Humanity's Challenge

For the normal man, as we have him today, his personal unity is a delusion. He is always fighting down the exposure of that delusion. His first impulse is to rationalize his inconsistencies by telling himself fanciful stories of why he did this and that. The tougher job, which all men and women will ultimately be educated to undertake, is to recognize the ultimately irreconcilable quality of these inconsistencies and to make a deal between them.

--from Experiment in Autobiography by H. G. Wells, born on this day in 1866

The above excerpt prefaces Michael Sherborne’s recent H. G. Wells: Another Kind of Life,which explores the multiple and sometimes irreconcilable aspects of the authors many books, views, and passions. Sherborne’s first chapter begins by imagining Wells stepping from one of his own time machines into a twenty-first-century library after closing hours:

He begins to leaf briskly through the twenty-first-century newspapers and reference books. He is delighted by what he learns of women’s liberation, globalization and scientific progress, taking particular pleasure in television, space travel, lasers, atomic power and the growth of the ecology movement. He nods as he reads of the wars and religious upheavals that have run alongside these developments. It is all much as he expected. "I told you so," he chuckles, "you damned fools."

Daybook is contributed by Steve King, who teaches in the English Department of Memorial University in St. John's, Newfoundland. His literary daybook began as a radio series syndicated nationally in Canada. He can be found online at


Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch is the winner of the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. James Parker calls this Dickensian coming-of-age novel "an enveloping…

Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
Poems That Make Grown Men Cry

And women too.  Luminaries from Colin Firth to Nick Cave and Jonathan Franzen chose the poems that bring them to tears, and the result is a stunning collection of poignant verse from writers like Auden, Whitman, Bishop, Larkin, Neruda and many others.  Warning: choking-up hazard.

The King of Pain

Trapped beneath his entertainment system, reality TV mastermind Rick Salter reflects on his life and tries to piece together the events of the previous evening. Seth Kaufman’s romp is an outrageous meditation on pain and entertainment in a deranged world in which the two are often interchangeable.

The Good Inn

Frank Black, frontman for the Pixies, has written a transgressive historical fiction with shades of Thomas Pynchon (focused as it is on the history of explosives and cinematic pornography), all set in a hallucinatory Edwardian Europe.