Blog Archives

James Frey and Norman Maclean

February 20, 2006
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James Frey and Norman Maclean

A passage about the truth-telling power of fiction, from the closing paragraphs of Norman Maclean’s novella A River Runs Through It, is being cited in commentary about James Frey and his apparently fictionalized memoir A Million Little Pieces. (For example, this piece by John MacDonald in the Arizona Republic.) Near the end of the story, Norman’s father speaks to him: “You like to tell true stories, don’t you?” he asked, and I answered, “Yes, I like to tell stories that are true.” Then he asked, “After you have finished your true stories sometime, why don’t you make up a story and the people to go with it? “Only then will you understand what happened and why.” We have an excerpt from the opening pages of the novella. . . .

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Eric Muller remembers Executive Order 9066

February 15, 2006
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Eric Muller remembers Executive Order 9066

On February 18, 2006, Eric Muller will be the guest speaker at the Northern California Time of Remembrance program in Sacramento, California. The program recalls Executive Order 9066, which gave the military the authority to remove from their homes more than 110,000 people—American citizens of Japanese ancestry and Japanese aliens—and place them in relocation camps during World War II. E.O. 9066 was signed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt on February 19, 1942. Muller is the author of Free to Die for Their Country: The Story of the Japanese American Draft Resisters in World War II which tells the amazing story of some of those internees who would refuse to be drafted into that same military that evicted them from their homes. Read an excerpt from the book. Eric Muller blogs at Is That Legal? . . .

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Be my surreal valentine

February 13, 2006
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Be my surreal valentine

If you believe that love is better described as “the drunken kisses of cyclones” than the predictable cheesiness found in a Hallmark card, then you’ll be cheered by the paperback release of Surrealist Love Poems, edited by Mary Ann Caws. This collection from such luminaries as André Breton, Robert Desnos, and Paul Eluard celebrates the irrational, obsessive, impassioned, and erotic states of love, demonstrating throughout the truth of Breton’s words, that “the embrace of poetry like that of the flesh / As long as it lasts / Shuts out all the woes of the world.” The book also includes fourteen alluring photographs from the likes of Man Ray, Lee Miller, and Claude Cahun. Read three poems from the book. . . .

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Send a valentine: give a book

February 10, 2006
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Send a valentine: give a book

Since ancient times, the heart has been associated with love and passion, but the familiar heart shape (♥) dates from the Middle Ages. Heart-shaped valentines are actually a special instance of the entwining of books and hearts that Eric Jager examined in The Book of the Heart. When we published his book, Jager wrote a special feature for our website in which he traces the heart-as-book metaphor through history. Read his essay, “Reading the Book of the Heart from the Middle Ages to the Twenty-First Century.” . . .

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Author Event: Symposium on Executive Power

February 10, 2006
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Author Event: Symposium on Executive Power

Two of our authors will be speaking at a Yale Law Journal symposium “The Most Dangerous Branch? Mayors, Governors, Presidents and the Rule of Law” on March 24 and 25, 2006. Cass Sunstein, whose most recent Chicago book was Punitive Damages: How Juries Decide, and John Yoo, author of The Powers of War and Peace: The Constitution and Foreign Affairs after 9/11, will participate in the symposium. John Yoo’s writings—in The Powers of War and Peace and in memos he authored while at the Office of Legal Counsel—have been the focus of recent discussions about presidential power in times of war and crisis. Yoo discusses these issues in an interview. More information about the symposium. . . .

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Only an idiot laughs at everything

February 6, 2006
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Paul Lewis, a professor of English at Boston College, has an op-ed piece in the Hartford Courant on the protests in the Muslim world over cartoons originally published in a Danish newspaper. “It’s easy to see that the protesters fail to appreciate how a free press operates,” says Lewis. The question however is not whether newspapers have a right to publish such satire, “but whether papers should have chosen to print these cartoons.” Lewis has thought a great deal about the place of humor in contentious times, as will be evident in his book, Cracking Up: American Humor in a Time of Conflict, which we will publish later this year. . . .

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Review: Michele de La Pradelle, Market Day in Provence

February 3, 2006
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Review: Michele de La Pradelle, Market Day in Provence

William Grimes reviews a half-dozen books about France in today’s New York Times, including Michèle de La Pradelle’s Market Day in Provence. “Ms. de La Pradelle,” says Grimes, “an ethnologist who was sent by the French government to analyze public markets, spent years scrutinizing the goods and the behavior and the underlying rules governing the market in Carpentras. Her findings amount to a cold shower for anyone, like myself, who has constructed a rich fantasy life around such places. All those farm-fresh fruits and vegetables, those delectable cheeses, those mouth-watering pâtés, come from the same wholesalers who supply the stores. The region switched over to large-scale industrial farming way back in the 1920’s. ‘A market is a collectively produced anachronism, and in this it responds to deeply contemporary logic,’ she says.” The point is well made in our excerpt from the book. . . .

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Foucault and the Iranian Revolution

February 1, 2006
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Foucault and the Iranian Revolution

On February 1, 1979, the Ayatollah Khomeini returned to Iran after fifteen years of exile. The Shah had fled Iran about two weeks earlier and Khomeini was acclaimed the leader of the Iranian Revolution. Later that year revolutionary students would storm the U.S. embassy in Tehran and take the staff hostage, to profound consequence. One observer of the Iranian Revolution was Michel Foucault, who was a special correspondent for Corriere della Sera and le Nouvel Observateur, for whom he wrote a series of articles. In Foucault and the Iranian Revolution: Gender and the Seductions of Islamism, Janet Afary and Kevin B. Anderson illuminate Foucault’s support of the Islamist movement. and show how Foucault’s experiences in Iran contributed to a turning point in his thought. Read one of Foucault’s essays, “What Are the Iranians Dreaming About?” . . .

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Three years after the Columbia accident

February 1, 2006
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Three years after the Columbia accident

Howard Nemerov (1920-1991), many of whose books were published by Chicago, wrote two poems about the space shuttle. “On An Occasion of National Mourning” was written after the Challenger accident. “Witnessing the Launch of the Shuttle Atlantis” was written for NASA, during the time that Nemerov was poet laureate of the United States. . . .

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The State of the Sovereign

January 31, 2006
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The State of the Sovereign

These days, the state of the sovereign is strong. But issues such as warrantless wiretapping by the National Security Agency have now prompted a debate over how much power the executive should have in times of war and crisis. Two recently published books offer some philosophical perspectives on the powers of the sovereign. The first is Giorgio Agamben’s State of Exception; see an excerpt, “A Brief History of the State of Exception.” The second book is our just-released reprint of Carl Schmitt’s Political Theology: Four Chapters on the Concept of Sovereignty.. . . .

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