Going into the City, reviewed by Byron Spooner

Going into the City: Portrait of a Critic as a Young Man, A Memoir by Robert Christgau Reviewed by Byron Spooner  Back in the days right after the extinction of the dinosaurs, when I was still new to New York City, it was a pretty frequent thing to spot Robert Christgau riding his crappy-looking bike […]

Olympic Reading by Byron Spooner

Olympic Reading   If you’ve decided not to watch the Olympics—and there are many obvious reasons not to—or if you just get bored with all the vapid booster-ism, the brain-dead jingoistic blather and the endless human interest stories, I can recommend a couple of books you might want to read either instead of watching or […]

Salman Rushdie: Infernal Genius or What? Part III

By Byron Spooner Part III When The Satanic Verses came out in 1989 I appeared on KSFO with host Noah Griffin, along with Bruce Brugmann and Ishmael Reed to discuss the fatwa the book had provoked.  During a commercial break, Noah informally polled the panel, asking if any of us had actually read the book.  […]

Natural Inheritance

By Mary Ellen Hannibal Robert Paine is a super-famous ecologist, the first person to really nail down the process known as a “trophic cascade,” by which top predators have a forcing effect that deeply impacts the entire food web.   Many years ago Paine did an experiment off the North Atlantic coast, removing sea stars (formerly […]

Salman Rushdie: Infernal Genius or What? Part II

By Byron Spooner PART II I tried to funnel off some the boredom and make myself feel better by starting another book.  After all, sometimes reading something else in tandem with a difficult book will move the whole project along, or at least create the illusion of progress. I’ve heard it can work, that’s all […]

A Fire in the Mind

By Mary Ellen Hannibal  The other night an old friend from LA was in town and came to dinner.  He’d just finished adapting a nonfiction memoir for the screen – that’s what he does for a living.  He said he was pretty satisfied with his work, and had “followed the Joseph Campbell hero stuff” carefully, […]

Salman Rushdie: Infernal Genius or What? Part I

By Byron Spooner  PART I I feel like such a moron. Pretty much as a matter of habit I set aside an hour or so each night before going to sleep just for reading.  I set aside another hour or so in the morning for the same purpose.  That’s almost ten percent of my day. […]

The End of Love

By Mary Ellen Hannibal Marilyn Yalom proposes How the French Invented Love, giving us “Nine Hundred Years of Passion and Romance,” and then she brings us up to the present day, in which the French have seemingly lost the recipe.  Yalom is the prolific elucidator of many feminine-oriented fields of inquiry, including A History of […]

How to Save Nature

By Mary Ellen Hannibal The subtitle of my book, The Spine of the Continent, is:  “The most ambitious wildlife conservation project ever undertaken.” Now that the book has been out for a few months, and I’ve given a bunch of radio show interviews (most recently on KQED with Michael Krasny), slide presentations, and readings about the […]

Take Note

 By Mary Ellen Hannibal The connections between art, science, and detective work are no more apparent than in the field journal.  Through the mostly hand-written notes recorded by botanists, novelists, and police officers, the raw materials of who, what, when, and where are documented over time so that eventually patterns can be discerned and the big […]