Monday Miscellany

Making Appointments With (Fictional) Doctors

A fictional M.D. will not reduce your fever, but she or he might reduce your boredom. That’s because many medical protagonists — whether general practitioners or something else — are quite interesting. They’re often not liberal arts types, but, heck, non-liberal arts types can be compelling characters, too.

Also of interest is seeing how fictional physicians interact with fictional patients, and how these doctors manage their fictional personal lives while working long hours. Plus we can’t help comparing literature’s doctors to our own doctors. Are these made-up medical people as compassionate and dedicated, or as egotistic and mercenary, or as competent or not-so-competent as the real-life medical people we visit?

Read what Dave Astor has to say about doctors in fiction, from Flaubert’s Madame Bovary to John Grisham’s The Client.

Romance that never loses its sparkle: The world’s most influential novel ever

image from Pride and Prejudice
BBC 1995 Adaptation of Pride and Prejudice

It gave us Colin Firth in a clinging, wet shirt and inspired Bridget Jones to sing “I’m Every Woman”. Jane Austen’s “own darling child”, or Pride and Prejudice as it’s known to you and me, is a brand all of its own. It has inspired more spin-offs than almost any other book in history, and has ballooned into a multi-million-pound industry. Pretty impressive, considering it turns 200 years old this month.

As enthusiasts, academics, authors and film-makers across the globe celebrate the bicentenary of the novel’s publication in the next few weeks, experts suggest “cult Austen” is only going to get bigger. Its market, they say – which until now has consisted largely of Britain, the US and Australia – is expanding. China, India and Russia are starting to swot up on all things Austen. Visitors are flocking to visit her home, Chawton in Hampshire, to read the sequels and travel to the locations where adaptations of her works were filmed.

Notes on all kinds of artistic endeavors inspired by Pride and Prejudice.

Fact of fiction: How reading the classics gives the brain a boost

Researchers at Liverpool University believe that reading classic works of literature, particularly Shakespeare, “had a beneficial effect on the mind, by catching the reader’s attention and triggering moments of self-reflection.”

Using scanners, they monitored the brain activity of volunteers as they read pieces by Shakespeare, Wordsworth, TS Eliot and others. They then “translated” the texts into more “straightforward”, modern language and again monitored the readers’ brains as they read the words. Scans showed that the more “challenging” prose and poetry set off far more electrical activity in the brain than the more pedestrian versions.

Scientists were able to study the brain activity as readers responded to each word and noticed how it “lit up” as they encountered unusual words, surprising phrases or difficult sentence structure. This “lighting up” of the mind lasted longer than the initial electrical spark, shifting the brain to a higher gear and encouraging further reading.

The classics also produced self-appraisal in readers:

The research also found that poetry, in particular, increased activity in the right hemisphere of the brain, an area concerned with “autobiographical memory”, helping the reader to reflect on and reappraise their own experiences in light of what they had read.

One aspect of the research compared the reactions in volunteers’ brains when reading the work of, among others, Wordsworth, Henry Vaughan, John Donne, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Eliot, Philip Larkin and Ted Hughes and when reading paraphrases of the poetic passages. Reading of the original passages

caused a greater degree of brain activity, lighting up not only the left part of the brain concerned with language, but also the right hemisphere that relates to autobiographical memory and emotion.

Activity is this area of the brain suggests that the poetry triggers “reappraisal mechanisms” causing the reader to reflect and rethink their own experiences. “Poetry is not just a matter of style. It is a matter of deep versions of experience that add the emotional and biographical to the cognitive,” said Prof [Philip] Davis [an English professor who worked on the study].

“The next phase of the research is looking at the extent to which poetry can affect psychology and provide therapeutic benefit.”

Five Movies Coming Out In 2013 That Are Based On Books

Freelance writer and photographer Kristina Pino provides a heads-up on some upcoming films. “This list isn’t about the likes of Ender’s Game, Hunger Games, Carrie, The Great Gatsby, The Host, and others. It’s about the ‘little guys.'”

Read why she recommends these films:

  • Warm Bodies
  • The Reluctant Fundamentalist
  • Beautiful Creatures
  • I, Frankenstein
  • Epic

Meet Babies Grey and Anastasia: ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ inspires baby names

Call it the Fifty Shades bump — literally. BabyCenter has released their yearly list of most popular baby names and — shocker! — the Class of 2030 will be seeing a lot more Anastasias and Greys. Wait, Greys? Yes, readers. When bestowing a Fifty Shades-inspired moniker on their child, parents chose not Christian, but Grey. The name saw a 20 percent jump from last year. On the girls’ side of things, Anastasia rose ten percent, while Ana climbed 35 spots.

Movies Are Literature Too

And for snooty readers who think the book is always better than the movie, Christina Oppold has some news:

Sometimes we take our lives as readers too seriously. Even if we flit between the highbrow and fluffy beach read, it is easy to think of books as somehow being superior to movies. But storytelling is all connected. From the camp fire to the Blue Ray DVD, from stone tablets to digital ink; what thrills the balletomane bores the cinephile. Each new medium follows on the heels of what came before; it breathes new life in to sharing our stories and each is belittled by the supporters of what came before.

We read not for the sake of the book as a physical object but for the stories within that move us. Embrace the story no matter how it was conveyed to you.

Close Out The Year With Some Best-Selling Last Words : NPR

Close Out The Year With Some Best-Selling Last Words : NPR

People often make lists of the greatest opening lines in fiction, but closing lines really appeal to me. They’re your final moments with a book and can help you remember and treasure it forever.

The last weekend of the year seems an appropriate time to consider the final words of our favorite novels and short stories. Here are some that I’m especially fond of

From Kee Malesky, for NPR.

Monday Miscellany

‘Tis the season! Since we’re in the final countdown to Christmas, some of this week’s miscellanea have a definite holiday flair.

A Half-Dozen Literary Gingerbread Houses

Feast your eyes on these! Book Riot has collected photos of some gingerbread houses inspired by books. See reproductions of Hogwarts, The House of the Seven Gables, and Alice in Wonderland, among others.

25 Free Christmas eBooks

If you’ve finished baking all the cookies, wrapping all the presents, and addressing all the cards, you can fill your time with reading. And since you’ve probably already exhausted your budget, GalleyCat has recommendations for Christmas reading that won’t cost you anything.

Five Cheap DIY Gifts For Book Lovers

Oh, those cut-ups over at Lit Reactor.

Now, Pinterest and Martha Stewart would have us believe that any jackass with twenty minutes to spare can fashion a plethora of magical holiday décor using only pipe cleaners and sheer force of will, but we recognize the spuriousness of those claims. That’s why, in an attempt to assess the actual difficulty of each project for the kind of people who would never dream of signing up for a Hobby Lobby credit card, we assembled a diverse crew of craft-challenged friends, filled them with mulled wine and spiked eggnog, then let them loose with only the instructions provided by the internet. Here’s how it went. Learn from our mistakes then have a go at making do-it-yourself gifts for the writers and book lovers in your life.

Let us know if give any of these projects a try.

Writers Live Everywhere

OK, I said SOME of today’s items relate to Christmas. This one doesn’t.

According to Jason Boog:

The Daily News and the Los Angeles Times have been arguing about whether Los Angeles or New York City is the best place to be a writer.

This is a silly argument in the 21st Century in the middle of an economic downturn. Most writers can’t even afford to live in these cities anymore. We are all dedicated to one of the least lucrative careers in the world, and it is downright reckless to argue that we should live in two of the most expensive cities in the country.

So don’t despair if you’re a writer who doesn’t live in either NYC or LA. Boog has some suggestions for how to connect with other writers, no matter where you live.

With thanks, from St. Louis, MO.

11 Songs Inspired by Books

A collection by Gabe Habash of Publishers Weekly.

Crowdsource My Database: How Do You Organize Your Reading Life?

Though not about Christmas, this item is timely nevertheless because it deals with another of those seasonal occurrences, the annual “best books I read this year” list.

At Book Riot Brenna Clarke Gray admits that, about what books she read for pure pleasure this past year, “I haven’t the foggiest.” She then asks readers to explain if and how they keep track of their reading. I’m interested in this topic because I have kept a computerized record of my reading since July 1991. I’ve used various programs over that time. Through the miracles of exporting and importing, my reading journal even weathered the transition from the wasteland of Windows to the Mecca of Mac. (My recipes, however, were not so lucky.) At the end of every year I use a filter in my database program to choose all the books I read that year, then export the list to an Excel spreadsheet so that I can alphabetize the list by either title or author. That list allows me to decide easily which books were my favorites.

I’d be interested to hear if and how you keep track of the books you read. So far, most of the respondents to Gray’s request favor Goodreads. I’ve been on Goodreads for a while now but haven’t yet tried generating any lists from my data there. Some of Gray’s commenters say they have used Goodreads for their lists, though, so I’ll probably give that a try this year and see how it compares with the list from my database. How about you?

 

Monday Miscellany

Some interesting takes on the literary world this week.

Out of Touch: E-reading isn’t reading

Slate caused quite a stir recently with its publication of this excerpt from Andrew Piper’s recent book Book Was There: Reading in Electronic Times (University of Chicago Press, 2012):

Amid the seemingly endless debates today about the future of reading, there remains one salient, yet often overlooked fact: Reading isn’t only a matter of our brains; it’s something that we do with our bodies. Reading is an integral part of our lived experience, our sense of being in the world, even if at times this can mean feeling intensely apart from it. How we hold our reading materials, how we look at them, navigate them, take notes on them, share them, play with them, even where we read them—these are the categories that have mattered most to us as readers throughout the long and varied history of reading. They will no doubt continue to do so into the future.

Understanding reading at this most elementary level—at the level of person, habit, and gesture—will be essential as we continue to make choices about the kind of reading we care about and the kind of technologies that will best embody those values. To think about the future of reading means, then, to think about the long history of how touch has shaped reading and, by extension, our sense of ourselves while we read.

KindleThis article elicited the following very clever response from Amanda Nelson over on Book Riot:

“E-Reading Isn’t Reading”: A GIF Response

 Slate has published an article called “Out of Touch: E-Reading Isn’t Reading,” which was actually an excerpt from Andrew Piper’s book, Book Was There: Reading in Electronic Times. The article takes the physical book fetish vs. e-reader debate into a new level of absurdity, pulling in St. Augustine and Aristotle to defend the author’s personal preferences about how he ingests books. Since I’ve already used words to express how ridiculous the idea that e-books aren’t “real” is, I’ve decided to come at my response to this article in a different way: with funny pictures.

WELCOME TO THE LITERARY CEMETERY

If you want to know where your favourite author ended up after their death then The Literary Cemetery should provide you with all the information you need. The writers listed on The Literary Cemetery cover all genres, eras, nationalities and styles – the only thing that they all have in common is that they are no longer with us physically, but they live on through their work.

Here, for example, is the grave of J. M. Barrie, author of Peter Pan:

grave of J. M. Barrie

Duly Noted: The Past, Present, and Future of Note-Taking

Sebastian Stockman, who teaches at Emerson College in Boston, reports on TakeNote, a conference dedicated to the history, theory, practice and future of note-taking, held recently at Harvard’s Radcliffe Institute.

I found the most interesting part of this article to be the comments on the future of note-taking:

Bob Stein, the founder of The Institute for the Future of the Book, had some thoughts about how we might combat this disease. “The idea that reading is something you do by yourself is very, very recent,” Stein said.

His institute created Social Book, a platform for annotating books with your friends. Stein wants us to reimagine the book as less a physical object than a “place to congregate” and social reading as a communal experience of annotation, rather than “me telling you what I’m reading, and taking out a little snippet and then you going to Amazon and buying it.”

Stein gets more radical: He suggested an author’s own annotations might provide an ideal path through that author’s text — a road map for skimming.

There’s a link for the future publication of the conference notes at the end.

Great Gumshoes: A Guide to Fictional Detectives

Here’s a great article on fictional detectives, followed by a list of literary detectives not to be missed.

The list includes several characters you’ll find reviewed right here on Notes in the Margin:

What other fictional detectives would you add to the list?

 

Monday Miscellany: Lists Edition

Top 7 Literary Cities in Europe

Edinburgh
Edinburgh, Scotland

Tourism-Review.com explores “the top seven European cities for literary tourists”:

  1. Edinburgh, Scotland
  2. Dublin, Ireland
  3. London, England
  4. Paris, France
  5. St. Petersburg, Russia
  6. Stockholm, Sweden
  7. Norwich, England

A List of the Greatest Lists in Literature

Speaking of lists, The Atlantic offers this one: “our favorite lists in literature, from short to impossibly long, from lists that catalogue items to those that follow the train of imagination. Check out the literary lists we think are the funniest, most revealing, most interesting, or flat-out strangest” from the following works:

  • The White Album, Joan Didion
  • I Remember, Joe Brainard
  • Infinite Jest, David Foster Wallace
  • Ulysses, James Joyce
  • The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • If on a Winter’s Night a Traveller, Italo Calvino
  • Bridget Jones’s Diary, Helen Fielding
  • The Hundred Brothers, Donald Antrim
  • “Project for a Trip to China,” from I, etcetera, Susan Sontag
  • “Descriptions of Literature,” Gertrude Stein
  • Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, James Agee
  • Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury
  • Bleak House, Charles Dickens
  • Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov
  • “The Glass Mountain,” from Sixty Stories, Donald Barthelme

Listing Explanations for the List of Literary Lists

Inspired by The Atlantic‘s list, Elizabeth Freudenthal, self-described “Thinker for Hire,” asks:

Did you notice that most of the lists are from 20th century works? (Except Dickens: the exception to every rule. Amiright?)

What is it about the 20th/21st centuries that compel writers to use so many dang lists?

Read the five reasons she offers for why 20th- and 21th-century writers resort to listing in their writing.

A History of Sisters in Fiction, From ‘Little Women’ to ‘Sweet Valley High’

And here’s a final list, again courtesy of The Atlantic: “The March brood, the Wakefield sisters, and eight other examples of sometimes-sweet, sometimes-squabbling literary siblings

  • The Dashwood sisters from Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
  • Beezus and Ramona from the Ramona series, Beverly Cleary
  • The Wakefield sisters from the Sweet Valley series by Francine Pascal
  • The Marsh sisters from Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
  • The Bennet sisters from Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
  • Cinderella and wicked stepsisters
  • Elly and Iphy Binewski from Geek Love by Katherine Dunn
  • The Chance sisters from Wise Children by Angela Carter
  • The Blackwood sisters from We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson
  • The Chase sisters in The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood

We Have Always Lived in the Castle

Monday Miscellany

Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey to be reworked by Val McDermid

Val McDermidI haven’t been this literarily excited in a long, long time. One of my favorite authors, Val McDermid, has been chosen to update Jane Austen’s least well known novel, Northanger Abbey, for a modern audience:

Northanger Abbey is the story of the gothic novel-obsessed 17-year-old Catherine Morland, a girl who “read all such works as heroines must read to supply their memories with those quotations which are so serviceable and so soothing in the vicissitudes of their eventful lives”. Leaving her home for the sophisticated world of Bath, she falls in love with Henry Tilney, only for a host of romantic entanglements to occur, particularly when she visits his home of Northanger Abbey – where, far from her imaginings “the breeze had not seemed to waft the sighs of the murdered to her; it had wafted nothing worse than a thick mizzling rain”, and where she goes on to suppose Henry’s father to have murdered his mother.

Here’s how McDermid explains her approach to the task of bringing a “frisson of fear” to Austen’s novel:

“At its heart it’s a teen novel, and a satire – that’s something which fits really well with contemporary fiction,” said McDermid. “And you can really feel a shiver of fear moving through it. I will be keeping the suspense – I know how to keep the reader on the edge of their seat. I think Jane Austen builds suspense well in a couple of places, but she squanders it, and she gets to the endgame too quickly. So I will be working on those things.”

McDermid’s adaptation will be published in spring 2014 by HarperCollins.

10 Famous Literary Characters Based on Real People

In mental_floss Stacy Conradt reveals the real-life inspirations for 10 literary characters. Her list includes Huckleberry Finn, Miss Havisham, and Severus Snape.

When Do You Stop Reading a Book?

I used to feel compelled to finish every book I started, even if I wasn’t enjoying it. But my approach changed about the time I turned 40, when I decided that life was too short to waste reading books that weren’t speaking to me. I remember very clearly the first book I decided not to finish: Geek Love by Katherine Dunn. My library catalog gives the book’s copyright date as 1989, and I think I tried to read it soon after it came out. And I know a lot of people love this book. And yes, I know what symbolism is. So please don’t attack me if this is one of your favorite books. I just found the whole premise distasteful and refused to finish it.

I was therefore interested when Publishers Weekly blogger Josie Leavitt asked when readers give up on a book. Here’s her answer to that question:

I read too many books to feel compelled to finish all of them. I give most books a fair shake, at least a hundred pages, unless it’s truly awful. I define truly awful as something that is poorly written, when all I can see are the errors. I don’t even mind reprehensible characters, as long as the writing flows well. There are books that will take me literally months to finish because I don’t want to spend too much with it, but I’m still curious about how it ends. I will often start another book while I trudge through the other book.

Right now there are more than 30 responses to Leavitt’s question in the comments section of the blog, most of them thoughtfully good answers.

Oh, I guess I should add that I never review a book that I haven’t finished reading. If I start a book but don’t finish it, you won’t hear about it here (well, OK, except for my confession about Geek Love).

So, when do YOU give up on a book? Let us know in the comments section here.

Stuart Evers’ top 10 homes in literature

For this list Evers “decided to restrict it to traditional homes in novels – ie buildings in which fictional characters live. With regret, therefore, I’ve had to leave out William Faulkner’s Yoknapatawpha County, Richard Ford’s Haddam, Patrick Hamilton’s The Midnight Bell, Joan Didion’s house in The Year of Magical Thinking, every home that Alice Munro has ever described, not to mention the prisons, bars and hospitals that are as much homes as they are establishments.”

He describes houses from novels such as Great Expectations, Wuthering Heights, and Beloved.

Monday Miscellany

16 Fiction Book Characters’ Myers-Briggs Personality Types

Anne of Green Gables The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator is a psychological categorization tool based on the theories of Carl Jung. If you don’t know your type, this page includes links for finding out more about how this assessment works and what the results mean.

I’m an INFP myself, a group that includes some insanely small percentage of the population (~2%), so I was surprised to read this: “Interestingly, many protagonists and authors are INFPs due to the type’s creative, introspective nature, so don’t take offense if you’re matched up with a villain or a sidekick.” And the literary character who matches that type is Anne Of Green Gables, and I can live with that.

5 Great Vacations for Readers

This article from July 2011 is still appropriate if you’re looking to schedule a reading retreat.

Five trips for crime fiction lovers

To complement the previous article, CNN offers descriptions of 5 vacation spots for mystery lovers:

  • Baltimore, MD, USA: featured in novels by Laura Lipmann
  • Brattleboro, VT, USA: featured in novels by Archer Mayor
  • Edinburgh, Scotland: featured in novels by Ian Rankin
  • Gaborone, Botswana: featured in novels by Alexander McCall Smith
  • Sweden: featured in novels by Stieg Larsson, Camilla Läckberg, and Henning Mankell

We are failing too many boys in the enjoyment of reading

We often hear about the necessity to engage young boys in reading here in the U. S., but apparently the U. K. has the same problem. Here children’s author and former teacher Michael Morpurgo offers some suggestions for getting children, and boys in particular, to enjoy reading:

1.Why not have a dedicated half hour at the end of every school day in every primary school devoted to the simple enjoyment of reading and writing.

2. Regular visits from storytellers, theatre groups, poets, writers of fiction and non-fiction, and librarians from the local library.

3. Inviting fathers and grandfathers, mothers and grandmothers into school to tell and read stories, to listen to children reading, one to one. The work of organisations such at Volunteer Reading Help and Reading Matters are already doing great thing to help young people and schools.

4. Ensuring that the enjoyment of literature takes precedence, particularly in the early years, over the learning of the rules of literacy, important though they are.  Children have to be motivated to want to learn to read. Reading must not be taught simply as a school exercise.

5.  Parents, fathers in particular, and teachers, might be encouraged to attend book groups themselves, in or out of the school, without children, so that they can develop a love of reading for themselves, which they can then pass on to the children.

6. Teacher training should always include modules dedicated to developing the teachers’ own appreciation of literature, so that when they come to read to the children or to recommend a book, it is meant, and the children know it. To use books simply as a teacher’s tool is unlikely to convince many children that books are for them, particularly those that are failing already, many of whom will be boys.

7.  The library in any school should have a dedicated librarian or teacher/librarian, be well resourced, and welcoming, the heart of every school.  Access to books and the encouragement of the habit of reading: these two things are the first and most necessary steps in education and librarians, teachers and parents all over the country know it. It is our children’s right and it is also our best hope and their best hope for the future.

#DailyBookPic – A Bookish Photo Project

I apologize for being a little late to the party on this one, but there’s still time for you to get in on the fun of posting and/or viewing photos of various book-related items for the month of July.

Gabriel García Márquez’s writing career ended by dementia

Finally comes this sad news: “The Nobel prizewinning author Gabriel García Márquez is suffering from senile dementia and can no longer write, his brother has revealed.”

Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Monday Miscellany

Breakfast with Dr. Seuss

Green Eggs and Ham

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In honor of the upcoming movie The Lorax, green eggs and ham at IHOP

Dmitri Nabokov, Steward of Father’s Literary Legacy, Dies at 77

Dmitri Nabokov, the son of Vladimir Nabokov, who tended to the legacy of his father with the posthumous publication of a volume of personal letters, an unpublished novella and an unfinished novel that his father had demanded be burned, died on Wednesday in Vevey, Switzerland. He was 77.

Learning to Love Airport Lit

  SOMEWHERE over the Mississippi River I looked up from my book, glanced out the window, realized that my flight out of New York was actually in the air, that we seemed to be making good time, and that there was a slim chance I would make a tight connection in Texas and get to my first meeting in New Mexico. Duly noted. I glanced at the snaking river below me, took in the squared-off landscape, and plowed right back into my book.

To what did I owe this newfound oblivion about where I was? This insouciance about fraying schedules? This good cheer about the dismaying ritual of herding, shuffling, squeezing, starving, sitting and suffocating that characterizes air travel today?

To a good book. The right kind of good book. My heart and mind were plunged into an epic battle between good and evil, the struggle to establish a new world order, the heartbreak of love fractured by political imperative, the tragedy of families torn apart.

Dominique Browning describes how she has learned to love the type of literature that can keep her occupied during airport waits and airline flights. After years of trying (and failing miserably) to read scholarly magazine articles or classics of  world literature while traveling, she finally discovered:

the literature that stands up to the tests of travel. The secret, dear reader, lies in narrative drive. Plain, old-fashioned, unrelenting, compelling storytelling. You’ve got to reach for the best-seller shelves. Which, until now, I had avoided with the mild disdain of the librarian who finds herself stamping withdrawal slips for the football team.

“What I want on a plane trip is a loud, beefy — even vulgar — but scintillating companion. Someone like Scott Turow, who commands attention but is refined enough to respect my intelligence.” Here are some of the other authors whose works fulfill her flying requirements:

  • George R. R. Martin
  • Sara Paretsky
  • Patricia Cornwell
  • P. D. James
  • Sue Grafton
  • Faye Kellerman
  • John Mortimer
  • Ruth Rendell
  • Maeve Binchy

“All I want now, from a good airplane book, is transport. A sense of propulsion. I want to feel the rush of plot against my cheek. I want to know where I am going, and why. I’m willing to trade transport for transportation.”

Later in the year people here in the northern hemisphere will begin referring to this type of literature, which Browning calls airplane books, as beach reads.

I usually listen to audiobooks rather than reading printed books when traveling, mostly because one little iPod is a lot easier to carry than several big books, but I’ve found that the same type of reading is most suitable.

What are some of the books you’ve used to occupy yourself either while traveling or while sitting on the beach?

Bradley Craft turns literary characters into caricatures

Seattle Times book editor Mary Ann Gwinn describes the work of Bradley Craft, now senior used-book buyer at Seattle’s University Book Store, who, according to his mother, drew before he talked. For years Craft has been drawing caricatures of literary people.

“In caricature, exaggeration doesn’t entirely have to do with physicality,” says Craft. “Caricature has to do with capturing the attitude of the person portrayed.” Most of Craft’s subjects are flattered. A few are a little shocked. A very few have declined — thanks, but no thanks — to view the results. . . .  Other than some wicked renderings of certain politicians, his portraits are meant to be a tribute. “I don’t draw people unless I have some level of affection for them … as affectionate as my somewhat twisted eye can make them,” he adds.

Since I can’t draw a lick myself (stick people are a challenge for me), I always marvel at what someone like Craft can do with such seeming ease. Apparently Gwinn can’t draw, either: “I can only admire the work, marvel at the ephemeral magic and be grateful that Craft’s work is one more ingredient in this city’s rich stew of literary culture.”