Beatrix Potter-pinching and Žižekian swipes: the strange world of book thefts

We caught a gent last Christmas with £400-worth of stolen books in his trousers and elsewhere. We grabbed all of the bags back, but he returned about half an hour later to reclaim a half-bottle of whisky and his dream journal, which had been at the bottom of one of the bags of stolen books. As we showed him the door he told us: “I hope you’ll consider this in…

How ‘Fiddler On The Roof’ (And Writing Its Sequel) Helped An Actress Find Closure

I’m not sure what I think of this yet. My daughter, who played Hodel in a student production last fall, has lately been expressing more interest in writing. I’ll watch for the reveiws. In the musical, and second eldest daughter, Hodel, makes the bold decision to leave her family and everything she knows to find her fiancé, who has been sent to a labor camp in Siberia. As she boards…

Telling Trump’s Story to Children: For Book Publishers, It’s Tricky

This is a challenging writing task. Presidential biographies are a staple of children’s book publishing, and of classrooms across the country. Nonfiction for children is a surging category, particularly in light of a Common Core mandate that schools put greater emphasis on it in their curriculum. Publishers like Penguin Young Readers, Scholastic and Time for Kids chronicle stories like the rise of Mr. Obama from Illinois state senator to president,…

Scholars’ unconvincing case about the value of the humanities (essay)

A literary work is a powerful tool for simulating what it’s like to inhabit someone else’s life. Not just tolerating difference, or grudgingly giving “the other side” equal time; but generating real empathy for the diversity of humanity. There is no Frigate like a Book To take us Lands away Nor any Coursers like a Page Of prancing Poetry – This Traverse may the poorest take Without oppress of Toll…

How the Midwest went from the idealized to the derided

While Pittsburgh has become more metropolitan in the last generation, the culture here one county to the east still bears witness to its rust belt past. This may sound dull as ditch water to those who believe that the “flyover” states are inhabited largely by clodhoppers, fundamentalist zealots and loudmouthed Babbitts. In fact, Lauck’s aim is to examine “how the Midwest as a region faded from our collective imagination” and…