The System of Dante’s Hell

images-2.jpgI highly recommend Amiri Baraka’s experimental novel from the ’60s, The System of Dante’s Hell. Written under the poet’s name at that time, LeRoi Jones, Baraka gives a highly personal, somewhat autobiographical, account of how the experience of being a black man can be related in terms suggestive of Hell as developed by Dante in the Inferno.

In fact, a modified version of Dante’s system is provided at the beginning of the book. But don’t get trapped into attempting to marry each section of Baraka’s narrative to Dante’s map of Hell.

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True Crime

VOLUME 19, Number 1: True Crime

The town claimed to be shocked by the arrests, but most confided that they’d always known Penny Misko would end up doing something like this. She’d always been a liar and a drunk; it was not hard to imagine that she could leave a neighbor in the road not twenty feet from her front door . . . The more compassionate suggested that maybe she hadn’t known she’d hit someone, but they’d been dismissed. The car’s windshield had been replaced! The police who’d retrieved it from the body shop said the damage was “consistent with something large striking it.” Something like Brenda Leroy’s head. The Miskos had left her in the street, and they’d sat there at their kitchen table listening to the ambulance come and go, and they’d lied, lied, and lied again. And Brenda was their neighbor. She’d known them her whole life. Penny had worked with Brenda’s mother at the sleeping bag factory. Penny Misko was a terrible person. Not guilty? they said. Please.

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Another Month of Panic

download.jpgWhen you discover and suggest a new book every day it never really affects you until at the end of the month when you gather all those suggested books together and realize that you want to read so many of them and that you probably never will. As I sit here with hundreds of books surrounding me on my new white bookshelves and thousands of books silently buzzing in my miracle digital readers, I am realizing more and more the horrific truth in that Arthur Schopenhauer quotation:

To buy books would be a good thing if we also
could buy the time to read them.

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I Made My Nut, and Now the Vig

group-of-men-reading-pile-of-booksFor many years now I have loosely targeted my annual reading to score about one-hundred books, some long and some short. It always intrigues me when I look back over my reading from the years I worked many hours and compare it to my reading now that I am retired. It’s about the same. How did I go to work, at times with a very long commute, and only pause to read a few minutes each day over a hasty lunch at my desk, and actually read as much if not more than I am reading today?

Is it my aging eyes? The advent of digital readers? A diminishing attention span? Not enough vegetables in my diet?

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