History of Literature #68 – Listener Feedback and Thanksgiving Thoughts


It’s the Thanksgiving episode! Jacke and Mike respond to listener feedback and discuss some literary things to thankful for. Authors discussed include Edith Wharton, John Fowles, Ernest Hemingway, Vu Tran, Lydia Davis, Gary Snyder, Walt Whitman, Elena Ferrante, Walker Percy, Madeleine Thien, James Wood, Harold Bloom, and more!


Show Notes:  Continue reading

A Jacke Wilson Thanksgiving. What Could Possibly Go Wrong…?

Good morning, everyone! Today is a day for thanks. I’ll get to that in a minute.

So I had to run through some old 100 Objects posts for a potential new publishing project. I know I’m not the first to say that it’s not easy rereading your old writing. I’m a writer, it comes with the territory. But in addition to being a writer, I have the added bonus of being Jacke Wilson.

As longtime readers will know, that is not an easy job.

So I get to paragraphs like these three, from The Burger Car, and I just start to shiver.

I can reach back to the jingling sound that reminds me of a prayer wheel and transports me to Tibet, or the smell of soy and garlic in a sizzling wok that pulls me back to the night markets of Taiwan. The hot sand under my feet that summons forth the island off the coast of Thailand, and the nights I spent listening to Billie Holiday and watching sunsets with a bartender named Cy. Or the forkful of grilled salmon that brings me to the bed and breakfast in Alaska, or the sip of San Miguel that returns me to the nightclub in Manila, or the froth on the pint of Guinness that drops me back in the deep smoky basement of the Pub in the basement of Ida Noyes.

I did all that, that was me! I have other memories to draw upon! Indeed, a whole portmanteau! My mind does not need to stay trapped in the car I don’t like, dwelling in the gloom of my own weakness and stupor!

I start up the car and honk the horn out of sheer excitement.

I shiver, I literally shiver, because I’ve forgotten exactly what’s coming, but I know, I sense, I feel the doom. I watch poor Jacke as I would a character I’m fond of but am glad I’m not. He’s Charlie Brown running at the football, over and over, and I’m glad I’m not him. Except I am him! And except the football is not a metaphor for life, it’s life itself. It’s life, it’s life, it’s life….


(Read the whole story here: A History of Jacke in 100 Objects #8 – The Burger Car)

BUT today is a day to rejoice, because in spite of all that, things are still pretty good. Yes, even in Jackeland, where football coaches are intensely fallible, blog posts are disastrous, father-son bands break up, and spelling bees are thrown.

Why? Because of you, my friends. The readers and listeners who keep me going. It’s not too much to say I look forward to these exchanges. I know from your comments (and emails and all the other feedback) that I’m not alone. There’s a football out there, and we’re forever running toward it, and life will pull it away and we’ll all go flying through the air and land flat on our backs. Yes, it’s true, and you know it as well as I do. But we’ll do all that together, and that makes all the difference in the world.

I’ll be back on Sunday night with a preview of our week, and of course on Monday with another History of Literature episode. Enjoy your weekend!

Jacke News: Sappho, iTunes, and more

Hello, everyone! I hope you’re finishing up your weekend well and heading into the holidays with great gusto. Here’s what to expect this week on the Jacke Blog.

First, we have some news to share! Our new podcast, The History of Literature, has been selected as a New and Noteworthy podcast on iTunes, and we’re currently listed at #14 (in the Literary Podcasts category). Not bad for our first month!

(And look out Grammar Girl… we’re coming for you!)

You can subscribe to the History of Literature on iTunes or check us out on Stitcher. Or just go to whatever podcast directory/resource you use and type in “History of Literature.” Let us know if we don’t come up!

Need a place to start? Our episode on Homer has been very popular.

On Monday we’ll release our episode on Sappho, where we take a look at a remarkable poet and the amazing society that enabled her to exist. We had our sneak previews of Sappho with our look at What Sappho Really Sounded Like and at Sappho, the Ghost Town of Western Washington.

On Wednesday I’ll be back with a special holiday episode of the Restless Mind Show. Our topic is literature and loneliness.

Also coming soon: a look at a Jacke Wilson Thanksgiving and a special tribute to Buster Keaton. A week from Monday we’ll be back with an episode on Greek Tragedy. Fun times around the Jacke Blog!

What am I thankful for? For you, readers! And for you, listeners! Yes, you! This lowly, humble podcaster (ahem, #14 on iTunes, ding ding ding ding ding, come on Jacke, stay lowly, stay humble) is very grateful for all of your views, clicks, listens, comments, emails, voicemails, and other warm wishes. As I mentioned when we started this whole thing, we are in this together. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Onward and upward!


Thanksgiving Week 4: The Readers!

We’ve spent Thanksgiving week giving thanks to the Kids, the Elders, and Life’s Sweet Partners. That covers most ground (sorry friends, coworkers, and facebook people I’m pretending to recall better than I actually do – maybe next year!). Or at least it covers most ground personally.

Professionally, I still owe someone special. My enormous debt of gratitude, and my undying thanks, go to a larger community. Continue reading

Thanksgiving Week 3: Life’s Sweet Partners

Oh, here we go! We’ve taken a look at the youth and the elders in my life (or at least the fictionalized version of it). How about Life’s Sweet Partner! Who else could travel through the world with Jacke at her side. That’s not easy!  Deserving of all my gratitude and then some.

I like the way the relationship is portrayed in my book The Race. But for the handful of you who do not own a copy of that massive runaway bestseller (sarcasm), here’s a free story. A ghost story of sorts, in which a very fictionalized significant other has a prominent role. (Really, when life is this absurd, it’s better not to go through it alone!)

A History of Jacke in 100 Objects #22 – The Sound:

I fall asleep with my hand on my girlfriend’s hip. I awake with her hand squeezing my throat.

“Jesus!” I gasp after I finally pry her fingers from my neck. “What are you doing?”

She blinks, still in a fog, halfway between sleep and madness. “Huh? What…?” She shakes her head, coming awake. “Oh, sorry… ” she says. “I was dreaming that I was choking you to death.”

“Nice dream,” I say.

Her eyes drift shut. “It’s the SOUND…” she murmurs. “It’s making me…INSANE…”

I cannot blame her. My dreams are just as bad. Monkeys howling, trains derailing, slaughterhouses at night…

“One more day,” I say.

The sound is still there, encasing us. My throat tingles. With one hand I grip her arm; with the other I wrap my pillow around my head.

It does not matter. The sound pierces through.


Thanksgiving Week 2: The Elders

Oh boy. I’m really having a good time with Thanksgiving this year, but that’s no surprise. It’s my favorite holiday. Since yesterday was our day of giving thanks to the kids, let’s take things old school and bestow some gratitude on our elders.

Here are a few excerpts from stories about the generations above me.  My big sister, my older cousin, my old boss, and of course, my father and grandfather. Formative influences on me, but don’t blame them for that! All life errors are my own.

(Seriously – my thanks to all of them. Enjoy the stories!)

Continue reading

Thanksgiving Week 1: Kids

I’ve got a big December planned here on the Jacke Blog. So I’m taking a breath and celebrating my favorite week of the year. Thanksgiving! Time to bring in the harvest, start up a fire, watch a little football, and keep the kitchen bustling.

So today I’m giving thanks for children, who make all this work more fun. I love putting together a big Thanksgiving feast while the boys and their cousins are watching movies and playing video games. So awesome.

Enjoy the week of holidays, kids!

And here are a few stories to remind us all of the glory of kids: Continue reading