Wanderlust Read: Walden; or, Life in the Woods by Henry David Thoreau
Default / 26/07/2018

With the advent of the modern travel industry and the globe-setting lifestyle that many people lead today, Henry David Thoreau’s Walden doesn’t even register as a travel book to a lot of people. Borrowing an ax and building a cabin in your friend’s backyard would seem like anything but a wanderlust read. But the impetus behind this act seems to be removing oneself from society in a way that unlocks a specific kind of freedom and wanderlust of the mind. For after building this cabin that could be retreated to when needed for shelter and rest, Thoreau seemed to spend awfully little time in it. Instead, he would walk, hike, climb, and boat his way around the neighborhood on some days, the better part of eastern Massachusetts during some weeks.   In another interesting tidbit of tension, Thoreau had no great love for the new kid on the block when it came to modes of transportation. Though it would take a little more time to fully ensconce itself into American culture, the railroad had already make its way to New England by the mid-19th century when Thoreau was writing. It would seem to many like the railroad held an endless…

Wanderlust Read: On the Road by Jack Kerouac
Default / 22/06/2018

Kerouac’s On the Road has the combination of a poet’s unrelenting free-form lyricism in blank verse—freed from the contrived structure of traditionally staid writing as well as at least some of the formula of conventional storytelling—with the unapologetic mania of youth untethered, unbound by the pages in the present moment of being On the Road, the terrible and terribly beautiful mania of the sleep-deprived, self-medicating, tramp who’s always looking over the next hidden, but beckoning, horizon: IT’s one part Ginsburg Howl, one part Whitman YAWP, and one part Louis Armstrong. And while some plain and plainly busy folk may complain about the overwrought detail, the unfiltered flow of adjectives and adverbs, as well as the sparse use of periods and paragraph breaks, the breakneck pace of the words spilling on to the page like data populating a phone screen many degrees of magnitude too fast to read in real-time—wouldn’t that be nice, even as amazing as our intuitive thinking can be—wouldn’t it be nice to read as fast as a small computer?—while some may complain about occasionally losing the thread of an extended stream of consciousness thought—there is still something piercing and indelible about the writing….even for those who struggle…

Literary Companion: Istanbul and My Name is Red by Orhan Pamuk
Default / 23/05/2018

The first in our “Literary Companion” series, I want to recommend My Name is Red by Orhan Pamuk to those about to visit (or who have just recently visited) Istanbul, Turkey. The novel, originally titled Benim Adim Kirmizi, was written in 1998 and translated into English in 2001. In 2006, Pamuk received the Nobel Prize in Literature; this novel established his reputation and contributed to his Nobel Prize. Those familiar with the works of James Joyce, Franz Kafka, and Vladimir Nabokov will notice their significant influence on Pamuk’s writing. Since its publication, My Name is Red has been translated into more than 60 languages.   The novel’s main characters are miniaturists in the Ottoman Empire. Miniaturists practiced the art of Ottoman book painting and illustration. In the first chapter, an illustrator is murdered; Pamuk jumps into a Borges-like playfulness, immediately beginning to incorporate aspects of metafiction and self-referential language. Each chapter has a different narrator, though there are often thematic and chronological connections between chapters (a la James Joyce’s Ulysses). Several additional voices, such as the corpse of the murdered miniaturist, a coin, Satan, two dervishes, and the color red appear throughout the novel. The book incorporates mystery, romance, and…