Let me begin in the small mountain state of Colorado, in the city of Boulder, a city of some 60,000 souls laying approximately a day’s journey from the great aerodrome of Denver International Airport. Boulder is subject to the President of the United States of America, and its inhabitants worship myriad gods and goddesses, though most accept Jesus Christ as their lord. The city rests at the base of a great cliff, in the foothills the Rocky Mountains, the tallest and most forbidding of mountain ranges in the United States of America, though its highest peaks are dwarfed by the Himalayas.
“James McGirk’s short story “The Tramp Steamer” presents a side of Richard M. Nixon we’ve never seen before. McGirk imagines the young lawyer and his new bride traveling on a tramp steamer of the United Fruit Company to celebrate their first anniversary. Seasick, angry, jealous, Nixon reveals his inelegance to his wife who yearns for more glamour and glitz. McGirk takes the facts of the Nixons’ actual 1941 trip and spins out an incisive and compelling story of bitterness and dreams.” LINK
The lowland of online discourse – that virtual Benelux where bloggers, essayists, and opinion writers grope for fragments of attention – has been flooded with essays weighing the worth of writing degrees; particularly the Master of Fine Arts degree. Discussion tends to hit its annual zenith around September as magazines such as Poets & Writers release their annual rankings and thousands of fledgling authors begin preparing applications.
When I heard the Federal Bureau of Investigation might have figured out the identity of seventies skyjacker D.B. Cooper I was really upset. Who among us hasn’t felt a smidge of sympathy for the outlaw? Well into my thirties, having finally completed my education and finding myself without short-term goals to strive for, a swelling waistline, and an unremarkable life unspooling before me, I can’t help but feel attracted to a life fueled by passion and brightened with sparks of decisive action, like leaping out the back of a Boeing 727 into a lightning storm.
I never had a problem with Alaskan Senator Ted Steven’s oft-mocked remark about the Internet being a series of tubes. I saw it with my own eyes (metaphorically speaking) as a teenager growing up in New Delhi. The Internet was a feed of information that trickled in drip by drip, slowly increasing as we switched our faucets and eventually tapped into the municipal supply. My father was a foreign correspondent, which meant he had to send stories back home to be published. When we left “on assignment” to India he was issued with a bag of sophisticated telecommunications equipment. We plugged it in and became early adopters.
Writers are anxious about the Internet and all things electronic, as we worry these newfangled ways of entertaining ourselves might someday obviate our own work. The solution, perhaps, lies in understanding and adapting to this new medium. Consuming enough that we can master its complexities and render appealingly intelligent confections for our readers. But who are these readers? Are they different online than they are in print? Some of them aren’t even human. There is a new form of reader browsing the Internet. For this is no longer just the age of mechanical reproduction; we now have to contend with mechanical readers as well. [LINK]
I was born beside Sigmund Freud’s London townhome, and spent the next eighteen years ferried between Europe and Asia. Nominally American, it was not until I was seventeen-years-old that I could actually call the U.S. home, and even then I was so jangled from the shock of moving from India to a mountainous midwestern state, that I felt as if I had arrived from another planet. This was more than mere discomfort, I was so confused and unsure of who I was and what my role was meant to be I lost the ability to speak for months.
A year and decade after the turn of the century, things looked dire in the United States of America, but not that dire: the economy was stagnant after an exuberant but lopsided decade of prosperity, job opportunities for graduates and social climbers had dwindled to a few openings changing bedpans for the large, parasitic over-class of aging boomers, and the gleam of enthusiasm following Barack Obama’s presidency had faded quickly. But the fact that *that* and a few years of hardship was all it took for open revolt among the most highly educated, entitled generation of Americans ever to be born would have been quite unimaginable at the time. That the change they got was not at all what they were expecting is one of the great ironies of our age.
The “gallery” still exists on paper and hosts an occasional salon – these being one-night-only performances choked with marijuana fumes and haunted by octogenarian Warhol hangers-on and younger artists whose parents are presumed to have money – but lost its physical space five years ago. Today the gallery is a husk, but for a couple of years this gallery, which shall remain nameless, maintained a convincing façade and provided our heroine A— with her first glimpse at the art world’s mottled backside.