“When I go back to Bogotá, I like to share my knowledge of the car bombs that went off in the city in the ’80s and ’90s. I helpfully point out the gory details to cab drivers and friends. I press my finger on the window and point at corners, ‘That’s the spot where an ATM blew up, seven dead.’” From Bogatá to Tel Aviv — here are ten writers on the places they immigrated from, returned to, remember, and call home.
Roberto Bolaño’s posthumous releases may rival Tupac’s in quantity. Indeed, the author “sustains an interest in Latin American literature all by himself,” writes Robert Birnbaum. But what if you want to broaden your survey of Latin and South American literature? Well, luckily, Birnbaum’s got some recommendations for you.
I have an essay in the September issue of Poets & Writers on “The Social Value of MFA Programs.” Sadly, P&W deems the piece too valuable to give away for free on the Web, so if you want to read it, you’ll have to go to your local newsstand and buy a copy.
“All over the country research libraries are canceling subscriptions to academic journals,” notes Robert Darnton, “because they are caught between decreasing budgets and increasing costs. The logic of the bottom line is inescapable, but there is a higher logic that deserves consideration—namely, that the public should have access to knowledge produced with public funds.”
“Try not to get overly attached to a hypothesis just because it’s yours. It’s only a way station in the pursuit of knowledge. Ask yourself why you like the idea. Compare it fairly with the alternatives. See if you can find reasons for rejecting it. If you don’t, others will.” It’s too bad more people haven’t had a chance to take a look at Carl Sagan’s 8-rule “Baloney Detection Kit.“