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“Why Read the Classics?” – Italo Calvino

“Why Read the Classics?”, an essay by Italo Calvino, in which he provides 14 reasons why classic literature matters.  In this excerpt he explains why old books are still relevant “overwhelmed as we are by the avalanche of current events”: At this point I can no longer put off the vital problem of how to relate the […]

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The New Yorker / Running Novelist

About a week ago, The New Yorker started opening its archives for free reading over the summer. This Slate guide gives a quick list of some of the top stories over the past several years. After this ‘grace period’ these articles will only be available with a paid subscription. Here is an excerpt from one of […]

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“Cookies” – Douglas Adams

This actually did happen to a real person, and the real person is me. I had gone to catch a train, This was April 1976, in Cambridge, U.K. I was about twenty minutes early. I’d got the time of the train wrong. I suppose it is at least equally possible,” he added after a moment’s reflection, “that British Rail […]

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Steinbeck’s BDay

For John Steinbeck’s 112th birthday, here are nine Steinbeck quotes about writing, living, and individualism: 1. In every bit of honest writing in the world … there is a base theme. Try to understand men, if you understand each other you will be kind to each other. Knowing a man well never leads to hate and nearly […]

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Derivative Sport in Tornado Alley – David Foster Wallace

Part of the collection “A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again“, I recently read David Wallace’s essay “Derivative Sport in Tornado Alley”. The essay was a perfect complement to my trip back to the midwest: When I left my boxed township of Illinois farmland to attend my dad’s alma mater in the lurid jutting […]

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A Liberal Decalogue – Bertrand Russell

“Perhaps the essence of the Liberal outlook could be summed up in a new decalogue, not intended to replace the old one but only to supplement it. The Ten Commandments that, as a teacher, I should wish to promulgate, might be set forth as follows: Do not feel absolutely certain of anything. Do not think […]

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Thomas Wolfe Writes to F. Scott Fitzgerald

Dear Scott: I don’t know where you are living and I’ll be damned if I’ll believe anyone lives in a place called “The Garden of Allah,” which was what the address on your envelope said. I am sending this on to the old address we both know so well. The unexpected loquaciousness of your letter […]