"Dante was a hyena that wrote poetry on tombs!" said Nietzsche.
Well, there are critics and critics. Lately, thinking about the end of life, I have been going between two really interesting books that I recommend if one feels philosophical, questioning and thoughtful. One is Jim Holt's amazing "Why Does the World Exist?" and the other is Francis Spufford's "Unapologetic" with the subtitle " Why, despite everything, Christianity can still make surprising emotional sense."
The first book has been called "one of the 10 Best Books of the Year" and is described as "an existential detective story." Liveright published under W.W. Norton and just reading review excerpts is thrilling.
The second book also has received some excellent response and was published by Harper One of Harper Collins.
These books are catnip for atheists, agnostics, believers, disbelievers and people who like to think and wonder.
• The current age of everyone having his or her say-so and the critical rage that seems to be a building and the carpers who find fault with every single thing -- sometimes make me laugh.
The tabloids are ever reaching for a negative as if it is something important. For instance, Mayor Bloomberg, who has done so much for New York, is now on the hot seat no matter whether he sits down or not. The other day he was criticized for using profane bad language. What he had been saying was that certain people were "bitching" about this or that. I forget the subject; it wasn't much.
"Bitching"??????? This is the mildest of adjectives when really nasty words float out from today's music, comedies, TV, lectures, modern art, etc. Even my devout Baptist Mississippi mother didn't object to our saying somebody was "bitching."
• If you had won the PEN/Faulkner Award, England's Orange Prize (back in the day when orange wasn't the new black), the Book Sense Book of the Year award, and been named one of Time magazine's "100 Most Influential People in the World 2012" -- I ask, would you have moved to Parnassus or to Nashville?
Writer Ann Patchett moved to Nashville and named the store she opened there, Parnassus Books. She dared to open a bookstore in these Internet times?
Ann is living with husband Karl and their dog Sparky and if ever they feel that life is passing them by, they just remember that two other famous people, Nicole Kidman and her musician husband, Keith Urban, also live there happy in their indifference to big city coastal fame. And the country western singers, rock'n'roll throwbacks, and other more daring shake it darlings have joined them.
Ann Patchett is one of my very favorite writers and she has brought out a new book called "This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage." (The title alone will confound the vicious sex-crazed and violence-prone public! It might be burned in effigy.)
This work is all about Ann's lowly beginnings as a writer and her mid-life success at the top. Every aspiring writer - and they contact me by the 100s every day, thinking I can help them - needs to read Ann Patchett via Harper's publishing.
Just to remind you; Ann has penned "State of Wonder"..."What now?"..."Run"..."Truth & Beauty"..."Bel Canto," which knocked things out of the literary ball park.
I hope we can convince Ann Patchett to leave Nashville and come read for us again at the Literacy Partners fund-raiser on June 17, 2014.
• Had a chance to visit with Jane Hickie of Stephenville, Texas the other day and as Jane was once the well-known power behind the Ann Richards' throne in the latter's failed attempt to hold onto the liberal Governorship of Texas, I knew she'd be full of pizzazz.
Jane, of course, brought me a spanking new copy of a magazine called Garden&Gun with "Great Southern Homes" on the cover and info inside on the best places to go to shoot animals.
I have to give this magazine compliments for its décor if not its Gun promo. It is published at 409 King Street, Suite 200, Charleston, S.C. You can call 800-800-8336 if you want to subscribe.
Texas isn't exactly Southern, but it is in a class by itself right there snuggled up to Garden&Gun. So I suggest if you don't want Texas to secede from the Union - and maybe you want the U.S. to secede from Texas - you read a recent issue of Time magazine, which has a new map of the U.S. on the cover configured to be included in the Texas shape. (Issue date October 28.)
If you are not ready for the Civil War to be fought all over again, then you are not ready for Time's sum-up of Texas as the most up-and-coming state still restively in the Union.