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Anthology: Ten Years of TQ – Books, Jim Houghton & Melanie Wudl

There have been many a writer from TQ who have been involved in the exploration of reading and the testaments thereof, but I wanted to focus on two of the more prolific pen persons, Jim Houghton and Melanie Wudl. While Jim has set his mind to historical essays ranging from Rock&Roll memoirs to investigations surrounding financial conspiracies, Melanie's focus has been more personal, individualizing investigations. But there are more to all the Books included in these Ten Years of TQ. So please take your time to explore all the authors featured such as Errol Morris, Stephen Batchelor and Claire Messud. On the Road with Reason The Swerve, by Stephen Goldblatt (Norton, 2011), Betraying Spinoza: The Renegade Jew Who Gave Us Modernity, … [Read more...]

Off Their Rockers

Who I Am, A Memoir, by Pete Townsend (Harper Collins 2012), Life, by Keith Richards with James Fox (Little, Brown and Company 2010), The Heart Broke In, by James Meek, (MacMillan, 2012) The Patrick Melrose Novels  (MacMillan, 2012) and  At Last (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2012), by Edward St. Aubyn — It’s New Year’s Eve 1966 at the Roundhouse on Chalk Farm Road in London. My English girlfriend and I are surrounded by a frightening mob of inebriated, quarrelsome Mods and Rockers. It’s cold outside and The Roundhouse is an unheated brick train shed. Illicit warming fires are started here and there, right on the floor. Several fights break out. There’s only one door in or out and it’s far away through a sea of bodies. A 17-year-old … [Read more...]

Questioning “The Master”

There is no excuse, in 2012, for making a movie that looks bad. There are dozens of film schools churning out skilled technicians. Sub-standard acting is rare, too: the supply of dedicated, hard-working performers is huge and top talent routinely aces the most challenging roles. Miraculous special effects?  More common and less expensive every year. So, can we agree that a professional, skillful film is pretty much a given? But what about when we all too often say, semi-apologetically, “Well, it was beautifully shot,” or “The performances were great,” or “The effects were awesome!” Don’t we want more?  Don’t we prefer to say, “What a great story! I was on the edge of my seat!” Or, in the case of films with literary aspirations, “I … [Read more...]

On the Road with Reason

The Swerve, by Stephen Goldblatt (Norton, 2011), Betraying Spinoza: The Renegade Jew Who Gave Us Modernity, by Rebecca Newberger Goldstein (Random House, 2006), The Coffee Trader, by David Liss (Random House, 2003) and Italian Shoes, by Henning Mankell (Vintage) – The Enlightenment – that period in the middle of the last millennium when rational, scientific thinking stomped into the living room of Western religion with mud on its boots – has been much documented, debated, fictionalized and committed to film. Everyone has a favorite iconoclast, from the ever popular Pope-bashers Martin Luther and Henry VIII to such relatively obscure footsoldiers as Poggio Bracciolini, hero of last year’s exquisite The Swerve, by Stephen Goldblatt … [Read more...]


Assassins of the Turquoise Palace, by Roya Hakakian (2011) – Many Americans – maybe most – understand that Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution left that ancient nation with a regime more repressive than the one it ousted. Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini had promised, upon his return from exile, to be a gentle presence, a mere student of the Koran. Instead, he quickly became a mini-Stalin, viciously pursuing a long hit list of political enemies with the putative goal of “defending” Islam itself. Dissident students and defiant intellectuals who had been the very backbone of the revolution, resisted the theocratic repression just as strongly as the Shah’s secular tyranny. Those who failed to emigrate were jailed, tortured, killed. Those who did get … [Read more...]