Saturday, August 9, 2008


This is worse, much worse, than when Kurt Vonnegut died.

My other old-man/writer crush has been dead for six days, and I was vacationing in a neighboring state, blissfully unaware that my heart was going to be put through a veritable mosh pit at an unnecessarily lame hard rock concert.

I found out this morning that Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn died last Sunday. Thanks to the Cal Thomas column in the paper, of all things. I never read Cal Thomas; his picture freaks me out. But today's entire column was devoted to Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and how perceptive and wise he was.

I immediately changed into black sweatpants; red plaid pajamas were just too cheery for such a dark week in the global scheme of things.

Although Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn was a bit like John Updike in the sense that you pretty much figured he was dead already and it always kind of surprised you that he was still alive and kicking, he was always more influential to me than John Updike. You would never see me quote John Updike on my facebook wall.

I'm now determined that I WILL finish August 1914, which is pretty epic and has been described as positively Shakespearean and which I have had for years without really finishing. (BECAUSE I SUCK, ALEKSANDR, AND I AM SO SORRY.)

(Note: if you have never read any Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, shame on you. Go read One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich right now. It's SO much better than anything Tolstoy, and much shorter.)

I am in the depths of despair, and I will leave you with these quotes so you, too, can be crushed by the fact that this dear, bearded man will no longer grace us with his searing intellect or devastating criticism.


A state of war only serves as an excuse for domestic tyranny.

For a country to have a great writer is like having a second government. That is why no regime has ever loved great writers, only minor ones. (John Grisham and Danielle Steele, anyone? Oh, did I just hit a nerve?)

Hastiness and superficiality are the psychic diseases of the 20th century, and more than anywhere else this disease is reflected in the press.

If one is forever cautious, can one remain a human being?

You can only have power over people so long as you don't take everything away from them. But when you've robbed a man of everything, he's no longer in your power--he's free again.

Own only what you can carry with you; know language, know countries, know people. Let your memory be your travel bag.

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