"The universe is made of stories, not of atoms."
—Muriel Rukeyser

First Photo From THE MEG Sees Giant Prehistoric Shark Stare Down Jason Statham

The big screen adaptation of Steve Alten's 1997 novel Meg: A Novel of Deep Terror is finally on its way after decades of production drama, and we finally have our first look at the upcoming movie, titled The Meg. Courtesy of Empire, we have our first look at Jason Statham as he's stared down by pre-historic 75-foot-long shark known as the Megalodon.

In addition to the first photo, Statham also opened up about his role in the film. "I play a former navy captain and diver and I get hired to rescue a team of scientists who are trapped at the bottom of hte sea in their research station by a giant shark. Then all hell breaks loose," the actor teased.

As for why fans should look forward to the movie, Statham simply puts it, "who doesn’t want to watch a film about the biggest shark that’s ever existed?” Measuring at 75-feet-long, the Megalodon puts the creatures you see on Shark Week and Sharknado Week to shame.

For those unfamiliar with the source material, the official synopsis for The Meg provides a better idea of what to expect.

    “In the film, a deep-sea submersible—part of an international undersea observation program—has been attacked by a massive creature, previously thought to be extinct, and now lies disabled at the bottom of the deepest trench in the Pacific…with its crew trapped inside. With time running out, expert deep sea rescue diver Jonas Taylor (Jason Statham) is recruited by a visionary Chinese oceanographer (Winston Chao), against the wishes of his daughter Suyin (Li Bingbing), to save the crew—and the ocean itself—from this unstoppable threat: a pre-historic 75-foot-long shark known as the Megalodon. What no one could have imagined is that, years before, Taylor had encountered this same terrifying creature. Now, teamed with Suyin, he must confront his fears and risk his own life to save everyone trapped below…bringing him face to face once more with the greatest and largest predator of all time.”

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NEVER GIVE UP! by Ken Atchity

What are the ingredients of a New York Times Best Seller? Ken Atchity has the answers and they are not what you expect. He is a movie producer, author of over 20 nonfiction books and novels. He has spent his lifetime helping writers get started and improve their careers. Writing was in his blood from the beginning. ‘I never understood writers’ block because I never had it,” he says.

What is the right mindset for being successful as a self-published writer?

It’s about what Winston Churchill said: “Never give, never give, never give up!” Don’t doubt yourself, keep working and learning more about your craft.

You wrote over 20 non-fiction books and novels. Are you still learning?

Yes, I am. I am always learning. I love writing because it’s a way of focusing your learning. I write the book first, then I do the research and spend years revising the book.

Some writers confessed that they don’t read books when they work on something new…

While you write your first draft, there is no need for you to read something else.The time to start reading other things is after you’ve finished it and improved it. You can always study yourself to death and never finish the first draft. And that’s the danger of it, or being influenced by other voices. It is much better to get your voice clear in the first draft and then give yourself a limited amount of time to do further research to make sure things are accurate. You would be surprised how often your imagination gets things pretty much right.

What do you appreciate most in a book?

I love books that take you to another world and keep you there the whole time. A storyteller who knows his craft will do this by not making a single mistake. A mistake is something that takes you suddenly out of that world.

You helped several authors to make the New York Times Best Sellers list. What are the ingredients of a bestseller?

That list is a victim of the changing times we are living now. In today’s world, a person needs to be famous or write about someone who is. The most recent three NY Times Best Sellers were about John Kennedy. But this list is not the only judge. Selling books on the Internet is a direct and immediate way to see if you could find an audience for your book.

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The Girly Book Club Reviews Jerry Amernic's The Last Witness

4/5 *

A dystopian story. 1984 meets The Holocaust. The Last Witness, written by Jerry Amernic, has one of the most fascinating premises for a book I’ve ever come across. Two years ago Amernic asked university students what they knew about The Holocaust and WWII. Their lack of knowledge and incorrect information in their answers inspired Amernic to write this futuristic thriller.

Within the first 4 pages of this book I thought three things:

1. It’s the future
2. It’s set in NYC
3. Although I was already sucked into the plot, the characters, and the language, there was a small part of me that knew it was probably going to break my heart over and over throughout the journey.

And I was right.

Jack Fisher is the last living Holocaust survivor. It’s 2039. Jack has a great-granddaughter Christine who is an 8th-grade history teacher. Christine is fighting the school board to have The Holocaust inserted back into the curriculum. When Christine suddenly goes missing, Jack soon finds himself in danger once again. We’re left to discover that what was once science is now personal belief, and what was once history has morphed into religion.

If Orwell is your guy, and Atwood (The Handmaid’s Tale) is your lady, then this is right up your alley.

For all our sakes, I hope this remains just a great novel and not a sign of things to come

Review by Sara Kafka

Dennis Palumbo's Head Wounds Makes Thomas Perry’s Favorites of 2017!

It’s his 5th book about psychotherapist Daniel Rinaldi. I recommend it highly, particularly for people who have read the rest of the series, because it is one of those books that take up some issues we’ve been wondering about since the beginning of a series, and give us big, shocking answers to them. I also think the villain in this book is more frightening than any other I’ve seen for quite a while. Very early in the book he gets into the reader’s head like a recurring nightmare, and for the rest of the book we root for Rinaldi to get him out for us by catching him or killing him.  ~ Thomas Perry

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Psychologist Dr. Daniel Rinaldi consults with the Pittsburgh Police. His specialty is treating victims of violent crime—those who’ve survived an armed robbery, kidnapping, or sexual assault, but whose traumatic experience still haunts them. Head Wounds picks up where Rinaldi’s investigation in Phantom Limb left off, turning the tables on him as he, himself, becomes the target of a vicious killer.

“Miles Davis saved my life.” With these words Rinaldi becomes a participant in a domestic drama that blows up right outside his front door, saved from a bullet to the brain by pure chance. In the chaos that follows, Rinaldi learns his bad-girl, wealthy neighbor has told her hair-triggered boyfriend Rinaldi is her lover. As things heat up, Rinaldi becomes a murder suspect.

But this is just the first act in this chilling, edge-of-your-seat thriller. As one savagery follows another, Rinaldi is forced to relive a terrible night that haunts him still. And to realize that now he—and those he loves—are being victimized by a brilliant killer still in the grip of delusion. Determined to destroy Rinaldi by systematically targeting those close to him—his patients, colleagues, and friends—computer genius Sebastian Maddox strives to cause as much psychological pain as possible, before finally orchestrating a bold, macabre death for his quarry.
How ironic. As Pittsburgh morphs from a blue-collar town to a tech giant, a psychopath deploys technology in a murderous way.

Enter two other figures from Rinaldi’s past: retired FBI profiler Lyle Barnes, once a patient who Rinaldi treated for night terrors; and Special Agent Gloria Reese, with whom he falls into a surprising, erotically charged affair. Warned by Maddox not to engage the authorities or else random innocents throughout the city will die, Rinaldi and these two unlikely allies engage in a terrifying cat-and-mouse game with an elusive killer who’ll stop at nothing in pursuit of what he imagines is revenge.

A true page-turner, Head Wounds is the electrifying fifth in a critically acclaimed series of thrillers by Dennis Palumbo. Formerly a Hollywood screenwriter, Dennis Palumbo is now a licensed psychotherapist in private practice.

5 Unforgettable Ways To End Your Book...

Like a great dinner party or once-in-a-lifetime vacation, all good things must come to an end. Hopefully, a really excellent, memorable ending! This is also true of that book you’re writing. You have a fantastic first chapter, a perfectly paced middle, and now it’s time to wrap up your story with an unforgettable ending.

This is no way to end it all: Deus ex machina (god from the machine) is a way of wiping out all conflict by inserting some benevolent force into your story at the last second to right every wrong. While this may have worked for ancient playwrights and storytellers, nowadays most readers will consider it, at best, lazy; at worst, cheating! The ending needs to be appropriate to the story you’re telling -- there are more than enough ways to surprise your reader without resorting to something completely out of left field.

Five Smart Ideas For When The End Is Near:

1. The trusty plot twist: Plot twists are great alternatives to inserting last-minute characters who fix everything. Like deus ex machina, a plot twist offers the unexpected, but the key difference is that it makes sense within the story’s world. A good twist feels surprising but somehow appropriate for the story and protagonist.

2. The “oh, no!” that leads to the “aha!”: Life is crashing down on your protagonist, the weight of the story’s conflict is becoming too much to handle, and he or she simply isn’t up to the task -- everything is surely doomed. Congratulations! Your character is in the story’s darkest moment, where someone or something must serve as inspiration for rising up against all odds and saving the day. In these desperate times your character searches within, has a eureka! epiphany, and ends your story with triumph and satisfied readers.

3. Going back to square one: This path takes your protagonist to the same dark moment already mentioned. But, when given a clear opportunity to turn his or her life around, the character... doesn’t. Instead, he or she reverts back to old ways, or the status quo. This type of ending works best if you are writing a character-driven novel.

4. Is this really the end?: Open-ended endings are tough to pull off and require quite a bit of character and plot understanding, but leaving your readers with thoughtful questions can get them talking and thinking about possible answers.

5. Close the book: After the final climactic moment, don’t hang around explaining “this is what happens after.” Readers tend to lose interest once the story’s reached a satisfying conclusion. 

Some writers like to experiment with different endings until they come to one that best suits their story. Don’t be afraid to write, rewrite, and rewrite again until your ending sounds natural, satisfactory, and complete! The end!

For more from Writer's Relief, click here! 

In these dark times, Hallmark Channel's golden glow beckons

For those weary of crises and violence in the news and on television, more people are turning to the Hallmark Channel's predictably happy endings.

Darren Triplow has an unusual occupation. He flies helicopters in Rwanda to help conservationists watch for poachers illegally hunting black rhinos. To unwind when he’s at his home base in Washington, D.C., he’ll sometimes settle in front of the television. But it’s not the weekend game that he turns on. It’s the Hallmark Channel.

“I like the content. The shows are family-friendly – it’s not riddled with violence like you see in a lot of shows on these days. And there’s usually always a happy ending to it,” says Mr. Triplow, who has been a fan of Hallmark’s programming for the past couple of years and likes to watch with his wife and two children. “It’s just easy to watch and it’s relaxing, which is kinda hard to find on TV these days.”

And Triplow is not that unique in his TV-watching habits. In 2016, Hallmark saw a 10 percent increase in total viewership and a 26 percent increase among viewers 18-49. During the 2016 election week, it ranked No. 4 among primetime cable networks – even ranking above MSNBC.

Television has long served as a form of escape. For many viewers, with its 24/7 feed of TV miniseries and movies full of white picket fences and wholesome family values, the Hallmark Channel has become a growing safe haven for those weary of the violence, conflict, and uncertainty churned out by both news broadcasts and apocalyptic-themed TV dramas.

Shows like "The Walking Dead" and the happy content from Hallmark are like two sides of the same coin, says Wheeler Winston Dixon, Ryan professor of film studies at University of Nebraska – Lincoln. Both offer appealing counter-realities.
How well do you know your family sitcoms?

“Some people feel that a return to the past is possible, that we can get through this. Other people feel that apocalyptic times will solve all their problems by just erasing everything,” says Professor Dixon.

Younger generations may be drawn by the fact that on the Hallmark Channel, homeownership, solid careers, and relationships are easy to come by.

Amy Jamison, a college professor in Michigan and a longtime viewer, appreciates Hallmark’s guaranteed happy ending that offers her a chance to decompress after a long day.

“As soon as I get home … I just want to settle in for a good movie,” she says, adding that  “the predictable, happy ending is something that’s comforting, especially when you’ve got a lot going on."

Of course, Professor Jamison admits Hallmark may not be for everyone. "I don’t hide the fact that I watch it, but sometimes I’m a bit hesitant because it’s not everybody’s cup of tea,” she says.

The popularity of Hallmark movies are following a familiar cyclical pop culture pattern, notes Cathy Perron, an associate professor in the film and television program at Boston University’s College of Communication. She points to similarities in the era of western movies. Westerns were considered quite violent for the time, and while they were wildly popular in the 1930s through the 1950s, they were soon followed by a counter-trend of family-oriented dramas, such as “I Love Lucy” and “Leave it to Beaver."

“[H]istorically, when there have been some difficult times, many viewers tend to migrate toward content that represents … a more gentle time,” Professor Perron says. “If you look at what the television networks ... have for new programs, they’re all very much either crime or war-centric. And when they introduce something like ‘This is Us’ or ‘Modern Family’ … people gravitate toward that….”

Just like the family dramas of the 1950s, the Hallmark Channel and other feel-good shows like “This is Us” are bringing back the idea of TV content for all, where the whole family can watch and share in the experience, says Perron.

Austin Romo, a recent college graduate and flight attendant, says he most enjoys watching Hallmark movies with his grandmother and siblings. “She gets enjoyment and pleasure from spending time with her grandkids … and we all share a love for and enjoyment of watching the shows with her,” he says, adding that while he didn’t initially expect to like the saccharine predictability of Hallmark scripts, he has grown to appreciate its stories.

While many may roll their eyes at the mention of Hallmark, wait a beat and people may just admit that Hallmark is exactly what they need.

“It’s not so much burying your head in the sand, it’s just taking a break from what is assaulting you on a daily basis,” Perron says.

For Tanja Moneyhun, a pet groomer from Alton, Ill., and a dedicated Christmastime Hallmark viewer, the intensity of the news overwhelms her and she looks forward to Christmas, when she can take a break with the warm, calm content. “It’s almost like a hug,” she says.

Hallmark is also attempting to keep viewers hooked over multiple installments by recently introducing miniseries such as “When Calls the Heart" and "Cedar Cove." To meet the increased demand, Hallmark has announced 33 new Christmas movies and launched a new network, Hallmark Drama, this past October, to join the Hallmark Channel and Hallmark Movies & Mysteries. But don’t expect any hard-hitting topics. The channel will likely stay true to its brand.

“Hallmark is zigging when everyone else is zagging,” says Perron.

The Book of Leah Production Photos

Charlie Matthau

Charlie Matthau - Video Village
Freddy Cole, Ken Atchity, Charlie Matthau
Ken Atchity and Charlie Matthau
Brianna Joy Chommer and Freddy Cole
Meggie McKenna
Brianna Joy Chommer as Leah

On Writing...

There must be one central character. One. Everybody write that down. Just one. And he or she must want something. And by the end of the play he or she must either get it or not. Period. No exceptions.

--Marsha Norman 

Very blessed today to be working with Freddy Cole on THE BOOK OF LEAH. He is a national treasure!

Job well done! Nickolaus Schnetsky with director Charlie Matthau on set... The Book of Leah

Marisa Ignacio Hormel and Melinda Lerner's Bodies on Raw

"Bodies on Raw is an adventure in empowerment through food!" - Lois Barber Co-creator and Executive Director of EarthAction, Founder of 20/20 Vision

"Bodies on Raw is a celebration of the healing that can happen when people make healthy food choices. But more than that, it's a celebration of beauty and a celebration of life itself." - John Robbins, Author of Diet For A New America, Co-founder of The Food Revolution Network.

"Marisa Ignacio Hormel and Melinda Lerner's Bodies on Raw is the creative and magical fusion of food, art, and health. This book is a beautiful inspiration to those wanting to explore plant-based food as a gateway to mind-body health and vitality." - Allen "Buddy" Green, M.D. Founder and Medical Director of The Center for Optimum Health.

"Marisa Ignacio Hormel and Melinda Lerner's Bodies on Raw clearly demonstrates that our strength comes from our fuel, whether that is food or thought." - Greg Cope White Food Network Host, Food Writer of Eat Greg Eat, and Author of The Pink Marine.

"Marisa Ignacio Hormel & Melinda Lerner's Bodies On Raw encourages, guides, and stands by our side as we examine steps that we can take to help create a more sustainable, regenerative, just food system, healthy body, and healthy planet." - Dr. Brent Blackwelder, President Emeritus of Friends of the Earth.

Bodies on Raw is an inspiring compilation of testimonials from pioneering individuals who with the help of raw food, vegan, or plant-based choices have either survived cancer or conquered high blood pressure, high cholesterol, Crohn's disease, irritable bowel syndrome, depression, an enlarged prostate, as well as acne, constipation, migraines, and allergies. Their words take you on a journey through the scientific realities of the power of food to discover simple tips which guide you gently towards healing, health, and fitness. This unique book is born from Marisa Ignacio Hormel's passion captured by Melinda Lerner's prowess. Witness the results.

Time Management for Writers: The Stopwatch Method for Massive Creative Productivity

Managing your work is a fool’s game because work is infinite. Good work only creates more work; in fact, bad work creates more work too.

So the more you work the more work you will have to do. It’s basic common sense that you can’t manage an infinite commodity.

What can you manage? Time.

You not only can, but must, manage your time because time is all too finite.
They say, “If you want to get something done, find a busy person.” The busy person succeeds in getting things done because he knows how to manage his or her time.

We all have the exact same amount at our disposal: 60 minutes each hour, 24 hours each day, 168 hours each week, 8,736 hours each year. If you put one hour into a project each day for a year, you’d have worked on it for 365 hours—more than enough time to write a book, and a screenplay, and a treatment or two.
“If you place a little upon a little,” explained the ancient Greek almanac writer Hesiod in his Works and Days, “soon it becomes a lot.”

Time Management Stopwatch image


Time Management Should Be Easy


Where do you find the time to get your most important work done every day?

One memorable day in Manhattan I was delivering a broken antique wall clock to my favorite repair shop. As I completed my drop off and turned to leave, I noticed an ultra-modern stand-up clock constructed of shiny pendulums, a different metal each for hours, minutes, and seconds, all enclosed in a sleek glass case. It was simply the most beautiful timepiece I’d ever seen.

Then I realized: it had no hands. At first I thought, No wonder it’s in the shop. It’s broken. But I studied the clock more closely.

Clock for time management image

No. It was designed without hands. It was a timepiece that Salvador Dali would have been as thrilled with as I was. Time moves in its own way unless we somehow capture it.

It reminded me that time is a free force. It just happens, whether you do anything about it or not. It’s up for grabs. It doesn’t belong to your family, or to your friends, or to your day job, or to anyone but you! What you’re working on at any given moment is how you control it.

The trick is where do you find that free time?—a question busy people are asked regularly. Here’s their secret: busy people make time, for the activities they decide to prioritize. One good way to wrestle with the problem they’ve solved is to ask yourself, “Where do I lose it?” When you find the answers to that question they may shock you.

I ask writers to make a chart of their weekly hours and use it to determine how many hours they devote to each activity in their cluttered, over-stimulated lives.
Maybe you’d be surprised—or maybe not—that most people have no idea where the time goes.

They come back to me with a grand total of 182, or 199, or 82 hours of activity—until I remind them that they, like every other human, have the same 168 hours each week to spend.

Then we get serious and analyze exactly where they’re lying to themselves about the time: forgetting about the endless phone calls with friends, or the true amount of time in front of the television, or the accurate time devoted to the daily commute, or the time doing absolutely nothing but staring out the window. When we get the time inventory accurate most people are surprised at the truth. But truth is the first step to freedom, and managing your time effectively is the greatest freedom of all.

I call it “making the clock of life your clock.” I believe in this philosophy so much I haven’t worn a regular watch for nearly thirty years, despite owning a vintage wrist watch that belonged to my father and an even older pocket watch that belonged to my grandfather. The only chronograph I carry around with me is one that allows me to make life’s clock my clock:a stopwatch.

The stopwatch makes the Spanish proverb, la vida es corta pero ancha (“life is short but wide”) come true.

You can get a free stopwatch app on your cell phone! In fact, most smartphones come with a built-in stopwatch app like the Clock app on iPhones.

The Stop Watch Method of Time Management


The stopwatch method of time management is simple. You use it to capture time, to make sure that your Priority Writing Project is getting the amount of attention you want to give it to move it—and your career success–ahead with certainty.
You know that the wall clock, or the one on your wrist or displayed on your cell phone, has a way of running away with your day. You say you’ll work on your Priority Writing Project from seven to eight a.m. and something is certain to come along to disrupt that hour almost as though life were conspiring against you.

What’s really happening is that you’re letting life interfere with your personal time management.

Of course when the interference occurs, you tell yourself I’ll catch up later,or say, “I’ll start again tomorrow and this time protect myself from interruptions.” But over the years we discover that life usually runs rampant over any and all such resolutions.

The stopwatch method works best in a life jam-packed with stimuli and distraction. It allows you to steal time. While clocks on wrists and walls record public time, your private prime time happens only when your stopwatch is running. The stopwatch allows you to call “time out” from the game everyone else is engaged in.

Simply promise yourself you won’t go to sleep at night until, by hook or by crook, you’ve clocked on your stopwatch one hour (sixty minutes) of working on Priority Writing Project.

Turn the stopwatch ON when you’re working on it, and OFF when you get interrupted.

Your stopwatch minutes may be harvested over a six-hour period, or over a twenty-four-hour period. You steal them when you can: waiting at the dentist’s, commuting to the ferry, when your lunch appointment hasn’t shown up yet, when your cell phone dies and no one can reach you until you’ve replaced or recharged the battery, when your date for the evening calls in sick.

It takes a few days to get used to this process, but once you do you’ll recognize the power it gives you over time.

If I could give you a magic pill that guaranteed you would work on your most important goals and dreams in life for one hour each day, would you take it?
Of course! And that’s exactly what the stopwatch method of time management does—it guarantees that your most important work gets done each day if you stick to the plan.

Optimum Attention Span (OAS)


How do you know how much time to devote to your Priority Writing Project—or to any activity, for that matter?

That’s a function of what I call Optimum Attention Span (OAS). For some activities, like watching your favorite sports event or shopping, your OAS might be extremely wide; for others, like listening to your boss complain or to your domestic partner nag, it might be miniscule. The trick is to determine what the OAS is for that Priority Writing Project.

At the start of any project, OAS tends to be smaller; as the project gains momentum and begins to appear reachable, your OAS expands. So when you start planning to write that novel, nonfiction books, or screenplay, give yourself 30-45 minutes on the stopwatch during the first week.

But reassess OAS at the end of each week because OAS changes and evolves. By the fourth week you may well be up to an hour and a half—ninety minutes on the stopwatch.

Increasing Productivity with “Linkage”


Isn’t it hard to work in fits and starts?

You might very well ask that very good question. The answer is that it’s actually easier to work that way than it is to work without stopping if you employ my time-management technique of linkage, what Hemingway referred to as “leaving a little water in the well.”

Here’s how linkage works. The phone rings, so you have to turn off your stopwatch. But you let it ring one or two more times, taking that time to make a mental decision about what you’ll do when your stopwatch is running again—that is, in your next Priority Writing Project stopwatch session.

And here’s an interesting secret: it doesn’t matter what decision you make when you turn the stopwatch back on.

The minute you make that decision, as you answer the phone and go on from one activity to the next, your mind starts thinking of better decisions than the one you just made; in fact, your mind becomes increasingly motivated to get back to that Priority Writing Project because it knows exactly what it will do when the next session begins.

You’ve created an automatic linkage—that makes restarting when your stopwatch is next running no longer an occasion for blockage.
Instead, you’re fully ready to jump in and get as much out of that next session as possible before it’s interrupted by life’s next distraction.

And, yes, have a desk drawer filled with stopwatches so you can employ a different colored one for each major project you’re engaged with. Or you can use different stopwatch apps on your phone.

The stopwatch method will truly make the clock of life your clock.It’s the magic writing pill.

Dr. Kenneth Atchity (Georgetown B.A., Yale Ph.D.) has been teaching time management throughout the United States, Asia, and Europe for decades.

Books include A Writer’s Time: Making the Time to Write (ebook: Write Time: Guide to the Creative Process, from Vision through Revision—and Beyond); How to Quit Your Day Job and Live out Your Dreams; Writing Treatments that Sell (with Chi-Li Wong), Sell Your Story to Hollywood: Writer’s Pocket Guide to the Business of Show Business and, with Ridgely Goldsborough, Why? Marketing for Writers. Dr. Atchity’s more than thirty films include Meg, the Emmy-nominated Kennedy Detail, Hysteria, Erased, Joe Somebody, and Life or Something like It.

Companies serving writers include www.thewriterslifeline.com, www.storymerchant.com, and www.storymerchantbooks.com. and teaching sessions can be accessed at www.RealFastHollywoodDeal.com.


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What do the Chinese think of Hollywood

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The Book of Leah: A great Day One under our belt!

Kate Linder, as Aileen Gold, on set day one.


Yale Presents Open Yale Courses on Miguel de Cervantes’ Masterpiece Don Quixote

Among the literary works that emerged in the so-called Golden Age of Spanish culture in the 16th and 17th centuries, one shines so brightly that it seems to eclipse all others, and indeed is said to not only be the foundation of modern Spanish writing, but of the modern novel itself. Miguel de Cervantes’ Don Quixote synthesized the Medieval and Renaissance literature that had come before it in a brilliantly satirical work, writes popular academic Harold Bloom, with “cosmological scope and reverberation.” But in such high praise of a great work, we can lose sight of the work itself. Don Quixote is hardly an exception.

Don Quixote, which is the classic par excellence, was written for a flatly practical purpose: to amuse the largest possible number of readers, in order to make a lot of money for the author (who needed it badly).” To mention these intentions is not to diminish the work, but perhaps even to burnish it further. To have created, as Yale’s Roberto González Echevarría says in his introductory lecture above, “one of the unquestioned masterpieces of world literature, let alone the Western Canon,” while seeking primarily to entertain and make a buck says quite a lot about Cervantes’ considerable talents, and, perhaps, about his modernism.

Rather than write for a feudal patron, monarch, or deity, he wrote for what he hoped would be a profitable mass-market. In so doing, says Professor González, quoting Gabriel García Márquez, Cervantes wrote “a novel in which there is already everything that novelists would attempt to do in the future until today.” González’s course, “Cervantes’ Don Quixote,” is now available online in a series of 24 lectures, available on YouTube and iTunes. (Stream all 24 lectures below.) You can download all of the course materials, including the syllabus and overview of each class, here. There is a good deal of reading involved, and you’ll need to get your hands on a few extra books. In addition to the weighty Quixote, “students are also expected to read four of Cervantes’ Exemplary Stories, Cervantes’ Don Quixote: A Casebook, and J.H. Elliott’s Imperial Spain.” It would seem well worth the effort.

The Power of Vulnerability ...

The power of vulnerability | Brené Brown

Brené Brown studies human connection -- our ability to empathize, belong, love. In a poignant, funny talk at TEDxHouston, she shares a deep insight from her research, one that sent her on a personal quest to know herself as well as to understand humanity.

Ted Talks

Guest Post: A crusader for preserving history by Jerry Amernic

Diana Bishop is a former TV broadcaster and the author of a new book about her grandfather Billy Bishop, the flying ace who shot down 72 German planes in World War I. Her book is called ‘Living Up to a Legend – My Adventures With Billy Bishop’s Ghost.’

The other night I joined her for a screening of the film Billy Bishop Goes to War at the prestigious National Club in downtown Toronto. It was a few days before November 11th. Incidentally, this year marks the 100th anniversary of her grandfather getting the Victoria Cross from King George V.

When Diana isn’t writing books she helps ‘brand’ her clients and she branded me. What’s the brand?

‘A crusader for preserving history through the actions of unsung heroes.’

I probably never would have thought of that myself, but she’s right. Every book I ever wrote embodies this theme – some more, some less – but it’s always there. They are stories about heroes, and in the case of historical novels, about protagonists fighting some grave injustice.

Gift of the Bambino is a coming-of-age tale over three generations about a boy and his grandfather, and how the two are bound by baseball and Babe Ruth. In that one, the Grandpa is the hero.

The Last Witness is about a 100-year-old man who is the last living survivor of the Holocaust in a near-future world where people know little of the past. The survivor is the hero in that story.

Qumran is about an archaeologist who makes a dramatic discovery in the Holy Land and who is caught in the storm between science and religion. The archaeologist, whose core ideas are challenged in the novel, is the hero in this one.

So now I have put all this into a presentation that explores the stories, actions, and issues around many an unsung hero. And, of course, why history is important. I call it, well, A Crusader for Preserving History.

If only I can find the right cape.

Jerry Amernic is a Canadian writer of fiction and non-fiction books. He is the author of the  Holocaust-related novel 'The Last Witness' and the biblical-historical thriller 'QUMRAN' 


Jerry Amernic
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