Monthly Archives: July 2010

Using Beowulf to Defend Lebron

Sports Saturday Lebron James has been taking a lot of heat recently for joining the Miami basketball team. (Did you catch the pun?) This past trading season was termed “the Lebron Sweepstakes,” and teams from around the country trekked to Cleveland to play court to “King James.” James made the occasion particularly gaudy by persuading […]

Posted in Beowulf Poet | Tagged , , , , | Comments closed

At Films Abroad, Why Do I Laugh Alone?

Film Friday Vic: What film are we talking about?
 Lin: Does it matter what film?
 Vic: Of course it does.
 Lin: You choose then.  Friday night.  Not in a foreign language, ok.  You don’t go to the movies to read.                                […]

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

Moments of Perfect Being

Today we head home after having spent a delicious week in our Maine cottage with our sons Darien and Toby, along with our daughter-in-law Betsy and Toby’s girlfriend Candice.  We immersed ourselves in memory and tradition while we were here.  Portraits of my great-great grandparents John and Remember Berry Swett, are on the wall, as […]

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

Gripped by a Tyrannical Love

Since I am vacationing in Maine and spent time yesterday with my favorite cousin, who is a huge Edward Arlington Robinson fan, I devote a post to the state’s greatest poet.  Whenever I visit Dan Bates in Gardiner, we have to visit Robinson’s grave and look at his house. My favorite Robinson poem is “Eros […]

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

Mama Grizzly vs. Real Grizzlies

Sarah Palin has been recently celebrating “Mama Grizzlies”—by which I think she means “women who are so mad that they’re not going to take it anymore.” But has anyone noticed that she advocates policies that make life a lot harder for actual grizzlies? Whether through calling for drilling in the Alaskan National Reserve, denying the […]

Posted in Bates (Scott) | Comments closed

Blaming Loved Ones in the Face of Death

Edvard Munch, The Sick Child  Imagine the following situation. A couple has been married for decades but now he has contracted a terminal illness and is dying. His wife has always prided herself on being there for him when he needed her, but now she feels helpless. Meanwhile he is scared and angry and is […]

Posted in Clifton (Lucille) | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments closed

Churchgoing: Delightful and Unexpected

Spiritual Sunday Thanks to Garrison Keillor’s Prairie Home Companion for alerting me to this wonderful passage from John Updike’s “Churchgoing” (which appears in Pigeon Feathers and Other Stories, 1962): There was a time when I wondered why more people did not go to church. Taken purely as a human recreation, what could be more delightful, […]

Posted in Updike (John) | Tagged , , , | Comments closed

Poker Adventures of a New York Novelist

Sports Saturday This past week my novelist friend Rachel Kranz was visiting after having busted out of the World Series of Poker tournament in Las Vegas. She made it to Day 4 (out of 9), which was pretty good considering that she has only been playing for three years. Still she was upset, as good […]

Posted in Kranz (Rachel) | Tagged , , , | Comments closed

The (Out of Control) Passion of Mel Gibson

Mel Gibson in Braveheart  Film Friday Mel Gibson is in the news again with recorded rants against his girlfriend that are so vicious that even his ardent supporters are backing away. (You can learn about, and even listen to, the rants here but I advise caution.) I’ve never been a Gibson fan and this website […]

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!