Thomas Kohnstamm is nobody's model travel journalist, except maybe Hunter Thompson's (if the latter is watching from beyond the grave - or the cannon Johnny Depp used to distribute his gonzo ashes).
'Do you think the dead we have loved ever truly leave us?" asks sage headmaster Albus Dumbledore in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, responding to Harry's criticism of himself as "stupid" for believing he'd seen his deceased father the night before.
NEW YORK - In the Hell's Kitchen hideaway the XChange, a hip party venue with a breathtaking view of the Hudson River, literary lion Michael Ondaatje flits among the rest of the pride gathered by his publisher for a Friday-night dinner at BookExpo America - among them Nathan Englander, Mary Gordon, Edwidge Danticat, and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.
To stir secular intellectuals, American philosopher Daniel C. Dennett last year published Breaking the Spell. British scientist Richard Dawkins soon followed with The God Delusion.
NEW YORK - Lawyers do it in their briefs. Book people do it on their T-shirts.
Best one spotted at this year's BEA, the annual book industry rite of spring?
Was he independent and indefatigable in pursuing a second masterpiece, or indolent and inept? Intransigent and inhumane toward others, or merely indecisive and inconsistent?
For those of us who find sports boring but literature exciting, an upcoming Olympics brings expectations of a special sort.
Olympic cities increasingly stage a "Cultural Olympics" before their Summer Games. Barcelona celebrated its leading artists in fields from architecture to poetry to sculpture. Atlanta invited the world's living Nobel Prize laureates in literature, gathering a dazzling cast that included Joseph Brodsky, Kenzaburo Oe, Octavio Paz, Wole Soyinka and Derek Walcott.
To be or not to be a philosopher did not concern Shakespeare, so far as we know. And we know very little.
Will Santa's joyful greeting switch to "Hi, Hi, HI!" in a post-Imus media world?
Must chemists make sure to pump up that tiny "2" when they write their water-based formulas?
Finally, a Philadelphia First absolutely, positively not launched by Ben Franklin!
Allow me to introduce Andy Kahan and Sara Goddard, impresarios (we did not say divas) of the "First Annual" Philadelphia Book Festival, coming to your Central Library on Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Like his character Billy Pilgrim in Slaughterhouse-Five, Kurt Vonnegut came "unstuck in time" when he died Wednesday at 84.
So he went.
BROOKLYN, N.Y. - If it's Tuesday and you're Kiran Desai, it must be Seattle or L.A. or Berlin or Hong Kong - another signing or reading somewhere.
Bring together Palestinian philosopher Sari Nusseibeh (1949- ) and Israeli statesman Shimon Peres (1923-) and the first thought that occurs to any longtime observer of the Arab-Israeli conflict is: Get a room.
NEW YORK - Can we learn anything about today's Russian writers and intellectuals by examining their predecessors?
Get a jump on which Russians are coming (are coming!) by pondering a few who are going - that is, Tom Stoppard's 19th-century Russian intellectuals, once his hit Broadway trilogy, The Coast of Utopia, closes next month?
'What might have been" haunts lovers, bedevils military strategists, distracts well-behaved dogs, and inevitably pesters everyone. Thankfully, the urgencies of the day relieve most of us of ongoing, painful concentration on alternative scenarios. Novelists, though, come with imaginations that won't let go, not to mention open afternoons and empty screens to fill.
It's a bearable thought, though a startling one: Forty years have passed since Czech-born Milan Kundera, the once and perhaps future most fashionable European literary writer of his generation, published his first novel, The Joke.
Everyone knows that Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn remains the great story from which, Hemingway roared, "all modern American literature" follows.