The Elephant, and Everything Else, in Room after Room after Room

By Mary Ellen Hannibal Even though I have written a book about evolution, I confess to kneeling in awe at the concept.  And indeed, having read literally hundreds of papers and books explaining evolution from many a vantage point, I suspect that even brainiac scientists who can sketch out on cocktail napkins the molecular transfer […]

The Writer’s Life

By Mary Ellen Hannibal Groping In post-modern fashion, Michel Houellebecq’s novel The Map and the Territory includes a character  named Michel Houellebecq.  The character Houellebecq comes on the scene well into the action of the book, which follows artist Jed Martin, a mostly disaffected guy who escapes his own anomie at several key junctures only […]

Time’s Up

By Mary Ellen Hannibal The bromide “age is just a number” is likely to refer with frequency to triple digits, according to David Ewing Duncan in his new TED publication, When I’m 164: The New Science of Radical Life Extension, and What Happens If It Succeeds. Veteran biotech journalist Duncan purposes a new e-book format, brought […]

Changing Shadows, Unchanging Dreams

By Mary Ellen Hannibal Documentary photography trains its shutter on the “real,” capturing things as they are in a specific moment in time – and that’s what makes it often seem unreal to me, and even more intriguing. Whatever else is going on here on this Earth, time is ticking by and making changes, changes, […]


By Reid Meadows I like to keep up with the news, but it seems as though the debt crisis in Europe sort of snuck up on us. We had been so focused on pulling ourselves out of the muck of the previous financial crisis here in the United States when suddenly, Greece turned into a […]

Earthly Delights

By Mary Ellen Hannibal As in the Coldplay song currently cycling over KFOG’s radiowaves, paradise is usually a state of mind. But there’s a whole history of those who have taken the idea more literally, and Brook Wilensky-Lanford has provided a highly entertaining compendium of quests to locate this ideal in Paradise Lust:  Searching for […]

Visual Imagery

By Jean Farrington Oliver Sacks is no stranger to regular readers of The New Yorker, and over the years, I have eagerly devoured each new account of strange and bizarre human behavior.  In his most recent book, The Mind’s Eye, Sacks focuses on afflictions and conditions related to sight and communication, but particularly those that […]

The Exhausted and the Exuberant

By Mary Ellen Hannibal Since I skipped Susan Sontag‘s introduction to Epitaph of a Small Winner  I did not learn ahead of reading this 1881 novel that the Brazilian author was mulatto and from a humble background, and I would never have guessed it. The apres-mortem voice of Machado de Assis’ novel (originally titled The […]

Things Fall Apart

By Byron Spooner I read Martin Cruz Smith’s Wolves Eat Dogs (2006) on the recommendation of my friend Maketa.  She described it as “dark,” and she was right.  The book is dark as the inside of a car battery from beginning to end. I enhanced the midnight tone by reading it while the Japanese reactor […]

“This novel is about the romantic possibilities of a public library in California”

By Suzanne Kleid “I am thirty-one years old and never had any formal library training. I have had a different kind of training which is quite compatible with the running of this library. I have an understanding of people and I love what I am doing.”—Richard Brautigan, The Abortion: An Historical Romance 1966 It’s a […]