The SFFaudio Podcast #501 – READALONG: The Book Of Skulls by Robert Silverberg

November 26, 2018 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #501 – Jesse, Scott Danielson, Paul Weimer, and Wayne June talk about The Book Of Skulls by Robert Silverberg

Talked about on today’s show:
1972, nominated for…, it doesn’t feel like a science fiction book at all, a small book, The Gods Themselves by Isaac Asimov, winning author, feels like a Lawrence Block book, the Lawrence Block genre, the same writing system, magazines and paperbacks, a prolific writing machine, four a year or five a week, pseudonyms, erotica, mysteries, a writer’s writer, Harlan Ellison, Donald Westlake, the kind of paperback you read with one hand, paying markets, popular writers, you can feel it, it didn’t keep it up, keeping up the pace, it doesn’t feel like a fantasy either, genre adjacent, secret history, come from Atlantis, can we trust that monk?, anything?, inside the compound, exactly halfway through, another kind of book, the Wikipedia entry, a happy roadtrip movie, a Quentin Tarantino, the route they took, New York, Chicago, Phoenix, Route 66, bildungsroman, American road-trip, Route 666, the TV show, what kind of book this is, no one reads as many old magazines as Jesse does today, ads for the Rosicrucian, the pyramids, astounding wisdom, astral projection, you may walk on the surface of the Sun!, the free book, secret society, AMORC, what secret power did they possess?, Benjamin Franklin, Isaac Newton, a full and peaceful life, power on this earth, primetime for cults, hey baby we’re going to the desert, dropping out, a book about a cult, unadvertised, that kind of immortality, laying out plans, stuck in this vastness, unrealistic expectations, when I get immortality, studying music for 30 years, walk across Asia, Larry Niven’s immortal characters, Louis Wu, a fashion maven, a hermit in a cave, the attraction of this book, stupid guys in college, naive, spew on it, a quest, eternal life, existential philosophy, seeking meaning, personal devils, the rubric, a cosmic accident, worth the risk, significance for your life, underlying outline, couched in the 70s, pretty accurate, when this book was new, time under my belt, he knew his existential philosophy, this book lives and dies on the fact there’s no Wikipedia, Scientology, getting off the bus to Hollywood, some friendly guy, working on myself, help me get jobs, the death wish thing, it doesn’t happen on screen, uninteresting lives, Jesse is Eli, homosexual, no trust fund, confess that later, reality shows and Big Brother, William Friedkin, a horror story, thinking during the book, Oliver, ’70s randy dudes, a lot of sex, not very SFy, cutting edge back then, drugs, pulp sci-fi, my faith wavered, the shrill laughter of Satan, do you think you’ve gained anything here?, the icy future, this image, the desert as one of the poles, an empty blasted world, a strange backsliding, oh god, you felt it to then?, the voice of doubt, the thing that you seek, skull mask, sullen girl, the heavy breasted succubus, the thing you seek, the House of Skulls, a hawk in the blue sky, hawk you will die and I will live, of this I have no doubt, I understand, life eternal we offer thee, a horror story ending, as much as it is disquisition on existentialism, prescribing vs. describing, I reject your victory, are these guys 25,000 years old?, an afterword, tell us the secret, I wasn’t there, ambiguity, the path of existentialism, belief, salvation, if you have a philosophical bent, in to being outraged, problematic scenes, I raped my sister, completely free of any of those concerns, he’s not trying to make it a movie, free love, a less apologetic culture, one review, this isn’t the only way to practice homosexuality, a gay friendly book, not shy or ashamed, never felt preached to, there’s these dudes, who’s telling this story, snarking on each other, getting it right and wrong, a psychological study, four narrators, not buddies, same basic age, hard to distinguish when not talking about themselves, Stefan Rudnicki, they’re the same guy, aspects of the same guy, the skull with the faces, without the flesh on it it is just a skull, each of those skulls had a face, working on a Freudian analysis, flowery metaphor, the right symbol for immortality, not immortality in Heaven, a horror immortality, the ending, in too deep, the sunk cost fallacy, that’s what this is about?, spicy vegetarian meals forever, a really old thing, memento mori, to contemplate your mortality, skulls under our faces, carrying death within us, Lent, from dust you came, Halloween, the Day of the Dead, candy skulls, Hamlet, I knew him Horatio, I kissed these lips, how great a work is man, I’m on a horror train come with me, sorry Ophelia, two fall away two move forward, four confession, the sacrifice and the murder, who is going to be killed?, who is going to kill themselves?, sharp, into overdrive, Oliver was the one, Eli was going to kill himself, a neurotic nebbish, game this out, expectations gone awry, Ariel, Random Walk by Lawrence Block, meanwhile in Kansas, really evil characters, these two forces come together, it is about walking, power walker (racewalker), speedwalking, a sports commentator, the normal human activity, chasing at a leisurely pace, endurance running, human physiology Wayne, local stray animals, escaping predators, getting places, an excuse to get exercise, walking (and hiking) is associated with thinking, meaning comes to him, gaining interest over time, The Razor’s Edge by W. Somerset Maugham, Bill Murray, Theresa Russell, Denholm Elliot, a WWI book, a trip to Asia, I’m a yogi, having meaning, it pisses everybody else off, from their point of view, crime novels, the Bernie Rhoddenbar books, The Burglar Who Thought He Was Bogart, Eight Million Ways To Die, the Matt Scudder series, A Walk Among The Tombstones, really good at brutal, Liam Neeson, alcoholism, a philosophy behind him, putting bullets in people occasionally, 1944, a sense of maybe not is all right with existence, ideas of the East, a weird category, not a lot of mystical powers, is there anything in here that is proof of some fantastic element, not good proof, on the razor’s edge between reality and something beyond, Poul Anderson’s Boat Of A Million Years, what does this all mean?, just sayin’, mixed success, the end of chapter nine, Jesse trying to dominate everything, the frater Anthony, go off into the desert and bury your friend, a librarian who keeps track of the local cults, they’re never coming back, when the cops come…, we have two, oh shit, keeping those hands off, their techniques, what are the ladies doing there, is there a book of skulls for women, four ladies on a road trip, a jump forward in time, porridge again for breakfast, skyscars, A Canticle For Leibowitz by American writer Walter M. Miller Jr., a great idea for a novel, quick edit that part out, possibilities, Larry Niven, the flipside of death, the men who live forever, The Draco Tavern, a story for ever vocab work, attaching meaning, ephemeral, a fifth Doctor episode, thing that doesn’t last very long, a three day old newspaper, all these skulls, all the idiots who came to this cult, two for every four, so fucking bored, same society, is Clark Gable still making movies?, Avengers: Infinity War, Footloose, the remake, Flashdance, cheerleader movies, Bring It On, Turn It Up, end of Chapter 9, Richard Nixon, bumptious, the true genius of the race, clerisy, a Lincoln Continental, flogging us towards sundown, a thing writers writers do all the time, a book I was reading not long ago, metaphor, the bleak Kalahari, the realities of the desert, the beautiful one, the clown, the hunter, the headman, Yatesian counter rotating gyres, ideational vs. operational, a stable group, the state, the hunter, the church, the art, and I the clown, a summary of their book in their book, I was reading this book lately and I’ll tell you how shitty it was, Ned and Eli, the shaman, the religion, Ned is the art, the leadership and the hunter, given up the things that connect them to the outside, people who live in the mind, meditating all day long, that makes sense, an existentialist end in view, the church and art, the speculative and self expressing parts of identity, Søren Kierkegaard, personal identity, the father of existentialism, a core value, an actual philosophy, here is a way towards answer, damn this shit is hard, we got to find something to do, Albert Camus, the myth of Sisyphus, life is absurd, pointless futile labour, find your own meaning, The Stranger, The Rebel, The Fall, the only thing left to us is suicide and I hope you consider it, the only practicing Catholic, St. Louis whore sex, the inner thoughts, powerful stuff, this actually happened, four science fiction writers in a car, a very North American thing, the road trip novel, Blue Highways by William Least Heat-Moon, Paul Theroux, Anthony Bourdain, The Old Patagonian Express, Siberia, landscape, flashbacks, Eli is a fraud, they’re young college kids, James Joyce, critical essays, flowery description, bullshit, personal demons, a metaphor for his entire life, his how life was inauthentic, the murder, you can see why, don’t threaten my escape, the part of the ritual, the receptacle, a side benefit, a very well written book, the 9th secret, the rich guy, Oliver, a shameful gay dalliance, denying his authentic self, the non-PC part of the book, the people who are upset about things, a very real cultural attitude, bred for richness, 100 a week, 18,000 years, pride, the tallness that I have, a short book, a slim volume from the ’70s, as always, a preview of Robert Silverberg’s return to Lord Valentine’s castle, Majipoor Chronicles, Dying Inside, The Stochastic Man, Lord Valentine’s Castle, what a cool world, a series back then, a series today, Nightwings, the future city of Rome, the mouth, Hero Of The Empire, Roma Eterna, a young man who wants to start a new religion, keep the empire going, Harry Turtledove, fighting Persia all the time, Through Darkest Europe.

The Book Of Skulls (1979)
The Book Of Skulls (1981)
The Book Of Skulls
The Book Of Skulls (1972)
The Book Of Skulls

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #336 – READALONG: A Voyage To Arcturus by David Lindsay

September 28, 2015 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #336 – Jesse, Paul Weimer, and Bryan Alexander talk about A Voyage To Arcturus by David Lindsay

Talked about on today’s show:
the original title Nightspore Of Tormance, colouring a reading, a really weird book, William Blake meets Gene Wolfe but Scottish, H.G. Wells in the 1960s taking acid, John Bunyan meets science fiction, The Pilgrim’s Progress, do they leave the Earth?, the first five chapters, multiple resonances, future echoes, quasi-science fiction philosophy, a time travel book, a time loop, a Buddhist reincarnation story, everyone at the party, Krag, Surtur, and Shaping, a gnostic novel, re-reading the ending, Crystalman, a terrifying demi-god, a breathtaking thing, later Philip K. Dick, Galactic Pot-Healer is a happy version of this story, like the Epic Of Gilgamesh, profound and disturbing, the death-toll, The Odyssey, everyone who sails with Odysseus gets killed, Maskull is a killer, a freebooter, one half Conan, detailed set-up, energetic, furious, uncontrolled, coming to self-knowledge, the demi-urge we’ve been looking for, maybe the events are co-temperanous, the events on Arcturus vs. the events on Earth, time-travel, myth, mythic time is always happening, coming to awareness, pursuit of liberation, the point of process, the 1971 movie, black and white and low budget, hippie hair on Maskull, Mr. Hair, the medium, you are about to witness a materialization, isn’t that clever?, Lindsay injected so much resonance, dream-like, everything that Nightspore says and does shows his experience level, All You Zombies, By His Bootstraps, Predestination (an adaptation of Robert A. Heinlein’s All You Zombies), this book is about gender, female and male selves, the third gender, the Wombflash story, another version of Maskull, Joywind, a story about the human experience, Maskull = man-skull or mask-all, really profound!, like a religious text, explaining the conflicts with women, Oceaxe, Panawae, sacrificed for him, the Wikipedia chapter summaries, Starkness observatory, an observatory without telescopes!, The Crawling Chaos by H.P. Lovecraft, a house as a symbol for the body, climbing the observatory, he had three times the gravity, roll-up their sleeves, spitting on their wounds, this is a suicide story too, Joiwind, blood swap, blood brothers, quick sex, Crag spits on the blood, Steven Universe, naked wrestling, horseplay, matterplay, very 1960s, I Will Fear No Evil, Stranger In Strange Land, Mah-skuul, the voyage removes the masks, a total vision of the universe, explaining all of nature, Hindu reincarnation, a Promethean element, the fire of the gods, Fred Kiesche, the Ballantine publication, a sixties thing, the tower’s levels, climbing the Karmic ladder, what has need got to do with it?, each window is a life, Tormance = torment + romance or to romance, a quasi-scientific romance, Tralfamadore, Tormance as a platonic version of Earth, Eric S. Rabkin’s science fiction class, new senses, new organs, new colours, the sheer weirdness, a lake that is a musical instrument, like Ringworld, Carcosa, Jale and Ulfire (new colours), Mr. Jim Moon, The Night Land by William Hope Hodgson, a lack of rockets doesn’t prevent travel to the stars, a torpedo, backlight, quasi-science fiction, Edgar Rice Burroughs, like John Carter’s journey to Mars, like Superman under the yellow sun, a 19 hour journey, the profound understanding of the size and age of the universe, The Shadow Out Of Time by H.P. Lovecraft, deep time, massive space, the limitation of physics and limitations of matter, Violet Apple website (about David Linday), Oceaxe from Sycorax (from William Shakespeare’s The Tempest), Harold Bloom’s A Flight To Lucifer, C.S. Lewis was the first and only fan of the book, a complaint about the theology?, The Razor’s Edge by W. Somerset Maugham, wanting to find meaning in a godless or evil-godded universe, the strict rules of realism, The Glass Bead Game by Hermann Hesse, a post-apocalypse novel, a game of all of human knowledge, Siddhartha, Jesse is anti-realism, after reading A Voyage To Arcturus Jesse feels uplifted, it is all wrapped up in an H.G. Wellian style explanation, the greatest joke ever, the guy attending the seance is the guy who is called forth at the seance, The Red Room, bridging the gap between the ghost story and the real science fiction philosophy quest for the purpose of existence, Cavorite, a way to get to the thing that you want, a chapter about colour theory, art theory, Eric would be interested in Joiwind’s eating habits, eating Gnallwater, philosophy of food, vegetarianism, raising animals for food, Hinterland Games’ The Long Dark, as a WWI novel, the traumatic waste, the bonding of an individual to the will of a country, the Vietnam War, go out and kill people?, explaining the seance, the U.S. Civil War, 1920s and 1930s fiction, Mrs. Dolloway by Virginia Woolf, unseated and violent, this is a guy who went to war and didn’t like what he saw, Robert Graves, Goodbye To All That, comparisons to J.R.R. Tolkien’s textual texts, Lewis is more projective, Narnia, Lindsay and LEwis looking forward and Tolkien looking back, Middle Earth as the original history of Earth, Lewis looking forward, so much suicide, this book doesn’t shy away from anything, homoeroticism, Anne Leckie’s new exciting non gendered pronoun book, yeah well so does this 1920 novel, this book has everything, the third sex, gender swapping, how could this book ever make the mainstream?, Michael Bay production, Die Farbe (the German movie adaptation of The Colour Out Of Space), out on DVD-R, black and white and colour, colour changes, always travelling north, Maskull get on a train and go north to Scotland, back to Buchan, Olaf Stapledon, getting the cosmos, the universe becomes a character, The Last And First Men, Martian energy beings, Starmaker is like Edgar Rice Burroughs, massive issues of being, an ethical call to people, there’s nothing quite like it to day in fiction, Hypnos by H.P. Lovecraft, astral projection, we’ll go to the Moon, The Crystal Egg, working with the limited physics that is possible, Star Trek, Tsiolkovsky and Goddard, Star Wars, green corpuscles, the midichlorians, an airplane/submarine, Abaddon’s Gate by James S.A. Corey, an echo of Verne and Wells, mundane science fiction, this is bullshit!, their all jobless!, this is not planetary romance, more like H.P. Lovecraft’s dreamlands, dream rules apply, the experience of reading Gene Wolfe, mythic power with personal power, something is happening right around you.

Sphere - A Voyage To Arcturus by David Lindsay

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of Arguably: Essays by Christopher Hitchens

September 23, 2012 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: Reviews, SFFaudio essential 

SFFaudio Review

Hachette Audio - Arguably: Essays by Christopher HitchensArguably: Essays
By Christopher Hitchens; Read by Simon Prebble
24 CDs – Approx. 28.5 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Hachette Audio
Published: September 1, 2011
ISBN: 9781611139068
Themes: / Non-fiction / History / War / Biography / Science Fiction / Fantasy / Iran / Afghanistan / Germany / North Korea / France / Dystopia / Utopia / Religion / Tunisia / Piracy / Terrorism / Feminism / Pakistan /

The first new collection of essays by Christopher Hitchens since 2004, Arguably offers an indispensable key to understanding the passionate and skeptical spirit of one of our most dazzling writers, widely admired for the clarity of his style, a result of his disciplined and candid thinking. Topics range from ruminations on why Charles Dickens was among the best of writers and the worst of men to the haunting science fiction of J.G. Ballard; from the enduring legacies of Thomas Jefferson and George Orwell to the persistent agonies of anti-Semitism and jihad. Hitchens even looks at the recent financial crisis and argues for arthe enduring relevance of Karl Marx. The audio book forms a bridge between the two parallel enterprises of culture and politics. It reveals how politics justifies itself by culture, and how the latter prompts the former. In this fashion, Arguably burnishes Christopher Hitchens’ credentials as-to quote Christopher Buckley-our “greatest living essayist in the English language.”

Here’s a question I was thinking about while listening to Arguably.

What is fiction for?

One answer, the bad one, is that it’s for entertainment. That’s certainly where many readers are willing go, and the fiction writers who write it too. Maybe that’s precisely why so much fiction is just so very shitty.

To me, if you aren’t exploring ideas in your fiction, then you really aren’t serving a greater purpose. Idea fiction, fiction with ideas rather than just action and plot, is to my mind a kind of supplement to the wisdom found in writings on history, biography and science.

Of the many lessons learned I in listening to the 107 essays in Arguably I was particularly struck by the wisdom Christopher Hitchens gleaned from his reading of fiction. Hitchens reviews many books in this collection, nearly half of the essays are book reviews. Books like 1984, Animal Farm, Flashman, The Complete Stories Of J.G. Ballard, Our Man In Havana, and even, surprisingly, Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows all get fascinating, critical, and reverent reviews.

Yet Hitchens also takes the lessons with him into his writing about his travels. Hitchens writes about visits to such places as North Korea, Cyprus, Afghanistan, and Kurdish Iraq. When talking about his visit to Beirut we see what comes when Hitchens, a man of ideas, acts upon them. The essay, The Swastika and the Cedar sees the convictions of the commited anti-fascist Hitchens beaten and nearly kidnapped for an act of vandalism on a prominently displayed swastika. Writes Hitchens:

“Well, call me old-fashioned if you will, but I have always taken the view that swastika symbols exist for one purpose only—to be defaced.”

In a review of two books, Lolita and The Annotated Lolita, Hitchens applies the controversial subject in a real life look at the modern, and very non-fictional oppression and objectification of women. Indeed, the ideas he appreciated in fiction helped Hitchens to come to grips with the real world.

I think the worst essay in this collection is the one on the serving of wine and restaurants, Wine Drinkers Of The World, Unite. It was simply a waste of the talent, too light, too easy a target. And yet, even that essay, the worst essay in all 107 has a memorable anecdote: “Why,” asks Hitchens’ five year old son, “are they called waiters? It’s we who are doing all the waiting.”

As to the narration of the audiobook. I’m ashamed to admit that I was initially dismayed when I saw that Christopher Hitchens had not narrated this audiobook himself. I was wrong to worry. Incredibly, Simon Prebble seems to have have become Hitchens for this narration. Prebble perfectly captures the erudite words, so eloquently performs them, and with an accent so like that of Hitchens’ own so as to make me think that it was Hitchens who had actually read it.

I think the worst essay in this collection is the one on the serving of wine and restaurants, Wine Drinkers Of The World, Unite. It was simply a waste of the talent, too light, too easy a target. And yet, even that essay, the worst essay in all 107 has a memorable anecdote: “Why,” asks Hitchens’ five year old son, “are they called waiters? It’s we who are doing all the waiting.”

Here’s a list of the book’s contents, with links to the original etexts when available, along with my own notes on each:

ALL AMERICAN
Gods Of Our Fathers: The United States Of Enlightenment – a review of Moral Minority: Our Skeptical Founding Fathers by Brooke Allen

The Private Jefferson – a review of Jefferson’s Secrets: Death And Desire At Monticello by Andrew Burstein

Jefferson Vs. The Muslim Pirates – a review of Power, Faith, And Fantasy: America In The Middle East: 1776 To The Present by Michael B. Oren

Benjamin Franklin: Free And Easy – a review of Benjamin Franklin Unmasked: On the Unity of His Moral, Religious, And Political Thought by Jerry Weinberger

John Brown: The Man Who Ended Slavery – a review of John Brown, Abolitionist: The Man Who Killed Slavery, Sparked The Civil War, And Seeded Civil Rights by David S. Reynolds

Abraham Lincoln: Misery’s Child (aka Lincoln’s Emancipation) – a review of Abraham Lincoln: A Life by Michael Burlingame

Mark Twain: American Radical – a scathing review of The Singular Mark Twain: A Biography by Fred Kaplan

Upton Sinclair: A Capitalist Primer – a review of The Jungle by Upton Sinclair

JFK: In Sickness And By Stealth – a review of An Unfinished Life: John F. Kennedy, 1917–1963 by Robert Dallek

Saul Bellow: The Great Assimilator – review of six novels by Saul Bellow (The Dangling Man, The Victim, The Adventures Of Augie March, Seize The Day, Henderson The Rain King, and Herzog)

Vladimir Nabokov: Hurricane Lolita – reviews of Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov and The Annotated Lolita edited and annotated by Alfred Appel, Jr.

John Updike: No Way – a review of The Terrorist by John Updike (with reference to The Coup too)

John Updike: Mr. Geniality
– a critical review of the affable Due Considerations: Essays And Considerations by John Updike

Vidal Loco – Gore Vidal went crazier, more elitist and perhaps more racist as he got older (with attention and quips for Quentin Crisp and Oscar Wilde and Joyce Carol Oates)

America The Banana Republic – Hitchens on the “socialistic” bank bailout of 2008 (“socialism for the rich and free enterprise for the rest”)

An Anglosphere Future – a review of The History Of The English Speaking Peoples by Andrew Roberts (with reference to both Sherlock Holmes and The White Company by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle as well as to Cecil Rhodes and Rudyard Kipling)

Political Animals – a review of Dominion: The Power Of Man, The Suffering Of Animals, And The Call To Mercy by Matthew Scully

Old Enough To Die – on capital punishment as applied to children

In Defense Of Foxhole Atheists
– a visit to the United States Air Force Academy and the tax funded proselytizing

In Search Of The Washington Novel – a search for some good fiction about Washington, D.C.

ECLECTIC AFFINITIES
Isaac Newton: Flaws Of Gravity – a stroll through the medieval streets of Cambridge with the scientists, mathematicians, and philosophers who worked there

The Men Who Made England: Hilary Mantel’s “Wolf Hall” – a review of Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel

Edmund Burke: Reactionary Prophet – a review of Reflections On The Revolution In France by Edmund Burke

Samuel Johnson: Demons And Dictionaries
– a review of Samuel Johnson: A Biography by Peter Martin

Gustave Flaubert: I’m With Stupide – a review of Bouvard et Pécuchet by Gustave Flaubert translated by Mark Polizzotti

The Dark Side Of Dickens
– a review of Charles Dickens by Michael Slater a biography (Hitchens was a not uncritical admirer of the subject)

Marx’s Journalism: The Grub Street Years – a glowing review of Dispatches for the New York Tribune: Selected Journalism Of Karl Marx edited by James Ledbetter, foreword by Francis Wheen (Marx admired the United States, and other fascinating facts about the father of communism)

Rebecca West: Things Worth Fighting For – an introduction to Black Lamb and Grey Falcon: A Journey Through Yugoslavia by Rebecca West

Ezra Pound: A Revolutionary Simpleton – a review of Ezra Pound, Poet: A Portrait Of The Man And His Work: Volume I: The Young Genius, 1885-1920 by A. David Moody (a biography of the fascist poet)

On “Animal Farm” – an introduction to Animal Farm

Jessica Mitford’s Poison Pen – a review of Decca: The Letters Of Jessica Mitford edited by Peter Y. Sussman

W. Somerset Maugham: Poor Old Willie – a review of W. Somerset Maugham: A Life by Jeffery Meyers

Evelyn Waugh: The Permanent Adolescent – a look at the enigmatic life, writing, religion, and sexuality of Evelyn Waugh

P.G. Wodehouse: The Honorable Schoolboy – a review of Wodehouse: A Life by Robert McCrum

Anthony Powell: An Omnivorous Curiosity – a review of To Keep The Ball Rolling: The Memoirs Of Anthony Powell

John Buchan: Spy Thriller’s Father – a review of John Buchan The Presbyterian Cavalier by David R. Godine (with discussion of The 39 Steps and a fantasy novelette The Grove Of Ashtaroth)

Graham Greene: I’ll Be Damned – a review of The Life Of Graham Green: Volume II: 1939-1955 by Norman Sherry

Death From A Salesman: Graham Greene’s Bottle Ontology – an introduction to Our Man In Havana by Graham Greene

Loving Philip Larkin (aka Philip Larkin, the Impossible Man) – a review of Philip Larkin: Letters To Monica edited by Anthony Thwaite

Stephen Spender: A Nice Bloody Fool – a review of Stephen Spender: The Authorized Biography by John Sutherland

Edward Upward: The Captive Mind – a look at the British novelist and short story Edward Upward

C.L.R. James: Mid Off, Not Right On – a review of Cricket, The Caribbean, And World Revolution by Farrukh Dhondy

J.G. Ballard: The Catastrophist – a review of The Complete Stories Of J.G. Ballard

Fraser’s Flashman: Scoundrel Time – a look at the George MacDonald Fraser series of Flashman books and the connection with The Adventure Of The Empty House

Fleet Street’s Finest: From Waugh To Frayn – an essay on the dubious romance of journalism

Saki: Where The Wild Things Are – a review of The Unbearable Saki: The Work of H.H. Munro by Sandie Byrne

Harry Potter: The Boy Who Lived – a review of Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling

AMUSEMENTS, ANNOYANCES, AND DISAPPOINTMENTS
Why Women Aren’t Funny – a controversial essay on why more comedians are male and why women laugh at them the way they do

Stieg Larsson: The Author Who Played With Fire – a look at the phenomenon of the bestselling author of The Girl With A Dragon Tattoo

As American As Apple Pie – a literary and chronological history of the blowjob, with reference to Valdamir Nobokov’s Lolita

So Many Men’s Rooms, So Little Time – a fascinatingly insightful argument on what’s was going on with the Larry Craig bathroom airport scandal and related phenomena

The New Commandments – deconstructing the Ten Commandments

In Your Face – are bans on burqas and veils actually bans, or are they liberation?

Wine Drinkers Of The World, Unite – ill mannered waiters are ruining the business of wine drinking

Charles, Prince Of Piffle – a damning look at the prince who shouldn’t be king

OFFSHORE ACCOUNTS
Afghanistan’s Dangerous Bet – a visit to Afghanistan, it’s all about the women

First, Silence The Whistle-Blower – is there any hope for democracy in Afghanistan?

Believe Me, It’s Torture – a report on what it’s like to be water-boarded

Iran’s Waiting Game – a visit to Iran and a meeting with Hussein Khomeini the grandson of Ayatollah Khomeini

Long Live Democratic Seismology – on democracy, Chile, Iran, and earthquakes

Benazir Bhutto: Daughter Of Destiny – a personal remembrance of the brave liar, Benazir Bhutto

From Abbottabad To Worse – an explanation for the existence of Pakistan as the U.S.A.’s worst best friend

The Perils Of Partition – on what dividing a country does to it (it’s like a man with a broken leg – he can think of nothing else)

Algeria: A French Quarrel – a review of A Savage War of Peace: Algeria 1954-1962 by Alistair Horne

The Case Of Orientalism (aka East Is East) – a review of Dangerous Knowledge: Orientalism and Its Discontents by Robert Irwin

Edward Said: Where The Twain Should Have Met – a review of Orientalism by Edward Said

The Swastika And The Cedar – a visit to “the Arab street”

Holiday In Iraq – Hitchens on holiday in Kurdish Iraq: it’s lovely

Tunisia: At The desert’s Edge – a lavish and lengthy visit to Africa’s gentlest country

What Happened To The Suicide Bombers Of Jerusalem? – why is no one writing about the dog that didn’t bark?

Childhood’s End: An African Nightmare – on Joseph Kony and the Lord’s Resistance Army

The Vietnam Syndrome – on the horrific effects of Agent Orange and the legacies of dioxin

Once Upon A Time In Germany – a review of the movie The Baader Meinhof Complex, it explores the origins of The Red Army Faction

Worse Than “Nineteen Eighty-Four” – North Korea is a slave state seemingly modeled on 1984

North Korea: A Nation of Racist Dwarfs – a visit to North Korea

The Eighteenth Brumaire Of The Castro Dynasty – a look at the Castro regime’s familial coup

Hugo Boss – a visit to Venezuela with Sean Penn and a meeting with Hugo Chávez – he’s nuts

Is The Euro Doomed? – what will be the fate of Europe’s common currency?

Overstating Jewish Power – In the Israeli American relationship who’s pulling who’s strings?

The Case For Humanitarian Intervention – a review of Freedom’s Battle: The Origins Of Humanitarian Intervention by Gary J. Bass

LEGACIES OF TOTALITARIANISM
Victor Serge: Pictures From An Inquisition – reviews of The Case Of Comrade Tulayev and Memoirs Of A Revolutionary by Victor Serge

André Malraux: One Man’s Fate – a review of Malraux: A Life by Olivier Todd, translated by Joseph West

Arthur Koestler: The Zealot – a review of Koestler: The Literary And Political Odyssey Of A Twentieth-Century Skeptic by Michael Scammell

Isabel Allende: Chile Redux – an introduction to The House Of The Spirits by Isabel Allende

The Persian Version – a review of Strange Times, My Dear: The PEN Anthology Of Contemporary Iranian Literature edited by Nahid Mozaffari

Martin Amis: Lightness At Midnight – a review of Koba The Dread: Laughter And The Twenty Million by Martin Amis

Imagining Hitler – the problem of evil, and Hitler, with reference to Explaining Hitler by Ron Rosenbaum and Hitler 1889-1936: Hubris by Ian Kershaw

Victor Klemperer: Survivor

A War Worth Fighting – a persuasively systematic review of Churchill, Hitler And The Unnecessary War: How Britain Lost Its Empire And The West Lost The World by Pat Buchanan

Just Give Peace A Chance? – a critical review of Human Smoke by Nicholson Baker

W.G. Sebald: Requiem For Germany – a review of On The Natural History Of Destruction by W.G. Sebald

WORDS’ WORTH
When The King Saved God – for the love of the King James version

Let Them Eat Pork Rinds – Berthold Brecht, Charles Dickens and various other sources inform Hitch’s view of the Hurricane Katrina relief disaster

Stand Up For Denmark! – a still timely plea for preferring free speech to religious tolerance

Eschew The Taboo – on the banning of words, particularly the word “nigger”

She’s No Fundamentalist – a spirited defense of Ayaan Hirsi Ali

Burned Out – the verb “fuel” is fueled by journalistic sloppiness

Easter Charade – on life and death and Terri Schiavo

Don’t Mince Words – the disenfranchisement of south Asians in Britain isn’t the cause of bombings, hatred of women is.

History And Mystery – al-Qaeda in Iraq, jihadists, or “insurgents”? Do words matter? Of course they bloody well do.

Words Matter – political slogans make of “every adult in the country” an “illiterate jerk who would rather feel than think”

This Was Not Looting – how can a government “loot” it’s own weapons manufacturing facility? The government of Iraq managed it according to The New York Times.

The “Other” L-Word – a lighthearted piece on the prominence of the word “like” and it’s use

The You Decade – what’s wrong with you (marketing to the selfish)

Suck It Up – the Virginia Tech shootings prompted the wrong response from the world (namely that it prompted one)

A Very, Very Dirty Word – the English empire, in centuries to come, may only be remembered for soccer and the phrase “fuck off”

Prisoner Of Shelves – on the indispensability of books

Posted by Jesse Willis