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Jay Parini

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March 19, 2000
My house on fire in the midday sun is more than I can watch. My kindling sons, their fragile bodies, turn to light. My wife is lost in auguries of rain. I take her hand, it turns to wind. Dry grass is blazing on a windy knob just out of sight, as rats take cover in the distant barns. The woodchucks dig. The sheep and rocks are huddling in the fields.
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ENTERTAINMENT
November 7, 2010 | By Heller McAlpin, Special to the Los Angeles Times
The Passages of H.M. A Novel of Herman Melville Jay Parini Doubleday: 454 pp., $26.95 "The time for me hasn't come yet: Some men are born posthumously," Nietzsche wrote in "Ecce Homo. " It's a statement that might have provided comfort to Herman Melville, whose books ? including "Moby-Dick" and his more popular early tales of seafaring adventures, "Typee" and "Omoo" ? had been out of print for years when he died in 1891, at age 72, in his Manhattan home. Jay Parini's deeply absorbing seventh novel, "The Passages of H.M.," is an agile mix of fact, fiction and embedded literary quotation.
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BOOKS
October 19, 1986 | Lewis Stone, Stone is a free-lance writer and critic living in Newport, R.I. and
The easy rhythms and harsh reality of "patch" towns where coal was king. People with names like Will, Bing, Jesse, Lucey, and "The Nipper." Boys sneaking puffs of Fatima cigarettes while gazing in rapture at passing Pierce-Arrow automobiles. Purple twilight in a tent along the banks of the Susquehanna. Idle talk of Babe Ruth and Roger "The Rajah" Hornsby. Fields and woods shimmering in heat while far below in the black bowels of the earth, men labor and die.
ENTERTAINMENT
November 10, 2008 | Wendy Smith, Wendy Smith is the author of "Real Life Drama: The Group Theatre and America, 1931-1940."
Jay Parini's knowledgeable analysis of key texts that have formed Americans' ideas about themselves and their nation, "Promised Land: Thirteen Books That Changed America," would make an excellent starting point for a college course. The author makes clear that his choice of books is representative and not necessarily definitive: They are meant to be "nodal points, places where vast areas of thought and feeling gathered and dispersed," and within each chapter he brings up related works.
BOOKS
August 23, 1992 | D.M. Thomas, Thomas's latest novel, "Flying in to Love," about the assassination of JFK, is due from Charles Scribner's Sons in October
Jay Parini begins his new novel with a short scene richly evoking the arrival of Columbus in the New World. A cacique and his high priest gaze in awe at the three caravals standing in the ultramarine bay. They are ancestors, says the high priest, they are returning to claim kinship. The cacique, deeply impressed by these words, resolves to make the supreme sacrifice of his only daughter. The beautiful black-eyed maiden is bathed and anointed, then tied naked to a stake.
BOOKS
September 9, 1990 | Edward Condren, Condren is a professor of literature at UCLA. and
Tolstoy was one of the greatest novelists in any language. As a man whose ideals often contradicted his life, he has a less certain reputation. Among his many idiosyncrasies, none seems more apparent, nor more responsible for tormenting his last months, than his habit of laying guilt upon others to atone for his own excesses; or, to turn the same coin on its opposite side, his fondness for half-baked ideals which actually arose from some personal inability.
ENTERTAINMENT
November 7, 2010 | By Heller McAlpin, Special to the Los Angeles Times
The Passages of H.M. A Novel of Herman Melville Jay Parini Doubleday: 454 pp., $26.95 "The time for me hasn't come yet: Some men are born posthumously," Nietzsche wrote in "Ecce Homo. " It's a statement that might have provided comfort to Herman Melville, whose books ? including "Moby-Dick" and his more popular early tales of seafaring adventures, "Typee" and "Omoo" ? had been out of print for years when he died in 1891, at age 72, in his Manhattan home. Jay Parini's deeply absorbing seventh novel, "The Passages of H.M.," is an agile mix of fact, fiction and embedded literary quotation.
NEWS
July 27, 2008 | John Curran, Associated Press
Call it poetic justice: More than two dozen young people who broke into Robert Frost's former home for a beer party and trashed the place are being required to take classes in his poetry as part of their punishment. Using "The Road Not Taken" as one jumping-off point, Frost biographer Jay Parini hopes to show the vandals the error of their ways -- and the redemptive power of poetry. Prosecutor John Quinn explained: "I guess I was thinking that if these teens had a better understanding of who Robert Frost was and his contribution to our society, that they would be more respectful of other people's property in the future and would also learn something from the experience."
BOOKS
January 16, 2005 | Nicholas A. Basbanes, Nicholas A. Basbanes is the author, most recently, of "A Splendor of Letters."
Jay PARINI is the author of well-received, perceptive biographies of John Steinbeck and Robert Frost, and, most recently, a life of William Faulkner, "One Matchless Time."
BOOKS
April 7, 2002 | KAI MARISTED, Kai Maristed is the author of, among other works, "Belong to Me: Stories" and "Fall: A Novel."
Oh, to be a lad of 22, bright and well-favored, transported from the doldrums of a classics major at Columbia to life and lust among the literary glitterati on the isle of Capri. Such is the self-engineered fortune of Alex Massolini, hero and narrator of Jay Parini's pleasure-filled sixth novel, "The Apprentice Lover." "In 1970, just three months short of graduation ...
NEWS
July 27, 2008 | John Curran, Associated Press
Call it poetic justice: More than two dozen young people who broke into Robert Frost's former home for a beer party and trashed the place are being required to take classes in his poetry as part of their punishment. Using "The Road Not Taken" as one jumping-off point, Frost biographer Jay Parini hopes to show the vandals the error of their ways -- and the redemptive power of poetry. Prosecutor John Quinn explained: "I guess I was thinking that if these teens had a better understanding of who Robert Frost was and his contribution to our society, that they would be more respectful of other people's property in the future and would also learn something from the experience."
ENTERTAINMENT
June 18, 2008 | Tim Rutten, Times Staff Writer
At 82, Gore Vidal is America's most formidable man of letters. The page of previously published work included in the front matter of this latest volume -- "The Selected Essays of Gore Vidal" -- lists 24 novels, a nonfiction book, two collections of short stories, six plays, 11 volumes of essays and two memoirs. It's a formal list that leaves out the screenplays and collaborations done as work for hire, much of it of some distinction. This is a body of work that fairly seethes with contention and indignation, but what animates -- and elevates -- it is the unmatched beauty of the prose.
BOOKS
January 16, 2005 | Nicholas A. Basbanes, Nicholas A. Basbanes is the author, most recently, of "A Splendor of Letters."
Jay PARINI is the author of well-received, perceptive biographies of John Steinbeck and Robert Frost, and, most recently, a life of William Faulkner, "One Matchless Time."
BOOKS
April 7, 2002 | KAI MARISTED, Kai Maristed is the author of, among other works, "Belong to Me: Stories" and "Fall: A Novel."
Oh, to be a lad of 22, bright and well-favored, transported from the doldrums of a classics major at Columbia to life and lust among the literary glitterati on the isle of Capri. Such is the self-engineered fortune of Alex Massolini, hero and narrator of Jay Parini's pleasure-filled sixth novel, "The Apprentice Lover." "In 1970, just three months short of graduation ...
BOOKS
March 19, 2000
My house on fire in the midday sun is more than I can watch. My kindling sons, their fragile bodies, turn to light. My wife is lost in auguries of rain. I take her hand, it turns to wind. Dry grass is blazing on a windy knob just out of sight, as rats take cover in the distant barns. The woodchucks dig. The sheep and rocks are huddling in the fields.
BOOKS
July 25, 1999 | BEN DOWNING, Ben Downing is the managing editor of Parnassus: Poetry in Review
Whether from heaven, hell or purgatory--his posthumous address remains in hot dispute--Robert Frost must be smiling his wry Yankee smile just now. Here it is almost two score years since he departed the field, and still we're taking his measure. The early, airbrushed view of him as rustic sage has largely given way to a new critical orthodoxy, according to which Frost is a "terrifying poet" (Lionel Trilling outed him as such in 1959).
NEWS
October 2, 1997 | JONATHAN KIRSCH, SPECIAL TO THE TIMES
Walter Benjamin was one of the oblique victims of the Holocaust. Born and raised in Berlin, he spent 10 years in Paris at work on his magnum opus of cultural theory, then fled the invading German army with manuscript in hand but found himself trapped in fascist Spain, where he died by his hand. "There is no such thing as history, you see," the young Benjamin is imagined to say at one acutely ironic moment in Jay Parini's biographical novel, "Benjamin's Crossing."
NEWS
August 6, 1997 | JONATHAN KIRSCH, SPECIAL TO THE TIMES
Walter Benjamin was one of the oblique victims of the Holocaust. Born and raised in Berlin, he spent 10 years in Paris at work on his magnum opus of cultural theory, then fled the invading German army with manuscript in hand but found himself trapped in fascist Spain, where he died by his hand. "There is no such thing as history, you see," the young Benjamin is imagined to say at one acutely ironic moment in Jay Parini's biographical novel, "Benjamin's Crossing."
BOOKS
April 4, 1999 | TOM ENGELHARDT, Tom Engelhardt is a consulting editor at Metropolitan Books and the author of "The End of Victory Culture."
One night in February 1864, Walt Whitman, newspaper editor, vagabond and singer of the American self, then a nurse shocked by the violence and horror of a vast and bloody civil struggle, stood "unobserv'd in the darkness" by the roadside of a military camp on the Virginia front and watched units of the Union army marching past. "The mud was very deep.
NEWS
October 2, 1997 | JONATHAN KIRSCH, SPECIAL TO THE TIMES
Walter Benjamin was one of the oblique victims of the Holocaust. Born and raised in Berlin, he spent 10 years in Paris at work on his magnum opus of cultural theory, then fled the invading German army with manuscript in hand but found himself trapped in fascist Spain, where he died by his hand. "There is no such thing as history, you see," the young Benjamin is imagined to say at one acutely ironic moment in Jay Parini's biographical novel, "Benjamin's Crossing."
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