Bookclub Meeting, the third: Closer All the Time, by Jim Nicols

On Sunday, November 27th, we’ll be meeting to discuss this relatively new, Maine-based novel. I somehow doubt we’ll have a lack of material to talk about, as some of us are even going to see Nicols read early that week, but here is an interview with the author that covers some really interesting topics. Enjoy, and feel free to post any additional resources!



On Reading and the Creative Activity

This is a piece that I wrote almost a year ago now while living in Le Mans, France as an English teacher. I edited it many times, and feel that it’s rather polished for what it is, and so I’m putting it up here by reason of not letting it rot in the Documents folder of my computer.

I have since written many things on the topic of “reading,” and find this particular piece to be a little too general; however I do not find that a good enough reason to throw the thing out, or to not share it with others. This is, indeed, something that I’ve written and edited. It would seem wrong to put it away, as to do so would make anything I am making or might possibly make equally as inconsequential and destroyable. I wrote it, as I have been writing most of my essays recently, as if I was sharing ideas with a friend, perhaps a fellow reader or writer, and not for the inclusion in any kind of anthology or greater work.

Please feel free to comment on it here, or email me at, in order to give it some life in discussion.

On Reading and the Creative Activity

To say that “reading is good” sounds to most of us, in 2016, like a maxim repeated to the point of losing any of its denotative sense, instead connoting only a self-imposed wisdom and worldliness. Indeed, most people seem eager to acknowledge that reading is good, whether they do it themselves or not, and that the question is only how to actually find the time to read. But I am a reader, and have always in a silent, unacknowledged way agreed with the most clichéd of such maxims. In my journal I would write, without a trace of sarcasm or irony, such statements—that reading is good; that it can be one of the best uses of my time; that it is a moment of expression, of creation, important as writing itself or any other artistic activity. Continue reading

October Visions

The book for October is Stephen King’s Dolores Claiborne. Here’s a quick synopsis, cobbled together from various reviews:

On a remote Maine island, housekeeper Dolores Claiborne is accused of killing her rich and heartless employer, Vera Donovan. While being interrogated, Dolores details the dark and agonizing aspects of her life, centering around the mysterious death of her husband Joe and estrangement of her daughter Selena. Dolores also tells of Vera’s physical and mental decline and of her loyalty to an employer who has become emotionally and physically abusive.

The tentative date for the next NELP meeting is Sunday, October 23rd. More specifics will be posted in the coming weeks, including a discussion sheet. Any questions/comments/concerns should be posted here and will be responded to asap.

Get reading!

September Recap

Hello everyone!

Thank you for such a successful first meeting. We’re so grateful for the support and interest and dedication and community and friendship that was felt this past Sunday. It’s so exciting! And such a fruitful conversation about Pullman’s The Golden Compass.

Below you’ll find a list of key words, phrases, and ideas I picked up from out first meeting, to keep your minds churning. I encourage you to post comments and questions here in this recap post, and please message me. I only wrote down so much and would love to add to the list. Thanks again!

– Russell


  • Astrology
    • monkey (coulter) and tiger (asriel) are opposing
  • Characterization
    • Coulter
      • small iota of power/agency
      • does whatever she can
      • does she actually believe in the church?
    • Lyra
      • she IS well-written
      • she is NOT well-written
      • male gaze/voice
      • androgynous
      • she works with her demon while others seem more seperate
    • The Bears
  • Literary Aspects / Themes
    • relationship to Paradise Lost
      • soaring similes
    • free will vs. destiny
      • go north = go west
      • not doing what you feel like you have to
    • dark vs. light
      • not a balance but a meddling
    • science vs. religion
      • sexuality is bad!
      • dust = sin
      • intercision, soul-splitting, release of energy
    • finding / defining yourself