Book Briefly Noted, Title The Big Nowhere, Author James Ellroy, Rating 2.0,

The Big Nowhere

James Ellroy

Briefly Noted

Literature, Reviews.

Nightmares in L.A.

I decided to read one of James Ellroy's gritty L.A. noir detective novels. His Black Dahlia and L.A. Confidential were both made into films, the latter a very good one. Unfortunately, The Big Nowhere turned out to be not just gritty, but pornographically cruel and soulless.

Book Book Review, Title The Orchardist, Author Amanda Coplin, Rating 3.5,

The Orchardist

Amanda Coplin

Book Review

Literature, Reviews.

The heart of the orchard

This is a well-structured novel of grief and solitude and of the damage of indifferent manipulation and violence, balanced against the friendship and care that can heal. The author depicts the inner life of people who are mostly isolated, via the point of view of an orchardist, as lonely, sometimes peaceful, and sometimes self-delusional or unaware.

Book Pocket Review, Title The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini, Author Benvenuto Cellini, Rating 4.5,

The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini

Benvenuto Cellini

Pocket Review

History, Literature, Reviews.

I, Benvenuto Cellini

Benvenuto Cellini was a master Florentine goldsmith and sculptor who lived and worked during the time of the High Italian Renaissance, and was also, by his lights, tougher and craftier than anyone around him, could take on many men with a sword and live to tell the tale, was a great lover, and so on. His is the most ebullient autobiography I have read, and so wonderful, and so full of life!

-PD-US, Château de Voltaire

Attrib: Château de Voltaire, PD-US.


History, Literature, Reviews.

Voltaire is a sharp kick in the pants

Voltaire always had his wits about him. When once a visitor arrived, announcing that he had just come from a visit to another well-known writer, Voltaire offered the opinion that the aforementioned writer was a man of talent, and the visitor replied that that writer did not hold the same opinion of Voltaire, to which Voltaire retorted, 'We could both be wrong.'

-PD-US, Marion Hooper Adams

Attrib: Marion Hooper Adams, PD-US.


Education, Essays, Literature.

Can precision in writing be attained?

I was reading a recent article by Andrew Sullivan, who asks the question: "Does punctuation matter?" The discussion was nominally about internet and texting abbreviation in both word and thought, but raised other questions to me:

Does precision in writing matter? If so, when does it matter? These are devilish questions.

Book Book Review, Title American Sphinx, Author Joseph J. Ellis, Rating 4.0,

American Sphinx

Joseph J. Ellis

Book Review

Essays, History, Literature, Reviews.

Jefferson’s legacy

Joseph Ellis provides us with an ambitious analysis of the compartmentalized mind of Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson was extraordinarily adept at saying and writing, apparently believing, and doing things that were paradoxical and often diametrically opposed to each other. Ellis suggests that this helps to explain his enduring following by just about every political persuasion in the United States, and even abroad: Anyone can find in Jefferson something that supports one's ideology, especially if they studiously ignore, in perfect Jeffersonian fashion, the things Jefferson said or did that would negate their ideology.

-PD-US, William R. Shepherd

Attrib: William R. Shepherd, PD-US.


History, Literature, Religion, Reviews.

Is religious tolerance religious freedom?

The ensuing religious fragmentation of Western Christendom following the advent of the Reformation created fissures in the fabric of European society so large that, after a century of warfare, borne by the exhaustion of bitter hatred and its accompanying destructiveness, the only option left for a more peaceful existence was the grudging co-existence of groups with religious differences.