Monthly Archives: October 2011

WHY READ MOBY DICK? By Nathaniel Philbrick

I once had a film professor who exclaimed in class, “Why would any female want to read Moby Dick? There aren’t any women in the book!” Well, actually, there are. But you get the point. Once the whaling ship goes to sea, the all-male cast of characters dominates the book. Nathaniel Philbrick writes a moving tribute to Moby Dick (his favorite novel). Why Read Moby Dick? is a love letter to readers about this quirky book. I’m amazed Philbrick found someone to publish it. In these times of ebooks and neglect of the classics, Philbrick’s argument for reading Herman Melville’s odd novel is compelling. I know I wanted to drop everything and reread Moby Dick after finishing Philbrick’s insighful book. GRADE: A


Microstyle is writing effective tweets, headlines, witty dialogue, titles, sound bites, brand names, domain names, slogans, taglines, company mantras, and bullet points. Like SHORT & SWEET. Branding consultant Christopher Johnson explores the techniques of poets, copywriters, brand namers, political speechwriters, and other professional verbal miniaturists to illustrate how to write effective, pithy messages. Microstyle goes beyond style guides like Strunk & White’s classic Elements of Style to focus on saying plenty with just a few words. Not only does Johnson deliver a heavy dose of linguistics, but he applies those principles to famous slogans and advertising campaigns to reveal how they work. I found the whole topic fascinating. GRADE: A

FORGOTTEN BOOKS #140: MULTIPLES By Robert Silverberg

Between Planet Stories reprinting omnibus volumes of Robert Silverberg’s short novels and Subterranean Press reprinting all of Silverberg’s science fiction short fiction, this is a great time to be a Robert Silverberg fan! Just released Multiples: The Collected Stories of Robert Silverberg Volume Six (1983-1987) presents some of Silverberg’s best work. “Sailing to Byzantium” won the Nebula in 1985 for Best Novella. As always, Silverberg’s “Introduction” sets the stories in the context of the Eighties and reveals insights into the publishing industry of that time. Subterranean Press deserves praise for continuing this wonderful series.
Table of Contents:

Tourist Trade
Against Babylon
Sailing to Byzantium
Sunrise on Pluto
Hannibal’s Elephants
Gilgamesh in the Outback
The Pardoner’s Tale
The Iron Star
The Secret Sharer
House of Bones


Record producers rarely achieve fame. Quincy Jones and George Martin are a couple of producers who became known through their association with artists: Michael Jackson in Jones’ case, the Beatles in Martin’s case. But Phil Spector achieved fame by producing hits by a number of artists: the Ronettes, Crystals, Righteous Brothers, Darlene Love, and even the Beatles. One of Spector’s musical innovations was “The Wall of Sound.” Spector created a dense, layered, reverberant sound that sounded great on AM radio and jukeboxes popular in the Sixties. Spector achieved this sound by having a number of electric and acoustic guitarists perform the same parts in unison, adding musical arrangements for large groups of musicians up to the size of orchestras, then recording the sound using an echo chamber. The result was a unique sound that’s instantly recognizable. This just released collection presents much of the range of Phil Spector’s early work. Highly recommended!
1. He’s A Rebel
2. Da Doo Ron Ron
3. Be My Baby
4. Then He Kissed Me
5. (Today I Met) The Boy I’m Gonna Marry
6. Baby, I Love You
7. He’s Sure The Boy I Love
8. Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah
9. Wait Til’ My Bobby Gets Home
10. Walking In The Rain
11. Uptown
12. Why Do Lovers Break Each Others Hearts?
13. Do I Love You?
14. A Fine, Fine Boy
15. There’s No Other Like My Baby
16. You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling
17. (The Best Part Of) Breakin’ Up
18. Not Too Young To Get Married
19. River Deep, Mountain High


Rita Dove’s just published collection is raising plenty of eyebrows: no Allen Ginsberg, no Sylvia Plath. We’re getting Rita Dove’s take on American 20th Century poetry and there are more than a few surprises. I haven’t been able to find a copy of the Table of Contents online so I’m just going to list all the poets in this volume so you get a sense of its range. I’m finding plenty of poets new to me to explore! GRADE: A Edgar Lee Masters
Edwin Arlington Robinson
James Weldon Johnson
Paul Lawrence Dunbar
Robert Frost
Amy Lowell
Gertrude Stein
Alice Moore Dunbar-Nelson
Carl Sandburg
Wallace Stevens
Angelina Weld Grimke
William Carlos Williams
Sara Teasdale
Ezra Pound
Hilda Doolittle (H.D.)
Robinson Jeffers
Marianne Moore
T. S. Eliot
Claude McKay
Archibald MacLeish
E. E. Cummings
Jean Toomer
Louise Bogan
Melvin B. Tolson
Hart Crane
Robert Francis
Langston Hughes
Countee Cullen
Stanley Kunitz
W. H. Auden
Theodore Roethke
Charles Olson
Elizabeth Bishop
Robert Hayden
Muriel Rukeyser
Delmore Schwartz
John Berryman
Randall Jarrell
Weldon Kees
Dudley Randell
William Stafford
Ruth Stone
Margaret Walker
Gwendolyn Brooks
Robert Lowell
Robert Duncan
Lawrence Ferlinghetti
William Meredith
Howard Nemerov
Hayden Carruth
Richard Wilbur
James Dickey
Alan Dugan
Anthony Hecht
Richard Hugo
Denise Levertove
Louis Simpson
Carolyn Kizer
Kenneth Koch
Maxine Kumin
Gerald Stern
A. R. Ammons
Robert Bly
Robert Creeley
James Merrill
Frank O’Hara
John Ashbery
Galway Kinnell
W. S. Merwin
James Wright
Donald All
Philip Levine
Anne Sexton
Adrienne Rich
Gregory Corso
Gary Snyder
Derek Walcott
Miller Williams
Etheridge Knight
Amiri Baraka (LeRoi Jones)
Ted Berrigan
Audre Lorde
Sonia Sanchez
Mark Strand
Russell Edson
Mary Oliver
Charles Wright
Lucille Clifton
June Jordan
Frederick Seidel
C. K. Williams
Diane Wakoski
Michael S. Harper
Charles Simic
Paula Gunn Allen
Frank Bidart
Carl Dennis
Stephen Dunn
Robert Pinsky
James Welch
Billy Collins
Toi Derricotte
Stephen Dobyns
Robert Hass
Lyn Hejinian
B. H. Fairchild
Haki R. Madhubuti (Don L. Lee)
William Matthews
Sharon Olds
Henry Taylor
Tess Gallagher
Michael Palmer
James Tate
Norman Dubie
Carol Muske-Dukes
Kay Ryan
Larry Levis
Adrian C. Louis
Thomas Lux
Marilyn Nelson
Ron Stilliman
Nathaniel Mackey
Gregory Orr
Roberta HIll Whiteman
Albert Goldbarth
Heather McHugh
Leslie Marmon Silko
Olga Broumas
Victor Hernandez Cruz
Jane Miller
David St. John
C. D. Wright
Carolyn Forche
Jorie Graham
Marie Howe
Joy Harjo
Garrett Hongo
Andrew Hudgins
Brigit Pegeen Kelly
Paul Muldoon
Judith Ortiz Cofer
Rita Dove
Alice Fulton
Barbara Hamby
Mark Jarman
Naomi Shihab Nye
Alberto Rios
Laurie Sheck
Gary Soto
Susan Stewart
Mark Doty
Harryette Mullen
Franz Wright
Lorna Dee Cervantes
Sandra Cisneros
Cornelius Eady
Louis Erdrich
David Mason
Marilyn Chin
Cathy Song
Annie Finch
Li-Young Lee
Carl Phillips
Nick Flynn
Elizabeth Alexander
Reetika Vazirani
Sherman Alexie
Natasha Trethewey
A. E. Stallings
Joanna Klink
Brenda Shaughnessy
Kevin Young
Terrance Hayes


Quentin Tarantino’s break-through movie is finally available in Blu-ray format. It’s hard to believe this ground-breaking film came out in 1994. I don’t think Tarantino has been able to match Pulp Fiction in innovativeness (although Kill Bill comes close but it was two films). The video quality is outstanding. The aspect ratio is 2.35:1. The sound is DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio. For fans of Pulp Fiction this version beats all the others. GRADE: A

CASIO Men’s W800H-1AV Classic Digital Sport Watch

Rick Robinson mentioned that after wearing a digital watch for 20 years, he’s gone back to an analog watch. Strangely enough, the case of my Casio Calculator watch that I’ve worn for over 20 years suddenly cracked. The watch continues to function, but I can’t attach a wrist band to it. So I decided it was time for a new watch. Since my Casio gave me trouble-free service for a couple of decades, I looked at Casio’s extensive line of watches. Their popular G-Shock line of watches were too clunky for me. I wanted something simple, reliable, and durable. After some searching, I found the Casio’s Men W800H-1AV Classic Digital Sport Watch. It has a nice, readable display. It’s shock resistant (I can dive with it down to 330 feet!) and water resistant. And it has several types of alarms and a digital stopwatch. All this for $15! And the Casio’s Men W800H-1AV Classic Digital Sport Watch is guaranteed by Casio until 2099!

THE OTHER By Matthew Hughes

I’ve made no secret of my fondness for the works of Matthew Hughes. Hughes somehow channels Jack Vance and produces whimsical works in Vance’s celebrated style. Underland Press of Portland gains my praise for publishing Matthew Hughes’ latest science fiction novel, The Other. Luff Imbry, the greatest thief on Old Earth, is kidnapped and taken across the galaxy to an obscure, desert planet called Fulda. The humans of Fulda aspire to “perfection” by measuring themselves against a standard designed by their spiritual founder, Haldeyn. Deviants from that standard are outcasts and classified as “oddies.” Imbry has to figure out how to survive in this bizarre society, identify the enemy who has abandoned him on this isolated planet, and to get back to Old Earth to use his vast resources to extract vengeance. As with most of Matthew Hughes’ work, I read The Other in one sitting. Hughes leaves the door open for sequels. I, for one, would welcome them! GRADE: B+


The Filter Bubble will feed your paranoia. Eli Pariser shows how much of the information we get online has been “filtered.” Two different people will get different search results on GOOGLE for the same term. AMAZON will skew its search results depending on your buying profile. “The cloud” is essentially run by only a few companies that may not have your best interests at heart. Eli Pariser shows that companies who collect information are under enormous pressure to sell that information. That information then leads companies to market to consumers who fit their profile. Other consumers have been “filtered” out. The transparency of the Internet is a myth. After reading Eli Pariser’s book, you’ll be more skeptical…and more careful. GRADE: A-