Author Archives: LARB Blog

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Literary Santa Barbara: A Travel Piece

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By Jerry Griswold While the movie “Sideways” presented Santa Barbara as the regional capitol of mid-life wine tasting, it has also been a place where writers have come and set up shop for over 150 years. These have included Ross MacDonald, Sue Grafton, Wallace Stegner, Kenneth Rexroth, Randall Jarrell, T.C. Boyle, John Sayles, Gretel Erlich, […]


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Grief, Investigation, and Mulholland Dr.

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Today’s post was originally published on LARB Channel Avidly. By Lisa Beskin A month or so after my mother’s death in 2001, I found myself in an awkward situation involving David Lynch’s Mulholland Dr. I had just seen it in the theater, loved it, and desperately wanted to talk about it with a certain friend. But I hadn’t yet […]


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China’s Forgotten World War II: A Q&A with Rana Mitter

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By Maura Elizabeth Cunningham As my last China Blog column was on China’s forgotten World War I, I decided that an examination of the country’s involvement in World War II would make for a logical follow-up post. There’s no one better to discuss this topic than Oxford historian Rana Mitter, author of Forgotten Ally: China’s World […]


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John Muir, A Century On

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Today’s post is from LARB Channel Boom. Photo: Tree in Field, 2006, from A New Pastoral: Views of the San Joaquin Valley. Photograph by Barron Bixler. By Glen M. MacDonald John Muir, the grand old man of the Sierra Nevada, died 100 years ago in a Los Angeles hospital bed with only an unfinished book manuscript […]


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Learning to Read at Seventeen

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Today’s post was originally published earlier this week by LARB Channel Avidly. By James McWilliams The psychoanalyst Adam Phillips once observed that people don’t strive to be what they already are. It’s an elegantly obvious point, but it’s also terrifying in its implications. After all, for the “aspiring self,” the ambition to be something else—someone else—reveals […]

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The Paradox of Wu-Wei

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Today’s post was originally published by LARB Channel Marginalia.  By Andrew B. Irvine Almost all the arts of life are enhanced when performed with unselfconscious spontaneity — think shooting hoops, playing a complicated musical passage, dining with friends. The moment we try not to try is often the moment performance collapses in a counterproductive muddle. This “paradox of wu-wei,” […]


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Blasts from the Past: Chinese Nostalgia for the 1980s in the Era of Xi Jinping

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Photo: Scene from American Dreams in China By Austin Dean In a speech at the 35th anniversary of academic exchanges between the United States and China earlier this summer, David Moser, a linguist and Academic Director of Beijing’s CET study abroad program who is one of the doyens of the expat community in Beijing, recounted a […]


Essays larb blog patrick mclaw

Letter to the Dorchester County Board of Education, Regarding Patrick McLaw

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Photo: Patrick McLaw Editor’s Note: Patrick McLaw, a language arts teacher at Mace’s Lane Middle School in Maryland, was recently placed on administrative leave from teaching after it was discovered that he had published two novels. One of the novels, “The Insurrectionist”, is about two school shootings and takes place far into the future. McLaw […]


LARB Channels Ice Bucket Challenge

On the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge and Ferguson

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Today’s post was originally published last week by LARB Channel Avidly.  By M.J. Dinius Last night on Facebook, my friend explicitly linked the two stories dominating my social media feed: The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge and the events in Ferguson, Missouri.  My friend asked,  “How many buckets of ice would I have to pour over my […]


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Editing William T. Vollmann

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Photo: William T. Vollmann By LARB AV Author Tom Bissell is a longtime admirer and friend to William T. Vollmann. On the eve of Vollmann’s reading at Skylight Books earlier this month, Bissell, who’d just published a profile of Vollmann in The New Republic, dropped by and gave us a quick anecdote about the connection between the two authors. Bissell, an insanely talented […]