Candide: make sure you know what you want...

By Greg Coleman 

Having spent the better part of forty years teaching Voltaire’s Candide to talented students of French, I have learned that the conte, or short novel, contains the basic life lessons essential for every almost-adult to digest.  Written in 1759, but startlingly contemporary in its relevance, the tale tells the story of the rather dim adolescent Candide who is (probably) the illegitimate son of the sister of the Baron of Thunder-ten-Tronckh, one of the “most powerful lords of Westphalia.”  The Baron is quite impressed with himself because he lives in a castle “with a door and some windows” and is married to the Baronne, who weighs about three hundred and fifty pounds.  Candide lives in the castle with his aunt and uncle, their daughter, the 17-year-old Cunégonde, his alluring cousin with whom he falls hopelessly in love, and also with her brother, the future baron. 

Black Friday


Creative non-fiction 

By Whit Arnold


A few days later, I reached into my coat pocket and touched the trash bag Mom gave me.  Handing it to me, she said, "Angie told me to bring this."  


In the waiting room, “You Shook Me All Night Long,” played on the radio.  Beside me was an older man. I overheard his conversation with the receptionist; his dog just had puppies.  In the back, then, I heard the puppies barking.    

The vet came out holding a black trash bag.  He said he’d carry her to the car.  It was the day after Thanksgiving; it was cold.  In the parking lot, Mom appeared...  

Susan Kelly's Meditations on Light

By David P. Kozinski

“Repurposed Bottles Contain Light” is the title of an exhibition that features Susan Kelly’s mixed-media/bottle glass mosaic works, along with original artwork in various media and styles by members of the Manayunk-Roxborough Artists Co-Op. A fascination with bottle glass began in Susan Kelly’s youth, which she spent in Montgomery County, PA, where she lives today with her husband.

While taking a class called Tile and Mosaics in 2005, the instructor said that bottle glass was not typically used in mosaic art, partly because of its sharpness. Not deterred, Kelly learned how to cut bottle glass safely for her mosaic projects. She notes that the patterns she chooses are guided by her practice of consulting the I Ching and that a key motivation in her creativity has been, “an attitude and acceptance of making do,” with the materials at hand...

Encountering Cioran

By Daniel Lawless

As with so many things – films, cities, bourbon – there are writers one comes to too early or too late. In the latter category, I would include, oh, Salinger, Mailer, Saint-Exupéry, the usual suspects; in the former, Sartre, Bernhard, Coetzee – and Cioran.

A chronic truant and general miscreant in my adolescence, nevertheless I was a reader – if an undisciplined one. Long afternoons at the Louisville Public Library, which seemed to me then at once forbidding and enchanted – a great grey castle-like building with tall windows of cylinder glass. Sometimes I’d come with a recommendation in hand – one author alludes to another, or a name pops up in an index. Mostly, however, I’d leave it to chance: head to Literature, or Poetry, or Philosophy, and find whatever I’d find. So it was I arrived at Cioran’s doorstep, at age seventeen. I remember the encounter almost perfectly...

why mark twain's judgments work

By Ryan Latini

I recently came across an 1889 edition of The Prince and the Pauper while perusing a flea market in southern New Jersey.  The binding was tattered and it was not a terribly rare edition, but I bought it because I love Mark Twain, not because it was a valuable artifact.  It was a treasure of nostalgia for me. 

As a teenager, I would have dismissed obvious social commentary as boring and, frankly, easy (I still do today).  But lull me into the fictive dream with incredible storytelling, and I’m all ears.  When I held that book at the flea market, I remembered the first time in my life when reading became a joyful trip rather than a tedious task—going beyond Tom and Huck in my late teens into Pudd’nhead Wilson, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, and The Prince and the Pauper.