Living in More Than One World,

The Blog of Bruce Rosenstein

The Life Stories of Ry Cooder

In an earlier post, I wrote about Ry Cooder and Nick Lowe’s upcoming European tour, and about the standard of musical excellence maintained over many years by both musicians, as well as their ability to work outside of their comfort zones. I had interviewed and written extensively about Lowe in my music writing days, though I never interviewed or met Cooder. Now comes word from Cooder’s record label, Nonesuch, that he has a collection of fiction, Los Angeles Stories, that will be made available only on the tour. This follows a novella that came with his recent album I, Flathead.…

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Quick Reads on Summer Memoirs

Sometimes the best way to make sense of our own life and ultimately improve how we live is reading about how other people describe and interpret their existence. Library Journal has done a real service with Short Takes: 50 Summer Memoirs for the Beach, Backwoods, or Flu Bunker, as selected with brief annotations by a team of reviewers. Whether or not you take LJ’s advice to employ these as beach reading rather than novels, it’s fun reading these capsule descriptions of the books, many by authors who are not well known, but sound like they have led interesting lives. Some of the authors faced life-changing circumstances.…

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Listening to Authors in Toronto

Last week The Globe and Mail Open House Festival was held at the University of Toronto, with readings and panel discussions featuring primarily authors associated in some way with Random House or its imprints. The Globe and Mail now has a page of audio from a number of the authors speaking at the festival, including Jay McInerney, Calvin Trillin, Zoe Heller, Anne Michaels, David Wroblewski (The Story of Edgar Sawtelle) and Joseph O’Neill, who recently won the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction for Netherland. There are thirteen authors on the page now, with two more to be added.  You can listen directly from the page to each of the authors, or download the podcasts to listen later.…

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David Whyte: Poetry, Business and Beyond

David Whyte has for many years been a great example of living in more than one world. He is a successful poet, author, speaker and business consultant. Check out Colleen Smith’s insightful profile/interview, David Whyte’s nonprosaic world, in the Denver Post. She was writing in advance of his appearance at a bookstore in Boulder, Col., promoting his latest book, The Three Marriages: Reimagining Work, Self & Relationship. You can read selections from his poetry on his site, which has quite a bit of interesting material. Whyte’s quote ending the Denver Post story is instructive, as it contrasts the hard times we are living in, with the value provided by poets: “I often think of poets as makers of identity, so these are good times for poets, who speak not only for the individual, but for society and for the future at the horizon about to appear.”…

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Learning From the Best: TED Presentations for Inspiration

Making effective presentations that really engage audiences and classrooms is an ongoing challenge. As people have more access to great presentations both in person and online, the bar keeps getting set higher. Garr Reynolds has an excellent post on his Presentation Zen blog, Making presentations in the TED style, about learning from the best presentations at the famed TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) conference. It includes tips and links to video presentations from the likes of Al Gore, Seth Godin, Isabel Allende and others. Reynolds notes that TED has strict rules of eighteen minute time limits, with some presentations limited to three or six minute slots.…

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Peter Drucker: Novelist

Although it wasn’t a well-known aspect of his long and highly successful career, Peter Drucker published two novels: The Last of All Possible Worlds (1982) and The Temptation to Do Good (1984). The latter is the subject of an unexpected, and fascinating, Inside Higher Ed essay by higher education consultant Melanie Ho, Business and the Relevance of Liberal Arts. I think he would be pleased at the carefully thought-out, sympathetic portrayal of the book, and how its ideas and central questions have relevance for today’s academic world, twenty five years later.

When I interviewed Drucker at his home in Claremont, California six years ago for my forthcoming book, I wanted to get his thoughts on the novels, because I knew that he had long wanted to write fiction as well as nonfiction, yet the fiction writing ultimately didn’t work out as well as he would have liked.

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The many worlds of Noah Levine

There can be fascinating results when two seemingly disparate worlds combine in the same person. A case in point is Kate Linthicum’s feature story in the Los Angeles Times, In the stillness, space for a rebellious spirit, about Noah Levine, who teaches Buddhist meditation infused with punk rock values. He’s the leader of the Against the Stream Buddhist Meditation Society, and author of the 2003 book Dharma Punx. The latter is the name of the Society’s members, and there are meditation groups across the USA and Canada. Levine appears to be an intriguing embodiment of living in more than one world, as a psychologist (which, according to the article, is how he earns his living), teacher, organization leader, author and family man.…

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A local human interest story, with built-in national interest

Cindy Leise’s neat human interest story Toni Morrison’s first-grade teacher recalls past century, in Ohio’s The Chronicle-Telegram, is the kind of article at which local newspapers excel. Leise interviews 98-year old Esther Hunt, who taught the Pulitzer Prize-winning Morrison in 1937, in Lorain, Ohio.  The peg for the story was Morrison’s local appearance at Oberlin College’s Convocation Series, which unfortunately Hunt could not attend because of a family event in another state. According to the article, she taught in Lorain City Schools for 45 years, until her retirement in 1974. Morrison’s latest novel is A Mercy, which was published last year.…

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Living in More Than One World the Alain de Botton Way

The subject of The Independent’s My secret life feature on May 2 is the London-based author Alain de Botton, whose new book, The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work, has already been published in the UK, and comes out in the USA next month. Rather than a standard Q&A format, My secret life draws out brief answers to such statements as:  “At night I dream of”… “When I was a child I wanted to be”… “My greatest inspirations are”…(One of the replies to the latter is Geoff Dyer, who was featured in this blog on May 2.) A look at de Botton’s site shows him to be an embodiment of living in more than one world.…

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The Ongoing Wisdom of Huston Smith

Lisa Miller of Newsweek has a revealing interview/feature on Huston Smith. The 90 year old religion author-professor has an important new book:  Tales of Wonder: Adventures Chasing the Divine, an Autobiography. The foreword was written by Pico Iyer, whom I referenced in the May 2 blog on Geoff Dyer. (Iyer’s book The Open Road: The Global Journey of the Fourteenth Dalai Lama, recently came out in paperback.) Smith is known for his million-selling book The World’s Religions, originally published in 1958 as The Religions of Man.  It was also completely revised and updated when it was renamed in 1991.…

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