Interview with Gavin Jones, Author of “Failure and the American Writer”

Moby Dick

“What a loser.” Ouch. Not something we would ever want said of ourselves. Americans do not look kindly on failure or failures. What role have they played in American literary history? Which characters in American classic novels would you categorize as failures? How many American writers thought of themselves as failures or thought long and hard about failure? These are the kinds of questions Gavin Jones addresses in his book, Failure and the American Writer: A Literary History. I was intrigued by the title and asked Mr. Jones for an interview. He graciously agreed, and this is the result.  Continue reading →

Interview with Michael Emmerich, Author of “The Tale of Genji”

Quick: what books pop into your head when you think of classics of world literature? Don Quixote? The Arabian Nights? Why do some books become part of the canon of world literature and not merely beloved of specific nations or cultures? In his new book, The Tale of Genji: Translation, Canonization, and World Literature, Michael Emmerich discusses a classic of Japanese literature that also became one of the books that cultured people at least know about. What does the tale of The Tale of Genji tell us about reading habits and questions of literary prestige worldwide over the centuries and about Japan’s role in the world? I wrote to ask Mr. Emmerich for an interview. He graciously agreed and this is the result.

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Interview with Linda Przybyszewski, Author of “The Lost Art of Dress”

Are American women slobs? That is the question at the heart of the new book The Lost Art of Dress: The Women Who Once Made America Stylish by Linda Przybyszewski. She takes fashion and style very seriously and thinks we should do, too. I wanted to know if elegance matters much anymore compared to the era Przybyszewski chronicles. I asked her for an interview. She graciously agreed and this is the result. Continue reading →

Interview with Whitney Strub, Author of “Obscenity Rules”

Censored

The first two words of the title caught my eye: Obscenity Rules. Did they suggest a roar of triumph, an occasion for fist-pumping and saying, “Yeah! Obscenity rules!” Or did they indicate that the book is a dispassionate guide to the legal landscape of free expression in the 21st  century? And who was this “Roth” person? I wrote to the author of the new book, Obscenity Rules: Roth v. United States and the Long Struggle over Sexual Expression (Buy at Amazon or UP of Kansas), Whitney Strub, to ask him for an interview. He graciously agreed, and this is the result.

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Interview with Michael Z. Newman, Author of “Video Revolutions”

Video Revolutions

What are we talking about when we talk about video? When we say we watched it on video, is that correct usage, and how long have we been doing that?

These are the kinds of questions addressed by Michael Z. Newman in his book, Video Revolutions: On the History of a Medium (buy at Columbia UP and Amazon). Video already has a history? Intrigued, I wrote to Mr. Newman and asked for an interview. He graciously agreed. This is the result.

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