When writers retire, we feel betrayed. Why?

by David Alm July 11, 2013

We like writers to be contrary, to stand up to conventions, to assert themselves in opposition to what is quietly and tacitly agreed upon “socially acceptable.” That is, as long as they keep doing it. When Alice Munro announced recently that she was retiring from writing at age 81, she said she was inspired by […]

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When a hurricane strikes…

by David Alm October 31, 2012

Unfortunately, I now understand what it’s like to live through a hurricane. Sandy tore through my city from Sunday night through early Tuesday morning, forcing millions of people to either abandon their homes or “hunker down,” to use the politicians’ nomenclature for enduring the storm from the confines of your house. I was one of […]

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In the Valley with Dusty Lee… and Gaudi

by Kathryn Martins April 22, 2012

Dusty Lee is fixated on the lawn, her head tilting and untilting, gun metal ears receiving sounds her eyes and nose can’t quite track down. It is barely night, so the light is artificial in our front yard and the blades lie between green and gleam. I stoop beside her and listen. There is a […]

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I Brought No Italian With Me to Rome

by Crista Cloutier December 5, 2011
Vik Muniz

I brought no Italian with me to Rome. At the Brazilian Embassy, I tell the guard that I am to there to see visiting artist Vik Muniz. He speaks no English. My best mime only warrants a raised eyebrow. In desperation, I plead, “Parlez francais?” though I do not. A call is placed and I […]

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Dylan’s art imitates… art.

by David Alm September 30, 2011

It’s been said that Bob Dylan, like Levi’s, is an American original. Only he might not be as original as he once was, if he was ever as original as people thought. The iconic troubadour isn’t talking, but to look at the evidence, it seems that Dylan has become a copyist of not inconsiderable talent: […]

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Moby’s vast domicile of loneliness

by David Alm April 29, 2011

It’s safe to say that Moby is pretty damn famous. While his popul arity m ay have peaked in the late 1990s, with the release of Play, that album nevertheless secured Moby a spot in the pantheon of techno gods. He has made millions in album sales, licensing contracts, vegan cuisine, and bottled teas. His […]

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Is there ‘aura’ in a replica, or, what would Walter Benjamin say?

by David Alm March 10, 2011

Eric Clapton’s Fender Stratocaster, Blackie, fetched nearly $1 million at auction back in 2004, with all its nicks, scratches, and cigarette burns. Seems like a lot, but hey, it’s ol’ Slowhand’s guitar. He really played “White Room” on it, really passed out while cradling it in his track-marked arms, really dragged it around the world. […]

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We like what we like, or, is it all just politics?

by David Alm February 25, 2011
image of newspapers

Why do we like what we like? Yes, it’s a big question, possibly best addressed in a philosophy seminar. But it has political implications, as Michael Washburn pointed out in his recent post on the VIDA study and why he, as a book critic, has only reviewed a handful of books by women compared to […]

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