Blurt: Seven Days Staff Blog

NOTE: Blurt has been retired and is no longer updated regularly. For new content, follow these links:

OFF MESSAGE: Vermont News and Politics
BITE CLUB: Food and Drink Blog

12 posts categorized "Books" Feed

August 11, 2009

A Muckraker for All Seasons

Every vacation I try to plow through a few books. This year, however, a combination of sun and surf kept me to only one book.

And, what a book it was: American Radical: The Life and Times of I.F. Stone by D.D. Guttenplan, a nearly 600-page (including notes) biography of the iconoclastic journalist I.F. Stone.

IFStoneWow. Don't be daunted by the length of the tome, or its subject matter. It's neither wonky nor wistful. It offers a straightforward, facts-laced account of Stone's rather incredible life journey — born Isidor Feinstein in Philadelphia into a family of few means, and canonized at the time of his death as one of the great investigative journalists of all time. Where Guttenplan was unable to find direct quotes from letters written by Stone, he turned to contemporaries and colleagues who had kept their correspondence.
Stone was sought out by other media and top thinkers throughout the century, though some kept their relationship at a distance because of their concern that being associated with I.F. Stone meant admitting you were somehow a communist, or socialist, or worse.

Unlike many counterparts, Stone spoke his mind, stayed fast to his political beliefs (leftist but not dogmatic or aligned with any particular political movement or party), and broke some of the biggest stories of the century: war profiteering during World War II, the false attack in the Gulf of Tonkin, and many, many more. He was also a major critic of McCarthyism and of FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, as well as an early opponent of the Vietnam War, of the nuclear arms race, of totalitarianism and suppression of free speech.

Continue reading "A Muckraker for All Seasons" »

July 15, 2009

Ailing Frank McCourt Slated for Book Fest — UPDATED

Frank-mccourt Burlington Book Festival Director (and my fellow movie critic) Rick Kisonak announced today that Frank McCourt, author of Angela's Ashes and 'Tis, will be the big name at the fifth annual fest this September 25-27.

I confess I've never read this guy's work (three memoirs concerning his harsh childhood in Ireland, his emigration to the U.S. and his work as a teacher). But I was working at the South Burlington Barnes & Noble when Angela's Ashes became the hot read, thanks to Oprah and her then-nascent book club. Not an hour passed without a customer requesting McCourt's book. In fact, it may have kicked off the whole trend of hardship memoirs that took a dive more recently with the James Frey scandal.

This past spring, McCourt's brother Malachy McCourt came to Burlington to play a lead role in Vermont Stage Company's production of Prelude to a Kiss, but he broke his leg — literally! — and director Mark Nash took over the role.

But it seems a Burlington-McCourt connection was made. Still, I'm concerned about this Belfast Telegraph report from yesterday, which claims (based on an unidentified "friend") that 78-year-old McCourt, who's been undergoing treatment for melanoma, doesn't have long to live. Malachy McCourt has maintained in news reports that his brother is a "hearty fellow" who's fighting the cancer. Let's hope that's the case, and send best wishes McCourt's way.


Rick informs me the AP is now reporting that Malachy McCourt confirms his brother is in a New York hospice, and "his faculties [are] shutting down." McCourt was reportedly active and recovering from his cancer until recently, when he contracted meningitis. It's a sad day for his fans around here... and anyone who loves literature. Again, best wishes to McCourt's family... and to the BBF.


More sad news. The New York Times reports that McCourt passed away yesterday.

(Scribner photo by Gasper Tringale)

Stuck in VT (VIDEOS)

Solid State (Music)

Mistress Maeve (Sex)

All Rights Reserved © Da Capo Publishing Inc. 1995-2012 | PO Box 1164, Burlington, VT 05402-1164 | 802-864-5684