Just about the worst thing a book jacket designer can do is, in my opinion, depict any of the characters on the cover. It seems almost a cruel thing to do, like he’s stealing imaginative power from the reader before the reader even gets to open the book. Story writing, by its nature, engages the imagination, but the imagination loves shortcuts, and any cover-art with a character in it is like a pizza delivery guy showing up when the author has spent hours cooking up a gourmet meal of prose. (Now, if you’ll please forgive that … Continue reading A Cover of Contempt
[frame align=”right”] [/frame]The first American best seller was Susan Warner’s Wide Wide World, a saga of tears and redemption that appeared in 1850. It was eventually outsold by Uncle Tom’s Cabin, but only just. It’s not surprising that this best seller – and many a follower – was written by a woman. While women had no foothold in the professions – law, medicine, college teaching, scientific research, indeed, higher education itself, were virtually closed to all but that remarkable few who had supportive and indulgent parents (which is to say, fathers) or other male protectors. … Continue reading A Wider World
Up until a few days ago, when it was returned in a glorious shower of shooting stars and singing angels, the internet connection at my house had been out for about a month. I suppose its absence could have been an opportunity for reflection, an exploration of what life is like without an electronic leash, without an instantaneous connection to the larger world, but mostly it was just annoying. I couldn’t check my email … so I just did it at work. I couldn’t download things … so I just did it at a coffee shop. … Continue reading The Internet: The Air Conditioning of the 21st Century
[frame align=”right”][/frame]Dame Iris Murdoch (1919-1999) was a serious student of Platonic idealism, in addition to being a highly successful novelist. Her exploits as scholar and philosopher – she was fellow at St. Anne’s College, Oxford – add a resonance to her work that gives critics plenty to speculate about, but the most interesting thing for me, about Murdoch, is her cool-headed skill as a storyteller. Over the course of a long writing career, she produced more than twenty engrossing tales. Her novel, The Sea, The Sea is a prime example – and a good place … Continue reading The Sea, The Sea
In contrast to my subject matter, I will try to be brief: I don’t have any long range studies to back this up, but I think communication is getting, in general, faster and briefer. I have anecdotal evidence galore; the text message has replaced email which replaced phone conversation which replaced the handwritten letter. Newspaper articles have been overtaken by blurbs on a blog (which may be soon sunsetted by tweets). I have a bit of empirical evidence too, like how in nightly news stories, sound bites from U.S. Presidential candidates have gone from an average of … Continue reading Ode to the Long Form
[frame align=”right”][/frame]In 2006, Farrar Straus and Giroux published Edgar Allan Poe and the Jukebox, a medley of previously uncollected work by Elizabeth Bishop (edited by Alice Quinn, poetry editor of The New Yorker and executive director of the Poetry Society of America). Running to over three hundred pages, it’s a bigger book than any book of poetry Bishop published in her lifetime and includes all sorts of things: juvenilia, scraps of unfinished poetry, and prose pieces of many kinds, in varying degrees of completion. “For those who love Elizabeth Bishop, “ said John Ashbery (perhaps … Continue reading What You Don’t See
Welcome to the new Streetlight Magazine! This issue marks the first online appearance of what has been a Charlottesville tradition – new and exciting work from writers and artists both in Charlottesville and the outlying parts of central Virginia. The print version of Streetlight made its first appearance on the Charlottesville scene as an outgrowth of the energy at Charlottesville Writing Center. Browning Porter was its innovative editor and Browning has been a friend of Streetlight ever since. It’s thanks in part to his efforts that the magazine still exists now as an independent entity, … Continue reading Welcome to the new Streetlight Magazine!