urban literary-knot

Jeunesse dorée September 1, 2009

Gilded Youth

 

Kate Cambor’s first book opens in 1914, the year France lurched from the opulence of the Gilded Age into the clamor of the modern world. Gone were the days when debutantes danced until dawn at mountainside resorts and literary giants like Victor Hugo and Alphonse Daudet presided over exclusive Paris salons. Ushered in was an era of war and disorientation. “The new generation of writers and politicians . . . were engaged in a battle of epic and Oedipal proportions,” Cambor writes. “At stake was nothing less than the heart and soul of Mother France.”

This new age is seen through the eyes of three young Parisians: Léon Daudet was the son of novelist Alphonse Daudet, Jeanne Hugo the granddaughter of Victor Hugo, and Jean-Baptiste Charcot the son of neurologist Jean-Martin Charcot. Each was born at the height of Third Republic society, “poised, more than most, to take advantage of the promises of the dawning century.” Instead, the three friends fell victim to a string of personal and political crises. As Cambor notes, the problem was primarily one of momentum — the “faith in science and progress” that defined the Gilded Age was eroded by the arrival of mechanized combat, psychoanalytic theory and a dizzying rush of experimental art. Born to one era, Charcot, Daudet and Hugo struggled, and failed, to adjust to the mores of the next.

Matthew Shaer

Advertisements
 

Let May be ‘Wild’ May 3, 2008

I can’t think of a better book to read this month than Griffiths’  Wild: An Elemental Journey  … and no there won’t be any ayahuasca to enhance the reading!

Contact for details- etc.

                          “As dreams are essential to the psyche, wilderness is to Life.”

                                                      -Jay Griffiths

 

Transplanting in Fertile Soil April 11, 2008

This month’s reading has gotten a late start (no surprise there!) but the wait is well worth it when wrapping around Jhumpa Lahiri’s new novel Unaccustomed Earth.  I think this is what happens as a writer when you don’t try to force yourself to crank out endless mundane or mediocre work just to satisfy the public, or put pressure upon oneself for the endless reasons.  Ms Lahiri constantly amazes me with her creative imaginary flare and such a gift to bring rich characters to the written page.

The LATimes and NewsWeek give your mind a nibble before we meet.

-ciao

 

 

 

 

 

Complicated Geniuses March 15, 2008

Her Husband

This month I’d like to delve deeper into two incredibly talented writers that seemed to have brushed popularity with novices simply due to tragedy- and Plath’s death was truly that. 

Middlebrook’s biography really keeps both Hughes and Plath simultaneously entwined yet distinctly apart, and she is refreshing in her detail, wit and compassion towards these two literary artists- blame and sensationalism is not the focus.  And for Plath especially, this is what seemed to overshadow so much of her less studied writings.

Smith College is also hosting a 75year Symposium next month in Ms Plaths honor- indeed well earned and timely.

-salut

 

‘Looking for Mr Goodvegetable’… November 2, 2007

hands

It’s slightly ironic that I’m living in the city, close to Lake Michigan, and yearning restlessly to head back “to the country”; writing about urban irks and how irritating Wisconsin is for the most part. 

What country exactly I’m bemoaning about, more and more is continuously becoming less and less- that’s for certain.  When I take the occasional drive back to my childhood haunts I see McMansion’s rising up all over the those ‘ol farmlands.  

When we first moved “out there” as kids from the city, there were still wild turkeys in our backyard, pheasants galore, and the memories of cross-country skiing for endless stretches of snow-packed miles- it was great to have that kind of childhood abundance and freedom.

In this economy I’m constantly amazed at the cha-ching spilling over, and the sources for many of these endeavors is certainly questionable… all in the name of continued “growth and progress”- yadda-yadda..   

For all the “green” talk, you certainly don’t see much pause to reflect on the McMansion-builders and buyers side, the microcosm/macrocosm is quite blantant even if you are “too busy” for that type of  mental withdraw.

Only a few chapters into Barbra Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life  and admittedly, I’m completely taken up by the family’s adventure thus far..

Feel free to comment and discuss if you’ve already had the pleasure.