Michael Shea – The Autopsy

A doctor stricken with cancer, Doctor Winter, gets called into a mining town to examine the victims of an underground explosion at the mine…

Mark Twain

The Damned Human Race

I have been studying the traits and dispositions of the “lower ani­mals” (so-called), and contrasting them with the traits and dispositions of man. I find the result humiliating to me.

Judith Jarvis Thomson

A Defense of Abortion

Most opposition to abortion relies on the premise that the fetus is a human being, a person, from the moment of conception. The premise is argued for, but, as I think, not well.

Joan Didion

On Keeping a Notebook

Why did I write it down? In order to remember, of course, but exactly what was it I wanted to remember? How much of it actually happened? Did any of it? Why do I keep a notebook at all?

How to Sound Like an Expert | by Gregory Benford

A scientist who writes fiction is as rare as a dancing bear. As Samuel Johnson might have remarked on seeing such a thing in the streets of London, one is not surprised to see it done well, but simply to see it done at all.

African-American man drinking from a "Colored" water cooler in streetcar terminal, Oklahoma City, mid-20th century

How It Feels to Be Colored Me

“I have no separate feeling about being an American citizen and colored. I am merely a fragment of the Great Soul that surges within the boundaries. My country, right or wrong.”

Behind the Formaldehyde Curtain

Born to the British aristocracy in 1917, Jessica Mitford rebelled against her privileged upbringing and made her own mark as a muckraking journalist with her best-selling The American Way of Death (1963), an expose of the funeral industry.

Frederick Douglass

Learning to Read and Write

Frederick Douglass tells the story of his coming to literacy by describing the world opening up for him as he learns his letters and the range of emotions this process evokes in him.

Austria - Admont Abbey_Library - 1381

Books: Gunpowder of the Mind

What will be the significance of the written word now that newer mass media, less demanding psycho­logically and yet perhaps more potent politically, have developed

Confessions of an Economic Hit Man

Confessions of an Economic Hit Man

America, John Perkins tells us, is a land of innocents, and all we must do to reclaim our purity is to buy a hybrid or write our Congressman. Perkins’s account is neither honest, nor a sound analysis of global world order.

Hermann Hesse - Siddhartha

Siddhartha: The Landscape Of The Soul

Like his heroes, who vacillate between na­ture und spirit, Hesse as a narrator feels conflicting im­pulses toward realism and lyricism. In Siddhartha he reached an extreme of symbolic lyricism.

Umberto Eco

The Name of the Rose: Murders in a Medieval Monastery

Eco’s novel is not only an entertaining narrative of a murder investigation in a monastery in 1327. It is also a chronicle of the 14th century’s religious wars, a history of monastic orders and a compendium of heretical movements.

Guido Morselli: Dissipatio H.G.

The protagonist of this prophetic last work of Guido Morselli is the sole survivor of the human race (H.G. of the title, which is taken from a Latin translation of the neo-Platonic philosopher Iamblichus, stands for humani generis) who ironically has returned to the world after attempting an elaborate mode of suicide in a subterranean lake inside a mountain.

Guido Morselli

Guido Morselli: The Brilliant Writer No One Published

The ‘Morselli affair’ compelled the literary estab­lishment to ask itself some awkward questions. The easiest explanation for the rejection is that his work is unlike anything else in post-war Italian fiction.

Walter Tevis: The Queen's Gambit

Walter Tevis: The Queen’s Gambit

“The Queen’s Gambit” by Walter Tevis is an inspirational novel for intellectuals. It concerns the ever-more-successful career of Beth Harmon, from her early days in the Methuen Home orphanage, an institution as garishly oppressive as Dotheboys Hall in Dickens’s “Nicholas Nickleby,” to her still-youthful triumph over the Russian grandmaster of chess, Vasily Borgov.

Ian Fleming


In the following excerpt, originally published in Italian in 1965, Eco offers a detailed examination of the narra­tive formula that Fleming employed in all the Bond novels, a strategy Eco regards as “the basis of the suc­cess of the ‘007’ saga. ”

Harry Clarke illustration for Charles Perrault 'Little Red Riding Hood'


Perrault’s Little Red Riding Hood ended with both the little girl and her grandmother dead and no hunter to save them. The Grimm brothers softened the ending to suit their intention of entertainment rather than the moralizing of Perrault’s tales.

Ray Bradbury: Fahrenheit 451


Fahrenheit 451 is an indictment of censorship and expurgation, so the fact that this book was expurgated and marketed by the publisher that way for 13 years before the author became aware of the abuse is particularly ironic.

The Good Shepherd (1955) by C. S. Forester


C. S. Forester has two skills which are admirably blended in “The Good Shepherd,” a first-rate novel of World War II. He is able to make us identify ourselves with the tensions and the loneliness of man, this time a man in command of many men. He also is able to make us see and hear and feel action, especially when writing of ships and the sea, so vividly that a powerful sense of participation is inevitable.