Author Archives: Robert Birnbaum

Sherwin Nuland

Sherwin Nuland

“The more personal and intimate, the more you are willing to see outside events through your own particular perspective, the more universal you are.”

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Brian Hall

Brian Hall

“What interests me in this book is the difficulty of taking reality and packaging it in a narrative that fits people’s expectations of what a narrative should be.”

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“I am old fashioned and think that reading books is the most glorious pastime that humankind has yet devised.” –March 2, 2003

A few months ago I came across this passage from the introduction to a one volume English translation of Wistawa Szymborska‘s Nonrequired Reading: I am old fashioned and think that reading books is the most glorious pastime that humankind has yet devised. Homo Ludens dances, sings, produces meaningful gestures, strikes poses, dresses up, revels and […]

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Richard Price

Author Richard Price

“I’m not into a novel as a philosophical inquiry into language and stuff like that. I’m basically a story teller and always will be.”

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Colum McCann

Colum McCann

“In America, as in most western countries, the writer is not really feared any more. Nobody fears your bite. So you have to work from a reckless inner need.”

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“This cornucopia of literature provides hope” –February 18, 2003

Every season brings welcome tidings of the largesse that I am soon to benefit from by way of books sent to me by book publishers. Mostly this comes in the form of catalogues. Occasionally cleverly or handsomely designed, this cornucopia of literature provides hope, at least in the short term, of an interesting and radiant […]

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Frederick Busch

Frederick Busch

“I realized that if I could keep writing, I could get people to not want me to die.”

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Geoff Dyer

Geoff Dyer

“All the time we are being encouraged to believe that you might be able to get some kind of wisdom and enlightenment out of a Christmas cracker, but of course it doesn’t happen like that.”

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“The announcement of the continuation of the Godfather saga…” –11 February, 2003

What’s with all the goomba bling bling? The announcement of the continuation of the Godfather saga has so far been greeted with a sound, I imagine, of sheep grazing in the meadow. (I wouldn’t know that sound, never having been privy to such rustic entertainment.) The fractious (and admirable) bunch that scour the infosphere for […]

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“Given my extensive self-imposed required reading list and my voracious appetite for the printed page…” –February 8, 2003

Given my extensive self-imposed required reading list and my voracious appetite for the printed page (and its cyber iterations), I am constantly worrying myself about the relevance, the meaning, and the import of all the typography that passes before my eyes. I recently recalled a hilarious op-ed piece that speechwriter Mark Katz wrote for the […]

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“19 Biographies in 12 Years” –February 2, 2003

If I have read more than a dozen biographies (not to be confused with memoirs) in the past 12 years, I would be surprised. Surprise! Scrupulous record keeping contradicts this recollection. So okay, I’ve read nineteen: Autobiography of a Face – Lucy Grealey Official and Confidential: The Secret Life of J.Edgar Hoover – Anthony Summers […]

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Thomas Perry

Thomas Perry

“It’s fun to do a series, but it’s comfortable. I don’t think being comfortable is necessarily the thing that’s going to make you a better writer. And I think that’s the most important thing that a writer does—is try to get better.”

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Steve Almond

Steve Almond

“In my view of things this is the era in which artists have to step up and play the role that traditionally the church did and religion did in terms of awakening people’s compassion and their mercy.”

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“Salon.com One-Day Pass” –January 26, 2003

Okay, like many people, I presume, I have crafted tactics of procrastination to deal with the occasional mental fog or creative palsy while sitting at my writing appliance. One kind of diversion is to make spontaneous visits to various book-marked web sites in an endless foraging for I-don’t-know-what. I recently stopped by Salon.com as it […]

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“Selling books on the web wasn’t why she opened a book store.” –January 19, 2003

The good news is that one less of a precious endangered species, Avenue Victor Hugo bookstore, is not going the way of the dodo. The Johnson Paint Store, a little further up the avenue (Newbury Street), another neighborhood institution, will be renting out its commodious second floor to Vince McCaffrey, thereby providing life support to […]

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