Random Notes

Pepperland, Side 1, track 1…

April 14, 2013

Pepperland has 9 “sides”, like, you know, vinyl. We used to call ‘em records. Anyway, each side has “tracks” or episodes. Each Side has a musical theme that, in some way, expresses the feel of what’s going on. Side 1 is the Beach Boys’ Wouldn’t It Be Nice. Two smart, idealistic young people 1970 – Pepper […]

No short answers…

March 30, 2013

  Quick Question –  New Poems By John Ashbery, Ecco, 108 pages I’m not sure why I love John Ashbery’s poetry. Maybe it’s because each poem is like a favorite old album you think you know by heart but then there’s an earthquake and the needle jumps from track 2 to track 5 and now you’re here, […]


March 16, 2013

If you crossed Patti Smith (shaman rock ‘n roller, poet, writer) with Vladimir Nabokov (in his lecturer guise) with Steven Wright (deadpan comic famous for his one liners) you’d have something sort of close to Mary Ruefle. Well, not really. But if you’re a writer, this book’s for you. And judging by the number of […]

These Modern Times…

March 3, 2013

Umbrella By Will Self 397 pages Bloomsbury Not for the faint of heart. Umbrella is challenging reading, sometimes bewildering, but frequently beautiful. And that’s why a determined reader keeps on going. A Modernist throwback, Umbrella makes it new. It’s like Will Self has pulled his old James Joyce jersey out of the closet, tried it […]

Miami vice…

January 30, 2013

Back to Blood By Tom Wolfe Little, Brown (This review was originally published in The Washington Independent Review of Books on January 28, 2013) I dreamed I was in Tom Wolfe’s outlandishly superficial, depressing new novel, Back to Blood. (Note: the following two paragraphs contain material that may not be, er, suitable for all readers. […]