where the writers are

Monty Heying's Blog

RSSSyndicate content
The excellence of THE GREAT GATSBY is hardly in contention, but I wanted more. The book was too short and didn't do justice for the Roaring Twenties. Some interesting background characters interacting with the core cast would have fleshed them out, given the book a larger social footprint and...
Continue Reading »
John Gardner
Extremism weakens an argument and such is the case with Gardner in the following excerpt from his The Art of Fiction: "One trouble with having read nothing worth reading is that one never fully understands the other side of one's argument, never understands that the argument is an old one (all...
Continue Reading »
Holden Caulfield
One of the most common complaints I hear about THE CATCHER IN THE RYE is Holden Caufield's swearing--that it's not only offensive but it feels unrealistic because nobody would talk like that. Well, the truth is that he's not actually talking. In the vast majority of cases, the swearing is reserved...
Continue Reading »
Rape of Nanking
NANKING is a thoroughly documented and well written account of Japan's unparalleled World War II atrocities centered in northern China. What magnifies Japan's criminal barbarism is the way it has gone unnoticed and unpunished for so long because of denial and repression and political influence. The...
Continue Reading »
Life is a tapestry of memories we weave into place with each breath. No one can be hired to weave it for they wouldn’t know how to render the scenes  unless we tell them, and words don’t come equipped to reach all the places mem’ries can hide. But, here are some favorites of mine.   In...
Continue Reading » 3 comments
Kesey's first book, ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST, is written in a more relaxed traditional style, but he must have been on LSD too long when he wrote SOMETIMES A GREAT NOTION, because he's everywhere, even in a dog's head. (Tolstoy did that too. It's okay; I've been there too.) It all happens in...
Continue Reading » 1 comment
Curley's Wife - 1943
Much attention has been drawn to the missing name of Curley's wife in Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men. Some say it is the author's sexist manner of showing her as an item of property, Curley's arm candy. Others suggest it is merely a way of emphasizing her connection with her husband, adding drama...
Continue Reading »
Greed is addictive. The adrenaline from a dose of "success" creates desire for another and another in a destructive self-propelled spiral, like the So-called Subprime Mortgage Crisis. How many crises does it take   to prove regulatory controls protect capitalism? Every time they've been...
Continue Reading » 1 comment
Harper Lee
A compassionate, intelligent, perceptive white woman who had never before written a novel captured a white glimpse into a small but representative segment of black culture in a way that lit fires in the minds of millions of readers and boosted a movement already in motion.  If a black writer...
Continue Reading »
All Quiet on the Western Front
Here are a couple of memorable passages:  “This book is to be neither an accusation nor a confession, and least of all an adventure, for death is not an adventure to those who stand face to face with it. It will simply try to tell of a generation of men who, even though they may have escaped...
Continue Reading »
Breakfast at Tiffany's
Taking what's on the page at face value, there is little evidence that Holly engages in prostitution. She was a "loose woman" by 1943 standards, but (how do you prove a negative) not a hooker. A, if she were entertaining men for money in her apartment, "Fred" the narrator and other tenants, would...
Continue Reading »
Some question the modern relevance of The Catcher in the Rye, alleging its language and characters are dated. Some people say they can’t relate because the story lacks a linear plot or a main character that undergoes a transformation.Classic literature is always relevant but may exercise the mind a...
Continue Reading »
Holden Caulfield
The teachers we remember are the ones who were really good and really bad. With Mr. Spencer and Mr. Antolini, Salinger delivers archetypes of these two extremes. Salinger brands Mr. Spencer into our memory: [Holden's visiting Spencer in his apartment. He's been summoned there by Spencer, his...
Continue Reading »
Curley's Wife - from OF MICE AND MEN (Malkovich)
There is a scale of sympathy that characters tread in the course of a story. We need to like or sympathize with our heroes and despise our villains. Flat characters are less interesting than those who are round, or complex. A hero with flaws is more interesting and real. "Nobody's perfect" and no...
Continue Reading » 4 comments
Tim Hutton as Conrad Jarrett in ORINARY PEOPLE
Scent of a Woman and Dead Poet Society are highly successful coming-of-age stories about prep school boys wrestling with how to become a man. The Summer of '42 covers the same topic with different characters and settings. These are all successful films, but none as...
Continue Reading » 1 comment