Literary Criticism & Political Commentary
Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Audacious Literary Criticism & Political Commentary is News. It is audacious literary criticism and political commentary filtered through the social spectrum of the NOW. Essays will be posted once a month, if possible. Reader commentary is welcomed.


Upset about the college admissions scandal?  Check out my interview with Michael F. Shaughnessy, Senior Columnist at Education Views, posted on April 2, 2019 on Education News,


Check out my latest Q & A with Michael F. Shaughnessy, which published on June 12, 2018 on, about the passing of two literary icons, Philip Roth and Tom Wolfe and what this means for the future of literature,



Check out my lengthy interview with Michael F. Shaughnessy on “The Legacy of Günter Grass” that posted on on April 25, 2015.  It discusses the significance Grass’s fiction had on German historical and cultural memory,


What were the historical, cultural and social forces underlying the terrorist attack on the French satirical magazine “Charlie Hebdo”? Read my interview with Michael Shaughnessy, posted on on January 10, 2015,



Check Out my opinion blog post on the Huffington Post, which published online on May 19, 2014,  The National Association of Scholars “retweeted” my tweet about my HuffPo post to its 1145 followers.



iFoundry, the undergraduate enrichment program in the College of Engineering at the University of Illinois, today (January 23, 2014) featured a link from their website to my HuffPo assessment of the "Crisis in the Humanities."  Read Karen Hyman's analysis of why I think engineering students might be more willing than their counterparts in the humanities to take on "intellectual challenges and contradictory ideas that challenged their worldview,"



Read my Q&A interview with Michael F. Shaughnessy about the issues surrounding academic freedom and commencement speakers: “Invited, Disinvited, or Disingenuous?”  It published on on June 2, 2014,




Check out my Interview with Michael Shaughnessy, EducationViews Senior Columnist for Education News about President Obama, politics today, and Mark Leibovich's "This Town," posted on December 10, 2013,


See my interview with Michael F. Shaughnessy of Education News, published on July 19, 2013, about the current crisis in the humanities and what’s driving declining enrollments in the liberal arts,


Read my interview “Is the Mash-up’ Novel a Monstrosity?” with Michael F. Shaughnessy of Education News published on April 28, 2013. It looks at the recent trend to take literary classics and infuse their narratives with zombie and vampire carnage and addresses why this phenomenon attracts a large readership,






OnLine Print Coverage of the 2012 Presidential Election


It's now official.  I'm a blogger for the Huffington Post.


What's the skinny on D.C. politics today? Does Mark Leibovich get it right? Check out my assessment, "Leibovich's This Town: The Tittle-Tattle Flibbertigibbet Musing of a Fashionisto Political Reporter in the Washington Beltway," posted on HuffPo on October 30, 2013,


Why are the humanities in crisis today?  The American Academy of Arts and Sciences has its assessment ("The Heart of the Matter") as does Harvard ("Mapping the Future").  Read my perspective on HuffPo, July 15, 2013,


Check out my latest 2012 Huff Post posted on December 21, 2012, "The Demographic Becomes the Narrative," which argues that Obama's 2012 presidential victory was because of demographics rather than narrative, .


Read my November 18, 2012 Huff Post on the outcome of the 2012 Presedential Election, "Obama's 'Kingdom of Virtue': All Is Fair In Political Warfare Though Victory May be Fleeting." Here's the link, .


Check out my 1st opinion piece "Our Superheroes Romney and Ryan: Why You Should Hope Republicans Win the Presidential Election," published on Ocober 18, 2012. Thus far it received 620 comments, 142 "likes," a whole lot of vehemous rants, 30 people "shared" it, 13 "tweeted" it, and 9 e-mailed it. Here's the link,



Check out my opinion essay published in the National Journal--Washington's source for political news--on December 18, 2012, "How Demography Became the Narrative for Obama's 2012 Victory,   . . ..



 Read my interview, published on November 13, 2012, with Michael Shaughnessy entitled "A House Divided" on why America is so polarized in the aftermath of the 2012 Presidential Election and how this is connected to our lack of common cultural frames of reference, .



Check out my Q&A with Michael Shaughnessy "Superheroes or Supervillains: What's at stake in the 2012 Presidential Election?" published  on November 2, 2012. It discusses my Huff Po post, why I think our country is so divided, how addressing the debt is the single biggest challenge facing America today, and why Obama's educational initiative"Race to the Top" is flawed.  Here the link to that interview on, .


News Blaze carried my Op-Ed piece "America Needs Superheroes Like Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan," as a "top story." It was published on October 16, 2012.  Here's the link, 



My Opinion essay "Post-Convention Bytes: The 2012 Presidential Election and the Obama/Romney Divide" was published in International Business Times on September 18, 2012. Check it out, 


The Gilmer Mirror carried "Post-Convention Bytes: The 2012 Presidential Election and the Obama/RomneyDivide on September 21, 2012, here the link, 


Why are we so bitterly divided about politics and what does it reveal about our moral worldview? Check out my Q&A "Who is Right and What is Left? with Michael F. Shaughnessy, Sr. Columnist for, published on September 4, 2012. It looks at the 2012 election and Jonathan Haidt's book "The Righteous Mind," as well as my recent post on Literarhy Gulag, to decode what's really diving our "Righteous Battles," 


Radio Coverage of the 2012 Presidential Election 


January 28, 2013 I appeared on "The Curtis Sliwa Show" at 8:25 EST, which is broadcast on AM970 The Answer.  Curtis Sliwa, as you may recall, is the founder and CEO of the Guardian Angels.  Great chat.  Dynamic host.  Check out his program, .


January 23, 2013. Had an hour-long "live broadcast" on Robert Mangino's "Weeknights" show on News Radio 1020 KDKA in Pittsburgh, PA, which is a CBS affiliate.  We discussed the prospects of Obama's second administration including domestic policy, fiscal matters, energy matters, foreign policy issues vis-a-vis China and just about everything else. Here's a link to his site, .


January 8, 2013 my radio interview with Debra Reuther on RTTNews in Williamsville, NY aired this morning at 9:01 a.m. EST.  I suggested the second term of the Obama administration would be a "divided rather than a unifying administration," and expressed grave doubts as to weather Obama would begin to seriously address our debt issues.  Here's a link to the radio archive at RTTNews where you can download that interview, which should also be posted on Literary Gulag soon, .   


December 9th, 2012 my radio interview with Josefa Salinas aired on Hot 92.3, KHHT-FM on her program "The Community Review," which began at 7 a.m PST, .  We discuss the demographic of the 2012 election,


Great "live" chat on 12/06/12 in the morning with Rich Moore, guest host for "The Morning Zone" on KGAB in Cheyenne, Wyomming about post-election assessments on Obama & narrative. Here's the link to that station,


Josefa Salinas and I had a spirited discussion 12/4/12 at 9:35 a.m. PST about Barack Obama's Second Term on KTLK AM 1150 Talk Radio on the news program, .


An interesting and wide-ranging discussion with Mort Mecklosky on WUSB, 90.1 FM "Unfinished Business" in Stony Brook, N.Y. That was broadcast on 12/2/12. It  lasted an hour.  We talked about "The Many Selves of Obama's Postmodern Presidency," academe, geopolitics, and the far-ranging implications. Here's a link to the programs offered on the station,  .


Appeared on Elena Maroulleti's WNYE "On the Air" program in NYC on Sunday, 12/2/12, a Greek-American program, about the implictions of the 2012 election.  It was an hour with lots of devoted listeners calling in.  Here's the link to her program, 


Had a wonderful radio interview on November 8, 2012  with Steve Bowers in which we took a post-election look at the narrative of the 2012 election on his program "Prime Time Drive."  That program is broadcast on WNWS-FM in Jackson, Tennessee.  We chatted for almost thirty minutes. Steve is really knowlegeable about politics, which made our air-time together fun.  Listen to his program live, Monday-Friday, 3-6 p.m., EST, 



Hear my radio interview with  Warner Lewis and his "Smart Talk Radio" on his program "Lewis at Large" on Sunday, October 28, 2012 sometime between 7-8 a.m., CST--that's Central Time, folks! It's on KLWN, which is in Lawrence, Kansas.  Here's the link,

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I was interviewed by Vinnie Penn on his radio program "The Vinnie Penn Project," which is broadcast on WELI in New Haven, Connecticut.  He's a cool dude, wrote this short story "Diary of a Superhero" that has been optioned for film.  We talked about the fact that I'm now blogging for the Huffington Post.  Vinnie was amazed that Arianna Huffington was featuring my post.  And why not?  All those "super users" got a change to flame me.  It's personal, downright nasty. Welcome to Progressive extremeism today.  I promised to keep Vinnie informed of future posts.  Here's the link to his program, 


David Wilson interviewed me "live" on October 8, 2012 about the autobiographical narratives framing the 2012 presidential election.  It was broadcast on "Knews" on station KWNZ in Palm Springs, CA at 4:20 PST.  Here's a link to his show, 


I was interviewed by Samantha Bartley ("Sam") on The Ozarks Today, which is on 1150 KRMS station in Osage Beach, Missouri about how the emotions of personal narrative are driving the 2012 presidential election.  Here's the link to her show,


Do voters elect presidential candidates based on a "grocery list" of issues or do they make their choice emotionally based on the "power of personal narratives?"  Neal Larson and I discuss this and other aspects of the 2012 campaign for the presidency, focusing especially on the power of narrative to sway voters.  The September 27, 2012 interview is now available in the Podcast section of Literary Gulag. Or download it from his radio program on East Idaho AM News,  It'IIt'It


 Had a great interview on Wednesday, September 26, 2012 with Michael Cohen on his program Capital City Recap, 1320 WILS in Lansing, MI.  We discussed why personal narratives, rather than policies, drive voter preferences in the 2012 Presidential Election. Check it out in the Podcast section of Literary Gulag or on his website,   


Hear my interview (September 21, 2012) with Debra Reuther of, a global financial newswire, about the 2012 presidential election and what's really at stake, It's now available in the Podcast section of Literary Gulag.



 Interviews on Books, Blog Posts, etc.


"Fifty Shades of Grey."  Why is it so "hot?" What's really driving readers' interest in this new sensation, which the critics have dubed "Mommie Porn?"

Check out my interview with Michael F. Shaughnessy on "Fifty Shades of Grey"--and what the success of this bestseller suggests about readers and the marketplace today--pubished on August 20, 2012 in, 



Taught by Alana Newhouse with contributions by Evan Ratliff, Max Linsky, Anna Holmes, and David Samuels, it was a reconsideration of the methods of New Journalism in the age of the Internet.  Read about my perceptions of "the new new thing" in my interview with Michael F. Shaughnessy, Sr. Columnist at, & see it posted on the Norman Mailer Center's website (scroll down the "Press" page under the "News and Media" section),, as well as their Facebook site,



My Opinion ESSAYS PUBLISHED IN The Christian Science Monitor


My essay “Literature’s Nobel Prize and the Case —Or Not—for Insularity” was published in The Christian Science Monitor’s book review section on October 14, 2011.  I argue that whether or not the selection of Tomas Tranströmer was dictated by the highest literary standards or parochial Scandinavian sensibilities, the criterion driving the selection of Nobel Prize winners places undue emphasis on “the politics of virtue.”  Check out my essay, Thanks again to my publicist Victor Gulotta!!!


My short opinion essay "Is 'Twilight' a romantic teen fantasy--or a deeply religious parable?" was published on September 2, 2011 in the online edition of The Christian Science Monitor.  It can be found in the book section, "chapter & verse blog,"  It is a distillation of my essay "Twilight, Harry Potter, and the Youthful Reader: Morality, Gender, and $$$s in Today's Fantasy Blockbusters" now available on Literary Gulag.  Many thanks to my publicist Victor Gulotta for helping to make that happen! 





American Suite is “an edgy comedy of manners.”  Here is a novel that upends our expectations about the American family in order to consider, “Who are we really, and what are we becoming?” Check out the cover blurbs by clinking on the novel's image on my website.  Find out why Kathleen Kubik suggests it’s “a real page turner” that provides readers with “an exceptional story.” Discover how, as Jerry Sander suggests, American Suite takes on “the sacred cows of ‘chick lit’” while teasing the reader with “sexy men, violent and treacherous romance, dull marriage, soulful union and resourceful women. . . .”  Then click on the Amazon or Barnes & Noble hyperlink in order to make a purchase!



Check out the fabulous Interview with Smoki Bacon, filmed by Dick Concannon, on "The Literati Scene" that appeared on BNNTV on Comcast 23 and other local television channels in the greater Boston region on February 16th & 17th, 2011 (or thereabouts).  Smoki and I discussed my novel American Suite and its comedic depiction of today's American multicultural family.  Here's the YouTube link,  


There are two YouTube videos posted of my reading from my novel "American Suite" at the Illini Union Bookstore at the University of Illinois that occurred on February 17, 2011.  The first is the opening six-minute sequence that includes the crime scene and some newspaper accounts of the "Arisa Selby Reality Show,"  The second is a fifteen minute sequence of a family gathering at Thanksgiving, a  comic depiction of a social clash of identities--Jewish vs. Christian--that mimics our multicultural differences today in America,




Had a wonderful radio interview on September 24, 2011 with Kathryn Raaker about American Suite on her nationally syndicated program "Let's Just Talk!  She's included American Suite on her list of "Best of 2011 Novels" and a "must read!!!!"  It was great to be on her program again.  I'll soon have that radio chat posted on Literary Gulag.


Host Willi Miller and I chatted for several minutes on her program "Arts Spotlight," broacast on WQCS, affiliated with the Indian River State College in Fort Pierce, Florida.  It was broadcast on September 2, 2011. I hope to have it posted soon on Literary Gulag.


On August 17, 2011 I had a thirty-minute "live" broadcast about American Suite with host Tedd Dumas, the owner/operator of BDC Communications.  It was heard on KWLV-Listen Live and four other stations owned and operated by Tedd Dumas in the W. Louisiana/East Texas region.  That broadcast will soon be posted on the Videos & Podcasts section of Literary Gulag and available as an MP3 download.


August 5, 2011 I was on The Lars Larson Show,, the National Show broadcast from KXL in Portland Oregon and picked up by Compass Media Networks.  Lars Larson is a political conservative talk show host who has appeared on Fox News.  He's tough, informed, and knowgeable. His guests include many prominent conservatives. Needless to say I was thrilled to be on his show. Our interview will be posted on Literary Gulag soon.


On July 29, 2011 had a wonderful chat with Jay on The Jay Caldwell Show,, on AM 1240 WJON-St. Cloud, Minnosota.  Jay is a terrific host, smooth, knowledgable, informed.  In the land of "Minnosota Nice" we chatted about American Suite and the "OFPs" (Overly Friendly People) that populate the heartlands. Stay tuned for the MP3.  It's coming!  


I'll be chatting with Frank Truatt on WTBQ-AM in Warwick, New York on the "Frank Truatt Morning Show" Tues., March 29th at 6:05 CST (ouch! that early!). Check it out at


I had a terrific interview on Celeste Quinn's "The Afternoon Magazine" on February 15th from 12:40-12:50, check it out at When you're hyperlinked to the site, click on "Archives of all Afternoon Magazine Interviews."  You then go to 2011, February and under Tuesday, February 15, 2011 at 12:40 you'll find my interview.  It is available as a MP3 download and will soon be posted on my website.


Had a terrific interview with Jordan Rich, on Sunday, January 23, 2011 on his Boston based program "The Jordan Rich Show" broadcast on WBZ 1030.  Rich celebrates writers.  He loves American Suite, placing it on his "Winter 2011 booklist" (  In fact, he felt both my novels were incredibly cinematic and was very moved by The Cusp of Dreams.  Check out Jordan's webpage, Our conversation is now available for listening or downloading on my website,


Had a lively interview on January 19, 2011 with Patricia Raskin on her radio program "Positive Living," now available for listening and downloading in the podcast section of  Literary Gulag! Or go to Patricia's website, (  We talked about my novels American Suite and The Cusp of Dreams, as well as my essays on Literary Gulag and about how people might begin to think about writing their own stories.  Patricia is all about channeling the positive energy within!


Mindy Todd's radio program "The Point" is AMAZING!  No one does better radio interviews about fiction than Mindy.  She inhabits the lives of the characters.  She understands their motivations. She knows how to draw an author out to tell the "backstory" driving the plot.  Awesome!  Our discussion about American Suite, which aired on January 17, 2011, is now available in the Podcast section of Literary Gulag.  or go to WCAI-FM/WGBH ( and check out all her other interviews!  


January 17, 2011, chatted live with Sybil Tonkonogy of "1550 Magazine," WNTN-AM (Boston area) about my novel American Suite, its characters, and as they say in Yiddish, the whole "megillah!"  Lots of fun! That interview will be rebroadcast Tuesday, January 18th at 6:30 a.m. (E.S.T.) just hours from now (




Shirley Gerald Ware, publisher of Fresh! Literary Magazine, just reviewed American Suite in Issue 21, Winter 2012 of her literary magazine.  Ware's assessment? "Sheets captivates her reader with an unusual blend of humor and realism....This story is a real page turner....If you're looking for a good read, American Suite is it." You can also read it online at the website in the 2011-2012 Book Review section,


I was at the Big E in West Springfield, MA signing books as part of the Connecticut Authors and Publishers Association in the Connecticut Building.  I was there from September 16-18, 2011,


Not everything is about signing.  Sometimes authors and artists just gather for some fun.   I attending Smoki Bacon and Dick Concannon's annual Boston party filled with folks who were interviewed by them on their TV program (myself included) "The Literati Scene."


I'll attended the "Greet the Authors" signing event at Old Mistick Villiage in Mystic, Connecticut May 21st-May 22nd where I was hosted by the retail store Fun and Easy Clothes and Accessories, (Building 813). Publicist Lisa Saunders videotaped me and posted it on her Youtube channel,,

and I was photographed at the author's event by Grace White of the Mystic River Press. That picture can be seen at "spotted photos" at The Westerly Sun,  Good exposure.  Now to sell more books!


Had a terrific reading from my novel American Suite on Thursday, February 17th at 4:30 p.m. at the Illini Union Bookstore at the University of Illinois.  It was well attended by readers, supporters, friends, and university folks.  The event was professionally recorded by Sue Steinfeldt, so I will be posting videos soon.  


Saturday Afternoon, January 8, 2011. Great reading/signing.  Lots of friends & readers showed up at Bank Square Books in downtown Mystic, Connecticut--my hometown!   Disappointed my romance fiction?  Find out why my parody/satire of "chick lit" offers petetrating insights about our American story. 


Wednesday evening, January 5, 2011 gave a reading/signing at the Harvard Coop (Harvard Square) in Cambridge, MA.  Richard Kaplan gave a great introduction.  The audience had interesting comments and insights (have to be on your toes to read before a Harvard audience).  I love that bookstore--for its physical beauty, its display of titles, and the oppportunity to reacquaint yourself with all those books you should buy, you must read! 




Terrific review by Ellen Alexander of American Suite posted on on October 29, 2011. For Ms. Alexander, the novel is "a clever character-driven novel that'll have you laughing and crying and even rooting for that illusive happy ending." For her,  American Suite and Dvorak's musical composition by the same name share common features: "an interweaving of major and minor themes; a succession of dances and a series of varrying movements." Check out her review,


"The Comic Bible," the "Ultimate Comedy Magazine," in Volume 4, Issue 2 (Fall, 2011) has a review of American Suite by Sarah Hackley.  Ms. Hackley's assessment: "While parts are over-the-top, the satire itself is clever and well played."


There's a review (October 18, 2011) of American Suite by Debolina Raja Gupta posted on her website, The Book Worm,  She characterizes the novel as "a light read that is full of comedy, drama, sex and content...."


Wayne Bennett's website,, has a sidebar (August, 2011)  that contains a heading "Field is Reading" that mentions American Suite and includes a hyperlink to the PRWeb Press Release.  Check it out!


There's a fabulous review of American Suite by Lois Henderson that is posted on July 17, 2011 on, For Ms. Henderson, American Suite "is a spoof of conventional American society, mores and literature" that is written "in reaction to the emotional neediness of the stereotypical female reader." For her the lead character, Arisa Selby, who relocated from Manhattan to the Midwest, "is an absolute treat" because "her sense of emotional disjointedness and acerbic NYC wit bring her into head-on conflict with the perfectly mannered 'Overly Friendly People'" of America's heartland. Henderson concludes, "American Suite would make a brillantly insightful and extremely witty contrast to Woody Allen's angst-ridden movies if it were to be transformed into a screenplay. Let's hope that Hollywood is taking note." 


There's an updated reivew (Sunday, July 10th, 2011) by Christopher Lewis, "Dad of Divas's Reviews," that includes a hyperlink to my teleivision interview with Smoki Bacon. What made American Suite so compelling for the "Dad of Divas" was the humor "which had me rolling" and the story, which revealed the "intracacies of family life,"


 Got a terrific ***** review on Amazon on April 7th from a "Prolific Book Reader" (near Chicago) who "LOVED" American Suite ( .  Was able to see her own family situation reflected in this story.  American Suite for this reader was "Multifaceted, earthy and real--this is a book not easty to put down!" Check out this review on and all the others on!


Charles Ashbacher has a review (March 29, 2011) of American Suite posted on Amazon,


Christopher Lewis, the "Dad of Divas" just reviewed "American Suite." Here's what he had to say, "This story is a page-turner and one that will keep you on the edge of your seat from the beginning of the story to the very end....There are many humorous parts...."  He adds, it's a story that "intertwines love, drama, sadness, and tender understanding."  Check out the review on his website,


Check out the review of American Suite by Renee Iseson posted on March 9, 2011 on her website, Sensible Cents, For Renee, American Suite cuts close to the bone.


Received a nice write up in The News Gazette in Sunday's paper (February 13, 2011) about American Suite, my interview with Celeste Quinn on WILL AM 580 on Tuesday, February 15, 2011 at 12:40-12:50 on "The Afternoon Magazine," as well as my upcoming reading at the Author's Corner (2nd Floor) at the Illini Union Bookstore, 809 S. Wright St., Champaign on Thursday, February 17, 2011 at 4:30 p.m.


Kristina Dorsey of The Day, headlined a notice on January 6, 2011 in "Night and Day" ( about my reading/signing at Bank Square Books (January 8, 2011).  As she noted, "Few genres are more serserving of parody than chic-lit. And American Suite gladly steps up to do the honors."


American Suite, suggests the Midwest Book Review (December 3, 2010), "tells the story of a white family dropped into the multi-cultural pool and how the family copes with their world suddently shifting so drastically. With plenty of humor and a unique take on family, romance, the self, and much more, American Suite . . . will prove to be hard to put down, no matter who you are."  Want to read more? Check out the review at Amazon,  


There's a great review of American Suite by Alan Caruba in Bookviews that was posted for November, 2010.  American Suite, Caruba writes, is "wickedly funny" and is "a real treat as the author takes a look at life today."  For a more complete look at the review, click on the link that follows, scroll down past "Novels, Novels, Novels" to the softcover section where American Suite tops the list,  





Had a terrific Q&A interview with Michael F. Shaughnessy, Sr. Columnist at, published on June 20, 2012, about the Norman Mailer Writers Colony, Alana Newhouse and her workshop there on longform journalism, and why the Internet is reshaping how we read and interpret newsworthy content today.  Learn about some of the pioneering websties promoting longform and how the "New New Journalism" is altering our perceptions on what constitutes a memorable story.  And check out my comments about my essay on the demise of the aspirational middlebrow readers and why this was and is so devistating for America,   


Why is the Contemporary Novel dead?  Check out the fascinating discussion I have with Michael F. Shaughnessy, Sr. Columnist at about this.  Our Q&A was published online on January 5, 2012.  It considers how the death of the novel relates to my essay "Romanticism, Existentialism, and the Postmodern Cult of Self" posted on Literary Gulag and why Romanticism and existentialism are at the heart of problem of the problem.  For anyone who cares about great fiction, this is a must read,


Michael F. Shaughnessy, Sr. Columnist at, has posted (June 13, 2011) our latest interview on the "state of the book" based on my assessments of industry developments at BookExpo America, 2011, which was recently held at the Jacob Javitz Convention Center in New York City.  Find out why publishing is increasingly shaped by Amazon and Google rather than the mainstream publishers.  Read why eBooks now outsell hardcover and paperbacks. Consider why the new book selections are so dismal and discover my "best picks" based on the nonfiction and fiction offerings.  My interview with Michael Shaughnessy,, complements nicely my essay posted on  Literary Gulag "BookExpo America, 2011: The State of the Book." 


Check out my interview with Michael F. Shaughnessy, Sr. Columnist at about Denis Dutton that was published on January 5, 2011.  Why was this man ahead of so many others in realizing the importance of the Internet as the Intellectual watering hole of the 21st century?  What was the significance of his "Arts and Letters Daily?"  How did his book The Art Instinct: Beauty, Pleasure, and Human Evolution build upon the arguments made by Steven Pinker in The Language Instinct?  Check out all this in more at


 Read my interview posted on November 6, 2010 with Michael F. Shaughnessy at about the influences shaping my novel American Suite.  Why is this novel even more subversive than The Cusp of Dreams?  What motivated me to write a parody of women’s fiction, a.k.a. “chick lit”?  Why is comedy banished from literary fiction, and how does this hamper the ability of the American novel to present our story?  How was American Suite motivated by a desire to understand America in the immediate aftermath of 9/11? What happens when New York angst collides with Midwestern civility?  Beneath the seemingly simple story of an American family, why is American Suite an allegory of America at war? Answers to all this and more can be found at


 My essay on the GREAT BOOKS now published in READING IN 2010

My essay “The Great Books and Cultural Identity: The Rise and Fall of Western Memory and Its Implications for Our Time” has been published in Reading in 2010; A Comprehensive Review of a Changing Field. The book is edited by Michael F. Shaughnessy and published by NOVA Publishers.  Want to understand why the great books aren’t read any more and why this matters? Click on the hyperlink shown here.  Then scroll down the page until you get to Chapter 10, which is my essay. Click on the title and you will receive a free “read-only” PDF download of my article,


Want to understand the "triumvirate of values" that undermined our commitment to the Great Books?  Curious about how the loss of our heritage contributed to the demise of great fiction? How did cultural relativism, social justice, and feminization undermine excellence in contemporary literature?  My perspective on these and other important issues surrounding the Great Books can be found in my interview with Michael F. Shhaughnessy posted on June 29, 2010 on,


How has the demise of the Great Books tradition influenced "the current state of literature in America?"  Why did the Culture Wars destroy the Great American novel?  What can we do to encourage young adults to engage with literature? Check out my discussion with Michael F. Shaughnessy, "An Interview with Diana Sheets: Getting Students Past Harry Potter and Belle and Edward Cullen" published on July 26, 2010 in,  




Patrick O’Heffernan: “The Fairness Doctrine: Left-Right Radio for the Radical Center


The Great Books & the Culture Wars: On June 29, 2010 Patrick O’Heffernan and I discussed many of the intellectual issues that have been debated in academe during the Culture Wars of the 1980s, 1990s and beyond.  Some of the topics of discussion included the following: How has cultural relativism, identity politics, and femininity destroyed our culture?  What is the difference between “be fair” and “social justice?” How do you preserve what is best in a culture while allowing for change?  How have our academic institutions failed us over the course of the last 40-50 years?  Was Thomas Kuhn a savant or an idiot savant? These questions and more are addressed in our wide-ranging debate.  Check it out,  




Other Interviews with


What is it about my interviews with Michael Shaughnessy of  How does he manage to tap into so many of the great issues of our time?  Here are just a few: Is there any universal language that defines us? What are the educational values of the new British Coalition government?  Why does Michael Gove, the Secretary of State for Education, want Dryden, Pope, Swift, Byron, Keats, Shelley, Austen, Dickens, and Hardy taught to every schoolchild in Britain?  What are the ten musical CDs I would take with me to a desert island?  Why are string quartets similar to short stories? Is Mendelssohn one of the great story tellers of all time? What is so engaging about Shostakovich’s quartets or Brahms’s quintets?   What ten books would I bring with me to that desert island?  For answers to these question and more, see my October 19, 2010 interview with Michael F. Shaughnessy, Senior Columnist at,




Interview with Will Englund writing for the National Journal


Check out my terrific interview with Will Englund, White House Correspondent for the National Journal, published on March 20, 2010. In that article, “Writing the Story of Health Reform,” we discussed narrative and politics. I’m quoted as saying, “Voters no longer, by and large, make decisions based on policy.” And later, “I find it amusing they’ve basically adapted literary techniques to politics. But I guess you could say politics is the ultimate fiction.”—GREAT STUFF!





The Cusp of Dreams is available for purchase in paperback, as well as a PDF eBook at my storefront at, You can also purchase it as a Kindle eBook! Just click on the image of the novel on my website and you will be hyperlinked to Amazon to make a purchase.  It is also available as an e-Pub book at Apple’s iBookstore.  In June the paperback should become available through major distribution channels such as Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Baker & Taylor, and more.


Check out the  online press release:



The novel has been getting great reviews.  Find out why Christoph Irmscher has called me “the John Cheever of sales management” and why Howard Wolf feels the “slate-hard realism” of The Cusp of Dreams “serves as a welcome antidote to the often frivolous word-games of extreme postmodern experimental fiction.” Or why Michael F. Shaughnessy says the book is “a roller coaster of a ride….Read it over the weekend and weep.” Click on the image of The Cusp of Dreams on my webpage to read these assessments and the credentials of my reviewers. Or use the hyperlink there to check out the great 5-star review by John McClure and the rave by Rick Piper on Amazon’s Kindle website.



The Cusp of Dreams has been hitting the airwaves!


On September 16, 2010 my interview with Mindy Todd, host of “The Point,” was broadcast on WCAI’s  90.1-FM Station, which serves Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard, and Nantucket.  It was also broadcast on WGBH’s FM station serving the greater Boston area.  What’s extraordinary about Mindy’s interviews with her guests is that she takes the time to read your fiction, know your characters, and bring them to life.  In the case of The Cusp of Dreams, this is no easy matter.  There are several interwoven stories, many characters, and these narratives can be heartbreaking, all the more so since they present the saga of ordinary Americans losing their jobs, struggling against a tsunami of economic woe.  Mindy succeeds in illuminating the hopes and dreams, the struggles and fears, the rage and anger fueling the treachery of today’s workplace.  Our interview can be heard on the Video & Podcast page of Literary Gulag,  



Check out my terrific interview with about The Cusp of Dreams that aired on "The Jordan Rich Show" on June 6, 2010.  Jordan Rich has a very popular late-night talk show on WBZ-AM in Boston, one of New England's most popular stations.  That 50M-watts station is heard in 38 states plus Canada.  We discussed how the job situation today relates to my novel.  It's a tough market out there, and this story resonates with Americans struggling to survive.  Check out our interview at



I had a dream interview with Michael Ray Dresser on his nationally syndicated radio show "Dresser After Dark."  It aired April 29, 2010.  On that show we discussed a wide range of topics ranging from the changing relationship between men and women, how The Cusp of Dreams examines the economic struggles in the workplace, as well as the interconnections between my fiction, my political commentary, and my literary criticism, and, of course, the benefits of residing in the Literary Gulag.  Dresser is a genius at undercovering these associations. Our interview will soon be available as a podcast on Literary Gulag. Can't wait? Head over to  Our chat is third in the lineup that night. 



Monday, April 25 (with a repeat broadcast on Tuesday), I chatted with Sybil Tonkonogy on WNTN-AM ( in the Newton-Boston area on her program “1550 Today.” We discussed The Cusp of Dreams from the vantage point of women working today.  How has the workplace changed? Do women really differ from men? Is feminism relevant to their lives? The answers to these questions and so much more are to be found in reading The Cusp of Dreams.


On Sunday morning, April 25th on WDST-FM, I was a guest on “The Woodstock Roundtable” ( in the Hudson Valley Region of N.Y. Host Doug Grunther and Victoria Sullivan (poet/playwright) chatted with me about The Cusp of Dreams.  We discussed its theatrical origins—“Death of a Salesmen” and “Glengarry Glen Ross.” We talked about how effectively Mamet’s play translated to film. We considered whether Raymond Carver’s stories about the lives of ordinary Americans were about people engaged in work or more focused on the social interactions of people struggling on the margins of society. It was nice to spend some time with hosts who connect with literature. That broadcast is available for listeners this week on WDST-FM.  Soon the podcast will be posted on Literary Gulag and available for download.


My first nationally broadcast radio show about The Cusp of Dreams was with Kathryn Raaker, host of “Let’s Just Talk” on Saturday, April 17, 2010 on WQRT-AM in Cincinnati, Ohio. Great chat! This program also aired nationally via Wilkins Radio Network on ten stations including KXKS-Am in Albuquerque, NM; WSKY-AM in Ashville, NC; and WYYC-AM in York, PA. The podcast should be available at (see the show archives) for a while.  Soon it will be available as a podcast for download here at Literary Gulag.


The Cusp of Dreams has been assessed by book reviewers


Check out Monica S and The Bibliophilic Book Blog, which rated The Cusp of Dreams “4 Crows” (Monica liked it!).  What did she have to say?  “This was by far one of the oddest books I have ever read….The whole book just messes with your head and is very intense….Ms. Sheets has a way with words and wit I have seen in few authors.”  (


And then there’s Ron Kaplan’s review of The Cusp of Dreams posted in February, 2010 for ForeWord CLARION Reviews,


Online interviews with Michael F. Shaughnessy, Senior Columnist for about The Cusp of Dreams.   


Had a great chat with Michael F. Shaughnessy, "An Interview with Diana Sheets: The Ending of the Cusp-!," published in on June 8, 2010.  We discuss the impact of The Cusp of Dreams.  We talk about the effectiveness of having a novel serialized in an age of instant information.  We consider the response of some of the critics, and we discuss the challenges of the workplace in the new millennium?  All that all more! ( 


Check out my interview with Michael F. Shaughnessy "On Kindle, The Cusp of Dreams, noteworthy fiction, and Sarah Palin, a.k.a. Lethal Weapon 2012" published by on December 4, 2009, ( The interview talks about my novel The Cusp of Dreams, why Kindle is the best e-Reader available, a discussion of some great "reads" in fiction, despite the dismal offerings, and a discussion of why Sarah Palin will not be counted out as a force in contemporary American politics despite the hostility of Democrats.


Read the terrific interview I had with Michael F. Shaughnessy, Senior Columnist for, which was posted on September 29, 2009.  What do malapropisms reveal about our fictional characters and their perspectives of the world?  Consider the relevancy of Sheridan's The Rivals to Chapter 4, "Fleur-de-Lis," of The Cusp of Dreams.  How does this chapter compare with Douglas Kennedy's The Job and/or Donald E. Westlake's The Ax?  Those answers and more can be found at    


Check out my interview published online on August 26, 2009 with Michael Shaughnessy of  Discover how The Cusp of Dreams was conceived with respect to the literary tradition of Naturalism as personified by the fiction of Theodore Dreiser .  Read why The Cusp of Dreams embodies the American story just as Mencken's writings did and why theatrical plays have been such an important influence (


Read my interview with Michael Shaughnessy at regarding my novel The Cusp of Dreams, as well as the impact of e-books and e-readers in driving the publication of books online.  The article was posted on June 24, 2009 (


For the next year, Literary Gulag will feature monthly postings from my novel The Cusp of Dreams. Inspired by Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman and David Mamet's Glengarry Glen Ross, it presents the story of America's economic downsizing that occurred in the 1980's and the 1990's from the perspective of ordinary salespeople and their managers struggling to survive in our increasingly moribund manufacturing sector. It examines the social reprecussions of America's move from a manufacturing based economy to one characterized by "knowledge workers," who increasingly sell virtual products rather than tangible goods and services. The Cusp of Dreams reveals how this transformation impacts ordinary men and women who are fighting for their economic survival. It is a story of our civilization under duress. As such The Cusp of Dreams is about the desperate actions of characters, not their interior lives. It is presented in first person singular because we live iln an era when the confessional "I" has become our universal mode of expression. The Cusp of Dreams presents a fractured compilation of stories that  becomes an integrated whole, revealing the struggle of Americans to achieve the American Dream while the stresses of everyday life undermine these aspirations. Portions of the chapters entitled "Embers" and "Ashes Out of Phoenix" were published in Sensations Magazine, respectively, in 2005 and 2002. for a plot summary of the novel, please consult


I was interviewed by Michael Shaughnessy, Senior Columnist for on April 23, 2009 regarding "The Dying Tradition of Literature."


In my interview with Michael Shaughnessy at, published on April 7, 2009, we discussed "More on the Dismal Fate of Literature in the 21st  Century."   


Take a look at my interview with Michael Shaughnessy at published on February 26, 2009.  Entitled "The Dismal Fate of Literature in the 21st Century," it examines Solzhenitsyn's writings in light of today's paltry offerings (


Listen to my radio interview with reporter Mary Hall of WJFF 90.5 FM, an NPR affiliate in Jeffersonville, N.Y., which aired on Feburary 2, 2009 on "Making Waves."   Our discussion focused on the impact of newspapers migrating to the Internet. and how this is altering our understanding of the news (, click on the MP3 designated WJFFMaryHall2).  


Read my online interview, published January 20, 2009, with Senior Columnist Michael F. Shaughnessy of about how reading and journalism have been impacted by the Internet ( 


Publication of Op-Ed essay "Journalism in the Age of the Internet" in the Bucks County Courier Times on January 18, 2009.  


Had a terrific discussion with Host Mike Pintek and his guests on his show "Pintek Tonight" that aired on KDKA in Pittsburgh, PA on Friday, January 16, 2009 between 9-10 p.m. Eastern Standard Time.  We had a wide-ranging discussion of the 2008 presidential campaign including speculation on the direction and character of Obama's future administration.  The program had a lively call-in audience (, click on the MP3 designated KDKAMikePintek) .


Interviewed by J. Jaime Hernandez, DC Bureau Chief for El UNIVERSAL

Published in Mexico City, it is the most read newspaper in Mexico with a circulation of over 300,000.  In Hernandez's article "Barack, entre el abismo y la esperanza" published on January 15, 2009, I am quoted at length.  (Translation follows) "When Roosevelt was president, one in four people was unemployed.  But unlike the thirties, the U.S. now has better tools and mechanisms to break the impasse . . . . Obama has the intelligence to form a cabinet of the moderate center with some of the brightest minds . . . to achieve a solution to the economic crisis."  Adding, "Obama is not Jesus Christ and can not do miracles.  But I cannot imagine that under his leadership we will undergo four years of misery" (


Had a great interview on January 14, 2009 with Larry Shannon on KMA "Overdrive Trucking News,"  which covers the four-state region of Iowa, Missouri, Nebraska, and Kansas.  We discussed the implications of Obama's postmodern presidency.


Check out my great radio interview on January 13, 2009 with Charlie Parker and his associates Stan Kelly and Charity McCurdy on WOAI "First News" in San Antonio, Texas.  On that program we discussed the implications of an Obama  Presidency (, click on the MP3 designated WOAICharlieParker).   


My interview with Paul Kretschmer, "Perceptions of Barack Obama," aired on WIHS Journal on December 26, 2008.  WIHS is in Middletown, CT.


Interviewed by EDWARD LUCE, DC Bureau Chief for the [London] Financial Times

(Circulation: 427,000) Luce published an opinion essay on December 23, 2008 in the FT entitled "Person of the Year: Barack Obama."   In that editorial I am quoted at length.  Luce acknowledges my concern that Mr. Obama will be our "first post-modern president"  whose worldview has been shaped by universities "where all truths are relavtive."  They have, I suggested, become "large cauldrons of identity grievances," adding, "I'm not sure I want that [perspective] in a president."  To read the full article that appeared in the Financial Times, click on the link provided below.


On December 22, 2008 I interviewed with Tricia Braid Terry and Josh St. Peters on "RFD Today" on the RFD Radio Network in Bloomington, Illinois.  We discussed Obama's postmodern presidency. 


Had a nice chat on December 19, 2008 with Host Dennis Baxter on his program, "Baxter in the Morning," featured on station KCAA in San Bernardino, California.


El Bohemio News published a highlight from my essay on Barack Obama's Postmodern Presidency, which appeared on December 18, 2008,


For a retrospective analysis on the historic 2008 Presidential Election, check out my interview with Joseph Cooper  on his program "Topical Currents."  Our discussion was broadcast on WLRN Public Radio, an NPR affiliate serving South Florida.  It aired Tuesday, December 16, 2008 (, click on the MP3 designated WLRNJosephCooper).


One of the best interviews I've ever had was on December 15, 2008 on KMED AM1440 on the Bill Meyer Show in Medford, Oregon.  Host Bill Meyer digs deep.  He knows how to uncover the real story.  Want to understand why Barack Obama is a postmodernist and how this will impact his presidency?  Check out this interview. Talk Radio as it's meant to be! (, click on the MP3 designated KMEDBillMeyer).


Had a terrific interview with Bill Defosset on his program, the "3G Experience," broadcast from Harlem.  It is featured on WHCR, 90.3 FM, a station owned and operated by The City College of New York.  The station has an interesting mix of Gospel, Soul, Latin Gospel, Reggae, and informed commentary. The interview occurred on December 11, 2008 (, click on WHCRBillDefosset). 


Check out my post-2008 presidential campaign assessment on The Brad Davis Show featured on WDRC AM 1360 in Bloomfield, CT.  It aired November 19, 2008 (, click on WDRCBradDavis).


Listen in on my conversation with Mary Hall, a reporter with WJFF 90.5 FM, an NPR  affiliate in Jeffersonville, N.Y.  That interview was featured on "Making Waves," which was broadcast on October 27, 2008.  We discussed the competing narratives of Barack Obama and John McCain (, click on the MP3 designated WJFFMaryHall1).  


Check out my interview with Michael Shaughnessy on "Education, History, and Politics,"  which appeared on October 25, 2008.  It examines Sarah Palin from the perspective of British history and American educational policy  (


Today, October 24th, I chatted with Program Director Robert Hallmark and co-host Kurt Verlei on "The Morning Drive."  KCRS broadcasts the program "live" from Odessa, Texas--West Texas country!  We discussed Palin's strengths and the promise she brings to the McCain ticket and, indeed, the future hopes and dreams of the Republican Party.


Had a great interview/call in discussion on October 22, 2008 on "Speaking Of  . . ." with Producer/Host Mike Schikman of WSVA in Harrisonburg, Virginia.  We talked about Sarah Palin's strengths and the contrasting narratives of John McCain and Barack Obama.  Virginia is a battleground state.


Producer/Host Chris Oaks of WFIN "Good Mornings" in Findlay, Ohio and I chatted on October 22, 2008 about Sarah Palin and the biased media coverage she has received.  Palin was due to speak in Findlay later that day.  Ohio is a battleground state. Check out our interview (, click on the MP3 designated WFINChrisOaks).


The Austin American-Statesman, published in Austin, Texas, home to the University of Texas and the state legislature, published on October 17, 2008 my Op-Ed "Sheets: Autobiographical narratives frame the 2008 presidential election."  The newspaper has a circulation of 172,000,  


On October 13th, The Eureka Reporter, a weekly newspaper in Utah, published "Engaging voters with writing,"  my Op-Ed regarding the narratives of John McCain and Barack Obama. ( 


Monday, October 13th, I was interviewed "live" by Paul Stern of Cable Radio Network (CRN) Digital Talk Radio for the AM Show about the McCain and Obama narratives driving the 2008 presidential election.  CRN is a news, entertainment, and information radio network that broadcasts to 26 million homes nationwide.  Check out the interview (, click on the MP3 designated CRNPaulStern).


On Thursday, October 9th, I was interviewed "live"  by host Scott Anderson of KAZG, East Valley Radio (1440 AM) in Scottsdale, AZ  about Narrative and the 2008 Presidential Election.


Hear my lengthy (15 minute) interview with News Director Alex Bernier at the University of Connecticut: WHUS (91.7 FM) taped on October 7, 2008 regarding John McCain, Barack Obama, and the 2008 Presidential Election (, click on WHUSAlexBernier).  


Read my online interview, published October 6, 2008, with Senior Columnist Michael F. Shaughnessy of regarding the memoirs of John McCain and Barack Obama and what their narratives reveal about the men and their campaigns (



Want to understand why conservatives have been so successful in politics?  Read my Ph.D. thesis--British Conservatism and the Primrose League: The Changing Character of Popular Politics, 1883-1901--now posted online at the University of Illinois IDEALS website (



Get Life Right, a Wetpaint site, features the political assessment of journalistic coverage of politics in its "Who Watches the Watchers?" This webpage, featured under "Politics," has as its objective to filter through the "noise" to assess "the long view" in assessing the outcome of the 2008 campaign for the presidency. Literary Gulag's essay "Framing the Political Narrative" was selected as the top featured article for September 9, 2008.  Check it out! (



Check out MetaFilter, the community weblog, and its discussion of  my essay "Framing the Political Narrative" that appeared on the site on September 9 & 10, 2008.  Search "Lakoff, Westen, 2008 presidential election" to locate the discussion. 


Read my interview with Michael F. Shaughnessy, Senior Columnist at, published on July 29, 2008, "Did Ian McEwan Plagiarize or ?" (


My essay, "Reading in the Internet Age: The Seventeen Rules of Engagement," was published in the Spring 2008 issue of The New Mexico Journal of Reading, Vol. XXVIII, No. 3.


Read my interview with Michael F. Shaughnessy, Senior Columnist at, on the Great American Novel and Norman Mailer.  It was published on March 13, 2008 (


See "Diana E. Sheets: The demise of the great American novel," which appeared in the Pasadena Star-News on February 10, 2008  (, as well as the Whittier Daily News  ( and the San Gabriel Valley Tribune (


"If it's written, will the Great American Novel be published?" appeared in The Free Lance-Star on February 3, 2008. (


An edited version of my "Virtue" essay has appeared in the February, 2008 issue of The St. Croix Review.  (


My interview with Michael F. Shaughnessy, Senior Columnist at, is published (1/15/2008).  Read what I have to say about fiction and history and their  relevance today.  Archived with Shaughnessy's essays for January, 2008.  (   


Check out my Op-Ed "Looking for real virtue in literature" that appeared on January 9, 2008 in The Christian Science Monitor and listen to the five-minute audio interview  with Opinion Editor Josh Burek  as well! (  The Op-Ed was picked up throughout the country including The Press of Atlantic City, the Island Packet, the News Observer, Yahoo! News, Lake Wylie Pilot, EIN, Enquirer-Herald, the Sacramento Bee, The Bellingham Herald, and the Tri-City Herald.


See my posting at Newsweek (11/29/07) regarding the impact of Kindle, the electronic reader introduced by ( ) .


 Below is a copy of my  published online letter to the New York Times  regarding their front-page story "A Success Story in India."  Written on Sept. 8th, it appeared on 9/17/2007.


  To the Editor:

Seldom is news just news.  Today, every event is politically interpreted and morally adjudicated.  Therefore, I was delightfully surprised by the nuance of your Sept. 7 front-page article about the economic circumstances of Kerala, India, where its citizens are educated and, consequently, often leave their region and homeland in search of great financial opportunities. 

The Communist Party provided Kerala with critical allocations of education and health care that have improved the circumstances of its women and ignited the desires of its people.  Readers take note: opportunity was brought about by the fusion of socialist policies and materialistic dreams.  Education and health care (Communist policy) gave rise to aspirational goals (capitalist outcome).  Therein lies the spectacular anomaly of Kerala.


Diana E. Sheets