I’m thankful for Obama’s Medal of Freedom selections

I’m thankful for this last group of Presidential Medal of Freedom winners, spanning so many endeavors and achievements of excellence. I’m also thankful for President Obama for making these selections, and making possible a bright ray of hope for these times.

 

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Book review: Harry Frankfurt’s ‘On B.S.’

The following book review originally appeared in the July 31, 2005, edition of the Albany Times Union. A recent op-ed in The Washington Post by Fareed Zakaria called “The unbearable stench of Trump’s B.S.” references the book in describing the extreme lack of concern for the truth in statements from the Republican presidential candidate. The book, though, isn’t about Trump in general; rather, it is a challenge to everyone to examine how we may add to the world’s B.S. through our own contributions or by allowing others to get away with it.

k7929‘Hot air’ philosophy brings world into focus
By Michael Janairo

For reasons that will be obvious, the title — and thus the subject — of the book in this review cannot be printed in its entirety in a family friendly newspaper such as the Times Union.

That word (think bovine excrement), the author writes, is sometimes replaced by humbug, balderdash, claptrap, hokum, drivel, buncombe, imposture or quackery . But the book rightly calls these words “less intense” and suggests they have more to do with “considerations of gentility” than the phenomenon to which they refer. They lack the sharpness and subversion inherent in the vulgarity.

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I just pre-ordered Chuck Kinder’s Silver Ghost

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Outlaw. Writer. Professor.

Chuck Kinder was my professor at the University of Pittsburgh’s MFA program. Like many of his students, I benefited greatly from his imaginative approach to writing, the often imaginative worlds opened up by his constant question: “What if?”

In an exciting turn of events, his 1978 novel “The Silver Ghost” is coming back into print through the work of Braddock Avenue Books where one of the publishers just so happens to be another one of Chuck Kinder’s former students, Jeffrey Condon.

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Book review: “Honeymooners: A Cautionary Tale” by Chuck Kinder

book-7121This review first appeared in the Albany Times Union (August 11, 2001)

Hilarious, loving characters in ‘Honeymooners’

Chuck Kinder’s first novel since “The Silver Ghost,” in 1978, “Honeymooners: A Cautionary Tale” ($24; Farrar, Straus and Giroux; 358 pages), is a hilarious, yet unflinching, eyes-against-the-windshield journey through years of booze, drugs, sex, friendships, lies and betrayals in the lives of a pair of promising young writers.

The freewheeling 1970s that Kinder recreates, mostly in the San Francisco Bay area, belong within the literary tradition of the moveable feast Hemingway created out of Paris in the ’20s. Kinder’s writers, Ralph Crawford and Jim Stark, live “like bold outlaw authors on the lam from that gloomy tedium called ordinary life.” Kinder both celebrates and sends up their bravura and recklessness.

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In memory of Medill professor Bob McClory

“So I’m thinking it’s either a Pulitzer in six years, or a mental hospital for you.”

That was Bob McClory, a journalism professor of mine who died last Friday at age 82. Or at least that’s what I remember him saying at the end-of-the-quarter meeting about my writing and final grade when I was a journalism undergrad student at Medill at Northwestern.

He thought my continual use of quotation ledes ventured onto the less sane side of decision-making. What I heard though in that sentence was: I see what you’re doing. I don’t always get it or agree with you, but I believe in you. He probably said the same thing to lots of other students.
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