Updated: 6/18/18

“Altogether I think that we should read only books that bite and sting us. If a book we are reading does not shake us awake like a blow on the skull, why bother reading it in the first place? So that it can ‘make us happy,’ as you put it? Good God, we’d be just as happy if we had no books at all. What we need are books that hit us like the most painful misfortune, that make us feel as though we had been banished to the woods. A book must be an axe for the frozen sea within us.” – Kafka

Marvin Rosen’s Recommended Reading List for Me:

The Ginger Man by J.P. Donleavy

Loneliness of the Long-Distance Runner by Alan Sillitoe

Buddenbrooks by Thomas Mann

De Profundis by Oscar Wilde

Man’s Worldly Goods by Leo Huberman

Revolution, European Radicals from Hus to Lenin by C.H. George

Capital, Volumes 1, 2, & 3 by Karl Marx

In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust

The Structure of Scientific Revolutions by Thomas Kuhn



Hang Time, My Life in Basketball

Elgin Baylor w/ Alan Eisenstock


Wait Till Next year

Doris Kearns Goodwin


1954: The Year Willie Mays and the First Generation of Black Superstars Changed Major League Baseball Forever

Bill Madden


Confessions of a Coach

Norm Sloan w/ Larry Guest


Veeck as in Wreck

Bill Veeck w/ Ed Linn


The Rise and Fall of the Bible

Timothy Beale


Writer, Sailor, Soldier, Spy, Hemingway’s Secret Adventures 1935-1961

Nicholas Reynolds






Golden Days

Jack McCallum


The Spooky Art

Norman Mailer


The King of Sport

Gregg Easterbrook


Stamped from the Beginning, The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America

Ibram X. Kendi


The War that Killed Achilles

Caroline Alexander


Rise and Fire

Shawn Fury


Furious George

George Karl


The Cave and the Light

Arthur Herman


Hemingway at War

Terry Mort


Missing Out

Adam Phillips


The Underground Railroad

Colson Whitehead



Dropped Names

Frank Langella


The Rivalry: Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain . . .

John Taylor


Blood, Bone, Marrow, Biography of Harry Crews

Ted Geltner


The Murder of Sonny Liston

Shaun Assael


Give War and Peace a Chance

Andrew D. Kaufman


Fates and Furies

Lauren Groff


Absence of the Hero

Charles Bukowski


Quixote, The Novel and the World

Ilan Stavans


The Legends Club

John Feinstein


The Year of Lear

James Shapiro


The Game’s Not Over

Gregg Easterbrook


The Lost Gospel of Judas Iscariot

Bart D. Ehrman


Tropic of Cancer

Henry Miller


Renegade, Henry Miller and the Making of Tropic of Cancer

Frederick Turner


Zen and the Birds of Appetite

Thomas Merton


The Nihilesthete

Richard Kalich


The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire

Edward Gibbon


Mad Pilgrimage of the Flesh

John Lahr



Ed. George Steiner and Robert Fagles



Tennessee Williams


Notes of a Dirty Old Man

Charles Bukowski




Cannery Row

John Steinbeck



Orson Welles’ Last Movie

Josh Karp


Shakespeare is Hard but So Is Life

Fintan O’Toole


Never Call Retreat

Bruce Catton


Shakespeare, His Life, His Language, His Theater

Sam Schoenbaum


The Essential Brecht

John Fuegi


Our Kind of People

Lawrence Otis Graham


The Idea of Decline in Western History

Arthur Herman


The Counter-Revolution of 1776

Gerald Horne


The Trojan War

Bernard Evslin


Paradise Lost

John Milton


Fields of Blood

Karen Armstrong






The Man with the Golden Touch

Sinclair McCay


Facing Jordan

Sean Deveney, ed.


Maddog 100 Greatest Sports Arguments

Christopher Russo


The Anatomy of Influence

Harold Bloom


How Jesus Became God

Bart D. Ehrman


Running with the Kenyans

Adharanand Finn


Zealot, The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth

Reza Aslin


Work Done for Hire

Joe Haldeman


No god but God

Reza Aslin


Inventing Hell

Jon. M. Sweeney


Genesis, Truman, American Jews, and the Origins of the Arab-Israeli Conflict

John B. Judis


MFA VS NYC, The Two Cultures of American Fiction

Ed. Chad Harbach


Finding Florid

J. D. Allman


Lunches with Orson

Peter Biskind, Henry Jaglom, Orson Welles


Talk Show

Dick Cavett


A Reader on Reading

Alberto Manguel



Gerald R. Gems


Aspects of the Novel

E.M. Forster


The Fixer

Bernard Malamud


Existential Errands

Norman Mailer


Showtime (Lakers)

Jeff Perlman


A Farewell to Arms

Ernest Hemingway



Dennis McDougal


Players First

John Calipari



Seth Davis



John Stockton


Professor Borges

Jorge Luis Borges (Author), Martín Hadis (Editor), Martín Arias (Editor), Katherine Silver (Translator)


Monsignor Quixote

Graham Green


Public Enemy

Bill Ayers


The Renaissance

Paul Johnson



Call Me Burroughs

Barry Miles



  1. Michael Lennon


Hemingway’s Nonfiction

Robert O. Stephens



Summer 2013


How to Win a Cosmic War

Reza Aslan


An Atheist in the Foxhole

Joe Muto


Team of Rivals

Doris Kearns Goodwin


The Enlightenment (p208)

Anthony Pagdan


Karl Marx

Jonathan Sperber


The Flaneur

Edmund White


A Scandal in Bohemia

Arthur Conan Doyle


The Redheaded League

Arthur Conan Doyle


A Case of Identity

Arthur Conan Doyle


A Book Forged in Hell

Steven Nadler




Spring 2013

The Color of Christ

Edward J. Blum and Paul Harvey


Diary of Samuel Pepys (abridged)

Audiobook ready by Kenneth Brannagh


From Russia with Love

Ian Fleming


The Immortal Game

David Shenk


Paul and Jesus

James D. Tabor


The Swerve

Stephen Greenblatt


Evolution of the Word

Marcus J. Borg



Rachel Maddow



Francoise Cachin


Naked Lunch

William S. Burroughs


Dream Team

Jack McCallum


Did Jesus Exist?

Bart D. Ehrman


The New Hate

Arthur Goldwag



Fall/Winter 2012-2013


Ways of Seeing

John Berger


How to Live – Life of Montaigne

Sarah Bakewell


Actors at Work

Techler & Kaplan


Bad Religion

Ross Douthat



William S. Burroughs


The Future of an Illusion

Sigmund Freud


Death of a Salesman

Arthur Miller



William S. Burroughs


The Shakespeare Thefts

  1. Rasmussen


To the Finland Station

Edmund Wilson


The Sign of the Four

Arthur Conan Doyle



Summer 2012


Green Hills of Africa

Ernest Hemingway


A Study in Scarlet

Arthur Conan Doyle



Whittaker Chambers


Hemingway’s Boat

Paul Hendrickson



Spring 2012

The Last Great Game

Gene Wojciechowski


One on One

John Feinstein



Carl T. Bogus



Norman Podhoretz


The Masks of God, Creative Mythology

Joseph Campbell


How Proust Can Change Your Life

Alain de Botton


Why Marx Was Right

Terry Eagleton




Winter 2011-2012


Walking a Literary Labyrinth

Nancy M. Malone


The Meaning of Life

Terry Eagleton


Running and Being

George Sheehan


All that is Solid Melts into Air

Marshall Berman


An Accidental Sportswriter

Robert Lipsyte


Divinity of Doubt

Vincent Bugliosi



Stephen King


Bento’s Sketchbook

John Berger



Fall 2011

The Story of Philosophy

Will Durant


Sunrise Over Fallujah

Walter Dean Myers


Brecht in Exile

Bruce Cook


Summer 2011

The Philosophy of History

Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel


The Fantasticks

Thom Jones & Harvey Schmidt


Aesthetics and History

Bernard Berenson


About Looking

John Berger


The Secret Knowledge

David Mamet


Riders of the Purple Sage

Zane Grey



Spring 2011

Don Quixote

Miguel de Cervantes


The Wreck of Western Culture

John Carroll


That Was Then, This Is Now

S.E. Hinton



S.E. Hinton


The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

Mark Twain


The Wind in the Willows

Kenneth Grahame


The Adventures of Ulysses

Bernard Evslin


Heroes, Gods, and Monsters

Bernard Evslin


The Pigman

Paul Zindel


The Pigman and Me

Paul Zindel



Winter 2010-2011


A Reading Diary

Alberto Manguel


Are We Born Racist?

Edited by Jason Marsh


Abortion, The Clash of Absolutes

Laurence H. Tribe


The Poem that Changed America

Howl, Fifty Years Later

Edited by Jason Shinder


The Bridge

David Remnick


What I Talk About When I Talk about Running

Haruki Murakami


How Fiction Works

James Woods


The Art of a Beautiful Game

Chris Ballard


Jesus Interrupted

Bart Ehrman


Best American Essays 2010

Edited by Christopher Hitchens

Series editor Robert Atwan



Fall 2010


The Philosophy of Spinoza

Josseph Ratner


The Obama Education Plan

Education Week


The Annotated Mona Lisa

Carol Strickland


The Story of Libraries

Fred Lerner


Italian Painters of the Renaissance

Bernard Berenson



Summer 2010


Best American Poetry 2009

Edited by David Wagoner


The Book of Basketball

Bill Simmons


A Thousand Clowns

Herb Gardner



Spring 2010


Contested Will

James Shapiro


The Runner’s Body

Ross Tucker & Jonathan Dugas


Losing My Religion

William Lobdell


Win Your Case

Gerry Spence


Why Are Jew Liberals?

Norman Podhoretz


The Making of African America

Ira Berlin


A People’s History of Florida

Adam Wasserman


The Book of Genesis Illustrated

  1. Crumb



Winter 2009-2010



Dominc A. Pacyga


Michelangelo and the Reinvention of the Human Body

James Hall


On Writing

Stephen King


Michelangelo’s Notebook

Paul Christopher


The Book of William

Paul Collins


Thinking about Memoir

Abigail Thomas


How Lincoln Learned to Read

Daniel Wolff



Fall 2009


Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

Edward Albee


Collected Stories

Saul Bellow



Chaim Potok



Summer 2009


The Pentagon of Power

Volume Two: The Myth of the Machine

Lewis Mumford


The Novels of Hermann Hesse

Theodore Ziolkowski


The Seekers

Daniel J. Boorstin



Hermann Hesse



James Shapiro



Spring 2009


Selected Essays



The Bible, a Biography

Karen Armstrong


Reflections on the Human Condition

Eric Hoffer



Winter 2008-2009


Sayonara Michelangelo

Waldemar Januczcak



Edmund White


Why You Should Read Kafka Before You Waste Your Life

James Hawes


Sailing Home

Norman Fischer


Selected Essays

Gore Vidal


Fall 2008


The Anatomist

Bill Hayes


Shakespeare & Co.

Stanley Wells


The Key to Renaissance Art

Jose Fernandez Arenas


Shakespeare’s Philosophy

Colin McGinn


The Historical Jesus

John Dominic Crossan


The Essential Jesus

John Dominic Crossan




Summer 2008


Who Wrote the New Testament?

Burton L. Mack


The Mind in the Cave

David Lewis-Williams


The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder

Vincent Bugliosi


Shakespeare’s Wife

Germaine Greer


The Sistine Secrets

Benjamin Blech & Roy Doliner


Birth of the Chess Queen

Marilyn Talom



Philip E. Orbanes


Michelangelo and the Pope’s Ceiling

Ross King


The Second Plane

Martin Amis


Jesus, a Revolutionary Biography

John Dominic Crossan


American Fascists

Chris Hedges


Atheist Universe

David Mills


Sin in the Second City

Karen Abbott


You Don’t Have to be Famous

Steve Zousmer


Best American Poetry 2007

Ed. Heather McHugh


I Don’t Believe in Atheists

Chris Hedges



Spring 2008


Fugitive Days

Bill Ayers


Borges, a Life

James Woodall


The Bible Unearthed

Finkelstein & Silberman


Mysteries of the Middle Ages

Thomas Cahill


Why Kerouac Matters

John Leland


God’s Gold

Sean Kingsley


The Brother of Jesus

Jeffrey J. Butz


Winter 2007-2008


Who Killed Jesus?

John Dominic Crossan


Due Consideration

John Updike


Ralph Ellison

Arnold Rampersad


How to Read a Novel

John Sutherland


How to Become a Famous Writer before You’re Dead

Ariel Gore


Shopping for God

James B. Twitchell


James the Brother of Jesus

Robert Eisenman


The Future of an Illusion

Sigmund Freud


Life’s a Campaign

Chris Matthews


God is Not Great

Christopher Hitchens


The Atheist’s Bible

edited by Joan Konner



Fall 2007


Treasure Island

Robert Louis Stevenson


Women in Love

D.H. Lawrence


Justinian’s Flea

William Rosen


Becoming Shakespeare

Jack Lynch



Summer 2007


Man in the Middle

John Amaechi


Lady Chatterly’s Lover

D.H. Lawrence


Glory Days

Bill Reynolds


Charles Bukowski

Gay Brewer


Journey to the End of the Night



Ham on Rye

Charles Bukowski


The God Delusion

Richard Dawkins


A History of the End of the World

Jonathan Kirsch


The Great Transformation

Karen Armstrong



Spring 2007



Charles Bukowski


The Qur’an, A Biography

Bruce Lawrence


All the Pretty Horses

Cormac McCarthy


The Tao of Jung

David Rosen


Locked in the Arms of this Crazy Life: Charles Bukowski

Howard Sounes


Who Wrote the Bible?

Richard Elliott Friedman


The Gospel According to the Son

Norman Mailer


The True Believer

Eric Hoffer


The Shakespeare Wars

Ron Rosenbaum


The Koran

Translated by John Medows Rodwell


Poems in Persons

Norman Holland


Jamaica Me Dead

Bob Morris



Winter 2006-2007


The Wicked Son

David Mamet


The Chosen

Chaim Potok


Holy Terror

Terry Eagleton


Literary Theory

Terry Eagleton


A Reader’s Companion to A Brief History of Time

Edited by Stephen Hawking


A History of God

Karen Armstrong


The Gay Talese Reader

Gay Talese


God’s Secretaries

Adam Nicolson


Why Darwin Matters

Michael Shermer


Fall 2006


Rembrandt’s Jews

Steven Nadler


This Terrible Business Has Been Good to Me

Norman Jewison


State of Denial

Bob Woodward


The Book of Lost Books

Stuart Kelly


The Collected Works of Spinoza

Volume One

Edwin Curley, ed.


Spinoza Dictionary

Dogbert D. Runes

Foreword by Albert Einstein


New Orleans, Mon Amour

Andrei Cordescu


A Writer’s Life

Gay Talese


The Reluctant Mr. Darwin

David Quammen


Betraying Spinoza

Rebecca Goldstein


The End of Faith

Sam Harris



Jorge Luis Borges


Spinoza: Practical Philosophy

Gilles Deleuze



Summer 2006


Spinoza, A Very Short Introduction

Roger Scruton


Theological-Political Treatise

Baruch Spinoza


Library, An Unquiet History

Matthew Battles


The Trial of Socrates

I.F. Stone


The Library Book

Maureen Saiva


The Knowledge Deficit

E.D. Hirsch, Jr.



Saul Bellow


The Book of Imaginary Beings

Jorge Luis Borges


Wilt, 1962

Gary M. Pomerantz


Critical Lessons

Nel Noddings


Shakespeare for All Time

Stanley Wells


The Proust Project

Edited by Andre Aciman


Edgar Allan Poe & The Jukebox

Elizabeth Bishop


Conversation with Spinoza

Goce Smilevski


Proust in Love

William C. Carter


The Walmart Effect

Charles Fishman


Spring 2006


Libraries in the Ancient World

Lionel Casino


The Vanished Library

Luciano Canfora


American Theocracy

Kevin Phillips


Thou Art That

Joseph Campbell


The Courtier and the Heretic

Matthew Stewart


Recovering Your Story

Arnold Weinstein


Shakespeare, the Biography

Peter Ackroyd

A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare: 1599James Shapiro

The Spinoza of Market Street

Isaac Bashevis Singer


Spinoza, A Life

Steven Nadler


Winter 2005-2006


Art and Reality

Joyce Cary


The Old Religion

David Mamet


Eats, Shoots & Leaves

Lynne Truss


Looking for Spinoza

Antonio Damasio


Marcel Proust

Edmund White



David Mamet


Everything Bad Is Good For You

Steven Johnson


Old Twentieth

Joe Haldeman


War Year

Joe Haldeman


The Forever War

Joe Haldeman



Joe Haldeman


The Hemingway Hoax

Joe Haldeman



Fall 2005


Jews, God, and History

Max I. Dimont



Stuart Hampshire



Benedict Spinoza


The Sayings of the Buddha

Selected by Geoffrey Parrinder



Translated by F Max-Muller, revised by Suren Navlakha


Goldberg Street

David Mamet


The Crisis of Psychoanalysis

Erich Fromm


Marx’s Concept of Man

Erich Fromm


Letters to a Young Actor

Robert Brustein


Democracy Matters

Cornel West


A Godless Jew

Peter Gay




Summer 2005


Five Cities of Refuge

Lawrence Kushner and David Mamet


The Cabin

David Mamet


A Practical Handbook for the Actor

Scott Ziegler


A History of the Middle East

Peter Mansfield


Where Shall Wisdom Be Found

Harold Bloom


Hemingway in Africa

Christopher Ondaatje


Page After Page

Heather Sellers


Whose Bible Is It?

Jaroslav Pelikan



Spring 2005



David Mamet


Shakespeare After All

Marjorie Garber


Boston Marriage

David Mamet


Ultramarathon Man

Dean Karnazes


Will in the World

Stephen Greenblatt


An Open Life

Jospeh Campbell and Michael Toms


Our Town

Thornton Wilder


Among the Believers

V.S. Naipaul


Civilization and Its Discontents

Sigmund Freud


Aristotle’s Children

Richard E. Rubenstein


The Question of God

Armand M. Nicholi Jr.



Winter 2004-2005


Sexuality and the Psychology of Love

Sigmund Freud


The Shakespeare Stealer

Gary Blackwood




Ryder Haggard


Eros and Civilization

Herbert Marcuse


Theories of Surplus Value, Books 2 & 3

Karl Marx



Fall 2004


The City of Ember

Jeanne DuPrau


Shakespeare’s Language

Frank Kermode


Northrop Frye on Shakespeare


The Gift of the Jews

Thomas Cahill


Desire of the Everlasting Hills

Thomas Cahill



Summer 2004


William Shakespeare


The Wolfman and Other Cases

Sigmund Freud


Venus and Adonis

William Shakespeare


The Rape of Lucrece

William Shakespeare


The Meaning of Everything

Simon Winchester


Sailing the Wine Dark Sea

Thomas Cahill



Herman Hesse



Spring, 2004



Herman Hesse



Knut Hamsun


The Shreber Case

Sigmund Freud



The Age of Shakespeare

Frank Kermode


The Psychopathology of Everyday Life

Sigmund Freud



Knut Hamsun


The Joke and Its Relation to the Unconscious

Sigmund Freud



Winter 2003-2004


The Imaginary Girlfriend

John Irving


The Worldly Philosophers

Robert Heilbronner


Living by Fiction

Annie Dillard


How to Read

Harold Bloom


The War of the Worlds

H.G. Wells



Fall, 2003


Tales of Hoffmann

E.T.A. Hoffmann


The Books in My Life

Henry Miller


Summer, 2003


The Best American Poetry 2002

Ed.  Robert Creely



Knut Hamsun


Spring, 2003


Far Away

A play by Caryl Churchill


Theories of Surplus Value, Part One

Karl Marx


Like Shaking Hands with God

Kurt Vonnegut and Lee Stringer


What is a Book?

David Kirby


The Pursuit of Oblivion

Richard Davenport-Hines



Winter, 2002-2003


The Life of the Drama

Eric Bentley



Marxist Esthetics

Henri Arvon



Marquis de Sade


Afterglow, A Last Conversation with Pauline Kael

Pauline Kael and Francis Davis


The Play About the Baby

Edward Albee



Fall, 2002


Me and Shakespeare

Herman Gollob


To the Finland Station

Edmund Wilson



Noam Chomsky


Charles Dickens

Jane Smiley



Summer 2002


The Black Jacobins

C.L.R. James


Mariners, Renegades, and Castaways

C.L.R. James


Adventures in Marxism

Marshall Berman


How Proust Can Change Your Life

Alain de Botton



Spring 2002


Saint Augustine

Garry Wills


True at First Light

Ernest Hemingway



Karl Marx


The Making of Marx’s ‘Capital’

Roman Rosdolsky



Winter 2001-2002


Anna Karenina

Leo Tolstoy



David Mamet


The Hero

Lord Raglan



Fall 2001



David Auburn


Too Cool

Duff Brenna


The Tin Drum

Gunter Grass


Leaves of Grass

Walt Whitman


Advice to a Young Critic

George Bernard Shaw




Summer 2001



James Joyce


The Stuff of Dreams

Leah Hager



Ghosts of Manila

Mark Kram



Call if You Need Me

Raymond Carver


On Writing

Stephen King




Spring 2001


The Copernican Revolution

Thomas S. Kuhn


Quarrel and Quandary

Cynthia Ozick



Phillip Callow



Winter 2000-2001


Axel’s Castle

Edmund Wilson

Fall 2000


The Proust Screenplay

Harold Pinter



Summer 2000


In Search of Lost Time

Marcel Proust




Spring, 2000


Aliens of Affection

Padgett Powell




Ralph Ellison



Paul Thomas Anderson


Best American Sports Stories

ed David Halbstrom


Finnegans Wake

James Joyce




Winter, 1999 – 2000


Hedda Gabler

Henrik Ibsen


The Importance of Being Earnest

Oscar Wilde


The Best American Poetry 1999

ed Robert Bly



Fall, 1999


Capital: Volume 3

Karl Marx


Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human

Harold Bloom



Summer, 1999


Capital: Volume 2

Karl Marx


Capital: Volume 1

Karl Marx





Guide to Filmmaking

Edward Pincus


Understanding Movies

Louis D. Giannetti


Cannery Row

John Steinbeck


The Day of the Locust

Nathaniel West


Black Spring

Henry Miller


Classic Myths

Charles Mills Gayly


Manual of Piety

Betrolt Brecht



Jane Austen



William Goldman


The Citizen Kane Book

Kael, Mankiewiscz, Welles


This Side of Paradise

  1. Scott Fitzgerald


The Girl on the Baggage Truck

John O’Hara


Sweet Thursday

John Steinbeck


Sports in America

James Michener


The Green Hills of Africa

Ernest Hemingway


Titus Andronicus

William Shakespeare


Henry VI, Part One

William Shakespeare


Love’s Labors Lost

William Shakespeare


Tender is the Night

F/ Scott Fitzgerald


Dangling Man

Saul Bellow


Sense and Sensibility

Jane Austen


The Literary Decade

Allen Churchill


Dark Laughter

Sherwood Anderson


The Pat Hobby Stories

  1. Scott Fitzgerald


Imagine Kissing Pete

John O’Hara


The Fifth Column and Four Stories

Ernest Hemingway


We’re Still Friends

John O’Hara


The Last Tycoon

  1. Scott Fitzgerald


Winesburg, Ohio

Sherwood Anderson


Writers in Revolt

Ed. Jack Conway


The Red Badge of Courage

Stephen Crane


Poor White

Sherwood Anderson


Bits and Pieces

Corrine Jackson


Minosa Pudica

Curt Dempster


Look Homeward, Angel

Thomas Wolfe


Red Harvest

Dashiell Hammett


The Revolt of the Black Athlete

Jack Scott


May Man Prevail

Erich Fromm


Bill Walton

Jack Scott


Altered States

Paddy Chayefsky


Heironymous Bosch

Joseph Emil Muller


The Ascent of Man

Joseph Bronowski


The Fire and the Sun

Iris Murdoch


Four Quartets

T.S. Eliot


Writers on the Left

Daniel Aaron


My Bike and Other Friends

Henry Miller


Selected Poems

George Meredith


For a New Novel

Alain Robbe-Grillet


Selected Poems

William Blake `


One Man’s Initiation

John Dos Passos


Selected Poems

Baudelaire, Rimbaud, Verlaine


Capital, Part 1

Karl Marx


Small Craft Warnings

Tennessee Williams


Leon Trotsky

Irving Howe


The Hemingway Manuscripts

Phillip Young


Dialogue with Erich Fromm

Richard. L. Evans


The Writer in America

Van Wycke Brooks


Boule de Suif

Guy de Maupassant


The Maltese Falcon

Dashiell Hammett



Knut Hamsun


Olive and Mary Ann

James T. Farrell


Eccentricities of a Nightingale

Tennessee Williams


Summer and Smoke

Tennessee Williams


Camino Real

Tennessee Williams



Tennessee Williams


Some Kind of Hero

James Kirkwood


One Arm and Other Stories

Tennessee Williams


The Orestia

Aeschylus (translated by Robert Lowell)


Appointment in Samara

John O’Hara


To Have and Have Not

Ernest Hemingway


Butterfield Eight

John O’Hara


The Glass Key

Dashiell Hammett


Scott and Ernest

Matthew Broccoli


The Thin Man

Dashiell Hammett


Tom Sawyer

Mark Twain


The Ordeal of Mark Twain

Van Wycke Brooks


P.S. Your Cat is Dead

James Kirkwood


Elizabeth Appleton

John O’Hara


The Great Gatsby

  1. Scot Fitzgerald


Blind Date

Jerzy Kosinski


From the Terrace

John O’Hara


Eight Mortal Ladies Possessed

Tennessee Williams


Crime and Punishment

Fyodor Dostoyevsky


Marx’s Concept of Man

Erich Fromm


Pierre and Jean

Guy de Maupassant


The Naked and the Dead

Norman Mailer


Cuba: Anatomy of a Revolution

Leo Huberman



Bertolt Brecht


Vieux Carre

Tennessee Williams


Saint Joan of the Stockyards

Bertolt Brecht


The Moon is Down

John Steinbeck


The Hope of Heaven

John O’Hara


Sexual Perversity in Chicago

David Mamet


The Caucasian Chalk Circle

Bertolt Brecht


A Hero of Our Time

Mikhail Lermontov


Twenty-seven Wagons full of Cotton

Tennessee Williams


Three Who Made a Revolution

Bertram Wolfe


The Sea, The Sea

Iris Murdoch





The Trojan Women



The Three Penny Opera

Bertolt Brecht


The Books in my Life

Henry Miller


A World I Never Made

James T. Farrell


A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

James Joyce


Fathers and Sons

Ivan Turgenev


In Our Time

Ernest Hemingway


How It Was

Mary Hemingway


Fifteen by Maupassant

Guy de Maupassant


Hemingway’s Nonfiction

Ernest Hemingway


Franny and Zoey

J.D. Salinger


The Medium is the Message

Marshall McLuhan


Character and Culture

Sigmund Freud


Islands in the Stream

Ernest Hemingway


Introductory Lectures

Sigmund Freud


The Torrents of Spring

Ernest Hemingway


By Force of Will

Scott Donaldson


Heaven is a Playground

Rick Telander


Death in the Afternoon

Ernest Hemingway


Tropic of Cancer

Henry Miller


Something Happened

Joseph Heller


Catch 22

Joseph Heller


The Thing of It Is

William Goldman


Boys and Girls Together

William Goldman


The City Game

Pete Axthelm


Ninety-two in the Shade

Thomas McGuane



William Burroughs


Light in August

William Faulkner


The Sound and the Fury

William Faulkner


The Devil Tree

Jerzy Kosinski


Tropic of Capricorn

Henry Miller


New Years Eve 1929

James T. Farrell


Studs Lonigan

James T, Farrell


A Season in Hell/The Drunken Boat

Arthur Rimbaud


The Time of the Assassins

Henry Miller


Life on the Mississippi

Mark Twin


The Continental OP

Dashiell Hammett


Field Work

Seamus Heaney



Samuel Beckett


Hit Me with a Rainbow

James Kirkwood


The Decline of the Bourgeois World

Nadine Gordimer


A Jew in Love

Ben Hecht


A Life in the Theatre

David Mamet


The Water Engine

David Mamet


The Measures Taken

Bertolt Brecht


The Informer

Bertolt Brecht


The City of Mahagonny

Bertolt Brecht


American Buffalo

David Mamet


The Exception and the Rule

Bertolt Brecht



Harold Pinter


Brecht in America

James K. Lyon


The Postman Always Rings Twice

James M. Cain


Burger’s Daughter

Nadine Gordimer


Creative Writing

Ken Macrorie


The Brecht Commentaries

Eric Bentley


Mother Courage

Bertolt Brecht


Puntilla and His Man Matti

Bertolt Brecht


Notes from the Underground

Fyodor Dostoyevsky


Emperor Jones

Eugene O’Neill


Through a Glass Darkly

Ingmar Bergman


Winter Light

Ingmar Bergman



Ingmar Bergman


The Glass Menagerie

Tennessee Williams


Oedipus Rex



Mr. Happiness

David Mamet






Jean Girouxdou


Major Barbara

George Bernard Shaw


War and Peace

Leo Tolstoy


Peer Gynt

Henrik Ibsen



David Mamet


In the Belly of the Beast

Jack Abbott


The Blue Hour

David Mamet


Prarie Du Chien

David Mamet


Talley’s Folly

Lanford Wilson



William Shakespeare


Twelve Dreams

James Lapine


A Sermon, Shoeshine, Old Vermont

David Mamet


Hemingway in Key West

James McLendon


Clothes for a Summer Hotel

Tennessee Williams


The sociology of Marx

Henri Lefebvre



David Mamet


Daniel Martin

John Fowles


The Collector

John Fowles


The Magus

John Folwes


The Aristos

John Fowles


The French Lieutenant’s Woman

John Fowles


The Playwright as Thinker

Eric Bentley



Irwin Shaw


Fiction into Film

Maddox, Silliphant


What is Cinema?

Andre Bazin


The Empty Space

Peter Brook


The Misanthrope



The Way of the World

William Congreve


Waiting for Godot

Samuel Beckett



Samuel Beckett


The Cid

Pierre Corneille


The Poetics



The Miser




Jean Genet





She Stoops to Conquer

Oliver Goldsmith


The School for Scandal

Richard Sheridan


The Birth of Tragedy

Friedrich Nietzsche


The Catcher in the Rye

J.D. Salinger


Invisible Man

Ralph Ellison


Wise Blood

Flannery O’Connor



Vladimir Nabokov


On the Road

Jack Kerouac


The Assistant

Bernard Malamud


Advertisements for Myself

Norman Mailer


The End of the Road

John Barth


The Sirens of Titan

Kurt Vonnegut


Mother Night

Kurt Vonnegut


Moby Dick

Herman Melville



Vincent Van Gogh


The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Runner

Allan Sillitoe


The Ginger Man

J.P. Donleavy



Thomas Mann





The Social and Political Thought of Karl Marx

Shlomo Avineri


The Sun Also Rises

Ernest Hemingway


A Farewell to Arms

Ernest Hemingway


For Whom the Bell Tolls

Ernest Hemingway


Green Hills of Africa

Ernest Hemingway


A Moveable Feast

Ernest Hemingway





From Russia with Love

Ian Fleming



Ian Fleming



Ian Fleming


Doctor No

Ian Fleming


You Only Live Twice

Ian Fleming


The Man with the Golden Gun

Ian Fleming





Work in Progress

I have this imaginary reader – you – who’s interested in all the same shit I think about all day and wants to know what I’m up to, and what I worked on today, and how it’s going.

I always have a bunch of projects going at once, and I’m with Mark Twain on this: as long as the thing will write itself, I am its willing amanuensis. So, these are the projects that are currently inventing themselves, writing themselves for me, and I’m just trying to keep up, run as fast as I can to stay in one place.

misc 2646

My projects are nonetheless prioritized, which is easy right now because Sunset Village by Michael Presley Bobbitt is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. It’s an acting gig, so right there it’s got a greater audience than any of my writing projects, which do not gather what you would call an audience so much as a solitary reader here and there. And one acting gig can lead to another.

Oberon 001

So, I am also working on my one-man show, Seven Sides of Shakespeare, just in case I’m a hit in Sunset Village and can sell my show to old folks’ homes – like Sunset Village.


E. Stanley Richardson as Big Daddy

A third acting gig that I’m working on is a play called In Splendid Error by William Branch, and it’s a chance to act with my talented friend E. Stanley Richardson. It’s about Frederick Douglass and his complex friendship with John Brown. The three-week run is set for February 2019.


Sunset Village

Sunset Village is the third play of Bobbitt’s that I have acted in. Like Trailer Park and Cedar Key, it’s an ensemble piece, an actors’ showcase, offering six good parts, four of them female, and that rarity, opportunities for actresses who are no longer ingénues.


There’s a shared theme and structure among the three plays, a certain feeling you get acting in them. You can tell they’re by the same playwright, even though the settings, subject, and characters of each are distinctly different. There’s a hero. In Trailer Park it was Elijah, the park manager, who confronted his own past by forgiving the worst in others. In Cedar Key, it was Meshack, the fisherman who battled the hurricane. In Sunset Village, it’s Edna, who has lost her husband after 47 years of marriage, and she isn’t dead yet, so she doesn’t know what to do with herself, until Mr. Midnight comes along.


How did Bobbitt happen to write a hit play? Practice (Across the River), practice (Trailer Park Elegy), practice (Cedar Key).


I’m going to ride Bobbitt the way Macy rode Mamet. I have some idea how that works.


Parallel speeches: Elijah to the trailer park community; Joe to the Sunset Village folk.


Dylan Thomas reading “Do Not Go Gentle”


This could be my Big Break. I’m about to be 68 years old and an overnight success.


Maybe not. Probably not. But that’s just business as usual for me.


No matter your best intentions and stratagems to the contrary, one way or another, you always end up making a drama out of the play.


Thank God, Michael Presley Bobbitt decided to turn my sad little life into a play.


So, how did he do it? How did Bobbitt happen to write what just might be a hit? He worked his way up to it. No one has studied his playwriting career more carefully than I have. His first play, Across the River, was directed by my son Mike. His second play, Trailer Park Elegy, included a character named Sham-Sham, played by me. In Cedar Key I played the hero’s father and his great grandfather.

And so it is with this play, Sunset Village, I play a retired English teacher and failed writer. That’s me. In Trailer Park Elegy, Sham Sham spends his days guzzling beer and talking to a goat. In this scenario, I am Mr. Midnight, a single senior swinger in a retirement village full of sex-starved widows. I am the perfect cad. Well, nobody’s perfect. But, again, in essence, playing myself, I can’t go wrong. I can’t not be me.


Bobbitt first entered upon the Gainesville scene as a rival poet on the spoken word circuit, at the Civic Media Center poetry jam and the Word is Spoken at Tim & Terry’s, setting himself apart from the left-leaning poets as a combative Maileresque figure, a witty and argumentative provocateur, writing revenge poems about relationships gone bad, and succeeding so well at pissing people off that he was banned.

All the poets, naturally, had other lives, they didn’t make poetry to make a living. Most of them, like me, had no idea how to make money, and the ones who did were mostly the crappiest poets. Bobbitt knew how to make money, and he knew how to piss people off.

The above description of the poetry scene is inaccurate – for what it leaves out: Tom Miller. Tom Miller is a category unto himself. Tom Miller really knows how to piss people off – he’s famous for it. Ask Alex Jones, if you don’t believe me. The thing is Tom Miller somehow flies right past the point of pissing everybody off to where it’s suddenly so ridiculous it’s funny.


Tom Miller and Bobbitt are friends. They go back about 20 years. Tom Miller was the first friend Bobbitt made when he moved to Gainesville.

That was another thing Bobbitt knew how to do – make friends. Bobbitt became my son Mike’s best friend, taking him in for a stretch, and they hung out, talking a lot about theatre, Mike’s obsession and profession, and Bobbitt was picking Mike’s brain – because he had decided to become a playwright, to hell with poetry. The more they talked, the more Bobbitt’s focus shifted from poetry to play, which meant, as far as he was concerned, a shift in focus from character to place. The setting was the key.

Bobbitt’s first play, Across the River, featured an intimate ensemble composed of Bobbitt himself, in an autobiographical role, along with his son Liam, Michael O’Meara, Anna Marie Kirkpatrick, and George Steven O’Brien. Anna has confessed to me that before stepping on stage opening night she asked George in all sincerity: “Is this play any good?” George said he didn’t know.

There was one theatre in town that was willing to give local playwrights a shot – and they turned it down. Bobbitt didn’t skip a beat. He just went ahead and produced the play himself in a venue that he rented and converted into a performance space, and with Mike’s help, and the stagecraft and handiwork of George O’Brien, the acting and music of O’Meara, and finding a plausible moment in the plot for Anna to sing, he capitalized on the company’s particular talents, and they pulled the whole enterprise off with aplomb, and more importantly, got the ball rolling.

Something has to happen in a play. Nothing much needs to happen in a poem. So, Bobbitt had found his new medium – because, by knowing how to make money and how to make people pissed off, and how to make friends, Bobbitt had perfectly positioned himself to make things happen on stage, and, instead of people being pissed off at him, the people in his plays got pissed off at each other, and in the end, somehow it all worked out.

So, Bobbitt started writing another play, and, at the same time, made things happen to pave the way for a production in an established theatre. He got himself elected to the Board of Directors at the Acrosstown Repertory Theatre. With Mike’s technical expertise to supply what his checkbook and elbow grease couldn’t, Bobbitt made himself the director of facilities, and pitched in with set-building and heavy lifting. He also got married, and the woman he married, Laura Jackson, happened to be a theatrical as well, a gifted director and actress, and a successful wage-earner like Bobbitt to boot.



When Laura directed the play that brought the acerbic, sarcastic Sun theatre critic to tears, These Shining Lives, the Acrosstown began to be taken with greater seriousness than had heretofore been the case.


In the beginning the new play was called Dead Lady on a Shelf, but even more than the dead lady, it was about where the shelf was, it was about a place, a trailer park near I-75, where Bobbitt’s friend Kate was the manager and told Bobbitt stories about the park’s eccentric denizens, an eclectic collection of misfits and shady characters. It’s funny, Bobbitt likes pissing people off, and the people in his plays get pissed off at each other, but Bobbitt likes all these people and he never gets pissed off at them. He treated his bin of trailer trash with dignity. I know – because I was one of them.

Most theatres don’t produce plays, they re-produce them. This is not a knock on those theatres, that’s just the way things are. It’s not like in Shakespeare’s day, when a company of actors could tailor make plays to fit their particular skills, and the whole would be more than the sum of its parts, and it would be unique. Those days are gone, but Bobbitt pretends they’re not. This is called Make Believe.

Bobbitt wrote a part for me in his new play, which was now more appropriately titled Trailer Park Elegy. It wasn’t just a role that Bobbitt wrote for me, it was a me that Bobbitt had made into a role. He called the character Sham-Sham, a mysterious, over-educated good-for-nothing, hiding in plain sight, with a goat for his best friend. The goat and I had a long scene together, which was more or less my monologue, despite everyone’s eagerness to hear Mable speak her mind, but she was shy. I got to drink a beer.

First, we did Trailer Park as a staged reading, and Bobbitt pulled out all the stops, practically mounting the thing, in an effort to convince the board to select the play for a full production. He was going all out, putting his money where his mouth was.


Trailer Park Elegy got its full production at the ART, with an ensemble that included Michael Glover, Marival Parrish, Many Fugate, Scott Gross, Chick Lipsig, and me, oh, and Mable the Goat. It made people laugh and think about loneliness and racism and rape and gun violence and sex and goats. The Sun reviewer didn’t know what else to do with it, but the house was full of people laughing, and he was laughing too, so he praised it.


Bobbitt is a playwright, and he shows you the reason it’s spelled that way, like shipwright or wheelwright, he’s a maker of plays. Plays aren’t just written; they’re wrought.


Miller is a performance artist, and that means he lets fly, but he is also a painter, filmmaker, musician, composer, singer, and poet, which is to say he is a performance artist. Miller wrote a play called Ummu that was eerie and unsettling and sexy, and we got together for a reading. I played Fred, the psychiatrist, and Bobbitt played John, the artist, and Katina Daily played our love interest. The play was a clever construction of Chinese boxes, and great fun, scenes that were primal and freaky, and then funny and sardonic. Miller as playwright. Bobbitt wanted to direct it. So, that happened. Ummu, another brand-new play at the ART, a world premier that featured Wester Joseph (“Twelve Years a Slave”, Jayne Mansfield’s Car, directed by Billy Bob Thornton, featuring Robert Duvall, John Hurt, Kevin Bacon, and Wester), and Lola Bond, and me in a trippy psycho-drama played against a mesmerizing Anastasia Overton mural, whose eyes followed you everywhere.

There’s really only one way you can find out if you can trust somebody, and that’s to trust them. Miller handed his play to Bobbitt and he already knew he could trust him. That doesn’t happen when you put on Our Town, and it doesn’t need to, but a company putting on a play has no choice but to operate on trust. Bobbitt took complete control. Miller didn’t attend a sing rehearsal.



Tom Miller and I go back about 20 years as well, trading riffs on the poetry scene, moviemaking, acting in plays together, writing about each other.


Gaslight cast

It was during our run of Gaslight that Bobbitt got word that Sunset Village had been selected for the Broadway Bound Series. Gaslight, an old chestnut from the Great White Way, suddenly topical, another smart bet at the track, another winner critically and at the box office, another honing of our company’s skills, directed by Laura Jackson, set and lighting design by Bobbitt, an ensemble piece, eliciting the services of no less than Jan Cohen, who jived perfectly with Bobbitt’s dream cast for Sunset Village.

We were gathered in the dressing room at the intermission of Gaslight when Bobbitt appeared to tell us he was going to mount his next play in Greenwich Village at the 14th Street Y Theatre, but not to tell anyone. This was before any of us had read the script. Bobbitt told me he had a part for me, which I thought was cool, as long as I didn’t have to make out with a goat or anything.

Sunset Village does have a great part for me, and I could steal the show, and I should probably try to, because that will make it work, that’s what this guy does, but it’s really Anna’s play. It’s about Edna, the widow who has just arrived at Sunset Village, where, in some interior room, is death’s door. The only question is whether she wants to find her way there alone or with a companion. I think that’s a damn good question.

Sham & Anna

Anna and I have been a couple on stage twice before, as the Macbeths and as the Lomans in Death of a Salesman, so, to put it mildly, we’ve been through a lot.

Not every singer who bares her soul can do the same thing in a dramatic setting with dialogue, but Anna comes by it naturally. Her father, Smith Kirkpatrick, started the Creative Writing Program at UF, and her grandfather was the chairman of the English Department, so Lady Macbeth was in her wheelhouse, right along with Beatrice in Much Ado About Nothing, whom Anna played just last year, the smartest woman in all of Shakespeare. Some scholars, Harold Bloom and Sid Homan among them, have pointed out that the Macbeths are actually the most happily-married couple in the folio, and I must say Anna and I were happy playing them, putting our own spin on them, humanizing icons, same with Willy and Linda Loman. It’s fun being on stage just to watch Anna up close, because you can that she’s all caught up in it, but then you realize that at the same time she’s been watching you, so you instantly interact.





“Strap on your three-way safety belt, this is gonna be a life-changer.” – Tom Miller

We’ve done scary shit before. What’s scarier than Macbeth? And to do it out on the plaza downtown and broadcast it for all of downtown to hear! People could hear it on the steps of the Hippodrome. What could be scarier than Death of a Salesman?  But we did that. Those plays were scary in themselves. The only thing scary about this is where we’re going to do it. The play itself is literally made to order. Play it honestly, say the words, and tell the story. It’s just Boy meets Girl, Boy loses Girl, Boy gets Girl – only from the Girl’s point of view, and the Boys and Girls aren’t Boys and Girls anymore.


Leaving nothing to chance in the formation of his company, Bobbitt recruited his close friend and confidante, Norma Berger, to be his stage manager, someone who will take the job seriously without taking herself too seriously. Don’t sweat the details – because that’s what Norma does. To a T. Stage manager is a loose-fitting term for what Norma does – which is to operate the play as if it were a piece of delicate machinery to which she has written the owner’s manual. She is herself a fine and empathic actress, but she is more comfortable in this role, that of guiding hand.


It’s like swimming with sharks. I’ve done that. I was snorkeling in the Keys on my honeymoon and a great big hammerhead swam at an angle right toward us, and we just stopped and let him go by. That’s how you find out what you would do if you’re ever swimming with sharks. You calm the fuck down. You do not panic. You know why? Because if you do, you’ll die.

The wrangler at the 14th Street Y was wrapping up her briefing to the budding Broadway Bound playwrights: “Ok, let’s just make double sure that everybody knows exactly what you can and cannot do.” And all the cowed playwrights nodded pliantly. “Are there any questions?” There were none – except for Bobbitt. “Can we have live bees onstage?” People laughed. “I’m serious.” No, the wrangler told him, you cannot have live bees onstage. “That’s ok,” Bobbitt said, “I had a live goat in my last play. I was kind of scaling down because we have to travel, but if yall can’t handle it, we’ll save it for the Gainesville run.” This is our method for combatting Imposter Syndrome, the dread that can deaden a New York City debut by immobilizing a newbie struck wondering: what am I doing here, I don’t belong here, I’m small-time, this is big-time, they’re going to find me out, I’m an impostor! Fugdatshit. I put goats in my plays. And our director is a world-famous performance artist. Audiences don’t intimidate us, we intimidate them. Our motto is Hurt the People!

It’s been our motto since I coined the phrase somewhere far back in time, maybe around the time we did Macbeth, when it became apparent not just from my reading of Artaud and appreciation of Brecht and Genet, but, more significantly, from my own life in the theatre, that every play, every single play I had ever played in hurt, there was emotional pain involved, and sometimes physical too, and sometimes the pain felt good, so good you fell in love with it, and you never wanted to leave that part behind, you never wanted for the play and playing in it to die and go away and for the lights to go down on it forever, and so it hurt. It finally occurred to me – That’s what we want the audience to feel. We want to Hurt the People, we want the play to hurt the people the way it hurts us, to hurt so bad it feels good, to hurt so sublimely they fall in love with it.


Martha & George

Cindy Lasley and I have been a couple on stage three times, in Who’s Afraid of Virginia  Woolf?, A Thousand Clowns, and Twelve Years a Slave. And we also sort of double-dated with Scot Davis and Carolyne Salt in The Odd Couple.


Jan and I got to play one scene together in Gaslight and it quickly became one of my favorites because Jan was so razor sharp in her choices, and picked up her cues so beautifully you could make a scene seamless with her.


Tom Miller once ran for Mayor of Gainesville and held a naked press conference, you wanna talk about transparency in government. Tom Miller incurred the wrath of Info Wars by staring straight into the Lips of Lyin Ted Cruz for a Guinness Book world record of one hour!

Now, for what I’m writing, for what it’s worth.

Everywhere is Nowhere, a novel


Sometimes the truth is shrouded in myth.

Welcome to Hadesville, where Persephone, Queen of the Underworld, plies her trade, just beyond the gator-patrolled shores of Finnegans Lake, a tributary of the River Styx, in a land where Trump is King, and everywhere is nowhere.


Currently working 3rd draft, cutting and shaping.

I write every day in my composition book, following the three rules of writing practice: keep your pen moving; don’t stop to re-read, re-write, or correct mistakes; don’t think – just write! This is where the first draft happens. The second draft is when I transfer the material from my compo to the computer. The second draft of Everywhere is Nowhere was over 100,000 words. This draft will be half that length. I’m taking out everything but the sex.



Holy Shit, a play

The sacred and the profane.



In Black and White and Color, a novel

This is a coming-of-age story, set in mid-20th century Chicago and in particular its pleasant prosperous prejudiced suburb Oak Park. So far, it’s mostly been about sports and religion, athletes, nuns and priests.


Trump Wants to Take Your Gun Away!

My eight-year-old son is a devotee of a violent video game called Fortnite, and he is extremely upset at the rumor that President Trump is going to ban violent video games. Why would the President do such a thing?

I explained to him the President’s honorable intention. The President, I told him honestly, just wants to sell guns, all the guns he can, all kinds of guns, to everybody, and bullets too. But he doesn’t want people to think he’s not doing anything about people getting killed with all these guns he’s selling, so, to show everybody he’s doing something about it, he blames violent video games. Kids and crazy people play these games where they shoot people, and it makes them want to shoot people in real life. Sort of like when you play too much basketball, and then you go to the store and start boxing people out to keep them from grabbing that loaf of bread or carton of milk. That doesn’t happen?

How about this? What do you think, if we eliminated every gun from the face of the earth and replaced them with violent video games, would the number of gun deaths decrease? Obviously, but that is an absurd premise.

What would not be an absurd premise? Is there any premise possible that would admit the reduction in arms as a means of reducing gun deaths? Because then there would be a way to discover mathematically the percentage of arms reduction required to reduce the number of gun deaths. Certainly, it is a fact, a priori, that if there were zero guns, there would be zero gun deaths.

The thing is, one gun can kill a lot of people, and let’s not forget that guns don’t just kill people, they perforate them, so if, peradventure, they don’t kill you, they can still destroy you, paralyze you, cripple you, blind you, disfigure you, not to speak of traumatize you for life, forever, for all eternity, however you choose to think of it, but let’s leave all that aside, because by now the numbers and repercussions have far surpassed the level of absurdity.

We must always begin with this premise: You’re never going to get rid of all the guns.

Yes, Mr. President, but what if you could? Think about it, Mr. President. The mere threat of taking everybody’s guns away, while Obama was president, was enough to give gun sales a giant goose, just imagine for an instant what it would mean for gun sales if everybody in America needed a gun – because they didn’t have one!

Trump wants to take your gun away!

E. Stanley Richardson, Poet

E. Stanley Richardson at the Downtown Library, reading from his book of poems about hip hop, which he sees as a people’s art form that has become commodified and turned into its opposite and sold back to the oppressed.

Stan is listening to the voices in his life, his past, his present, his country, his world. Many of the poems lead with the first-person plural, not the royal we, not the editorial we, but we the people.

A poem that follows from Genesis, but not “Let there be light,” but, rather, “Let there be sound”.

In the beginning there was the drum . . . .

A poem called “The Willie Green Blues”

  • “ Did I witness all dem colors!”

James Brown inspired the Birth of Funk. “He changed the whole way music is heard and played.”

“Ancestral Swag”

Stan riffs on his writing process: “Everything happens to music. No music with words though. I don’t want words to get in the way of my words. And then I just let it flow. Sometimes I wonder where is she, my muse, when she’s not with me? With some other lover, I guess.”

Stan draws a parallel between the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the dangers faced by black Americans when dealing with the police. “There are people all over the world who look to black Americans for their blueprint for freedom.”

Stan is in good voice, offering more than print on a page, a cadence, a subtle change in pitch, a wry articulation, a melody. He launches into “Klan Notes”, which he describes as “Edgar Allan Poe and Maya Angelou got together and decided to write a poem, and it came out through me.”

In the poem, the telling words are “I’ve see them and they’ve seen me.”



Listening to the Little Prince

Just the Answers, mam.


Little Prince Literary Criticism


Language Arts



little prince

  1. The danger of the baobabs is that they cannot be eradicated. They are invasive, destructive. One ignores them not only at one’s own peril, but at the peril of the entire planet. This is no fantasy. Pollution can kill us all.
  2. The difference between adults and children is the level of their understanding, the former being low, the latter perhaps being adequate to the task. At least the kids have a chance to understand – because they are open to understanding that which cannot be quantified, to looking within themselves. It is not a matter of chronological age. The pilot discovers and nurtures the child within himself.
  3. The pilot learns to love the prince. He loves the way you love someone so much that you want to be like that person. And so the pilot learns what the prince has learned: the difference between adults and children, the accepting awe that is alight in questions more than answers. He learns that what is most essential is invisible to the eye, that time soothes all sorrows, and what it means to be tamed.
  4. The well itself, like a well in a village, is not what one might expect to find in the immensity of the desert. It is out of place – and it is this disconnectedness, this other worldliness, that leads to nourishment that is good for the heart, not cardiovascularly, but spiritually. This water quenches the thirst for truth, but it is best when shared with another. As Emerson said, “It takes two to speak the truth; one to speak and another to listen.” The well water is like that.
  5. The prince commits suicide, and somehow he gains the tacit approval of the pilot for this action, and, by extension, that of the reader. We forgive him, just as we forgive Romeo and Juliet their suicides. Their action seems justified. Is this not presumptuous of us however? The prince does not want to die. He is afraid of death. And yet it seems a chalice that he will not pass by. There is a sense of self-sacrifice here, Christ-like, and we would not accuse Jesus of suicide, even though he chose to die. More to the point might be the death of Socrates, who also chose poison over life.
  6. To be tamed means to establish ties – but what exactly does that mean? What is it that ties us to one another? Are they bonds that can be broken? How easily? The bonds that the fox is seeking are strong, reinforced by habit. There is joy, even love, informing these habits. Taming is a constant endeavor. It does not end.
  7. Ephemeral means to be in danger of speedy disappearance. This applies to all humanity, both individually and as a species. All of humanity may be wiped out, all humanity may be evolving toward dissolution. All that we care about is fleeting, subject to the ravages of time, and the clock is ticking.
  8. The rose does tell the prince that she loves him. But not until it is too late. He has already decided to leave his planet. It may be the imminent threat of his departure that prompts the rose’s belated declaration, which nevertheless does not deter the prince. The question then is why does the prince not stay with the rose after she has declared her love for him? Something has gone terribly wrong in their relationship, perhaps irreparably. Their relationship could have been salvaged had they acted earlier, but, for, perhaps, selfish reasons, they did not.
  9. The Turkish astronomer is a brilliant scientist who makes an important discovery, but he is ignored because his appearance is outside the norm. Europeans do not trust those in non-European costume. It is not the value or truth of his discovery that causes it to be discounted, but, rather, the prejudice of his listeners.
  10. The prince is on a quest for truth. You don’t find the truth by pretending that you know the answers to everything. The prince employs the Socratic Method. You begin in ignorance by admitting your ignorance. The prince is willing to do that. Then it becomes a matter of asking the right questions, to get to the essence of things. The prince wants to penetrate to the heart of the matter. He never lets go off a question. He pursues, until the problem is stated in its simplest terms. In some ways then the prince’s questions are answers.
  11.  I leave it to you to suggest how the pilot found the well. She says it is destiny. And so this becomes a question about fate. You would have no trouble convincing the ancient Greeks of this. They believed in this sort of thing. They lived their lives according to it. Don’t fight fate, We moderns are a harder sell. The pilot is looking for a well hidden somewhere in the immensity of the desert. It is absurd. And yet, somehow, he finds it. How? The pilot does not even have the prince to guide him. The prince is asleep. So what guides him? Luck? His instincts? Does the force of the well attract him? I lean toward this last theory, because it seems to be important that the pilot wants to find the well, that he is actively looking for it. Then it seems like the operation of a karma-like force.
  12. Somehow the price does not belong on Earth. He does not fit in. But is that the reason he leaves Earth? And he doesn’t just leave Earth, he returns to his own planet, which he had seemingly abandoned. The analogy to Christ, again, rings true. The prince comes to Earth to impart some lesson, and to sacrifice himself. He does so. The pilot cannot find his body the next day, so it is as if the prince has risen from the dead and ascended to heaven. He had told the pilot that it would seem as if he were dying, but that that would not be so. It is as if death were only a kind of rebirth. There is also the rose to be considered. The prince has gone to great lengths to acquire a sheep to the planet from baobabs, so it seems to have been the prince’s intention to return to his own planet from the moment he meets the pilot.
  13. There is nothing that could make the prince want to stay on earth. His friendship with the pilot speaks well of the Earth. It is a redeeming quality, but it is not enough for the prince – who is responsible for his rose.
  14. As soon as the prince learns the meaning of ephemeral he realizes that everything and everybody that he cares about is dying. He faces time as an enemy. Time opposes all that he loves. And yet it is the time that he has wasted on his rose that makes his rose so important. Here then is the paradox that the prince somehow resolves – how to appreciate the time he spends while simultaneously wasting it. He finds a solution to the conundrum of time.
  15. Those who see the drawing as a boa constrictor rather than a hat possess a greater degree of understanding. They can perhaps intuit what is within. They do not merely look at the surface of things. They look deeper. The prince has this capability for insight, as the pilot discovers when he shows the prince his drawing.
  16.  The prince loves the rose because of the time he has wasted on her, because she has tamed him, and because it is the prince’s nature to love. He is a loving being. The prince is all about love. A cynic might say that the prince loves the rose because there is no one else around to love, and yet, in herself, she is a worth object of the prince’s love. She is beautiful – not just in her appearance but in her essence, in her nature – which is to be loved.
  17.  If being tamed means to establish ties with someone else, then one cannot tame oneself. And yet how could the fox know how to be tamed without already being tamed. He certainly seems tame enough, speaking to the prince in a civilized fashion, offering him no harm. The establishment of ties must begin anew with each of those one chooses to tame and be tamed by. There is then choice and habit, and when the two are confused there is hell to pay.
  18. The first thing the prince asks the pilot is to draw him a sheep. It is an odd request. We learn later why the prince needs the sheep. It is to protect his planet from invasion by baobabs. But why a drawing, why a two-dimensional representation rather than the real thing? Is it because we have entered a symbolic universe where it is enough for the drawing of the sheep to represent its saving power?
  19. The prince keeps telling us that his planet is so small. Is it perhaps too small? Is it confining? His consciousness seems to expand throughout the novel, which is the story of a journey of discovery. The prince seeks to expand his horizons. When he surveys the landscape on Earth, he is saddened by the vastness of it compared to his own tiny planet. On his journey, however, the prince appreciates more and more the ephemeral matter of his life, the ties that bind him to others, to himself, and to his own past. His planet is his home and he is responsible for it. Does the prince leave his planet, planning all along to come back to it? I think not. I think he operates primarily on feelings; he follows his heart. While that seems noble, the prince discovers that it is not enough to follow his heart; there is a kind of leadership required of him. Everything seems to change for the prince once he learns the meaning of ephemeral. But why does he not return to his own planet the instant he finds out the rose is in danger of speedy disappearance? Is it because he doesn’t know enough yet to save her?
  20. The rose naively plans to defend herself against all the world with her mere four thorns. It won’t work. She is so naïve, and that is one of her winning qualities, one of the reasons the prince loves her. It is inseparable from his feelings for her. Her belief in her defense rises also from her vanity. Her character has flaws.
  21. The prince is saddened by the rose garden because he believes it cheapens his feeling toward the rose. He had thought her unique and with the appearance of others of her species, she appears common, not one and only, but merely one of many. What the prince will discover is that it is the nature of his relationship with the rose that lends her a uniqueness: there can be only one rose for the prince.
  22. What makes his rose important, the fox tells the prince, is that he has wasted time on her. His most precious possession  — his time – has been squandered on the rose: watering, protecting, humoring her. It gives meaning to his life. If the rose did not exist, perhaps the prince would have to invent her.
  23. What makes the desert beautiful, the prince tells the pilot, is that somewhere it hides a well. The pilot ponders the mysterious radiance of the sands, and discerns something shimmering within. The natural landscape takes on a symbolic value. Beauty is within. Our aesthetic sensibility transcends the material universe and meets our spiritual needs – the well promises to quench our thirst for truth.
  24. The prince takes some bit of truth from each planet he visits. His concept of truth is therefore fragmented and needs integration. The businessman shows the prince the paradigm of capitalism – which the prince recognizes as an artificial construct. The conceited man shows the limitations that come from bordering the whole universe with the self. It makes the prince want to go beyond the limits of the self. The lamplighter is alienated from his self through his frustrating and pointless labor. All of these bits of truth come together on the Earth, as the prince meets the fox and begins to appreciate the meaning of his journey.
  25. The prince is Christ-like in his self-sacrifice. But in many ways the prince is like all heroes of the mind. He undergoes an ordeal for the sake of others. He travels a dangerous path, surmounting obstacles, to capture a boon for all humankind. He returns with this gift and gives it to us. Like Christ, the prince rises from the dead. He conquers time. He conquers death. In his acceptance of death, the prince is like Socrates, whose allegiance was to wisdom more than self-preservation.


Back on Earth

“The object of government is not to change men from rational beings into beasts or puppets, but to enable them to develop their minds and bodies in security, and to employ their reason unshackled; neither showing hatred, anger, nor deceit, nor watched with the eyes of jealousy and injustice.” – Spinoza

How does this pertain to the gun debate? Obviously, if the object of government is to enable citizens to develop their minds and bodies in security, the government is doing a horseshit job.

You may say the problem isn’t guns, but then you must be deaf, dumb, and blind, not necessarily in that order, or you may be a firm believer in gun rights. But if you are the government, your object is enabling the citizens to develop their minds and bodies in security, not necessarily enabling them to carry weapons of war.

If your only object were security, the solution would be simple, albeit arduous: disarm the populous.

If you ban guns, only criminals would have guns.

True, and then you’d be half-way there. If you’ve got a gun, you’re a criminal.

You can’t arrest everybody who’s got a gun.

You can’t deport every illegal immigrant either, but that doesn’t mean you won’t try.

You can’t even have a gun for hunting?

You can have a gun for hunting, but you can’t have one to go shoot up the school or a movie theater or the mall.

How about a gun for target practice?

Target practice?

Yeah. I just like to shoot at shit.

Fuck you. No. No guns for target practice I just like to shoot at shit. No guns for fun.

What about hunting?

Hunting is grandfathered in. We were hunters forty times longer than we’ve been farmers.

We have the inalienable right to keep and bear arms. It’s in the Constitution. Which is our Bible! Second amendment, baby! Can’t take away our guns!

Why can’t you bring a gun on a plane?

No guns allowed on planes. We’re all in agreement on that.

Everybody except Goldfinger over there.

Why does your right to bear arms dissolve in the air?

We have made the rational decision that no one can board a plane with a weapon. Because we want everyone to be safe while they’re flying, but once they touch down, it’s a different matter.

Once your back on earth, back in the jungle, back in the wild west, it’s best to arm yourself.

Arm the Teachers!

Plato with a Pistol.

Aristotle with an AR-15.

Not surprisingly, if you turn for advice to the National Retailers Association, the answer is: Buy More Guns!

There are already more guns in America than there are people. It’s going to take a while to get rid of all of them, but eventually the guns are going to win.