics to Modernism. The poem is regarded as the beginning of Eliot's career as an influential poet.

The poem's structure was heavily influenced by Eliot's extensive reading of Dante Alighieri[3] and makes several references to the Bible and other literary works—including William Shakespeare's plays Henry IV Part II, Twelfth Night, and Hamlet, the poetry of seventeenth-century metaphysical poet John Donne, and the nineteenth-century French Symbolists. Eliot narrates the experience of Prufrock using the stream of consciousness technique developed by his fellow Modernist writers. The poem, described as a "drama of literary anguish", is a dramatic interior monologue of an urban man, stricken with feelings of isolation and an incapability for decisive action that is said "to epitomize frustration and impotence of the modern individual" and "represent thwarted desires and modern disillusionment."[4] Prufrock laments his physical and intellectual inertia, the lost opportunities in his life and lack of spiritual progress, and he is haunted by reminders of unattained carnal love. With visceral feelings of weariness, regret, embarrassment, longing, emasculation, sexual frustration, a sense of decay, and an awareness of mortality, "Prufrock" has become one of the most recognised voices in modern literature.[5]

Wednesday, March 09, 2016

The Sleeper by Edgar Allan Poe (Audiobook) | POEM

At midnight, in the month of June,
I stand beneath the mystic moon.
An opiate vapor, dewy, dim,
Exhales from out her golden rim,
And softly dripping, drop by drop,
Upon the quiet mountain top,
Steals drowsily and musically
Into the universal valley....

Wikipedia:The poem that would become "The Sleeper" went through many revised versions. First, in the 1831 collection Poems of Edgar A. Poe, it appeared with 74 lines as "Irene." It was 60 lines when it was printed in the Philadelphia Saturday Courier on May 22, 1841. Poe considered it one of his best compositions, according to a note he sent to fellow author James Russell Lowell in 1844. Like many of Poe's works, the poem focuses on the death of a beautiful woman, a death which the mourning narrator struggles to deal with while considering the nature of death and life. Some lines seem to echo the poem "Christabel" by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, a poet known to have had a heavy influence on Poe's poetry.[33]

Poe praised "The Sleeper" as a "superior" poem. He wrote to an admirer: "In the higher qualities of poetry, it is better than 'The Raven'—but there is not one man in a million who could be brought to agree with me in this opinion."[34]

Saturday, March 05, 2016

Ozymandias by Percy Bysshe Shelley (Audiobook) | POEM

Wikipedia: "Ozymandias" (in five syllables: /ˌɒziˈmændiəs/, oz-ee-man-dee-əs; or four: /ˌɒziˈmændjəs/, oz-ee-mand-yəs)[1] is a sonnet written by English Romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792–1822), first published in the 11 January 1818 issue of The Examiner[2] in London. It was included the following year in Shelley's collection Rosalind and Helen, A Modern Eclogue; with Other Poems (1819)[3] and in a posthumous compilation of his poems published in 1826.[4] "Ozymandias" is regarded as one of Shelley's most famous works and is frequently anthologised.

In antiquity, Ozymandias was a Greek name for the Egyptian pharaoh Ramesses II. Shelley began writing his poem in 1817, soon after the announcement of the British Museum's acquisition of a large fragment of a statue of Ramesses II from the thirteenth century BC, leading some scholars to believe that Shelley was inspired by this. The 7.25-ton fragment of the statue's head and torso had been removed in 1816 from the mortuary temple of Ramesses at Thebes by Italian adventurer Giovanni Battista Belzoni. It was expected to arrive in London in 1818, but did not arrive until 1821.[5][6] Shelley wrote the poem in friendly competition with his friend and fellow poet Horace Smith (1779–1849), who also wrote a sonnet on the same topic with the very same title. Smith's poem was first published in The Examiner a few weeks after Shelley's sonnet. Both poems explore the fate of history and the ravages of time: that all prominent figures and the empires that they build are impermanent and their legacies fated to decay into oblivion.

Ozymandias (/ˌɒziˈmændiəs/ oz-ee-man-dee-əs) (real name Adrian Alexander Veidt) is a fictional character in the acclaimed graphic novel miniseries Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons, published by DC Comics. Named Ozymandias in the manner of Ramesses II, he is a modified version of the comic book character Peter Cannon, Thunderbolt from Charlton Comics. His name recalls the famous poem by Percy Bysshe Shelley, which takes as its theme the fleeting nature of empire and is excerpted as the epigraph of one of the chapters of Watchmen. Ozymandias is ranked number 25 on Wizard's Top 200 Comic Book Characters list and number 21 on IGN's Top 100 Villains list.[1]

Early life
Adrian Alexander Veidt was born in 1939, and is the son of wealthy German American immigrant parents. As a child, he received high grades in school, and it was noted that he was very intelligent. He then hid this information from his elders and peers by deliberately achieving average marks. After his parents' deaths, he inherited their substantial fortune at the young age of 17, but he chose to give it all to charity and embark on a vision quest, following the route of his childhood idol Alexander the Great. His rationale was that he wanted to be free from money and make something of himself on his own, from nothing. During an excursion into the Middle East, Veidt consumed a ball of hashish and developed visions of the past. At the conclusion of his travels, in Egypt, he realized that Alexander the Great was a pale imitation of Ramesses II who became Veidt's new hero.

As a superhero
Returning to America after a year of traveling, Veidt named himself Ozymandias and became a costumed vigilante, earning a reputation as "the smartest man on the planet." He debuted in early 1958 by exposing a drug ring in New York City. During the early 1960s, he was a member of the Crimebusters, which was organized by former Minuteman and adventurer Captain Metropolis, who sought to re-form a new version of his old team.

After being a superhero
Due to the increasingly negative perceptions of vigilantes by the media, Veidt predicted that the public would turn away from them. Two years before vigilante crimefighters were banned by the Keene Act, Veidt revealed his secret identity, retired from superheroism and marketed his image, while maintaining an ethical streak—he never marketed the images of his allies or foes, despite having a decently sound legal loophole to do so. He became very wealthy and was known as a great humanitarian, and he used this to bankroll his secret scheme of creating a catastrophic event to deceive the world into uniting against a common enemy and thus avert nuclear war. Upon completion of his project, Veidt planned to murder all of his (unwitting) accomplices and arrange the psychological deterioration and self-exile of the presumably invincible Doctor Manhattan.

Fellow masked vigilante the Comedian (Edward Blake) stumbled upon Veidt's plans, leading to Veidt personally murdering the Comedian, setting off the chain of events told in the story of Watchmen, which begins several hours after the murder of the Comedian.[2]

As part of his genetic experimentation, he created a genetically-engineered feline, which he named Bubastis (the Greek name for an ancient Egyptian city which honored the goddess Bast), as his pet and protector.

Events of Watchmen
Watchmen starts shortly after Blake's murder; Veidt is first seen when Rorschach visits him to get his opinion on Blake's murder and to warn Veidt about a possible serial killer targeting superheroes ("mask killer"). Rorschach is unconvinced of Veidt's theory that Blake was assassinated by a bitter arch-rival. Veidt is one of the few people attending Blake's funeral, at which he reminisces about the failed Crimebusters meeting. Halfway through the Watchmen story, Veidt narrowly escapes an assassination attempt that leaves his assistant dead. The would-be assassin dies from an unseen cyanide capsule before Veidt can interrogate him.

At the climax of Watchmen, Rorschach and Nite Owl (Dan Dreiberg) deduce that Veidt is behind the whole plot after they discover that a shell company owned by Veidt's corporation employed all the people whose cancer was allegedly caused by contact with Doctor Manhattan. Rorschach and Nite-Owl realize that Veidt exposed Manhattan's former lover, colleagues, and an enemy to radiation and deliberately monitored them for cancer, so Manhattan would flee Earth out of either guilt or the public's enmity. When Rorschach and Nite-Owl arrive at Karnak, Veidt's Antarctic retreat, Veidt easily overpowers both of them. He explains his plan to save humanity from itself: Inspired by Captain Metropolis' plea that somebody needed to save the world, he devised a scheme to teleport a biologically-engineered, telepathic creature to New York City which would immediately explode in a psychic shock wave, killing millions and convncing the world that they were under extraterrestrial attack. The United States and the Soviet Union, on the brink of nuclear confrontation, would then end their feud and join forces against the supposed alien invaders. He also admits to framing Manhattan; killing the Comedian, who had discovered the plan; framing Rorschach for the murder of Moloch; and staging the attempt on his own life, forcing a cyanide pill down the attacker's throat. When Rorschach and Nite-Owl ask him when he planned to execute his scheme, Veidt reveals that it was completed before they arrived, saying, "I did it thirty-five minutes ago", which is then confirmed by news broadcasts.

Doctor Manhattan then returns from his self-imposed exile with Silk Spectre. The ever-prepared Veidt attacks them, but his planned method of defeating Doctor Manhattan fails. He disintegrates Manhattan, who soon reforms himself. Manhattan and Silk Spectre learn about Veidt's role in the destruction of New York but, realizing that exposing Veidt's plan will undo the nascent world peace, the heroes agree to remain silent on the plot, except for moral absolutist Rorschach. As Rorschach prepares to return to America and reveal Veidt's plan to the world, he ultimately lets Manhattan kill him. Before Manhattan leaves to create life in another galaxy, Veidt asks him if he "did the right thing in the end". Manhattan replies that "In the end? Nothing ends, Adrian. Nothing ever ends", leaving Veidt in doubt about how long the peace will last, and if Blake was right about humanity after all.

As the story ends, Veidt (and everyone else) is oblivious to the fact that prior to the final confrontation, Rorschach sent a journal of his findings to a local newspaper. Rorschach's journal details his entire investigation and his findings about Veidt's plan. On the last page, the editor leaves his assistant in charge of choosing "filler" material from a stack of mail sent in by readers. Rorschach's journal is in the pile, but whether or not the assistant decides to print it is not revealed, though it is implied Veidt's plan was unveiled.

Before Watchmen

Cover to Before Watchmen: Ozymandias #1 by Jae Lee. A six-part series on Ozymandias titled Before Watchmen: Ozymandias had its first issue released in July 2012. It is written by Len Wein, with art by Jae Lee. This is part of a planned 35-issue Before Watchmen series.[3]

Powers and abilities
Adrian Veidt has been deemed "the smartest man in the world" by many, mainly the media, though this title is regarded as well-deserved. Veidt deftly built both a legitimate and criminal empire large enough to become a global threat through his exploitation of advanced technology and genetics.

He has ambition matching his intelligence, evidenced by his successful execution of a plan to help Earth towards utopia by ending international hostilities. He is shown to be a ruthless and master strategist, swiftly eliminating anybody who dares to get in the way of his plans, while maintaining total secrecy. Veidt also possesses a photographic memory. Additionally, Veidt is depicted at the pinnacle of human physical ability, to the point of being able to reflexively catch a bullet. He is a superb fighter and martial artist, and an almost superhuman unarmed combatant who easily defeats both Rorschach and Nite Owl. His only defeat came early in his career at the hands of the Comedian, whom he later bested and killed.[citation needed]

A world-class athlete, he is extremely physically fit and performs acrobatics to aid charity events. He is exceptionally active despite his age (mid-forties). Included as a back-up feature to issue #11, a Veidt interview conducted by Doug Roth notes Veidt as resembling a man of 30 rather than one of the middle age.[citation needed]

Veidt believes that his vast intelligence obligates him to unite the warring modern world as Alexander the Great did in his time. When he comes to doubt the value of confronting street criminals in the face of greater crimes of the powerful and governments that go unpunished, he endeavors to study world politics, and concludes that nuclear war will bring the world to an end in just a few years, and plans to use such a catastrophe to save the world.[citation needed]

Ozymandias is politically liberal, supporting social causes and performing at a benefit for India, which has suffered famine. He believes that everyone is capable of great intelligence, if they choose to be, and that any problem can be solved with the correct application of human intelligence.[citation needed]

Ozymandias is shown to be very genial as noted by Hollis Mason. He demonstrates his sense of humor, joking around many times during his interview with Nova Express and his battle with Rorschach, Nite Owl and Silk Spectre. Ozymandias is also a vegetarian. His favorite companion is his genetically-engineered pet lynx, Bubastis.

Feature film and script versions
In a 1989 Sam Hamm film draft, Veidt's goal is to go back in time to kill Jonathan Osterman before he becomes Dr. Manhattan, because he reasons that Manhattan's existence has led America to nuclear war with the Russians. Veidt is unable to kill Osterman in the past, but Osterman decides to alter the past so that Dr. Manhattan is never "born." By sacrificing his present self, Dr. Manhattan allows the human Osterman to have a normal life, but he kills Veidt before he could kill him in the past.[4] In the 2003 David Hayter film draft script, Veidt plans to fire a solar radiation beam into New York; Veidt's plan succeeds, but Veidt also intends to kill Dreiberg and Laurie afterwards. Dreiberg kills Veidt in self-defense.[5]

In other media
In the 2009 feature film Watchmen directed by Zack Snyder, Veidt follows the same course as in the graphic novel with one exception—rather than an "alien force", Adrian sets his plan into motion so that Dr. Manhattan is made out to be the culprit.

Matthew Goode plays Veidt in the 2009 film. During earlier pre-production and attempts to make the film in 2004, Tom Cruise and Jude Law (who is a fan of the comic) both expressed interest in playing the role, but they left the project after several delays and budget problems.[6][7][8] However, Law's likeness is clearly obvious on the costume design layout for Veidt's Ozymandias costume in Watchmen: The Art of the Film, indicating a possibly more concrete involvement before leaving the project.[9] Like Nite-Owl, Ozymandias' costume was changed extensively from the purple and gilt of the graphic novel, so as to further emphasize his fascination with Egyptian royalty and to reference and parody superhero films such as Batman & Robin.[7][10][11] Gibbons noted that, for example, "Ozymandias has got nipples on his costume. Well, you know, think about it for a bit. That's an obvious reference to the later Batman movie with George Clooney with a nippled Batsuit."[12]

In his portrayal of the character, Goode played Veidt with a hint of a German accent in private and an American accent to the media. Encouraged by Snyder to further interpret his role, Goode came up with his own backstory for Veidt's true motivations for giving away his inherited wealth—his shame at his parents being Nazi sympathizers.[13] The official film companion book includes a timeline putting his date of birth in 1950 instead of 1939 (making him 35 at the time of the story's events rather than 46).[14]

Motion Comic
Ozymandias appears in the 2008 animated short film series Watchmen: Motion Comic where he, along with every other character in the series, is voiced by actor Tom Stechschulte.[15]

Friday, March 04, 2016

Wednesday, March 02, 2016

The Lady, or the Tiger? by Frank R. Stockton (Audiobook)

"The Lady, or the Tiger?" is a much-anthologized short story written by Frank R. Stockton for publication in the magazine The Century in 1882. "The Lady, or the Tiger?" has entered the English language as an allegorical expression, a shorthand indication or signifier, for a problem that is unsolvable. This story makes people think beyond the normal perceptions.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Love of Life by Jack London (Audiobook) | SHORT STORY

Wikipedia: John Griffith "Jack" London (born John Griffith Chaney,[1] January 12, 1876 – November 22, 1916)[2][3][4][5] was an American novelist, journalist, and social activist. A pioneer in the then-burgeoning world of commercial magazine fiction, he was one of the first fiction writers to obtain worldwide celebrity and a large fortune from his fiction alone.[6] Some of his most famous works include The Call of the Wild and White Fang, both set in the Klondike Gold Rush, as well as the short stories "To Build a Fire", "An Odyssey of the North", and "Love of Life". He also wrote of the South Pacific in such stories as "The Pearls of Parlay" and "The Heathen", and of the San Francisco Bay area in The Sea Wolf. London was part of the radical literary group "The Crowd" in San Francisco and a passionate advocate of unionization, socialism, and the rights of workers. He wrote several powerful works dealing with these topics, such as his dystopian novel The Iron Heel, his non-fiction exposé The People of the Abyss, and The War of the Classes.

Jack London's mother, Flora Wellman, was the fifth and youngest child of Pennsylvania Canal builder Marshall Wellman and his first wife, Eleanor Garrett Jones. Marshall Wellman was descended from Thomas Wellman, an early Puritan settler in the Massachusetts Bay Colony.[7] Flora left Ohio and moved to the Pacific coast when her father remarried after her mother died. In San Francisco, Flora worked as a music teacher and spiritualist, claiming to channel the spirit of a Sauk chief Black Hawk.[8] Biographer Clarice Stasz and others believe London's father was astrologer William Chaney.[9] Flora Wellman was living with Chaney in San Francisco when she became pregnant. Whether Wellman and Chaney were legally married is unknown. Most San Francisco civil records were destroyed by the extensive fires that followed the 1906 earthquake; nobody knows what name appeared on her son's birth certificate. Stasz notes that in his memoirs, Chaney refers to London's mother Flora Wellman as having been his "wife"; he also cites an advertisement in which Flora called herself "Florence Wellman Chaney".[citation needed] According to Flora Wellman's account, as recorded in the San Francisco Chronicle of June 4, 1875, Chaney demanded that she have an abortion. When she refused, he disclaimed responsibility for the child. In desperation, she shot herself. She was not seriously wounded, but she was temporarily deranged. After giving birth, Flora turned the baby over for care to Virginia Prentiss, an African-American woman and former slave. She was a major maternal figure throughout London's life. Late in 1876, Flora Wellman married John London, a partially disabled Civil War veteran, and brought her baby John, later known as Jack, to live with the newly married couple. The family moved around the San Francisco Bay Area before settling in Oakland, where London completed public grade school. In 1897, when he was 21 and a student at the University of California, Berkeley, London searched for and read the newspaper accounts of his mother's suicide attempt and the name of his biological father. He wrote to William Chaney, then living in Chicago. Chaney responded that he could not be London's father because he was impotent; he casually asserted that London's mother had relations with other men and averred that she had slandered him when she said he insisted on an abortion. Chaney concluded by saying that he was more to be pitied than London.[10] London was devastated by his father's letter; in the months following, he quit school at Berkeley and went to the Klondike during the gold rush boom.

London was born near Third and Brannan Streets in San Francisco. The house burned down in the fire after the 1906 San Francisco earthquake; the California Historical Society placed a plaque at the site in 1953. Although the family was working class, it was not as impoverished as London's later accounts claimed[citation needed]. London was largely self-educated[citation needed]. In 1885, London found and read Ouida's long Victorian novel Signa. He credited this as the seed of his literary success.[11] In 1886, he went to the Oakland Public Library and found a sympathetic librarian, Ina Coolbrith, who encouraged his learning. (She later became California's first poet laureate and an important figure in the San Francisco literary community). In 1889, London began working 12 to 18 hours a day at Hickmott's Cannery. Seeking a way out, he borrowed money from his foster mother Virginia Prentiss, bought the sloop Razzle-Dazzle from an oyster pirate named French Frank, and became an oyster pirate. In his memoir, John Barleycorn, he claims also to have stolen French Frank's mistress Mamie.[12][13][14] After a few months, his sloop became damaged beyond repair. London hired on as a member of the California Fish Patrol. In 1893, he signed on to the sealing schooner Sophie Sutherland, bound for the coast of Japan. When he returned, the country was in the grip of the panic of '93 and Oakland was swept by labor unrest. After grueling jobs in a jute mill and a street-railway power plant, London joined Kelly's Army and began his career as a tramp. In 1894, he spent 30 days for vagrancy in the Erie County Penitentiary at Buffalo, New York. In The Road, he wrote: Man-handling was merely one of the very minor unprintable horrors of the Erie County Pen. I say 'unprintable'; and in justice I must also say undescribable. They were unthinkable to me until I saw them, and I was no spring chicken in the ways of the world and the awful abysses of human degradation. It would take a deep plummet to reach bottom in the Erie County Pen, and I do but skim lightly and facetiously the surface of things as I there saw them. After many experiences as a hobo and a sailor, he returned to Oakland and attended Oakland High School. He contributed a number of articles to the high school's magazine, The Aegis. His first published work was "Typhoon off the Coast of Japan", an account of his sailing experiences.[15]

Jack London studying at Heinold's First and Last Chance in 1886

As a schoolboy, London often studied at Heinold's First and Last Chance Saloon, a port-side bar in Oakland. At 17, he confessed to the bar's owner, John Heinold, his desire to attend university and pursue a career as a writer. Heinold lent London tuition money to attend college. London desperately wanted to attend the University of California, Berkeley. In 1896, after a summer of intense studying to pass certification exams, he was admitted. Financial circumstances forced him to leave in 1897 and he never graduated. No evidence suggests that London wrote for student publications while studying at Berkeley.[16] Heinold's First and Last Chance, "Jack London's Rendezvous"

While at Berkeley, London continued to study and spend time at Heinold's saloon, where he was introduced to the sailors and adventurers who would influence his writing. In his autobiographical novel, John Barleycorn, London mentioned the pub's likeness seventeen times. Heinold's was the place where London met Alexander McLean, a captain known for his cruelty at sea.[17] London based his protagonist Wolf Larsen, in the novel The Sea-Wolf, on McLean.[18] Heinold's First and Last Chance Saloon is now unofficially named Jack London's Rendezvous in his honor.[citation needed]

Gold rush and first success

Miners and prospectors ascend the Chilkoot Trail during the Klondike Gold Rush

On July 12, 1897, London (age 21) and his sister's husband Captain Shepard sailed to join the Klondike Gold Rush. This was the setting for some of his first successful stories. London's time in the harsh Klondike, however, was detrimental to his health. Like so many other men who were malnourished in the goldfields, London developed scurvy. His gums became swollen, leading to the loss of his four front teeth. A constant gnawing pain affected his hip and leg muscles, and his face was stricken with marks that always reminded him of the struggles he faced in the Klondike. Father William Judge, "The Saint of Dawson", had a facility in Dawson that provided shelter, food and any available medicine to London and others. His struggles there inspired London's short story, "To Build a Fire" (1902, revised in 1908), which many critics assess as his best.[citation needed] His landlords in Dawson were mining engineers Marshall Latham Bond and Louis Whitford Bond, educated at Yale and Stanford. The brothers' father, Judge Hiram Bond, was a wealthy mining investor. The Bonds, especially Hiram, were active Republicans. Marshall Bond's diary mentions friendly sparring with London on political issues as a camp pastime.[citation needed] London left Oakland with a social conscience and socialist leanings; he returned to become an activist for socialism. He concluded that his only hope of escaping the work "trap" was to get an education and "sell his brains". He saw his writing as a business, his ticket out of poverty, and, he hoped, a means of beating the wealthy at their own game. On returning to California in 1898, London began working to get published, a struggle described in his novel, Martin Eden (serialized in 1908, published in 1909). His first published story since high school was "To the Man On Trail", which has frequently been collected in anthologies.[citation needed] When The Overland Monthly offered him only five dollars for it—and was slow paying—London came close to abandoning his writing career. In his words, "literally and literarily I was saved" when The Black Cat accepted his story "A Thousand Deaths", and paid him $40—the "first money I ever received for a story".[citation needed] London began his writing career just as new printing technologies enabled lower-cost production of magazines. This resulted in a boom in popular magazines aimed at a wide public and a strong market for short fiction.[citation needed] In 1900, he made $2,500 in writing, about $71,000 in today's currency.[citation needed] Among the works he sold to magazines was a short story known as either "Diable" (1902) or "Bâtard" (1904), in two editions of the same basic story; London received $141.25 for this story on May 27, 1902.[19] In the text, a cruel French Canadian brutalizes his dog, and the dog retaliates and kills the man. London told some of his critics that man's actions are the main cause of the behavior of their animals, and he would show this in another story, The Call of the Wild.[20]

George Sterling, Mary Austin, Jack London, and Jimmie Hooper on the beach at Carmel, California

In early 1903, London sold The Call of the Wild to The Saturday Evening Post for $750, and the book rights to Macmillan for $2,000. Macmillan's promotional campaign propelled it to swift success.[21] While living at his rented villa on Lake Merritt in Oakland, London met poet George Sterling; in time they became best friends. In 1902, Sterling helped London find a home closer to his own in nearby Piedmont. In his letters London addressed Sterling as "Greek", owing to Sterling's aquiline nose and classical profile, and he signed them as "Wolf". London was later to depict Sterling as Russ Brissenden in his autobiographical novel Martin Eden (1910) and as Mark Hall in The Valley of the Moon (1913).[citation needed] In later life London indulged his wide-ranging interests by accumulating a personal library of 15,000 volumes. He referred to his books as "the tools of my trade".[22] First marriage (1900–1904)

Bessie Maddern London and daughters, Joan and Becky

London married Elizabeth "Bessie" Maddern on April 7, 1900, the same day The Son of the Wolf was published. Bess had been part of his circle of friends for a number of years. She was related to stage actresses Minnie Maddern Fiske and Emily Stevens. Stasz says, "Both acknowledged publicly that they were not marrying out of love, but from friendship and a belief that they would produce sturdy children.",[23] Kingman says, "they were comfortable together... Jack had made it clear to Bessie that he did not love her, but that he liked her enough to make a successful marriage."[24] During the marriage, London continued his friendship with Anna Strunsky, co-authoring The Kempton-Wace Letters, an epistolary novel contrasting two philosophies of love. Anna, writing "Dane Kempton's" letters, arguing for a romantic view of marriage, while London, writing "Herbert Wace's" letters, argued for a scientific view, based on Darwinism and eugenics. In the novel, his fictional character contrasted two women he had known.[citation needed] London's pet name for Bess was "Mother-Girl" and Bess' for London was "Daddy-Boy".[25] Their first child, Joan, was born on January 15, 1901 and their second, Bessie (later called Becky), on October 20, 1902. Both children were born in Piedmont, California. Here London wrote one of his most celebrated works, The Call of the Wild. While London had pride in his children, the marriage was strained. Kingman says that by 1903, the couple were close to separation as they were "extremely incompatible". "Jack was still so kind and gentle with Bessie that when Cloudsley Johns was a house guest in February 1903 he didn't suspect a breakup of their marriage."[26] London reportedly complained to friends Joseph Noel and George Sterling: [Bessie] is devoted to purity. When I tell her morality is only evidence of low blood pressure, she hates me. She'd sell me and the children out for her damned purity. It's terrible. Every time I come back after being away from home for a night she won't let me be in the same room with her if she can help it.[27] Stasz writes that these were "code words for [Bess's] fear that [Jack] was consorting with prostitutes and might bring home venereal disease."[28] On July 24, 1903, London told Bessie he was leaving and moved out. During 1904, London and Bess negotiated the terms of a divorce, and the decree was granted on November 11, 1904.[29] War correspondent (1904)

London accepted an assignment of the San Francisco Examiner to cover the Russo-Japanese War in early 1904, arriving in Yokohama on January 25, 1904. He was arrested by Japanese authorities in Shimonoseki, but released through the intervention of American ambassador Lloyd Griscom. After travelling to Korea, he was again arrested by Japanese authorizes for straying too close to the border with Manchuria without official permission, and was sent back to Seoul. Released again, London was permitted to travel with the Imperial Japanese Army to the border, and to observe the Battle of the Yalu.

London asked William Randolph Hearst, the owner of the San Francisco Examiner, to be allowed to transfer to the Imperial Russian Army, where he felt that restrictions on his reporting and his movements would be less severe. However, before this could be arranged, he was arrested for a third time in four months, this time for assaulting his Japanese assistants, whom he accused of stealing the fodder for his horse. Released through the personal intervention of President Theodore Roosevelt, London departed the front in June 1904.[30]

Bohemian Club

London (right) at the Bohemian Grove with his friends Porter Garnett and George Sterling; a painting parodies his story The White Silence

On August 18, 1904, London went with his close friend, the poet George Sterling, to "Summer High Jinks" at the Bohemian Grove. London was elected to honorary membership in the Bohemian Club and took part in many activities. Other noted members of the Bohemian Club during this time included Ambrose Bierce, Gelett Burgess, Allan Dunn, John Muir, and Frank Norris.[citation needed]

Beginning in December 1914, London worked on The Acorn Planter, A California Forest Play, to be performed as one of the annual Grove Plays, but it was never selected. It was described as too difficult to set to music.[31] London published The Acorn Planter in 1916.[32]

Second marriage

After divorcing Maddern, London married Charmian Kittredge in 1905. London was introduced to Kittredge by his MacMillan publisher, George Platt Brett, Sr., while Kittredge served as Brett's secretary. Biographer Russ Kingman called Charmian "Jack's soul-mate, always at his side, and a perfect match." Their time together included numerous trips, including a 1907 cruise on the yacht Snark to Hawaii and Australia.[33] Many of London's stories are based on his visits to Hawaii, the last one for 10 months beginning in December 1915.[34] The couple also visited Goldfield, Nevada, in 1907, where they were guests of the Bond brothers, London's Dawson City landlords. The Bond brothers were working in Nevada as mining engineers. London had contrasted the concepts of the "Mother Woman" and the "Mate Woman" in The Kempton-Wace Letters. His pet name for Bess had been "Mother-Girl;" his pet name for Charmian was "Mate-Woman."[35] Charmian's aunt and foster mother, a disciple of Victoria Woodhull, had raised her without prudishness.[36] Every biographer alludes to Charmian's uninhibited sexuality.[37][38]

The Snark in Australia, 1921

Joseph Noel calls the events from 1903 to 1905 "a domestic drama that would have intrigued the pen of an Ibsen.... London's had comedy relief in it and a sort of easy-going romance."[39] In broad outline, London was restless in his first marriage, sought extramarital sexual affairs, and found, in Charmian Kittredge, not only a sexually active and adventurous partner, but his future life-companion. They attempted to have children; one child died at birth, and another pregnancy ended in a miscarriage.[citation needed] In 1906, London published in Collier's magazine his eye-witness report of the San Francisco earthquake.[citation needed] Beauty Ranch (1905–1916) The old Winery Cottage, where London died (in the left sleeping porch) on November 22, 1916 In 1905, London purchased a 1,000 acres (4.0 km2) ranch in Glen Ellen, Sonoma County, California, on the eastern slope of Sonoma Mountain, for $26,450.[citation needed] He wrote: "Next to my wife, the ranch is the dearest thing in the world to me." He desperately wanted the ranch to become a successful business enterprise. Writing, always a commercial enterprise with London, now became even more a means to an end: "I write for no other purpose than to add to the beauty that now belongs to me. I write a book for no other reason than to add three or four hundred acres to my magnificent estate." After 1910, his literary works were mostly potboilers, written out of the need to provide operating income for the ranch.[citation needed]

London in 1914

Stasz writes that London "had taken fully to heart the vision, expressed in his agrarian fiction, of the land as the closest earthly version of Eden ... he educated himself through the study of agricultural manuals and scientific tomes. He conceived of a system of ranching that today would be praised for its ecological wisdom."[citation needed] He was proud to own the first concrete silo in California, a circular piggery that he designed. He hoped to adapt the wisdom of Asian sustainable agriculture to the United States. He hired both Italian and Chinese stonemasons, whose distinctly different styles are obvious. The ranch was an economic failure. Sympathetic observers such as Stasz treat his projects as potentially feasible, and ascribe their failure to bad luck or to being ahead of their time. Unsympathetic historians such as Kevin Starr suggest that he was a bad manager, distracted by other concerns and impaired by his alcoholism. Starr notes that London was absent from his ranch about six months a year between 1910 and 1916, and says, "He liked the show of managerial power, but not grinding attention to detail .... London's workers laughed at his efforts to play big-time rancher [and considered] the operation a rich man's hobby."[citation needed] London spent $80,000 ($2,110,000 in current value) to build a 15,000-square-foot (1,400 m2) stone mansion called Wolf House on the property. Just as the mansion was nearing completion, two weeks before the Londons planned to move in, it was destroyed by fire. London's last visit to Hawaii,[40] beginning in December 1915, lasted eight months. He met with Duke Kahanamoku, Prince Jonah Kūhiō Kalaniana'ole, Queen Lili‘uokalani and many others, before returning to his ranch in July 1916.[34] He was suffering from kidney failure, but he continued to work. The ranch (abutting stone remnants of Wolf House) is now a National Historic Landmark and is protected in Jack London State Historic Park.

Animal activism

London witnessed animal cruelty in the training of circus animals, and his subsequent novels Jerry of the Islands and Michael, Brother of Jerry included a foreword entreating the public to become more informed about this practice.[41] In 1918, the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the American Humane Education Society teamed up to create the Jack London Club, which sought to inform the public about cruelty to circus animals and encourage them to protest this establishment.[42] Support from Club members led to a temporary cessation of trained animal acts at Ringling-Barnum and Bailey in 1925.[43] Death

London died November 22, 1916, in a sleeping porch in a cottage on his ranch. London had been a robust man but had suffered several serious illnesses, including scurvy in the Klondike.[44] Additionally, during travels on the Snark, he and Charmian may have picked up unspecified tropical infections.[citation needed] At the time of his death, he suffered from dysentery, late-stage alcoholism, and uremia; he was in extreme pain and taking morphine. London's ashes were buried on his property not far from the Wolf House. London's funeral took place on November 26, 1916, attended only by close friends, relatives, and workers of the property. In accordance with his wishes, he was cremated and buried next to some pioneer children, under a rock that belonged to the Wolf House. After Charmian's death in 1955, she was also cremated and then buried with her husband in the same simple spot that her husband chose. The grave is marked by a mossy boulder. The buildings and property were later preserved as Jack London State Historic Park, in Glen Ellen, California. Suicide debate

Because he was using morphine, many older sources describe London's death as a suicide, and some still do.[45] This conjecture appears to be a rumor, or speculation based on incidents in his fiction writings. His death certificate[46] gives the cause as uremia, following acute renal colic, a type of pain often described as "the worst pain...ever experienced",[47] commonly caused by kidney stones. Uremia is also known as uremic poisoning. Late-stage alcoholism also causes systemic failure.[citation needed] The biographer Stasz writes, "Following London's death, for a number of reasons, a biographical myth developed in which he has been portrayed as an alcoholic womanizer who committed suicide. Recent scholarship based upon firsthand documents challenges this caricature."[48] Most biographers, including Russ Kingman, now agree he died of uremia aggravated by an accidental morphine overdose.[49] London's fiction featured several suicides. In his autobiographical memoir John Barleycorn, he claims, as a youth, to have drunkenly stumbled overboard into the San Francisco Bay, "some maundering fancy of going out with the tide suddenly obsessed me". He said he drifted and nearly succeeded in drowning before sobering up and being rescued by fishermen. In the dénouement of The Little Lady of the Big House, the heroine, confronted by the pain of a mortal gunshot wound, undergoes a physician-assisted suicide by morphine. Also, in Martin Eden, the principal protagonist, who shares certain characteristics with London, drowns himself.[citation needed] Accusations of plagiarism

London was vulnerable to accusations of plagiarism, both because he was such a conspicuous, prolific, and successful writer and because of his methods of working. He wrote in a letter to Elwyn Hoffman, "expression, you see—with me—is far easier than invention." He purchased plots and novels from the young Sinclair Lewis and used incidents from newspaper clippings as writing material.[citation needed] In July 1901, two pieces of fiction appeared within the same month: London's "Moon-Face", in the San Francisco Argonaut, and Frank Norris' "The Passing of Cock-eye Blacklock", in Century Magazine. Newspapers showed the similarities between the stories, which London said were "quite different in manner of treatment, [but] patently the same in foundation and motive."[50] London explained both writers based their stories on the same newspaper account. A year later, it was discovered that Charles Forrest McLean had published a fictional story also based on the same incident.[citation needed] Egerton Ryerson Young[51][52] claimed The Call of the Wild (1903) was taken from Young's book My Dogs in the Northland (1902).[53] London acknowledged using it as a source and claimed to have written a letter to Young thanking him.[citation needed] In 1906, the New York World published "deadly parallel" columns showing eighteen passages from London's short story "Love of Life" side by side with similar passages from a nonfiction article by Augustus Biddle and J. K Macdonald, titled "Lost in the Land of the Midnight Sun". [54] London noted the World did not accuse him of "plagiarism", but only of "identity of time and situation", to which he defiantly "pled guilty".[55] The most serious charge of plagiarism was based on London's "The Bishop's Vision", Chapter 7 of his novel The Iron Heel (1908). The chapter is nearly identical to an ironic essay that Frank Harris published in 1901, titled "The Bishop of London and Public Morality".[56] Harris was incensed and suggested he should receive 1/60th of the royalties from The Iron Heel, the disputed material constituting about that fraction of the whole novel. London insisted he had clipped a reprint of the article, which had appeared in an American newspaper, and believed it to be a genuine speech delivered by the Bishop of London.[citation needed] Views


London was an atheist.[57] He is quoted as saying,“I believe that when I am dead, I am dead. I believe that with my death I am just as much obliterated as the last mosquito you and I squashed.” [58] Socialism

London wrote from a socialist viewpoint, which is evident in his novel The Iron Heel. Neither a theorist nor an intellectual socialist, London's socialism grew out of his life experience. As London explained in his essay, "How I Became a Socialist",[59] his views were influenced by his experience with people at the bottom of the social pit. His optimism and individualism faded, and he vowed never to do more hard physical work than necessary. He wrote that his individualism was hammered out of him, and he was politically reborn. He often closed his letters "Yours for the Revolution."[60] London joined the Socialist Labor Party in April 1896. In the same year, the San Francisco Chronicle published a story about the twenty-year-old London giving nightly speeches in Oakland's City Hall Park, an activity he was arrested for a year later. In 1901, he left the Socialist Labor Party and joined the new Socialist Party of America. He ran unsuccessfully as the high-profile Socialist nominee for mayor of Oakland in 1901 (receiving 245 votes) and 1905 (improving to 981 votes), toured the country lecturing on socialism in 1906, and published two collections of essays about socialism: The War of the Classes (1905) and Revolution, and other Essays (1906). Stasz notes that "London regarded the Wobblies as a welcome addition to the Socialist cause, although he never joined them in going so far as to recommend sabotage."[61] Stasz mentions a personal meeting between London and Big Bill Haywood in 1912.[62] In his late (1913) book The Cruise of the Snark, London writes, about appeals to him for membership of the Snark's crew from office workers and other "toilers" who longed for escape from the cities, and of being cheated by workmen. In his Glen Ellen ranch years, London felt some ambivalence toward socialism and complained about the "inefficient Italian labourers" in his employ.[63] In 1916, he resigned from the Glen Ellen chapter of the Socialist Party, but stated emphatically he did so "because of its lack of fire and fight, and its loss of emphasis on the class struggle." In an unflattering portrait of London's ranch days, California cultural historian Kevin Starr refers to this period as "post-socialist" and says "... by 1911 ... London was more bored by the class struggle than he cared to admit."[64] George Orwell, however, identified a fascist strain in London's outlook:

But temperamentally he was very different from the majority of Marxists. With his love of violence and physical strength, his belief in 'natural aristocracy', his animal-worship and exaltation of the primitive, he had in him what one might fairly call a Fascist strain.[65]

Saturday, February 20, 2016

2 B R 0 2 B by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. (Audiobook) | SHORT STORY

I've been putting more and more content up on the old YouTube channel, and if you like these free audiobooks, you might want to consider subscribing. Here's the URL for that:

Also, the website has been revamped completely, and there is now more literary-related content there. To check out the new website click the following: You can also join my newsletter there, and learn about how to get ebooks and audiobooks that I've written for a low cost or even free. Cheers.

- Frank

Friday, February 19, 2016

The Big Trip Up Yonder by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. (Audiobook) | SHORT STORY

Wikipedia sez: Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. (/ˈvɒnᵻɡət/; November 11, 1922 – April 11, 2007) was an American author. In a career spanning over 50 years, Vonnegut published fourteen novels, three short story collections, five plays, and five works of non-fiction. He is most famous for his darkly satirical, best-selling novel Slaughterhouse-Five (1969).

Born and raised in Indianapolis, Indiana, Vonnegut attended Cornell University, but dropped out in January 1943 and enlisted in the United States Army. He was deployed to Europe to fight in World War II, and was captured by the Germans during the Battle of the Bulge. He was interned in Dresden and survived the Allied bombing of the city by taking refuge in a meat locker. After the war, Vonnegut married Jane Marie Cox, with whom he had three children. He later adopted his sister's three sons, after she died of cancer and her husband died in a train accident.

Vonnegut published his first novel, Player Piano, in 1952. The novel was reviewed positively, but was not commercially successful. In the nearly twenty years that followed, Vonnegut published several novels that were only marginally successful, such as Cat's Cradle (1963) and God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater (1964). Vonnegut's magnum opus, however, was his immediately successful sixth novel, Slaughterhouse-Five. The book's antiwar sentiment resonated with its readers amidst the ongoing Vietnam War, and its reviews were generally positive. After its release, Slaughterhouse-Five went to the top of The New York Times Best Seller list, thrusting Vonnegut into fame. He was invited to give speeches, lectures, and commencement addresses around the country and received many awards and honors.

Later in his career, Vonnegut published several autobiographical essay and short-story collections, including Fates Worse Than Death (1991), and A Man Without a Country (2005). After his death, he was hailed as a morbidly comical commentator on the society in which he lived, and as one of the most important contemporary writers. Vonnegut's son Mark published a compilation of his father's unpublished compositions, titled Armageddon in Retrospect. Numerous scholarly works were released, examining Vonnegut's writing and humor.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

THE KISS by Kate Chopin (Audiobook) | SHORT STORY

From Wikipedia: Kate Chopin, born Katherine O'Flaherty (February 8, 1850 – August 22, 1904), was a U.S. author of short stories and novels. She is now considered by some to have been a forerunner of the feminist authors of the 20th century of Southern or Catholic background, such as Zelda Fitzgerald.

From 1892 to 1895, she wrote short stories for both children and adults that were published in such magazines as Atlantic Monthly, Vogue, The Century Magazine, and The Youth's Companion. Her major works were two short story collections, Bayou Folk (1894) and A Night in Acadie (1897). Her important short stories included "Désirée’s Baby," a tale of miscegenation in antebellum Louisiana (published in 1893),[1] "The Story of an Hour" (1894),[2] and "The Storm"(1898).[1] "The Storm" is a sequel to "The 'Cadian Ball," which appeared in her first collection of short stories, Bayou Folk.[1] Chopin also wrote two novels: At Fault (1890) and The Awakening (1899), which are set in New Orleans and Grand Isle, respectively. The characters in her stories are usually inhabitants of Louisiana. Many of her works are set in Natchitoches in north central Louisiana.

Within a decade of her death, Chopin was widely recognized as one of the leading writers of her time.[3] In 1915, Fred Lewis Pattee wrote, "some of [Chopin's] work is equal to the best that has been produced in France or even in America. [She displayed] what may be described as a native aptitude for narration amounting almost to genius."[3]

Chopin was born Katherine O'Flaherty in St. Louis, Missouri. Her father, Thomas O'Flaherty, was a successful businessman who had emigrated from Galway, Ireland. Her mother, Eliza Faris, was a well-connected member of the French community in St. Louis and herself the daughter of Athénaïse Charleville, who was of French Canadian descent. Some of Chopin's ancestors were among the first European inhabitants of Dauphin Island, Alabama. She was the third of five children, but her sisters died in infancy and her half-brothers (from her father's first marriage) died in their early twenties. After her father's death in 1855, Chopin developed a close relationship with her mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother. She also became an avid reader of fairy tales, poetry, and religious allegories, as well as classic and contemporary novels.

Chopin house in Cloutierville

In St. Louis, Missouri, on 8 June 1870,[4] she married Oscar Chopin and settled in New Orleans. Chopin had six children between 1871 and 1879 –in order of birth, Jean Baptiste, Oscar Charles, George Francis, Frederick, Felix Andrew, and Lélia (baptized Marie Laïza).[5] In 1879, Oscar Chopin's cotton brokerage failed, and the family moved to Cloutierville in south Natchitoches Parish to manage several small plantations and a general store. They became active in the community, and Chopin absorbed much material for her future writing, especially regarding the Creole culture of the area. Their home at 243 Highway 495 (built by Alexis Cloutier in the early part of the century) was a national historic landmark and the home of the Bayou Folk Museum. On October 1, 2008, the house was destroyed by a fire, with little left but the chimney.[6]

When Oscar Chopin died in 1882, he left Kate with $42,000 in debt (approximately $420,000 in 2009 money). According to Emily Toth, "for a while the widow Kate ran his [Oscar's] business and flirted outrageously with local men; (she even engaged in a relationship with a married farmer)."[7]

Although Chopin made an honest effort to keep her late husband's plantation and general store alive, two years later she sold her Louisiana business. Her mother implored her to move back to St. Louis, so Chopin did, and the children gradually settled into life in St. Louis, where finances were no longer a concern. The following year, Chopin's mother died.[8]

Chopin now found herself in a state of depression after the loss of both her husband and her mother. Her obstetrician and family friend, Dr. Frederick Kolbenheyer, felt that writing would be a source of therapeutic healing for Kate during her hard times. He understood that writing could be a focus for her extraordinary energy, as well as a source of income.[9]

By the early 1890s, Kate Chopin began writing short stories, articles, and translations which appeared in periodicals, including the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She was quite successful and placed many of her publications in literary magazines. However, she became known only as a regional local color writer and her literary qualities were overlooked.[10]

In 1899, her second novel, The Awakening, was published, and garnered a significant amount of negative press because it promoted values that conflicted with standards of acceptable ladylike behavior. Some of the most frequently referenced offensive ideas were those regarding female sexuality, motherhood, and marital infidelity.[11] Although the novel received much negative press, some newspapers regarded it favorably.[12] This, her best-known work, is the story of a woman trapped in the confines of an oppressive society. Out of print for several decades, it is now widely available and critically acclaimed for its writing quality and importance as an early feminist work in the South.[10]

Some of her writings, such as The Awakening, were too far ahead of their time and therefore not socially embraced. After almost 12 years in the public eye of the literary world and shattered by the lack of acceptance, Chopin, deeply discouraged by the criticism, turned to short story writing.[10] In 1900, she wrote "The Gentleman from New Orleans", and that same year she was listed in the first edition of Marquis Who's Who. However, she never made much money from her writing, and depended on her investments in Louisiana and St. Louis to sustain her.[10]

Kate Chopin's grave in Calvary Cemetery, St. Louis, Missouri

While visiting the St. Louis World's Fair on August 20, 1904, Chopin suffered a brain hemorrhage and died two days later, at the age of 54. She was interred in Calvary Cemetery in St. Louis.[10]

Kate Chopin had different lifestyles throughout her life. These lifestyles provided her with insights and understanding that permitted her to analyze late 19th-century American society. As a result of her childhood upbringing by women with ancestry descending from both Irish and French family, and life in the Cajun and Creole cultures after she joined her husband in Louisiana, many of her stories and sketches were about her life in Louisiana. They incorporated her unusual portrayals of women as their own individuals with wants and needs.[13]

Chopin's writing style was influenced by her admiration of Guy de Maupassant:

...I read his stories and marveled at them. Here was life, not fiction; for where were the plots, the old fashioned mechanism and stage trapping that in a vague, unthinkable way I had fancied were essential to the art of story making. Here was a man who had escaped from tradition and authority, who had entered into himself and looked out upon life through his own being and with his own eyes; and who, in a direct and simple way, told us what he saw...[14]

Chopin went beyond Maupassant's technique and style to give her writing a flavor of its own. She had an ability to perceive life and put it down on paper creatively. She invested substantial concentration and emphasis on women's lives and their continual struggles to create an identity of their own within the Southern society of the late nineteenth century. In "The Story of an Hour", Mrs. Mallard allows herself time to reflect upon learning of her husband's death. Instead of dreading the lonely years ahead, she stumbles upon another realization altogether.

"She knew that she would weep again when she saw the kind, tender hands folded in death; the face that had never looked save with love upon her, fixed and gray and dead. But she saw beyond that bitter moment a long procession of years to come that would belong to her absolutely. And she opened and spread her arms out to them in welcome".[2]

Not many writers during the mid- to late 19th century were bold enough to address subjects that Chopin willingly took on. Although Elizabeth Fox-Genovese, of Emory University, claims "Kate was neither a feminist nor a suffragist, she said so. She was nonetheless a woman who took women extremely seriously. She never doubted women's ability to be strong".[15] Kate Chopin's sympathies lay with the individual in the context of his and her personal life and society.

Through her stories, Kate Chopin wrote her autobiography and documented her surroundings; she lived in a time when her surroundings included the abolitionist movements and the emergence of feminism. Her ideas and descriptions were not true word for word, yet there was an element of nonfiction lingering throughout each story.[16]

Chopin took strong interest in her surroundings and put many of her observations to words. Jane Le Marquand saw Chopin's writings as a new feminist voice, while other intellectuals recognize it as the voice of an individual who happens to be a woman. Marquand writes, "Chopin undermines patriarchy by endowing the Other, the woman, with an individual identity and a sense of self, a sense of self to which the letters she leaves behind give voice. The 'official' version of her life, that constructed by the men around her, is challenged and overthrown by the woman of the story."[14]

Chopin may have been using her creative writing skills to express a point of view regarding her belief in the strength of women. The idea of creative nonfiction might be seen as relevant in this case. In order for a story to be autobiographical, or even biographical, Marquand writes, there has to be a nonfictional element, which more often than not exaggerates the truth to spark and hold interest for the readers. Kate Chopin may have felt just as surprised by the contemporary characterization of her work as feminist as she had been in her own time by the stamp of immorality. Critics tend to regard writers as individuals with larger points of view addressed to factions in society.[14]

"Désirée's Baby" focuses on Kate Chopin's experience with the Creoles of [of color] Louisiana, where the idea of slavery and the atmosphere of plantation life were a reality. The possibility of one's having a mixed background was not unheard of. Mulattos, those with both black and white backgrounds, were common in the Southern part of the nation. The issue of racism that the story brings up was an indispensable truth in 19th century America; the dark reality of racism is on full, raw display in this story because Chopin was not afraid to address such issues that were often suppressed and intentionally ignored in order to avoid bitter actuality, as Armand does when he refuses to believe that he is of black descent. The definition of great fiction is that which has the only true subject of "human existence in its subtle, complex, true meaning, stripped of the view with which ethical and conventional standards have draped it".[17]

Louisiana Public Broadcasting, under president Beth Courtney, produced a documentary on Chopin's life Kate Chopin: A Reawakening.[18]

In the penultimate episode of the first season of HBO's Treme, Creighton (played by John Goodman) assigns Kate Chopin's The Awakening to his freshmen and warns them:

"I want you to take your time with it," he cautions. "Pay attention to the language itself. The ideas. Don't think in terms of a beginning and an end. Because unlike some plot-driven entertainments, there is no closure in real life. Not really." [19]

Monday, February 15, 2016

Saturday Show Literary Podcast #111 - Analysis of The Story of an Hour by Kate Chopin

This is an analysis of "The Story of an Hour" by American author Kate Chopin. The video above is just the audio track and some pictures overlaid to make it into a video format. I then drop these videos on YouTube for folks who want to enjoy the content that way. If this appeals to you, you can subscribe to the channel here:

The audio file in that video is also the same one as I drop into my feed for the actual podcast, which is called Saturday Show Literary Podcast. The podcast can be accessed via iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play Music, any podcatcher app for iPhone or Android, and the old-fashioned way, as a playable audio file on my website. That URL is:

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Saturday Show Literary Podcast #109 - Good People by David Foster Wallace | PODCAST

In this podcast, the Austin Writing Workshop analyzes and opinionates about the short story "Good People" by David Foster Wallace. David Foster Wallace is no longer alive, but his voice and his stories are forever.

Wikipedia: David Foster Wallace (February 21, 1962 – September 12, 2008) was an American author of novels, short stories and essays, as well as a professor of English and creative writing. Wallace is widely known for his 1996 novel Infinite Jest, which was cited by Time magazine as one of the 100 best English-language novels from 1923 to 2005.[1] Wallace's last, unfinished novel, The Pale King, was published in 2011 and was a finalist for the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. A biography of Wallace was published in September 2012, and an extensive critical literature on his work has developed in the past decade. Los Angeles Times book editor David Ulin has called Wallace "one of the most influential and innovative writers of the last 20 years."[2]

Wallace's first novel, 1987's The Broom of the System, garnered national attention and critical praise. Caryn James of The New York Times called it a successful "manic, human, flawed extravaganza", "emerging straight from the excessive tradition of Stanley Elkin's Franchiser, Thomas Pynchon's V., John Irving's World According to Garp".[3]

In 1991 he began teaching literature as an adjunct professor at Emerson College in Boston. The next year, at the behest of colleague and supporter Steven Moore, Wallace obtained a position in the English department at Illinois State University. He had begun work on his second novel, Infinite Jest, in 1991, and submitted a draft to his editor in December 1993. After the publication of excerpts throughout 1995, the book was published in 1996.

In 1997, Wallace received a MacArthur Fellowship, as well as the Aga Khan Prize for Fiction, awarded by editors of The Paris Review for one of the stories in Brief Interviews—"Brief Interviews with Hideous Men #6"—which had appeared in the magazine.

In 2002, he moved to Claremont, California, to become the first Roy E. Disney Professor of Creative Writing and Professor of English at Pomona College. He taught one or two undergraduate courses per semester and focused on writing.

Wallace delivered the commencement address to the 2005 graduating class at Kenyon College. The speech was published as a book called This Is Water in 2009.[4] In May 2013, portions of the speech were used in a popular online video also titled "This is Water".[5]

Bonnie Nadell was Wallace's literary agent through his entire career.[6] Michael Pietsch was his editor on Infinite Jest.[7]

In March 2009, Little, Brown and Company announced that it would publish the manuscript of an unfinished novel, The Pale King, that Wallace had been working on before his death. The Pale King was pieced together by Pietsch from pages and notes the author left behind.[8][9] Several excerpts were published in The New Yorker and other magazines. The Pale King was published on April 15, 2011, and received generally positive reviews.[10]

Throughout his career, Wallace published short fiction in periodicals such as The New Yorker, GQ, Harper's Magazine, Playboy, The Paris Review, Mid-American Review, Conjunctions, Esquire, Open City, and Timothy McSweeney's Quarterly Concern.

Themes and styles[edit]

Wallace's fiction is often concerned with moving beyond the irony and metafiction associated with postmodernism. For example, his essay "E Unibus Pluram: Television and U.S. Fiction",[11] originally published in the small-circulation Review of Contemporary Fiction in 1993, proposes that television has an ironic influence on fiction, and urges literary authors to eschew TV's shallow rebelliousness: "I want to convince you that irony, poker-faced silence, and fear of ridicule are distinctive of those features of contemporary U.S. culture (of which cutting-edge fiction is a part) that enjoy any significant relation to the television whose weird pretty hand has my generation by the throat. I'm going to argue that irony and ridicule are entertaining and effective, and that at the same time they are agents of a great despair and stasis in U.S. culture, and that for aspiring fictionists they pose terrifically vexing problems." Wallace used many forms of irony, but focused on individuals' continued longing for earnest, unselfconscious experience and communication in a media-saturated society.[12]

Wallace's novels often combine various writing modes or voices, and incorporate jargon and vocabulary (sometimes invented) from a wide variety of fields. His writing features self-generated abbreviations and acronyms, long multi-clause sentences, and extensive use of explanatory footnotes and endnotes. He used endnotes extensively in Infinite Jest and footnotes in "Octet" as well as in the great majority of his nonfiction after 1996. On the Charlie Rose show in 1997, Wallace claimed that the notes were used to disrupt the linearity of the narrative, to reflect his perception of reality without jumbling the entire structure. He suggested that he could have instead jumbled up the sentences, "but then no one would read it".[13]

D.T. Max describes Wallace's work as an "unusual mixture of the cerebral and the hot-blooded",[14] often spanning a multitude of locations and protagonists within a single novel. It often commented on the fragmentation of thought,[15] the relationship between happiness and boredom, and the tension between the beauty and hideousness of human physicality.[16] According to Wallace, "fiction's about what it is to be a fucking human being," and he expressed a desire to write "morally passionate, passionately moral fiction" that could help readers "become less alone inside."[17] In his Kenyon College commencement address, he describes the human condition of daily crises and chronic disillusionment and warns against solipsism,[18] invoking compassion, mindfulness, and existentialism:[19]

The really important kind of freedom involves attention, and awareness, and discipline, and effort, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them, over and over, in myriad petty little unsexy ways, every day.... The only thing that's capital-T True is that you get to decide how you're going to try to see it. You get to consciously decide what has meaning and what doesn't.... The trick is keeping the truth up-front in daily consciousness.

Wallace's work has been cited as an influence and inspiration by many writers, including Dave Eggers,[20] Zadie Smith,[21] Jonathan Franzen,[22] Elizabeth Wurtzel,[23] George Saunders,[24] Rivka Galchen, Matthew Gallaway, David Gordon, Darin Strauss, Charles Yu, and Deb Olin Unferth.[25]

Non-fiction work[edit] Wallace covered Senator John McCain's 2000 presidential campaign[26] and the September 11 attacks for Rolling Stone;[27] cruise ships[28] (in what became the title essay of his first nonfiction book), state fairs, and tornadoes for Harper's Magazine; the US Open tournament for TENNIS Magazine; the director David Lynch and the pornography industry for Premiere magazine; the tennis player Michael Joyce for Esquire; the special-effects film industry for Waterstone's magazine; conservative talk radio host John Ziegler for The Atlantic Monthly;[29] and a Maine lobster festival for Gourmet magazine. He also reviewed books in several genres for the Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, The New York Times, and The Philadelphia Inquirer. In the November 2007 issue of The Atlantic, which commemorated the magazine's 150th anniversary, Wallace was among the authors, artists, politicians and others who wrote short pieces on "the future of the American idea".

Personal life[edit]

Wallace was born in Ithaca, New York, the son of Sally Jean (née Foster) and James Donald Wallace. In his early childhood, Wallace lived in Champaign, Illinois.[30] In fourth grade, he moved to Urbana and attended Yankee Ridge school and Urbana High School. As an adolescent, Wallace was a regionally ranked junior tennis player, an experience he reflects upon in the essay "Derivative Sport in Tornado Alley" (first published in Harper's Magazine under the title "Tennis, Trigonometry, Tornadoes").

James D. Wallace, David's father, was a professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and is now Emeritus Professor. David's mother, Sally Foster Wallace, attended graduate school in English composition at the University of Illinois and became a professor of English at Parkland College—a community college in Champaign—where she won a national Professor of the Year award in 1996.

Wallace attended his father's alma mater, Amherst College, and majored in English and philosophy. He participated in several extracurricular activities, including glee club; Wallace's sister recalls that "David had a lovely singing voice."[31] Within philosophy Wallace pursued interests in modal logic and mathematics. His philosophy senior thesis on modal logic[32] was awarded the Gail Kennedy Memorial Prize[33] and published posthumously as Fate, Time, and Language. His other honors thesis, written for his English major, eventually became his first novel, The Broom of the System.[34] Wallace graduated summa cum laude for both theses in 1985. By the end of his undergraduate education, Wallace was committed to fiction; he told David Lipsky, "Writing [Broom], I felt like I was using 97 percent of me, whereas philosophy was using 50 percent." He pursued a Master of Fine Arts degree in creative writing at the University of Arizona, completing it in 1987, by which time Broom had been published. Wallace moved to Boston for graduate school in philosophy at Harvard University, but left the program soon after.

In the early 1990s, Wallace became obsessed with the memoirist Mary Karr. Despite her statements that she was not interested, Wallace got her name tattooed on his body[35] and even contemplated killing her husband, according to biographer D.T. Max.[36] The two later had a tumultuous relationship during which, Karr reported, Wallace once threw a coffee table at her[37] and attempted to push her out of a car.[38]

Wallace married painter Karen L. Green, whom he met in 2002,[39] on December 27, 2004.[40][41]

Wallace struggled with drug and alcohol addiction, depression, suicide attempts, institutionalization, and at times inappropriate sexual behavior. Wallace is reported to have slept with some of his female students while teaching at university and sometimes exhibited stalking-like obsessive behavior when enamored of a woman.[42]

Dogs played an important role in Wallace's life:[43] Wallace was very close to his two dogs, Bella and Werner,[41] had spoken of opening a dog shelter,[43] and, according to Jonathan Franzen, "had a predilection for dogs who'd been abused, and [were] unlikely to find other owners who were going to be patient enough for them."[41]

Born to atheist parents, Wallace attempted to join the Catholic Church twice but "flunk[ed] the period of inquiry," and later attended a Mennonite church.[44][45][46]


Wallace died by suicide on September 12, 2008, at age 46. Wallace's father reported in an interview that his son had suffered from depression for more than 20 years and that antidepressant medication had allowed him to be productive.[40] When Wallace experienced severe side effects from the medication, he attempted to wean himself from his primary antidepressant, phenelzine.[41] On his doctor's advice, Wallace stopped taking the medication in June 2007,[40] and the depression returned. Wallace received other treatments, including electroconvulsive therapy. When he returned to phenelzine, he found that it had lost its effectiveness.[41] His wife kept a watchful eye on him in the following days, but on September 12, Wallace went into the garage, wrote a two-page note, and arranged part of the manuscript for The Pale King before hanging himself from a patio rafter.[47]

Numerous gatherings were held to honor Wallace after his death, including memorial services at Pomona College, Amherst College, the University of Arizona, Illinois State University, and on October 23, 2008, at New York University—the last with speakers including his sister, Amy Wallace Havens; his agent, Bonnie Nadell; Gerry Howard, the editor of his first two books; Colin Harrison, editor at Harper's Magazine; Michael Pietsch, the editor of Infinite Jest and Wallace's later work; Deborah Treisman, fiction editor at The New Yorker; and authors Don DeLillo, Zadie Smith, George Saunders, Mark Costello (Wallace was the godfather of Costello's daughter, Delia), Donald Antrim, and Jonathan Franzen.[48][49][50]


Wallace's legacy was described by author and notable Wallace interviewer David Lipsky: "We think a thousand things at a time, and David found a way to get all that across in a way that's incredibly true and incredibly entertaining at the same time. He found that junction.… He was the one voice I absolutely trusted to make sense of the outside world for me. Anyone that picks up his work for the next 50 years will have their antenna polished and sharpened, and they'll be receiving many more channels than they were aware of."[51]

In March 2010, it was announced that Wallace's personal papers and archives—drafts of books, stories, essays, poems, letters, and research, including the handwritten notes for Infinite Jest—had been purchased by the University of Texas at Austin. They reside at the University's Harry Ransom Center.[52]

The first annual David Foster Wallace Conference was hosted by the Illinois State University Department of English in May 2014; the second conference was held in May 2015.[53]

Since 2011, Loyola University New Orleans has offered English seminar courses on Wallace. Similar courses are also taught at Harvard University.


Film and television[edit]

A filmed adaptation of Brief Interviews, directed by John Krasinski with an ensemble cast, was released in 2009 and premiered at the Sundance Film Festival.[54] It received poor reviews.

The Simpsons episode "A Totally Fun Thing That Bart Will Never Do Again" (2012) is loosely based on Wallace's essay "A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again". The Simpson family takes a cruise, and Wallace appears in the background of a scene, wearing a tuxedo T-shirt while eating in the ship's dining room; Wallace recounts having worn such a T-shirt "at formal suppers."

The End of the Tour is a film based on David Lipsky's conversations with Wallace in Although of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself, with Jason Segel playing Wallace and Jesse Eisenberg as Lipsky. The film won an Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature at the Sarasota Film Festival[55] and Segel was nominated for the Independent Spirit Award for Best Male Lead.

"Partridge", a Season 5 episode of NBC's Parks and Recreation, repeatedly references Infinite Jest, of which the show's co-creator, Michael Schur, is a noted fan. Schur also directed the music video for The Decemberists' "Calamity Song", which depicts the Eschaton game from Infinite Jest.[56]

Stage and music[edit]

Twelve of the interviews from Brief Interviews With Hideous Men were adapted into a stage play in 2000, the first theatrical adaptation of Wallace's work. The play, Hideous Men, adapted and directed by Dylan McCullough, premiered at the New York International Fringe Festival in August 2000.

Brief Interviews was also adapted by director Marc Caellas as a play called Brief Interviews With Hideous Writers, which premiered at Fundación Tomás Eloy Martinez in Buenos Aires on November 4, 2011.[57]

The short story "Tri-Stan: I Sold Sissee Nar to Ecko" from Brief Interviews With Hideous Men was adapted by composer Eric Moe[58] into a 50-minute operatic piece, to be performed with accompanying video projections.[59] The piece was described as having "subversively inscribed classical music into pop culture".[60]

Infinite Jest was performed once as a stage play by Germany’s experimental theater Hebbel am Ufer. The play was staged in various locations throughout Berlin, and the action took place over a 24-hour period.[61]

"Good Old Neon", from Oblivion: Stories, was adapted and performed live by Ian Forester at the 2011 Hollywood Fringe Festival, produced by Los Angeles independent theater company Needtheater.[62]