American History or What I Learned from Reading the Pulitzer Prizes for Fiction

Ninety-plus books and 6 years later, I accomplished a feat so outrageous I can hardly believe it. I read, in reverse chronological order, the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction list. Encouraged by a friend and avid reader, I worked my way through the list from 1918 to 2017. It was not easy, some of the books were not available through my public library, some had to be bought through Amazon or loaned from a friend, a few were found at used book stores. When you read these stories in this order you get a tremendous sense of the expanse and growth of the USA and it’s rootedness in property protection and gun ownership. That is the American psyche.

The earliest stories center on the intersection of family life and the natural environment before Federal infrastructure development. People traveled the country on horseback, wagon, and foot. There were no roads. From 1918 through to the 1930s. Most of the books take place in rural country, a few are set in NYC. Most delve into the transition between family legacies, out with the old in with the new. If not a cliche, a true sense of progressive living/livelihood. Cars begin showing up, motor carriages, dangerous for sure! Racism is pervasive throughout these decades. Women writers are well represented and so is the woman’s voice. The years leading up to war and the dawning of the Industrial Age are predominate genres. A surprising amount of these works were made into movies and have even won Oscars! Think Gone with the Wind.

The 1940s and 1950s set of classics, is a trying time in the United States. They almost all represent some struggle with authority, trying to find a place in the new world. Not being a slave to the past and at the same time making the future all their own. Just as in life this period can be considered the beginning of the great American Dream. The Grapes of Wrath, Dragon’s Teeth, All the King’s Men, The Way West, The Town are just some of the more poignant works.

The 1960s to 1980s works are much more focused on the moral makeup of events past. Atoning for gluttony, racism, and searching for the meaning of life. Many of these revolve around middle aged men seemingly going through midlife transitions. Definitely had enough of Updike’s Rabbit and Stegner’s Angel of Repose. A few explore the Black experience with the The Confessions of Nat Turner and The Color Purple dominating the landscape.

The 90s and 2000s bring much more diversity of experiences and peoples. Many of these focus on the immigrant population showing a different perspective on the American Dream or the ending of it. The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love, A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain, and The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao provide Latin American  and Vietnamese voices. American Pastoral and The Road explore the destruction of what we believed the American Dream to be.

The 2010s so far are reflective of years gone and years to come with a variety of redemption and sympathy. We’ll see what the rest of the 10s have to offer.

One interesting book and series on the whole, that caught my attention the most was the 1940s Dragon’s Teeth, which is the third novel in the eleventh novel Lanny Budd series by Upton Sinclair. Watch for a future post. I recently finished all eleven novels! Each 600 page novel was filled with European and American history. It was an amazing representation of the early 1900s to the later 1940s as the world swelled with wealth and at the same time full of repression.

Posted in Literature, Pulitzer's | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

The Origins of Automated Ice

My newest post

Books, Health and History

By Danielle Aloia. Special Projects Librarian

This August, for most of us, ice is a second thought:  easily obtained for cooling drinks and chilling food, and usually only a few steps away.   An 1844 title in our collections offers an intriguing snapshot of a time when this was not always the case.

In 1844, a Londoner with a shop on Regents’ Street and an inventive mind published The Ice Book: Being a Compendious and Concise History of Everything Connected with Ice.  His name was Thomas Masters.   In this publication, Masters enumerates the practical uses–both culinary and medical– of his own patented ice machine.  In his introduction, Masters describes his obsession with the process of freezing:

The transformations narrated in the “Arabian Nights,” those gorgeous repositories of Eastern legendary lore, are not more marvelous or more speedy than the change of a liquid body to a block of solid…

View original post 967 more words

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

De Revolutionibus

Source: De Revolutionibus

Posted in Literature, Nature | Leave a comment

Bob Dylan References and Mentions

Madhouse on Castle Street. London TV show/Play with Dylan. 1962. IMDb.

Who Is Harry Kellerman and Why Is He Saying Those Terrible Things About Me? Herb Gardner movie with Dustin Hoffman playing a Dylan-esque character. 1971.

Canadian Bacon. Michael Moore movie with Alan Alda’s character quoting Blowin’ in the Wind lyrics as if they were his! 1995.

The Mighty Quinn. Carl Schenkel movie with Denzel Washington as a Caribbean Cop. 1989.

The One Thing by Gary Keller book mentions Dylan. 2013.

David Bowie song, I Have Not Been to Oxford Town. 1995.

Here’s the Thing with Alec Baldwin. Podcast interview with Mickey Rourke saying Dylan told him on the set of “Masked and Anonymous” that his favorite movie was Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man. 2016.

Here’s The Thing with Alec Baldwin. Podcast interview with David Remnick. 2016.

Jimmy Fallon sings Drake’s Hotline Bling as a 1975 Dylan. 2016.

Jerry Seinfeld Beacon Theater review, from Vulture, comments on Steve Martin appearance. 2016.

“Watching Steve Martin tell that joke was like if, in the middle of a modern-day Bob Dylan set of gurgles and growls, he brought out a time machine, turned the dial to 1965, and had young Bob Dylan come out to sing “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue.”

Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy. Adam McKay movie. Narrator says: Bob Dylan wrote The Times They are a Changing. Ron never heard that song. 2004.

Super Bowl XLI. Prince Halftime Super Bowl show played: All Along the Watchtower. 2007.


WTF. Marc Maron podcast. Cindy Crawford mentions the first time she met Dylan at a party sitting in a chair.

Simpsons episode, Gal of Constant Sorrow. Dylan pops up from the trap door in the floor and says, “It’s Pretty Dirty Down There.”


Richard Farina: Lost genius who bridged the gap between beats and hippies, The Guardian.

Michael Kramer Folk Revival TimeLine 

Nerdist, Podcast interview with Iggy Pop who talks about doing the Great American Song Book

Catchfire. Dennis Hopper movie. Dylan cameo. 1990.

Jack & Amanda Palmer – You Got Me Singing CD

Jack & Amanda Palmer - You Got Me Singing | CD (Pre-Order)

The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen. 2015.

“…bearing the fingerprints of memory. I had no room for Elvis or Dylan, Faulkner or Twain, and while I could replace them my spirit was still heavy…”

Real Time with Bill Maher Overtime. Michael Moynihan says “I think they yelled Judas like the Bob Dylan concert.” 2016.

Watch What Crappens — Stephanie Wilder-Taylor says “what is it Bob Dylan?”

Nerdist. Podcast interview with Chuck Lorre who says, “There was no hope of being Lennon, Dylan, or McCartney but I could be Gary Marshall.”

Fresh off the Boat — Miracle on Dead Street. For Halloween kid wants to go as the Traveling Wilbury’s Bob Dylan, Tom Petty…Actually dresses like Tom Petty and has 4 pics of the others attached to his shoulders.

WTF. Marc Maron podcast. Interview with Neil Young says “Gordon Lightfoot wrote a lot of great songs. Dylan thinks he’s the very best ever.”

Walking Dead episode 1 number 6 TS-19 — Ends with an early Dylan acoustic song from 1960s, Tomorrow is a Long Time Come.

Harper’s Bazaar Interview with Kayne West and Kim K. Interview asks what’s his favorite song of all time? “All Along the Watchtower. The Jimi Hendrix cover.”

The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. Miley Cyrus does Dylan’s Baby I’m in the Mood For You.

WTF. Marc Maron podcast interview with Chris Garcia. He had a band Love Minus Zero in high school.

The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. Jokes about the Freewheelin’ Donald Trump

WTF. Marc Maron podcast interview with John Prine. He met Dylan at Carly Simons house with Kris Kristofferson. Maybe 1968, after “the accident.” Dylan was given a copy of John’s album before it was released!

Here’s the Thing. Alec Baldwin podcast interview with Gordon Lightfoot. (see WTF interview with Neil Young)

Life in Pieces. plays Dylan Shelter From the Storm at end of show. 10/27/2016

Watch What happens Live with David Crosby on Dylan’s reluctance to accept awards! 10/28/2016

The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. Robbie Robertson on big pink days! 11/15/16

Charlie Rose Bon Jovi Interview on Bob Dylan’s influence.

NYPL Live. Robbie Robertson and Steve Van Zandt.

Saturday Night Live with host Lin Manuel Miranda. Campfire singing Blowin’ in the Wind.

WTF podcast with Marc Maron. Casey Affleck up for role in Inside Llewyn Davis.

Here’s the Thing with Alec Baldwin podcast interview with Robbie Robertson.

Mercedes Benz commercial “Snow Date” features a cover of “Make You Feel My Love” by Sleeping At Last. Ad link.

WTF. Marc Maron podcast interview with Robbie Robertson.

Black-ish: God. During montage slavery scene plays old Dylan version of “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door.”

Future Shock. by Alvin Toffler. 1970

“Rather than idolizing an uncle, they idolize Bob Dylan or Donovan or whomever else the peer groups holds up for a life style model.”

They ranged from Che Guevara to William Buckley, from Bob Dylan and Joan Baez to Robert Kennedy. “The American youth bag,” wrote [John] Speicher, lapsing into hippie jargon, “is overcrowded with heroes.”

Soundbreaking. PBS special on the music history. Includes “the story of Bob Dylan’s recording of Like a Rolling Stone.”

WTF. Marc Maron podcast. Ryan Adams loved early Dylan and used one of his studio guitarists.

Gothamist. Article on the History of NYC Protest Songs.

Central Market. Murray’s Cheese Tote, The Rinds They are A-Changin’.


WTF Podcast interview with Nora Jones…talking about how Dylan changes and after hearing a song for a few minutes you’re like “what song was that?”…he’s a performance artist.

You are Not a Gadget by Jaron Lanier.

“Would we have had a Mark Twain or a Bob Dylan if the Facebook dopplegangers of Samuel Clemens and Robert Zimmerman dogged them at every step?”

Literary Hub — Camille Paglia on Patti Smith’s Horses photo.

“In Mapplethorpe’s half-transvestite picture, she invokes her primary influences, from Charles Baudelaire and Frank Sinatra to Bob Dylan and Keith Richards, the tormented genius of the Rolling Stones who was her idol and mine.”

Nowness — My Place: Jean-Charles de Castelbajac. Has Dylan Album, The Times They Are A-Changin’ on his table. The album cover has Dylan with a gold beard!

Late Night with Seth Meyers — Scarlett Johansson on being in a Dylan music video…

Washington Post article on Second Story Books.

“The longtime owner of D.C.’s iconic Second Story Books has amassed a large collection of items such as Cary Grant’s suitcase, original recordings of Bob Dylan, Civil War photos, Asian masks … and, yes, rare books.”

NYMag…The Strategist. Linda Rodin has a pic of Dylan in her kitchen.

Nellie’s Free Range Eggs — Hens are Friends. Commercial featuring Dylan’s “All I Want to Do.”

WBUR — On Point. Hearing the Poetry of Pop.

“Pop music is irresistible. That’s what makes it popular. My guest today says it’s also poetry. Not every time. Not every song. But the lyrics within the music work on us. Sometimes powerfully. Sometimes subtly. And often in a tradition of poetic rhythm that stretches from Beowulf to Biggie Smalls. From Cole Porter to Bob Dylan and Taylor Swift and Pharrell. This hour On Point, the poetry of pop music. — Tom Ashbrook”

WTF Podcast interview with Paul Schaffer…talking about Dylan’s David Letterman performance. Maron going to the rehearsal and Paul saying Dylan played a million different songs. Paul played on Forever Young.


The Voice UK and US Dylan Covers. 5.42  Make you Feel My Love, by Adele??

Fidelity High Podcast Ep 36 : John Doe on Music From Big Pink by The Band.

Late Night with Seth Meyers. Bob Dylan persuaded John Mellencamp to sell his paintings.

Here’s the Thing Podcast with Alec Baldwin speaking with Carly Simon

Carly met with Dylan the day before his motorcycle accident in 1966, at the request of Albert Grossman. He was high on drugs and wrote a song for her to sing Baby Let Me Follow You Down. He kept telling her ya gotta go to Nashville.

Library of Congress Webcast. Dylan Goes Electric, by Elijah Wald


Dirty Dancing remake 2017. Don’t Think Twice It’s Alright cover


BuzzFeed 23 Things You Forgot You Used To Do 10 Years Ago. #22 Downloading a bunch of Starbucks “Song of the Day” songs on iTunes and never listening to them (but hey, they were free). Showing a picture of the Dylan Starbucks Jokerman Song of the Day card. I think I still have one or two.


Jimmy Fallon Talks About Seeing Bob Dylan in Concert at Capitol Theatre


The Forward Podcast with Lance Armstrong. Avett Brothers played with Bob at the Grammy’s. “Can you help me get Bob Dylan on the show?” They were invited and get nominated…but never did but performed..generational folk thing. Went to a party. He’s like Jesus Christ he appeared moved the stone apart and he came in. Dylan in the corner and walk towards him and within 5 feet and his bodyguard moves in front of me. He looked like a martial arts specialist, he looked like stop! Dylan saw us and stood up and talked for a moment. he says that was great we should do it again sometime. That was great. Got distracted within 30 seconds he ducked out. This man is at a party with the most famous people. he had to sneak out. He has to be alienating. He does whatever he needs to do. Lance, says he will never understand how he blew off the Nobel prize. They didn’t know they were performing with him. Dylan was working on a painting so maybe he wasn’t gonna show up. He’s a baller! Bob Dylan is a baller.


The Journal News article on Dylan’s Harlem apartment.


Thrive Global podcast with Glennon Doyle Melton. A caricature of Bob behind her couch.

The 42nd Parallel, by John Dos Passos, 1930

Mac: “So you’re from Duluth, are you?” “Well,, what’s the big joke about Duluth?” “It’s no joke, it’s a misfortune.” p. 48

Duluth; girderwork along the waterfront, and the shack-covered hills and the tall chimneys and the huddle of hunch-shouldered grain elevators under the smoke from the mills scrolled out dark against a huge salmon-colored sunset. p. 51


Fresh Air podcast interview with Billy Bragg. Heard about Woody through Dylan fans. When Nora Guthrie asked him to record Woody’s songs he thought, “This is a job for Bob Dylan.”

Huffington Post. Celebrity Child Models. Pablo Dylan.


The Tonight Show. Jimmy Fallon, Kyra Sedgwick, and Kevin Bacon.

BuzzFeed article


WTF podcast with Marc Maron interview with David Remnick. Heard Bob Dylan at 7. When Dylan mentions Ezra Pound and he went out and bought it without understanding it. Same with Ginsberg. Remnick went to Praises a busker singing Dylan, Young, etc. Came back and interviewed Ginsberg.

Craig Ferguson show at Town Hall 7/22/17. New Deal Tour. Opening act. Peter, Porn and Mary, should do Blowin’ in the Wind.


Politically Re-Active podcast with Kwame and Hari. Hold Up, Wait a Minute: Twitter Feuds & Threat Models

Interview uses one second of “Hurricane” by Dylan to bring the point home that it’s nothing new that blacks have a history of being convicted of killing cops without evidence.


New Yorker Radio Hour podcast with Ariel Levy talking with Lucinda Williams. Williams says she started taking guitar lessons at 12, in 1965, after hearing Dylan’s Highway 61 Revisited.


The Nerdist podcast with Chris Hardwick and Damon Lindelorf. Audience questions: Does Damon believe in heaven or purgatory seems to be a theme. Is there more? and Hardwick starts singing…Daddy’s in the basement mixing up the…


Revisionist History podcast with Malcolm Gladwell. The King of Tears about country music evoking emotion and rock and roll lacking in emotion. Gladwell uses Rolling Stones 100 best songs. Bob’s Like A Rolling Stone is number 1.

Mystic Chords: Mysticism and Psychology in Popular Music, by Manish Soni

“Rock and roll, and archetypal symbolism? Citing baby-boomer favorites including Bob Dylan, Bob Marley, the Beatles and other Rock greats, the author shows that they have drawn on the same primal source from which mythology, dreams, and poetic insight arise. Does today?s music of the masses deserve a place in the pantheon of traditional art forms, next to classical music…” — From


Ultimate Classic Rock magazine. Dylan and Gene Simmons collaboration.

“The track in question is probably “Waiting for the Morning Light,” which appeared on Simmons’s 2004 album, Asshole, but was recorded several years earlier. “Bob came up with the chords, most of them, and then I took it and wrote lyrics, melody, the rest of it,” Simmons told Billboard in 2003.

Read More: Tommy Thayer Says Gene Simmons ‘Was Like a Kid’ Working With Bob Dylan |


Pitchfork article on 200 of the best albums of the 1960s.

#55 Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan, #38 Bringing ti all Back Home, #14 Highway ’61 Revisited, #6 Blonde on Blonde

Posted in Art, Literature | Tagged | Leave a comment

Uncooked Foods and How to Use Them: A History of the Raw Food Diet

New post published….

Books, Health and History

By Danielle Aloia, Special Projects Librarian

There are endless diets, ways to prepare foods, and types of foods to eat in the world. One of these is the Raw Food Diet or Raw Foodism. While this may seem like a new age, trendy diet, it has been around for more than a hundred years. As defined in a 1923 American Raw Food, Health and Psychological Club publication, raw food has not “been subjected to the devastating heat of the flame and the consequent devitalizing changes which destroy its freshness and render it so much waste when taken into the human system.”1 Depending on whom you followed in the field, raw food diets could include eggs, milk, vegetables, fruit, and even meat.

Mr. & Mrs. Eugene Christian, authors of the 1904 book Uncooked Foods and How to Use Them, claimed to have cured all their stomach ailments with complete…

View original post 800 more words

Posted in Nature | Leave a comment

Prescription for Healthy Aging

A short view to healthy aging….

Books, Health and History

By Danielle Aloia, Special Projects Librarian

September marks Healthy Aging® Month, a good time to evaluate your health. In the 1899 Good Health article “The Road from Life to Death,” Dr. David Paulson suggests that “the velocity with which men travel down grade toward ill health and death is largely regulated by themselves.” At any time a person can change deleterious habits and return to the road toward health. The worse your habits the harder it is to change course.1

From: Paulson D. The road from life to death. Good Health. 1899;34(8):481-482. From: Paulson D. The road from life to death. Good Health. 1899;34(8):481-482. Click to enlarge.

In the diagram above Paulson describes certain stations as turning points. The “Business Pressure” station is marked by mental worry and sedentary habits. “Wretched Sanitation” refers to lack of fresh air and abundance of germs. The “Unnatural Demands of Modern Society” places blame on late hours and evening entertainment. The final station…

View original post 207 more words

Posted in Literature, Nature | Leave a comment

Zen in the City

Buddhists Temples:

Eastern States Buddhist Temple

New York Buddhist Church

Zen Mountain Monastery


GreenAcre Park

Elizabeth Street Garden

Central Park Conservatory Garden

Six best secret gardens — Gothamist

FDR Freedom Park

Privately-owned public spaces


Jacques Marchais Museum of Tibetan Art

Asia Society

Rubin Museum of Art

Posted in Nature | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

The Long Road to Medicare

My latest post from The New York Academy of Medicine

Books, Health and History

By Danielle Aloia, Special Projects Librarian

July 30 marks the 50th anniversary of the establishment of Medicare. But getting to the signing of the Social Security Amendment of 1965, which created Medicare, was a long road.

In the 1910s and 1920s, numerous reports, recommendations, and programs advocated the development of a national health system, especially after the United Kingdom adopted National Health Insurance in 1911. Due to opposition from the American Medical Association (AMA), labor unions, and insurance companies these recommendations were never fully accepted. However, there was consensus that something needed to do be done to protect the poor from the burden of healthcare costs.

As the charts below show, in 1929 citizens spent over three billion dollars on health care. The next chart shows where that money was spent. As noted by William Foster, chairman of the Committee on Public Health of the National Advisory Council on…

View original post 925 more words

Posted in Nature | Leave a comment

Tuning in to Tuberculosis

My latest post from the New York Academy of Medicine Library

Books, Health and History

By Danielle Aloia, Special Projects Librarian

WNYC-LogoTo mark World TB Day, we are going to tune in to the 1950s radio series “For Doctors Only.” Selections from this series and several others produced by The New York Academy of Medicine and WNYC were recently digitized and cataloged by the Academy and the New York Public Radio (NYPR) Archives.

The program “The Biological and Social Aspects of Tuberculosis” was the 26th Hermann M. Biggs Memorial Lecture, held at the Academy in 1951.The lecture was given by Pulitzer Prize-winning author René Jules Dubos in honor of physician and public health champion Hermann Biggs and his contribution to the control and elimination of tuberculosis (TB).

At the beginning of his career, Dubos focused on developing antibiotics. But after his first wife, Marie-Louise, died of pulmonary TB in 1942, he changed the focus of his research. His…

View original post 704 more words

Posted in Literature, Nature | Leave a comment

Tattoo Removal: Method or Madness?

Tattoo Removal: Method or Madness?.

Posted in Art | Leave a comment