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 the Wife and A History of the Breast. Her book on love is an historic tour of the subject through a mostly literary lens, until it isn’t. She starts with Abelard and Heloise and moves on through the centuries, covering La Princesse de Cleves, (her affection for which is very appealing), and on through such heavyweights as Moliere, Rousseau, Madame Roland, Stendhal, Balzac…of course Flaubert, Gide, Proust, Colette, de Beauvoir and Sartre, and pretty much finally, Duras. This book is uniformly well-written and presents a useful time-line of mostly French literature.
It would seem that all animal species have deep totemic significance not only in indigenous cultures but in Christian, Islamic, Judaic, Eastern, and Western traditions as well. And many original stories and beliefs about animals turn out to make ecological sense. In his nifty book Vulture, anthropologist Thom van Dooren surveys this most fearsome bird’s place in both historic belief and in the ecosystem.
Naturally, since they feed on carrion, vultures are associated with death. But much vulture lore puts them in the role of life-shaper as well as destroyer. A Cherokee creation story tells how the animals, impatient to take up residence on a landscape just emerged from the seas and still drying, send a buzzard down to pave the way for them. After flying all over the Earth, the buzzard gets tired, and his wings start to flap and strike the ground, making valleys and mountains. The Egyptian hieroglyph for vulture came also to be used for ‘mother,’ invoking the association between birth and death. This Egyptian hieroglyph has further associations with the Hebrew linguistic root R-H-M, linking it to ideas like ‘compassion’ and ‘womb/matrix.’
A good book can change your life, or so it goes.
Books, poems, literature and the written word have touched the hearts and souls of thousands of people around the world and inspired art in all forms, tattooing, being one of them.
With two websites devoted entirely to literary tattoos, Contrariwise: Literary Tattoos and The Word Made Flesh, it’s clear that people have not only a passion for the books the love, but the desire to permanently ink their favorite quotes on their body.
“the single most popular book-inspired tattoo is, by far, “So it goes,” the mantra from Vonnegut’s most famous book. You’ll find the phrase on wrists (the most common location), forearms, upper backs, lower backs, shins, and feet. And that’s not all: the book’s other legendary phrase, “Everything was beautiful and nothing hurt,” cropped up almost as much as “So it goes,” giving Slaughterhouse-Five two of the most-tattooed book phrases.”
Our friends over at Flavorpill have complied a list of the best literary quote tattoos, and inspired us to find some of our favorites, which we’ve complied on a sweet Pinterest board. See any that we’re missing? Send them our way!
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 book, I wish I had made the subtitle: “Why nature needs saving and how to do it.”
I remember having fairly protracted discussions with my agent and editor about the subtitle. I wasn’t ever very keen on it. Yes, “the spine of the continent” is a landscape initiative to create linked protected areas all down the Rockies, and that is super-ambitious. But in many ways the concepts I explain, the work people are doing, the problems we face on planet Earth, and the imperative that we do more now, is really a bigger issue than any single project. But my agent and editor both thought people would see the subtitle, wonder what it was all about, and pick up the book. Read more »
We were so excited when the record finally arrived. My partner, Greg, a huge fan of the band, The Gaslight Anthem, had special ordered their album Handwritten months in advance. As we sat listening and perusing the vinyl-exclusive lyrics insert, we noticed something strange–it was typed.
We had a laugh about it, wondering how hard is it, really, to write it out? Were the lyrics ever “handwritten” at all, or were they really just hammered out on an ipad or typed up on some laptop?
How often do people use pens these days anyway? According to Slate’s Julia Turner, not that much. Sure, we write notes and postcards from time to time, but in her article, The End of Pens, she asks about the last time we filled a page of lined, college rule paper with “unbroken lettering, trying to express an argument or make a developed point? When was the last time you used pen and ink for writing, and not just for jotting?” Read more »
It’s raining here in San Francisco and when the sky is grey and the wet weather is seemingly never ending, we here at The Readers Review like nothing more than to get warm and cozy inside, and curl up with a good book and a cat.
Apparently, we are not alone! We stumbled upon Writers and Kitties, an adorable blog devoted to authors and their feline friends and couldn’t help but share. Thank you internet!
The fog, call it drizzle, blew in and out, in and, finally, out of Berkeley’s Greek Theater. It never quite took over, giving us a mild Friday night; most of the heavy clothes we brought stayed in the tote bag. Mark Knopfler’s band had surrendered the stage, finishing a sturdy, well-received, if at times slightly boring, set. The standard thirty-minute wait murmured with excitement about the Giants game, everyone checking their devices constantly and calling the situation out to one another as it changed. The house lights went down and the stage, dark, buzzed. After a minute, the crowd spotted that unmistakable white bush hat over that bobbing walk as the man wound through a scattering of equipment. An immediate and huge cheer went up as he took his place at an electric piano.
There’s something about Bob Dylan taking the stage that never fails to thrill. This is left over, at least in part, from a time some can still remember when a Dylan concert was a rare thing—the recluse emerges from his cave and all that—and not just another stop on the continuous travelling show it has become. It is nevertheless undeniable that, more than any other living musician, he has the best claim to the words ‘legend,’ ‘genius,’ and ‘titan,’ and crowds continue to respond not only adoringly but with respectful awe merely upon seeing him take the stage. We were, after all, in the presence of a musician on the same Rushmore with Armstrong, Ellington, Sinatra, Lennon and Elvis. Read more »