On Ursula Le Guin’s awesome speech

You can read the full text here, and here are some of my favorite nuggets.

Hard times are coming, when we’ll be wanting the voices of writers who can see alternatives to how we live now, can see through our fear-stricken society and its obsessive technologies to other ways of being, and even imagine some real grounds for hope. We’ll need writers who can remember freedom – poets, visionaries – realists of a larger reality.

Books aren’t just commodities; the profit motive is often in conflict with the aims of art. We live in capitalism, its power seems inescapable – but then, so did the divine right of kings. Any human power can be resisted and changed by human beings. Resistance and change often begin in art. Very often in our art, the art of words.

The challenge for writers (and readers) and humans (and thinkers) is to confront the questions about what is real and do we live in ways that make us fully human (as opposed to subjects or objects)? How can we work toward alternatives?


My latest identity upgrade: ‘Goodreads Author’

I just got this email from Goodreads:

Hi Michael,

Welcome to the Goodreads Authors program! We have upgraded your profile to an official author account. Your special status as a Goodreads Author gives you greater access to the millions of readers in our Goodreads community—so expect to get to know some passionate book lovers!

Here’s the link https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7796395.Michael_Janairo

I haven’t done anything with it just yet, but this next step is all thanks to being listed as one of the authors of the Long Reads anthology.

Anything you’d like to see on my Goodreads Author page?



Eco’s ‘Foucault’s Pendulum’

In March, Umberto Eco’s novel is being reissued. It’s been years since I’ve read it, but it was a fun and complex story. I always liked to think of it as the kind of twisty, conspiracy-laden novel that could best be summed up as “The Da Vinci Code” for people who actually liked to read.

Here’s the Library Journal review:

Student of philology in 1970s Milan, Casaubon is completing a thesis on the Templars, a monastic knighthood disbanded in the 1300s for questionable practices. At Pilades Bar, he meets up with Jacopo Belbo, an editor of obscure texts at Garamond Press. Together with Belbo’s colleague Diotallevi, they scrutinize the fantastic theories of a prospective author, Colonel Ardenti, who claims that for seven centuries the Templars have been carrying out a complex scheme of revenge. When Ardenti disappears mysteriously, the three begin using their detailed knowledge of the occult sciences to construct a Plan for the Templars[…] In his compulsively readable new novel, Eco plays with “the notion that everything might be mysteriously related to everything else,” suggesting that we ourselves create the connections that make up reality. As in his best-selling The Name of the Rose, he relies on abstruse reasoning without losing the reader, for he knows how to use “the polyphony of ideas” as much for effect as for content. Indeed, with its investigation of the ever-popular occult, this highly entertaining novel should be every bit as successful as its predecessor.

And in case you’ve no clue what the pendulum is, here’s a YouTube video of it taken at the Musée des arts et métiers (Paris):

Interview with Paul Block

masada.jpgPaul Block, the senior producer at timesunion.com, is also the co-author with Robert Vaughan of the new religious thriller “The Masada Scroll,” to be released today by Forge Books.

The books blog recently sat down with Paul to talk about his book. Click on the videos below to hear and see the interview, in two parts.

Part 1.

Part 2.

For more coverage, read story from today’s Times Union.

Keep an eye out on the blog as Paul plans on posting entries about the what it’s like having a new book come out.