Many folks write about books, and one of the most effective practitioners is a WP friend of mine, Jil Hoffmann. I want to point you in the direction of one of her recent posts —  a blend of reporting/commentary/mixed media as she describes Dan Chaon’s insights into the craft of writing. “The Uncanny, Hope, and the Short Story” takes us from a reading of a Chaon short story into his literary reviews via an interview and a video clip. I like how the post gives us a rich taste of the experience of this particular story  … and it doesn’t drag readers through a long, long, long explanation. There’s a knack to writing that has brevity and depth, and Jil’s got it. Check it out.

Another impressive writer in the WP realm is Kathara, ruler of The Red Serpent. Lately there’s been a storm of posts on that blog, and I just haven’t been able to keep up. If you’re interested in excursions through the enigmatic Grail countryside of Rennes-le-Chateau and all things occult, this is another worthy stop on your WP ambling.

book_inferno_revealedNew Dante: Ok, that’s misleading. I admit it. No, Dante didn’t write anything new. I’d be very surprised if he did. Being dead for more than 700 years produces serious writer’s block. A new book, however, did land on my doorstep, Inferno Revealed: From Dante to Dan Brown by Deborah Parker and Mark Parker (published this month by Palgrave/MacMillan). The Parkers explore the first of the Commedia’s three canticas and its legacy. Brown might be the most prominent popularizer of Dante because of his latest bestselling thriller, but he’s far from the best or only one. What I enjoy most about the Parkers’ book isn’t their examination of the Inferno (I’ll stick with Barbara Reynolds or Charles Williams or T.S. Eliot or John Freccero) but their exploration of Dante today, from David Fincher’s film Se7en and the paintings of Sandow Birk to Tim Burton’s film Beetlejuice and Ridley Scott’s film Hannibal, etc. The book serves as a very helpful guide to Dante aficionados interested in tracing the immortal Tuscan’s influence in modern pop culture. Stop here to visit the Palgrave/Macmillan website; or stop here to visit Deborah Parker’s site, The World of Dante.

Coda: There’s also a recent essay by Robert Pogue Harrison in the New York Review of Books. He takes on both Brown and Clive James’ Commedia translation in a wonderful piece sent to me by the above-mentioned Ms. Hoffmann (thanks for that, Jil!).

Related at Call of the Siren


  1. Thanks, Nick! You are too kind. I like the analysis and generosity that comes through on your blog. So the feeling is mutual. 😮

    I’m going underground in three days for NaNoWriMo. Right now, I’m trying to get a few posts written that I can schedule throughout the month. But I will be scarce, otherwise. Woohooo!!

    So if on some dark and stormy night in November, you see a figure sitting in a dark corner, looking ashen and mumbling to herself, stay calm, back away from the apparition, and know that all will be sweetness and light in December.

  2. Nick, you make following the best in Dante’ s reviews and his influence on popular culture actually possible! You make it look so easy too. One less item on my cultural to do list. Check!
    All the best, og&b

  3. Thanks Offglassandbooks — there’s another title coming in February from Norton, “Reading Dante,” that looks pretty wonderful. I’m afraid I just can’t get enough of that poet. Hm, maybe I should change my blog to Call of Dante. This forthcoming book just might be worthy of a pitch to my old colleagues in the newspaper biz — if that happens, I’ll definitely advertise it all around.

  4. I’ll look out for it, and definitely worth spreading the news! I’m writing a short novel for NaNo and it has to do with the afterlife. I have to be so careful not to rely on Dante’s organisation of it. It’s becoming a constant battle to stop thinking about la divina commedia! Ha ha!

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