Review: The Cartographer’s Ink

by Lee Gulyas March 10, 2015

The Cartographer’s Ink Okla Elliott NYQ Books 2014 Gilles Deleuze wrote: “Writing has nothing to do with meaning. It has to do with landsurveying and cartography, including the mapping of countries yet to come.” This is the quote that came to me as I read Okla Elliott’s “The Cartographer’s Ink.” We begin with an invitation […]

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If you have a story to tell, just tell it

by David Alm November 8, 2013

A confession: I rarely write if I’m not getting paid for it. So I was humbled earlier this week to attend a reading by a woman I’d never heard of before, but who has built a following that any writer would covet. In the basement of a small independent bookstore in Brooklyn, at least 100 […]

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Life, works cited

by David Alm October 8, 2013

In her book But Enough About Me, What Do You Think of my Memoir, Nancy K. Miller describes reading as an autobiographical act. The books we read help to define us, she writes, and, in turn, they say something about who we are. In other words, you are what you read. So on this 10th anniversary […]

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Order and disorder, tangible history, and the real value of bookshelves

by David Alm August 14, 2013

This week a package arrived in the mail: a set of bookends made from a pair of 31-year-old Etonic running shoes. They were my father’s first pair, purchased in 1982 for $32. He put nearly 500 miles on them, thus beginning a decade-long love affair with running that gave him something he didn’t get anywhere […]

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Bookshelf porn

by David Alm February 11, 2013

I’m a sucker for bookshelves — the more packed, the better. I love to see towering wooden frames jammed full of so many books of all shapes and sizes that the shelves look as if they’ll buckle any second. To me a good bookshelf warms a room, tells you a lot about whomever lives in […]

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Criticism for sale, critical thought be damned

by David Alm August 31, 2012

Not long ago, a middle-aged man made a great deal of money by selling book reviews directly to authors and publishers. He realized that — surprise! — people like it when you say nice things about them, and in many cases, are willing to pay for it. So he started a business writing positive book […]

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Smell like you read

by David Alm June 12, 2012

There are perfumes inspired by flowers, spring rain, and even sex. Well, maybe not sex, but you can buy pheromones in a bottle, to be spritzed on like Chanel No. 5 on a Saturday night. Add “freshly printed books” to the list of come-hither scents available for purchase at Macy’s. (Disclaimer: I haven’t confirmed that […]

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Everyone I know loved Wild Things the best

by David Alm May 9, 2012

When I was a kid, Where the Wild Things Are was my favorite book. It was also my mother’s favorite book to read to my brother and me. My niece Anya, now three, has loved it since she was old enough to understand narratives. Last I checked, it was her favorite book, too. Every time […]

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A final tribute, in my words, to Hillman Curtis

by David Alm April 25, 2012

Here is a truth about ghostwriting that I never knew until now: You can write about practically anything in the first-person — except death. One week ago today, an old friend died after fighting cancer for three and a half years. He was just 51 and had a wife, two young children, and countless friends […]

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The book vs. the app — a tired, boring debate

by David Alm April 24, 2012

I’ve come around. No longer do I wish to disparage apps and technology in favor of books and reading by kerosene. To be fair, I’ve never done the latter, but I do own a lot of books and I don’t plan on getting rid of them. One thing I don’t own, still, is an iPad […]

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It’s a digital world. What should we let go?

by David Alm March 5, 2012

If it can be digitized, it will. And once it’s digitized, what good are copies? Look at Google Books, which has already scanned some 15 million books and intends to digitize every volume in the world by the end of the decade — 130 million unique texts. Once a book’s on Google, you can chuck […]

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When books begin to annoy

by David Alm February 23, 2012

Something strange is happening to me. When I read books now, I find myself getting annoyed with them about halfway through. This is an entirely unscientific observation, anecdotal at best, and sporadic in actual occurrences. But it’s happened a few notable times in the past year, and I’ve come to a conclusion that seems to […]

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Amanda Knox, Writer

by David Alm December 13, 2011

She was ensnared in a draconian justice system for more than four years. She endured a humiliating trial and conviction for murder, and was then locked in an Italian prison while legal experts, journalists, and countless others rallied either to defend or condemn her. When Amanda Knox was finally exonerated for the murder of her […]

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What are you reading?

by David Alm September 26, 2011

One of the arguments against e-readers is that you can’ t see wha t other people are reading anymore. It used to be that you’d spot an interesting-looking person on the train, or at a cafe, or wherever, and take a minute to check out the cover of their book of choice. Now, all you […]

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Summer of Classics

by Peter Anderson August 16, 2011

For the past five years my summer reading has been devoted entirely to the classics. No current critical darlings, no edgy new novels from indie presses – just time-tested chestnuts that I should have studied in high school or college. My formal education only flirted at the edges of the humanities – required reading at […]

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