Harvard Book Store welcomes award-winning poet DAVID BLAIR and bestselling author STEVE ALMOND for a discussion of their new works of literary criticism, Walk Around: Essays on Poetry and Place and William Stoner and the Battle for the Inner Life. This event is co-sponsored by Mass Humanities.
Reading David Blair’s book of essays is like taking a walk with a smart, well-read friend—and before you know it, you’ve learned an enormous amount about a wide range of topics: Ella Fitzgerald, Robert Lowell, and Tomaž Šalamun, with references to Welcome Back, Kotter, and Cosmo Topper along the way. In prose that is frank and intimate, Blair brings his world to life, in a way that is at once both literary and street-wise—the description of the worst poetry reading of all time is worth the price of admission alone—always keeping the reader in the presence of flesh and blood.
Stoner is a 1965 novel by the American writer John Williams. It tells the story of William Stoner, who attends the state university to study agronomy, but instead falls in love with English literature and becomes an academic. The novel narrates the many disappointments and struggles in Stoner’s academic and personal life, including his estrangement from his wife and daughter, set against the backdrop of the first half of the twentieth century.
In his entry in the Bookmarked series, author Steve Almond writes about why Stoner has endured, and the manner in which it speaks to the impoverishment of the inner life in America. Almond also uses the book as a launching pad for an investigation of America’s soul: in the process, writing about his own struggles as a student of writing, as a father and husband, and as a man grappling with his own mortality.
Certain books were “banned in Boston” at least as far back as 1651, when one William Pynchon wrote a book criticizing Puritanism.