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John Dolan

“If you’re going to talk truthfully about the world, you might as well start with the bottom line: killing people in your way.” Listen to the first episode of our new eXiled Radio hosted by John Dolan. In this premiere, Dolan strolls around the 20th century’s great killing fields with Philip Short, author of Mao: A Life and Pol Pot: Anatomy of a Nightmare.

Produced and mixed by Matt Payne.

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Posted: April 10th, 2009

Nicholas Hughes' Most Recent Photograph (bottom right)

Most Recent Photograph of That Guy That Plath Popped Out
(bottom right; circa 1962)

Sylvia Plath’s son died yesterday. That’s how it was reported, even by the BBC. The dead man’s name was Nicholas Hughes, not Plath, but in death we learn which parent really mattered. For the record, he was also the son of a poet far greater than Plath, a man named Ted Hughes.

Hughes has been snubbed and despised for most of my lifetime, on both sides of the Atlantic. The American response is typically simple-minded and moralistic: “He killed poor Sylvia!” The British scorn for Hughes is (also typically) bitchy and disingenuous. But the result has been a boycott of serious appreciation of his work throughout the English-speaking world, and so powerful in England that they’re willing to lose the services of the best man on their team rather than give Hughes his due, while cheering their cheesiest and most worthless literary lights, like the pitifully untalented W. H. Auden. (more…)

Posted: March 24th, 2009

frey22

I got out of bed this morning and told Katherine, “Hey, I think my foot is bet-” At which point my gouty big toe slammed into the table leg. When I finished howling and bouncing around on the other leg, I amended my earlier statement: “Well, OK, not so much better now-ow-ow-ow.”

Hobbling out to the computer, I checked my email and found a forwarded article from the Irish Times, a gushing interview with James Frey.

Frey the Irrepressible is back with a new book, Bright Shiny Morning. I knew that; I even read his book, because Frey and I go way back. But BSM, BS for short, was so silly it wasn’t even funny, so I thought I’d beg off reviewing it. I’ve kicked Frey with my gouty foot over and over again; what’s the use? He’ll always be famous; he’s too stupid to absorb criticism. Hell, he withstood a scolding from Oprah herself and came back hamming it up worse than ever–what could I do to him? I’m old, dead broke, sick and unknown. Any pretense of superiority I ever felt toward Frey is looking very wobbly right now. (more…)

Posted: March 19th, 2009

Robert Creeley: Great Poet or One-Eyed Interspecies Plagiarist?

Robert Creeley: Great Poet or One-Eyed Interspecies Plagiarist?

Here are two pieces of twentieth-century verse. One has been called “…the most often quoted, even the most widely known, short poem” of the 1960s; the other is from a long-forgotten collection of comic newspaper verse. One was written in 1954, the other almost four decades earlier. (more…)

Posted: March 17th, 2009

bristol-palin1

“It is not their love for us but their lack of faith that prevents today’s Christians from burning us.”
—Nietzsche

For sheer gloating pleasure, you can’t beat the lunkheads on Free Republic trying to deal with the news that Palin’s daughter not only isn’t going to marry Levi, but is breaking up with him.

It’s what they call the whole spectrum of human emotion, or primate anyway. They’re so stunned they wander for a while through digressions like whether the sperm donor in question was named after a pair of pants or not.

One loyalist with the wonderful moniker “Solid Wood” insists it can’t be true, must be a liberal media lie, until someone sends the two-word death sentence: “Fox confirms.” Then he settles for calling everyone who mentions the story a leftwing troll. (more…)

Posted: March 12th, 2009

1965_vw_split_window_van_5

That was how he died, Professor Robert Beloof, my first mentor: crushed by a hippie van.

In Portland, yet. It was a ridiculous way to die, and Beloof was, let’s face it, a ridiculous man. But it was also a very uncanny, fey manner of death for a Berkeley professor made and broken by the hippie era. You almost want to say something pompous, like “We were all run over by that VW van,” carve that on the headstone of the whole place. (more…)

Posted: March 4th, 2009

Reviewed: “A Bold Fresh Piece of Humanity” by Bill O’ Reilly (Broadway, 2008).

In this slight, self-indulgent memoir, Bill O’Reilly tells us how he got so “bold” and “fresh.” A humble man, he attributes his success to his own innate greatness, with honorable mention going to his solidly rock-headed upbringing in Levittown, N.Y. For all his generous praise of Levittown, O’Reilly is very clear that most of the credit should go to himself: “Looking back, the reason I have succeeded in life is that I relied on myself.”

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Posted: December 31st, 2008