Studs Terkel . . . One of a Kind

Louis “Studs” Terkel was born in the Bronx in 1912 to Russian-Jewish parents who relocated to Chicago when he was eleven.  His father opened a rooming house for immigrants, which introduced the young Terkel to people of all cultures and ethnic backgrounds. No wonder his books are filled with such memorable characters. Studs got his […]

Five Great American Short Stories

Short stories are often unfairly relegated to a rank below that of their novelistic cousins. However, with the rise of technology which favors speed and brevity, the form is presently undergoing something of a renaissance. In light of this, Christian Kriticos selects his five favorite American short stories for your consideration…  5. “The Ones Who […]

Move to the Beat: Crash Course on Beat Poetry

What’s Happening in the 1950s? World War II ended in 1945. America entered the 1950s to find a newfound wave of economic growth and prosperity—but also a heap of social and political change. With the Baby Boom came the creation of modern-day suburbia and an economic boost. The Civil Rights Movement picked up with cases […]

50 States, 50 Novels- Part 3

Hawaii – From Here to Eternity by James Jones (1951) This gigantic debut novel was based upon James Jones’ own experiences as a soldier stationed in Hawaii during WWII. It won the National Book Award after it was released and was adapted into an Academy Award-winning film starring Montgomery Clift and Frank Sinatra. Idaho – […]

Hidden Talents: A Recipe from Emily Dickinson

Emily Dickinson was more than a sharp wordsmith; she also knew her way around the kitchen.  To her circle in Amherst, Massachusetts, this was actually a not-so-hidden talent.  Family manuscripts tell us she was generous with the fruits of her labors, sending goodies to her friends and family.  In 1853 she wrote a letter to her […]


I met a wonderful young boy recently.  He was making paper airplanes – complete with hand drawn insignia and colorful decorations on the wings. He was having a great time sending his finished creations soaring into the air.  When I asked him what else he likes to do besides make paper airplanes, he said, “I […]

5 Ekphrastic Poems By American Writers To Read Right Now

Art and poetry have been inspiring each other for a long time, which is why the literary world has given poems that confront artwork a fancy name: ekphrasis. If you’re a lover of words like I am, that word just might send shivers up your spine. This idea of ekphrasis prompted me to look into […]

Bob Weide and the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library Cast Documentary Hocus Pocus

On April 11, 2007, one of America’s most witty and wonderful science fiction writers took what he might have called a big trip up yonder. Kurt Vonnegut, visionary wordsmith behind such classic works as Slaughterhouse-Five and Breakfast of Champions, passed away. Before his death, though, the Indianapolis native – heralded by many as the counterculture’s novelist – formed […]

An Introduction to Carl Sagan

If you’re anything like me, then you are not an astrophysicist.  But you might know that the universe is expanding.  Or maybe you donate to an environmental organization every once in a while. Maybe you work with medicine, plants, chemicals, or technology. Maybe you took biology in high school or college, or saw Interstellar in […]

50 States, 50 Novels- Part 2

Colorado – The Shining by Stephen King (1977) One of Stephen King’s earliest novels, The Shining also remains one of his most popular, and continues to sell thousands of copies every year. King supposedly settled on the mountainous Colorado location by pointing randomly at a map, but it is hard to imagine it taking place […]