Salinger Revisited: De Daumier Smith’s Blue Period

This is, to me, one ofIMG 1414 those stories that feels like a remnant of Salinger’s pre-New Yorker writing. Perhaps this is why it was declined by The New Yorker and instead appeared in Information World Review instead (it was, in fact, the last Salinger story that appeared outside the pages of The New Yorker). There continue to be some of Salinger’s religious concerns that would so deeply permeate the work to follow, but they are in many ways overwhelmed by the atmosphere of the story with every aspect of the setting and characters defined by a certain—can I say it?—squalor.


Dewey Decimal Project: 317.3 PET Unlocking the Census with GIS

Sometimes in thScreen Shot 2017 02 04 at 19 55 10e Dewey Decimal project I end up with bad choices. In this instance, the 310s are statistics. There were a couple of almanacs and this book. Then, for added bonus, I lost the book while I was reading it. I ended up buying a used copy in excellent condition to finish reading it. The library still charged me for the lost book with the return of the replacement copy, but they were kind enough to not charge me the restocking fee.

The book itself is interesting, but has the flaw that it was geared around 2000 census data and the technology available at the time. 

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Beautiful Sentences: J. Robert Lennon

Stories exist to make sense of life.

J. Robert Lennon, Familiar.


Dewey Decimal Project: 306.235 FLA Girl Land

As the father of a young daughter aNewImagend a member of a family which went 59 years without a female birth before my daughter’s birth, girls are a bit of a mystery to me. No sisters, no nieces, and only a single female cousin who was over a decade older than me so I knew her more as an adult than as a girl.

Reading this book was a bit of an eye-opener for me. The central thesis was one that should have been obvious for me: The development of sexual maturity in a girl as she becomes a woman marks a social and physical threat to the girls, particularly from men. 


Beautiful Sentences: Denis Johnson

Looking at her I thought of going out in the fields with my wife back when we were so in love we didn’t know what it was.

Denis Johnson, Jesus’ Son.


Dewey Decimal Project 291.9 ZEI Cults

ThereNewImage are a few places where the Dewey Decimal System betrays its Victorian origins. The 200s are one of these. 220–289 are dedicated to Christianity and the Bible. All other religions are given 290–299. So faced with the full panoply of world religions outside of Christianity, I ended up choosing this slender book on cults aimed at teenagers with short attention spans.

The treatment is a bit cursory and it’s been a while since I read it so I don’t remember the details very well, but I think that the book failed to really define quite what a cult was and included in its ranks of cults some groups that are arguably not cults at all.


Beautiful sentences: David Bezmogis

Though he did not want to desecrate his grief, Alec nonetheless said, I just buried my father, I’d like to come up.

David Bezmogis, The Free World.


Dewey Decimal Project: 282.092 MAN Vows: The Story of a Priest, a Nun, and their Son

NewImageAll it really took to hook me on the book was the title. A priest and a nun get married and have kids? Right up my alley.

Where the big surprise came in (and perhaps it shouldn’t have been a surprise), was the fact that the Boston priest sexual abuse scandal came into play in the story as well. Overall, this is a brilliant and wonderfully detailed account of Catholicism in America in the 1950s through 1970s. The whole of the story, with Manseau’s father’s quixotic effort to have both his priesthood and his marriage recognized by the Church makes for a fascinating read.


Beautiful sentences: Terese Svoboda

At least we have our own cell to settle in. At least the baby doesn’t die of the shot the way he could have, with all the cell fleas and a flesh wound and no mother. He is used to Sharon more anyway is what I suppose, what with the mother no doubt seeping milk out onto the plow handles whenever she came close enough to wave instead of feed him. At least the fleas here keep him so miserable he couldn’t find eternal rest if you laid it in front of him,

Terese Svoboda, Bohemian Girl.


Beautiful Sentences: Lillian S. Robinson

But ours is a movement that is only half certain where it is marching, and poetry is more often relegated to the “cultural events,” the entertainment segment of feminist conferences, rallies, and meetings, the thing we drop into when the real political work is over. It needs to be more than that, and I am convinced that it will be—when there is a movement demanding that this most sensitive instrument be pressed into the service of a more sweeping analysis and a more definite direction than any we have yet devised.

Lillian S. Robinson, “The Keen Eye… Watching: Poetry and the Feminist Movement”