November 15, 2015
The Morgan Library & Museum
Book reviews, writing tips and social commentary by Michael Burke
On Writing: Ursula Le Guin's speech at the National Book Awards
On Writing: Tom Montgomery-Fate interviews Michael Burke
I amazed and pleased everyone by saying a few words in French at the beginning of the meal. But as I drank more and more white wine, I acquired a fatal confidence and soon was stringing together long chains of French words and tossing them like bouquets at the worried-looking experts. Finally, Simone said, unsmiling, “You know, you’re not making any sense. No one can understand a word.” When I think of that moment now, late at night, forty years later, I still cringe.
At another grand dinner, given by Diane von Furstenberg to launch a new perfume, I was seated next to France’s then most famous model, Inès de la Fressange. I asked her what she did.
As a novelist, I was intrigued by the economics of painting. Whereas serious novelists, even celebrated ones, could barely survive, the top painters were very rich. It was all because a painting was a unique object whereas a book was a multiple.
Now Americans didn’t like feeling intimidated by a superior culture but enjoyed dipping randomly into Czech or Hungarian cuisine, folklore, or even politics in a lightly condescending, neocolonial way before running back to their enclaves in bookstores and reading their copies of English-language newspapers and attending concerts by American or British music acts. That’s probably why so many young Americans scorned France and believe the French were rude or snooty; they weren’t used to dealing with their equals or their more intellectually and artistically refined counterparts in other languages.
He never heard me speak English except once in London, in a roomy, old-fashioned taxi when I shouted directions to the Cockney driver. Brice told me that whereas I had a charming little accent in French, in English I sounded like a rustic braying for more “white wine.” He thought every American was shouting “white wine” all the time.
One winter day Raymond Carver, wearing a leather jacket, and I had our picture taken in front of the Academy, knowing that we would never get any closer during his stay.
Giving Kids a Fair Chance:
How Children Succeed:
How to Write a Sentence and How to Read One
Tales of the City
COMMENTARY: Equality in the Land of Lincoln
Here and Now: Letters, 2008-2011
CHICAGO VOICES: Kevin Grandfield
APPRECIATION: "One Today," by Richard Blanco
CHICAGO VOICES: Terrific book promo for "Briefly Knocked Unconcious by a Low-Flying Duck"
Ayn Rand and the Prophecy of 'Atlas Shrugged'
AROUND TOWN: Printers Row Lit Fest
get clubbed and their rights get stomped upon by the blue-helmeted storm troopers. Chicago earns yet another black-eye: the murder capital with lousy schools once again demonstrates its brutal nature as the whole world watches. The one-sided TV news coverage and shamefully slanted newspaper coverage underscores why traditional media has gone Code Blue. (What do they mean when they say, "the Chicago Police are showing real restraint?" Do they mean the cops haven't yet shot anyone?) And compare how the media widely trumpeted the Arab Spring to how they're today breathlessly attacking this Chicago Spring. "Let us all praise the mighty citizens, risking life and limb, to speak truth to power." Well, that was good for those people in those countries over there in the Middle East, but it's apparently a very different story when it's here in Chicago! May 20, 2012. A sad day, all around -- except for those brave protestors who took to the streets to exercise their fundamental rights of speech and assembly. They are American heroes -- even though, in the media and in most circles, they will be painted in the dark colors of "terrorism." O, America, I love you so.
interview on her Huffington Post blog. Here is the brief, 7-minute audio interview and slide show on Sally's website.