Monthly Archives: July 2009

My Three Sons and the Mystic Power of 3

  Yesterday I was talking to my wife about our children—who, at 27 and 25, I admit are no longer children.  Being the proud parents that we are, we were noting with wonder how they are identifying their gifts, building upon their strengths, and developing into fully self-actualized human beings.  As we talked, however, we […]

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Comments closed

Father-Daughter Separation Dramas

  My wonderful daughter-in-law Betsy, in response to one of my posts about father-son relationships, began meditating about father-daughter relationships on her own blog. We agreed that, while the dynamics are different, in one way they are similar: daughters like sons must establish separate identities, a process that is difficult and often involves a struggle. […]

Posted in McCarthy (Cormac), Perrault (Charles), Shakespeare (William) | Tagged , , , , , , , | Comments closed

Literature about Health Care Reform

  At present I am one of those liberals in a high state of anxiety about the prospects of Obama’s attempts to bring us universal health care.   I find myself careening through the highs of hope and the lows of fear.  I watch the political proceedings minutely, then turn away discouraged, then read some columnist […]

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Comments closed

On Elves and a Botched Love Letter

Since I’ve been writing a lot about the longing for lost innocence in the past few weeks, I’ll share a couple of personal stories about the subject.  Included are a traumatic creative writing experience that drove me away forever from writing serious poetry again and a very strange moment in my courtship of the woman […]

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments closed

On Literary Names and Destinies

Reynold, “Portrait of Sterne”                                   Just as I was born into a literary name, so were Darien and Toby.  Before telling the story, I will follow up on the allusion in my last post to Laurence Sterne’s Tristram Shandy […]

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments closed

On Being Named after Christopher Robin

  As I have been writing about fathers and sons in the past few posts, I shift today from my position of father to that of son and to the literary origins of my name.   My father named me after Christopher Robin and recently told me that he envisioned having the kind of relationship with […]

Posted in Milne (A. A.), Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Comments closed

Father-Son Conflict: The Comic Version

  In yesterday’s post I began giving an account of a car conversation I had with my two sons regarding stories that explore father-son relationships, as well as my desire for a story in which fathers and sons collaborate to handle the world’s challenges.  Darien, my older son, felt that the archetypal conflict as it […]

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments closed

Is Father-Son Conflict Inevitable?

I had an interesting conversation with my two sons yesterday as we drove them and my daughter-in-law to the Portland airport, marking the beginning of the end of our summer vacation.  The conversation began with me wondering why there weren’t works of literature that accurately capture the kind of father-son relationship that I feel that […]

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments closed

The Greater Meaning of Family Gatherings

  We have just finished up our Maine family reunion at the family cottage, and I’ve been trying to think of literature that deals with reunions.  A book that comes to mind is Wallace Stegner’s fine novel Passing to Safety, which opens and concludes with a reunion in a New England summer home.  Reflecting upon the […]

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Comments closed


  • Literature is as vital to our lives as food and shelter. Stories and poems help us work through the challenges we face, from everyday irritations to loneliness, heartache, and death. Literature is meant to mix it up with life. This website explores how it does so.

    Please feel free to e-mail me [rrbates (at) smcm (dot) edu]. I would be honored to hear your thoughts and questions about literature.

  • Sign up for weekly newsletter

    Your email will not be shared or sold.
    * = required field

    powered by MailChimp!