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4 Million Wonders of the Bronx

"WELL,  WELL, WELL. WILL YOU LOOK AT THAT,” SAYS MR. PORTER. "IT LOOKS LIKE BABBSIO WENT AHEAD AND GOT HERSELF A BLOGGY THINGY... GOD BLESS HER HEART!"

“WELL, WELL, WELL. WILL YOU LOOK AT THAT,” SAYS MR. PORTER. “IT LOOKS LIKE BABBSIO WENT AHEAD AND GOT HERSELF A BLOGGY THINGY… GOD BLESS HER HEART!”

O’Brien on O. Henry:

In 1906, following the successful publication of his first collection of short stories, Sydney William Porter, under the pen name O. Henry, published a collection titled The Four Million. Included in this collection was his famous, well-loved Christmas story, The Gift of the Magi. The author wrote this series of stories in response to Ward McAllister’s statement of “there are only 4 hundred people worth noticing in New York City” – at a time when the city’s population was approximately 4 million. On February 16th, 1892, this self-appointed arbiter of New York society proceeded to publish a list of these “worth noticing” people in The New York Times. But in O. Henry’s mind, every human being in New York was worth noticing – the socialite and the downcast, the banker and the street vendor. He believed that every person had a story to tell and a life worth noticing. He set out to prove this belief and the result was his collection of short, witty stories with characters modeled after the downtrodden and everyday members of society.

Although the population of this metropolis has doubled since the publication of The Four Million, I, like O. Henry, want to find and notice all the unnoticed people of New York City. I am not a blogger but I will attempt in this blog to relate all of my experiences as a long-time “country mouse” living among the “city mice.” I have never written anything publicly so please forgive my early attempts at self-published work. I am neither an eloquent nor a brilliant writer, but I try to write as I wish to speak – simply, clearly, and honestly.

I hope my stories and reflections help you see a little of the world I see everyday.

The Judgment of Paris

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The Judgment of Paris

Eris:
A golden apple has no bruise—
Contemptuous of all that shine
Around it. Guests, you see the ruse
A golden apple has? That shine
Which vanity has lusts to choose
When discord’s mind cannot divine
A golden apple. Has no bruise
Contempt? Yes. Of all that shine.

Hello sophomore, my old slump…

So as I dig into Entry Two of Lives of Famous Catholics, I realize that I’m basically re-doing Entry One. A story about a film director (Guillermo Del Toro) pursuing a passion project (At the Mountains of Madness) that never gets made but nevertheless reveals something about his spiritual state, told from the perspective of a collaborator on the project (an illustrator). For that matter, Gaga Confidential also treats a failed artistic effort (The Secret Show), only it’s told from the perspective of an embittered fan who uncovers a link to a collaborator on the project (H.R. Giger).

I keep thinking back to the line from the opening to Donna Tartt’s The Secret History: “I suppose at one time in my life, I might have had any number of stories, but now there is no other. This is the only story I will ever be able to tell.” Heh.

Oser the Proser

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If the rumors gritting the air ever settle down into hard ash on the ground and the next Korrektiv Summit is truly in the offing, I wonder if we shouldn’t all read and chew on as a group the Catholic novelist no one is reading right now…

And, in case you missed it the first time around… he’s a Wiseblood Author!

New from Angelico Press

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Friend of Korrektiv Joshua Hren’s book of short stories, This Our Exile, has just been issued by Angelico Press. Also available at Amazon and better bookstores everywhere!

And not only that, but his book on Tolkien, Middle-earth and the Return of the Common Good: J.R.R. Tolkien and Political Philosophy, will be published through Cascade Books.

Congratulations, Joshua!

Is Pope Francis a Heretic?

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Hey, I’m just asking a question. Kidding! Actually, it’s Marist priest Fr. James L. Heft, head of the Institute for Advanced Catholic Studies at the University of Southern California, who is asking — and presumably answering — that question as part of the Institute’s Condon Lecture series. Friends of Korrektiv will no doubt recall the mini-Summit – JOB, Angelico, yours truly — held at the Institute’s conference on the Future of the Catholic Literary Imagination a couple of years back, when Wiseblood’s Joshua “Feather Pen” Hren stood up in the middle of Tobias Wolff’s talk and said, “Me. I’m the future of the Catholic literary imagination.” Notice was, as they say, served.*

Anyway, I’m guessing Fr. Heft’s answer is going to be firmly in the negative, but I did thrill to see the word “heretic” in such a rarefied setting.

Mars Hill, J.F. and JOB

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“I think what Powers is trying to say is ‘No look, there’s a whole other side: there’s a lot of boring Tuesday afternoon at 4 o’clock stuff going on in the priesthood.’ And I think that’s what he wanted to show. I think he wanted to show that the priesthood was not glamorous, but that there was a profound struggle going on.”

from the Mailbag

RT: “How and what do Catholic authors contribute to your spiritual life?”

ME: “I guess if I knew the answer to that question, I may not feel the need to read so much. Not that it’s so much.”

ME, upon further reflection: “Another answer to the question is to say that for me, not being a “cradle Catholic” (although I have no idea what it’s like to be a “cradle Catholic”, and, for all I know, there is a 100% Venn overlap with the species “convert”), direct approaches like prayer and even (sadly) the sacraments often feel forced and disingenuous. What one feels isn’t the best criterion for determining worth, but it isn’t unimportant either. Reading and writing, on the other hand, might also need to be forced, but the resistant, opposing force might come from anywhere. Catholic writers are often, even almost always helpful in determining the direction of those other forces. Like objects a bat sounds for flying. Like greens on a golf course. Like fissures and outcrops for climbing on the sheer face of absolutely nothing at all.

Does Anything Rhyme with “Nobel”?

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When I first received this Nobel Prize for Literature, I got to wondering exactly how my songs related to literature. I wanted to reflect on it and see where the connection was. I’m going to try to articulate that to you. And most likely it will go in a roundabout way, but I hope what I say will be worthwhile and purposeful.

Everybody! Everybody! Part Two: Rod Dreher

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Good people, when The New Yorker profiles a guy who makes a case for Johnsonville, aka Branch Davidian North, aka JOB’s Driftless Dreamland, shouldn’t we take note and discuss?

Dreher is one of the reasons I sometimes wish I could stop by the Walker Percy Weekend. And oh look, it gets a mention in the piece:

One of Dreher’s favorite writers is Walker Percy, whose novel “The Moviegoer” often refers to a fictionalized version of West Feliciana parish, where St. Francisville is situated. (Every year, Dreher hosts a Walker Percy Weekend, combining lectures from literary scholars with crawfish, bourbon, and beer.) Binx Bolling, the book’s protagonist, is a young stockbroker who finds himself on “the search”—the search being “what anyone would undertake if he were not sunk in the every-dayness of his own life.” Binx explains, “To become aware of the possibility of the search is to be onto something. Not to be onto something is to be in despair.”