Let’s Go On Strike on January 20th!

categories: Cocktail Hour


So I know there are a lot of marches and protests happening and I’m all for those. But what about a huge, well-organized general strike? There needs to be some real way to protest both the asinine appointments/nominations and the growing foreign policy horror show that threatens all of our safety. Trump and his biz cronies love productivity so let’s just shut it all down. Maybe it is exactly what social media evolved to do….Let’s declare that the country, or at least the vast majority of the country that didn’t vote for this clown, will go on strike starting on Friday, January 20, inauguration day.

Wait, you can't DO that!!!

Wait, you can’t DO that!!!

Guest contributor: Bill Lundgren

Lundgren’s Lounge: “Avid Reader,” by Robert Gottlieb

categories: Guest Columns / Reading Under the Influence

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Sometimes I feel like my life-long devotion to the act of reading marks me as a member of a cabal, furtive and unnoticed, moving around the edges of contemporary culture. And by reading I mean reading books… bound, tangible artifacts symbolic of the perhaps quaint notion that we can be enlightened and entertained by the words on a page. Continue reading →

Forgotten Moments in History

categories: Cocktail Hour

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Final Four Follow Up: Gessner vs. Plimpton, The Lost Footage

categories: Cocktail Hour


Not long ago we staged a final four tournament of the best literary magazines in the country.  The Paris Review and the upstart Ecotone both made the final four, but what we had forgotten was that some years ago there had already been a historic hoops battle between the two renowned magazines.   Now, after many hours of work on the part of the Bill and Dave research assistants, we have uncovered and retouched this lost footage of Paris Review Founding Editor George Plimpton playing Ecotone Founding Editor David Gessner in one-on-one.

Here it is:




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Things You Never Hear Writing Teachers Say

categories: Cocktail Hour


“Just write what comes into your head!”

“Too many specifics.”

“To hell with commas!”

“This piece needs more dialect.”

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Bad Advice Wednesday: Wally Stegner Chimes In

categories: bad advice / Cocktail Hour

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steg-portraitI don’t know of any better bad advice for writers, and humans, than what follows, from an interview in the middle of On Teaching and Writing Fiction by WS (edited by Lynn Stegner):


Most artists are flawed; but they probably ought to make the effort not to be. But how do you teach people to enlarge themselves in order to enlarge their writing? It is a little like asking them to “commit experience” for literary purposes.


Largeness is a lifelong matter–sometimes a conscious goal, sometimes not. You enlarge yourself because that is the kind of individual you are. You grow because you are not content not to. You are like a beaver that chews constantly because if it doesn’t, its teeth grow long and lock. You grow because you are a grower; you’re large because you can’t stand to be small.


If you are a grower and writer as well, your writing should get better and larger and wiser. But how you teach that, the Lord knows.

I guess you can suggest the ideal of it, the notion that is is a good thing to be large and magnanimous and wise, that it is a better aim in life than pleasure or money or fame. By comparison, it seems to me, pleasure and money, and probably fame as well, are contemptible goals.


I would go so far as to say that to a class. but not all the class would believe me.



The Current Liberal Fantasy

categories: Cocktail Hour

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Maybe we Shouldn’t Have Used Those Russian Voting Machines

categories: Cocktail Hour

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Guest contributor: Bill Lundgren

Lundgren’s Lounge: “Everybody’s Fool” by Richard Russo

categories: Cocktail Hour / Guest Columns / Reading Under the Influence

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Over the course of a rich and varied reading life, I find myself returning to the pleasures of an engaging story, well-told, again and again. Excursions to the academic and literary fringes (and too often, the fiction pages of the New Yorker) reveals a miasma of intellectual postmodern tomfoolery that leads this reader, unfulfilled, back to the power of a simple story, offered up by the hands of a master story-teller. Everybody’s Fool, a sequel to the much loved Nobody’s Fool, by Richard Russo, is the quintessential example of just such a story and just such a writer.

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Last Trump Blasts

categories: Cocktail Hour

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Okay, so it’s not the most sophisticated political cartoon in the world, but it passed an important test: it made Hadley laugh out loud. (And I finally got around the whole problem of his face being too much of a caricature to draw a caricature of…)