Confessions of a Guilty Freelancer

Confessions of a Guilty Freelancer

William O'Rourke
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 06/19/2012
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 978-0-253-00181-8
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William O’Rourke’s singular view of American life over the past 40 years shines forth in these short essays on subjects personal, political, and literary, which reveal a man of keen intellect and wide-ranging interests. They embrace everything from the state of the nation after 9/11 to the author’s encounter with rap, from the masterminds of political makeovers to the rich variety of contemporary American writing. His reviews illuminate both the books themselves and the times in which we live, and his personal reflections engage even the most fearful events with a special humor and gentle pathos. Readers will find this richly rewarding volume difficult to put down.

Author Bio

William O'Rourke, a former columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times, is author of The Meekness of Isaac, Idle Hands, Criminal Tendencies, and Notts, and five works of nonfiction. He is editor of On the Job: Fiction about Work by Contemporary American Writers and (with John Matthias) of the collection Notre Dame Review: The First Ten Years.


“I can think of no other contemporary writer more suited to the task of chronicling his literary generation. A voracious reader, O'Rourke has always had his finger on the pulse of the contemporary American literary scene.”
 — Corinne Demas, author of The Writing Circle

“I don't know any writer who can be as funny and as gloomy at the same time as William O'Rourke. Perhaps that's why he has a fresh take on anything he looks at, and in his grumpy way he is interested in almost everything, from agnostics teaching at Catholic universities to the Zeitgeist of prime-time television. He always hoped to apply for the job of public intellectual, he tells us, but then the position disappeared and a hundred thousand bloggers took its place. O'Rourke makes—he has always made—decency and common sense seem the most startling ingenuity—which, come to think of it, they are. As skeptical as he is watchful, as ardently hopeful as he is, most of the time, horrified; with sparkling wit that never takes a vacation, he is our unpaid public intellectual number one.”
 — Jaimy Gordon, author of Lord of Misrule, winner of the 2010 National Book Award for Fiction

“This book is a brilliant overview of American history from the 1960s to the post 9/11 era. William O'Rourke is both a novelist and a political commentator—he wrote weekly columns for the Chicago Sun-Times—and a forceful writer of nonfiction.”
 — Maura Stanton, author of Immortal Sofa: Poems by Maura Stanton

“O'Rourke's 'personal' writing doesn't simply mean how the subject relates to him; his writing is literary, without a doubt, but his style is conversational, rhythmic and leavened by a dry sense of humor that engage the reader on an intimate level.”
 — South Bend Tribune

“O'Rourke is that rarest of increasingly rare birds, a writer's writer. . . . O'Rourke brings an artist's critical thinking to his political writing, providing him angles of attack on players from both parties that help reframe the issues in ways not available through the most mainstream press outlets. ”

“[T]hose who enjoy a good romp through some of our country's most pivotal times in the company of an astute observer who is unafraid to offer a penetrating, and sometimes scathing, critique of the state of the nation, will find themselves well matched. ”
 — ForeWord Reviews

“O'Rourke's descriptions of the writing life have the ring of absolute truth.”
 — Review of Contemporary Fiction

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Table of Contents

I: The Personal
Here’s Mine
Richard Elman
Grace Paley
My rap problems—and yours?
Arming Yourself for the Outdoors
Two Midwest Meditations:
I. Reunion and Revolution
II. Ties
Dear Dad
Confessions of a Freelancer
II: The Personal and the Political
Extreme Makeover: TV Home Improvement from Carter to Bush II
Five Male Chroniclers of Bill Clinton and His World: Christopher Hitchens, Michael Isikoff, Andrew Morton, George Stephanopoulos, Bob Woodward
Blue & Red America After September 11th
Virginia Tech
Susan Braudy: Family Circle
Joe Conason: Big Lies
Daniel Ellsberg: Secrets
John Frohnmayer: Leaving Town Alive
Dick Morris: Off With Their Heads
Kevin Phillips: American Dynasty (1)
Kevin Phillips: American Theology (2)
Molly Ivins and Lou Dubose: Bushwacked
Robert B. Reich: Reason
David McCullough: John Adams
Edmund Morris: Theodore Rex
Steve Neal: Happy Days Are Here Again
Amanda Smith: Hostage to Fortune: The Letters of Joseph P. Kennedy
John A. Farrell: Tip O’Neill and the Democratic Century
III: The Personal and the Political and the Literary
Raymond Carver: Hemingway Without Money
Michael Ryan: Secret Life
Philip Graham: How to Read an Unwritten Language
Peter Dexter: The Paperboy
John Updike: The Afterlife and Other Stories
John McGahern and Colm Toibin
Jim Crace: Signals of Distress
Robert Olen Butler: They Whisper
Richard Ford: Independence Day
Harvey Jacobs: American Goliath
Thomas Keneally: American Scoundrel
John L’Heureux: The Miracle
Toby Olson and Ellen Akins
Pinckney Benedict: Dogs of God
Rick Bass: Platte River
Michael Stephens: The Brooklyn Book of the Dead
Graham Swift: Last Orders
Bob Shacochis: Swimming in the Volcano
Willie Morris: New York Days
Forward to the Past
Andrew Levy: The Culture and Commerce of the American Short Story

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