Author of "This Is Rage" and "Endless Encores"

Posts made in May, 2018

Why Tom Wolfe Matters

By on May 24, 2018 in Blog | 0 comments

What more can I add to the multitude of tributes to literary legend Tom Wolfe? Certainly nothing unique, but given the inspiration he has provided me, it would seem irresponsible not to add a few personal notes. Wolfe is one of my favorite authors of all time. He was a writer who changed my life. I never met him, but I always felt like I knew him. Now I will miss him, but the library of his life’s work will forever be near me. It was his invention of New Journalism that changed the way we heard and told stories. He crafted a new set of norms meant to break all the rules that desperately needed to be broken. The storyteller belonged in the story, fact or fiction, a hard break from the false mandates of objective absolutes. He proved by example that a writer and his story are inseparable, no matter the subject matter. His biting critiques of hypocrisy are funny, eye-opening, and actionable. His characters are equally outrageous and believable. The unique style and consistent unpredictability of his prose are seldom short of stunning. When I first read his 1989 manifesto in Harper’s, “Stalking the Billion-Footed Beast,” I knew the coming shift in literature was more than cosmetic. Allow me to borrow a passage from that essay on how the call to relevant storytelling so lit up my life with hope and gravitas: By the early 1960s, the notion of the death of the realistic novel had caught on among young American writers with the force of revelation. This was an extraordinary turnabout. It had been only yesterday, in the 1930s, that the big realistic novel, with its broad social sweep, had put American literature up on the world stage for the first time. In 1930 Sinclair Lewis, a realistic novelist who used reporting techniques as thorough as Zola’s, became the first American writer to win the Nobel Prize. In his acceptance speech, he called on his fellow writers to give America “a literature worthy of her vastness,” and, indeed, four of the next five Americans to win the Nobel Prize in literature—Pearl Buck, William Faulkner, Ernest Hemingway, and John Steinbeck—were realistic novelists. Wolfe reminded us of our American...

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The Compartments We Devise

By on May 15, 2018 in Blog | 0 comments

  We never know the full story when we look into someone else’s eyes. It doesn’t matter who it is. Our spouses, our children, our friends, our business colleagues—we all have chapters in our stories that are as yet untold or never told. It will always be that way. The best we can do is get better at listening, remain open to compassion, and craft compartmentalization strategies to balance the myriad conflicts that attempt to overrun us even when we appear to be at our best. Appearance is always deceptive. It’s why writers have something to write about. It’s why most of us like to read stories, see plays, and watch movies. We trust storytellers to reveal to us the points of backstory we need to piece together a coherent narrative. Sometimes we call that entertainment. Other times we call it the awakening inspired by a cautionary tale. Life instruction is much harder. Think about the people you will encounter this week. Which of the following might they be experiencing and trying to integrate into the disjointed career demands of their workplace and the to-do lists filling their calendars: Might they have a dear friend in the hospital with a terrible disease? Might they have just learned one friend is getting divorced and another divorced a year ago in silence? Might they be looking for ways to support people living far away whose lives are being devastated by a natural disaster? Might they have bet heavily on a seemingly safe investment and lost enormously in its bankruptcy? Might they have heard from the IRS that no matter how careful they were on their tax filings they are being audited? Might they have recently discovered their retirement savings will not sustain them as they had planned for decades? Might they have signed up for a critical deadline at work that is no longer achievable? Don’t fret; odds are not all of this is likely to happen, at least not at the same time. Yet no matter how well things may be going or appear to be going for someone, you can be assured strife of some sort is lurking behind the curtain. None of us are invincible. None of us can...

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