Stealing Other People’s Homework: “Edgar Allan Poe’s Literary War”


An “indirect descendant” of Edgar Allan Poe, Harry Lee Poe, looks at the cultural war between the Bostonians and Edgar Allan Poe over the merits of Southern literature.

He shows how it contributed to the sabotage of his reputation after Poe’s death.

For me, though, the most interesting thing is that Poe, author of several, largely forgotten today, humorous tales criticized Northern writers as lacking in humor, a deficit not found in Southern writers.


Stealing Other People’s Homework: “Russell Kirk and the Haunting of Piety Hill”

Russell Kirk

I’ve been reading SD Tucker’s two part series on Russell Kirk in Fortean Times“. It’s part of his “Strange Statesman” series.

The installments mostly look into the strange occult beliefs of various politicians and political philosophers. Kirk, however, was more than a political philosopher. (Jerry Pournelle considered Kirk his political mentor though Pournelle definitely did not share Kirk’s anti-technology views.)

He was a noted a writer of weird fiction, fiction that demonstrated the synthesis of his political and occult beliefs. He was a friend of Ray Bradbury.

Kirk biographer Bradley J. Birzer looks at the professional and thematic relationships between Kirk and Stephen King and how Kirk’s paranormal experiences showed up in his fiction.

Stealing Other People’s Homework: “I Slept with Secret Police”

William O’Connor interviews Frederick Forsyth, the spy novelist, about Forsyth’s memoir.

I have fond memories of the three Forsyth novels I’ve read: The Day of the Jackal, The Dogs of War, and The Odessa File.  (All were adapted into decent movies too.)

Maybe I’ll check Forsyth’s memoirs out. I’m curious if he still denies that The Dogs of War is a fictionalized account of his attempt to overthrow an African government.



Stealing Other People’s Homework: “Philip K. Dick and Our Predicament”


Prowling around on the Web of a Million Lies today, I found this 2013 piece by J. R. Dunn. Yes, it seems to be this J. R. Dunn, a science fiction writer as well as a political commentator. I believe we had a very brief email exchange years ago.



Stealing Other People’s Homework: “Literature’s Arctic Obsession”

In my part of the world, the temperature has gone below 0 degrees Fahrenheit.

And that means it’s time to do some polar reading.

This year, I’ll probably read Jules Verne’s The Adventures of Captain Hatteras, and, maybe, Ernest Shackleton’s South.

However, given how far behind I am in reviews, it will be awhile before I talk about them.

In the meantime, you get this from Kathryn Schulz. There’s a lot of famous writers who mentioned the poles in their work: the Brontes, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Mary Shelley, Arthur Conan Doyle, Edgar Allan Poe, Wilkie Collins, and Charles Dickens.

Stealing Other People’s Homework: “Literature’s Arctic Obsession“, Kathryn Schulz.Arctic Obsession

Stealing Other People’s Homework: “The Wizardry of Freud”

This one is somewhat off topic but will partially explain why I have no time for Freudianism or Freudian criticism.

Ms. Schaefer does note that Freud was a skilled writer of fiction. He just didn’t call it that.

Stealing Other People’s Homework: “The Wizardry of Freud“, Margret Schaefer.



Poetry: “Trade Talk”

I was looking through the archives — inconveniently coded in an obscure file format — for another poem which I didn’t find.

So you get this instead.

Trade Talk

Love is the universal language, so they say.

But lust is really our creole tongue.

Just a few old words on symmetry’s serenity

And the value of clear skin.

But lust has its vowel shifts too:

Hirsute and shaven,

Solomon’s roe-breasts and silicon intrusions,

Milk white and California tan.

Some phrases are almost fetish obscure:

Geisha necks and Minoan eyes,

And flat-chested flappers.


Lust is the trade talk of genes.

But here, in media’s nation,

We have trading blocs of grammar deviations,

Strange syntax, new slangs of desire.

Is there no Chomsky subset of universal pant?

Will the Babel of petri dish and PCR

Add to lust’s cant?

Stealing Other People’s Homework: “The Humbug”


October brings Poe to mind with his death on October 7, 1849 and his poem “Ulalume” with its line “It was night in the lonesome October.”

Jill Lepore’s “The Humbug” is, I think, too hard on Poe and glosses over his Army career, but it’s worth reading for placing Poe in the context of his hard-scrabble times.

Stealing Other People’s Homework: “Rough Diamond”

Rough Diamond

I’m back from an unexpected absence to a land of no internet connection where I got little reading or writing done.

Posts will pick up shortly.

For now, I’ll post an article on Jared Diamond’s Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies. As I’ve mentioned before, I was a fan of Diamond’s book when it came out 20 years ago.

Now, though, I’m less convinced of its logic or empirical basis.

Steve Sailer’s “Rough Diamond” looks at some of its faults.