Re-reading ‘The Catcher in the Rye’

If I were to hop back through time exactly fifteen years, I might find myself sitting in John Shafer’s English classroom. I imagine a full class—Shafer’s generally were—with a couple dozen high school juniors: athletes dressed for game day, the popular looking enviably presentable, the studious with notebooks out, and a motley remainder eluding easy stereotypes. Regardless […]

Amusing Ourselves to Death

What can we learn from the intellectual tradition of media bashing? Human history is littered with intellectual grumblings about media: Socrates objected to the written word, Thoreau shrugged at the telegraph, and Neil Postman railed against television. In Amusing Ourselves to Death, Postman makes two key arguments: The media we use to communicate affect the […]

A Real Son-of-a-Bitch

“Read this, Bud. It’s a real son-of-a-bitch… the greatest I’ll ever write.” – Faulkner, delivering The Sound and the Fury to his friend and agent, Ben Wasson Son-of-a-bitch, indeed. This book is unwieldy, uncompromising, and still worthy of attention. One read through, I’m left with begrudging respect—what one might feel when a competition ends in […]

‘Shoeless Joe’ and ‘Field of Dreams’

How do we judge books that inspire more memorable films? I’ll be honest: I fell in love with Field of Dreams long before I’d ever heard of Shoeless Joe. My appreciation for the film colored my reading of the book—a bias that usually works the other way around. There are things to like about Shoeless […]

Thoughts on ‘A Sand County Almanac’

The irony of innovation is that it’s gradually overshadowed by its own impact. A once-seminal idea can—by its own power—become self-evident, erasing its tracks through time. This progression makes it difficult to appreciate what something meant at its beginning; the appreciation that remains is rooted more in retrospect than true inspiration. Given this, I’m surprised […]