We Need an “All Quiet on the Afghan Front” (Updated)

W.J. Astore Beverly Gologorsky has an insightful article today at TomDispatch.com on the lack of references to America’s wars in U.S. contemporary fiction.  She traces this to social class: the fact that most troops come from the working classes, to which most contemporary fiction writers (and doubtless editors and agents and publishers as well) have…

Euphemisms and the Banality of Evil

W.J. Astore I teach a course on the Holocaust, so I’ve had ample opportunity to confront the use of euphemisms by the Nazis to cloak their murderous intent.  The most infamous euphemism was “the final solution to the Jewish question,” which of course refers to the mass murder–the extermination–of all Jews everywhere. But there were…

Finding Inner Peace

There’s a wonderful little scene in Anne Lamott’s book, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life, in which she talks to her priest about finding inner peace.  As Anne strives for a sense of serenity in the world, her interlocutor gives her some sage advice: The world can’t give that serenity. The world…

Who is b. traven?

B. Traven wrote the best selling book, The Death Ship, when people still read serious books.  Traven was a pseudonym for the author who never revealed where he lived or his real name to his publishers.  It was for good reason.  He had been condemned to death in Germany by the Social Democratic government which…