Review: Grey Is the Color of Hope by Irina Ratushinskaya Print E-mail

irina(San Diego Tribune November 4, 1988)

A Soviet Poet's Prison Memoir

When we speak of human rights records, we talk of one country's violations and another's gross violations.

Remembering recent atrocities, we know too well that the denial of rights in Cambodia and the denial of rights in the Philippines are not the same; we distinguish wisely between murder and torture on one hand and economic neglect on the other. But how are we to judge the grossly hypocritical violators, those who insure the right of food, job, housing and medicine to all, but disallow rights to political dissenters? A clue emerges in "Grey Is the Color of Hope," a prison memoir written by a young Soviet poet, Irina Ratushinskaya, that exposes the gross hypocrisy of her country's human rights policies.

Review: Tolstoy: The Ultimate Reconciliation by Martine de Courcel Print E-mail

0897265(San Diego Tribune September 9, 1988)

Tolstoy: The Man and the Legend

Martine de Courcel, a French psychologist and biographer known previously for writing a life of Andre Malraux, has produced an epic study of the Russian writer and religious thinker Leo Nikolayevich Tolstoy. Her production is masterly in its explication and fascinating in its revelations.

Published in France in 1980, the work appears now in a flawless translation by Peter Levi. This book is a journey through Tolstoy's intellectual and spiritual development.

It is also an exhaustive trip through 19th century Czarist Russia, Tolstoy's marriage of 48 years to the indomitable Sofia (whom he called Sonya), the history of his family estate and the writing of the novels "War and Peace" and "Anna Karenina," not to mention the revolt of the peasants, the rise of Lenin and the impact of Tolstoyism. De Courcel's biography, however, is not an attempt to write history via one exemplary life.

Review: Writin' Is Fightin' by Ishmael Reed Print E-mail

Ishmael_Reed(San Diego Tribune August 26, 1988)

Pounding Away at Racism

White writers write. Black writers write. But black writers fight. The difference?

The opponent: racism.

Or, to put it his way: "Ethnic life in the United States has become a sort of contest like baseball in which the blacks are always the Chicago Cubs." Watch out—here comes Ishmael Reed, boxing his way through the color consciousness of white America with Writin' Is Fightin'.

Review: Americas: Essays on American Music and Culture, 1973-1980 by Peter Garland Print E-mail

garland(American Music Volume 4, Issue 3, Fall 1986; revised March 2013)

The Fist-Shaking Iconoclast

Fourteen essays comprise Americas. There are short pieces on “American Piano” and “American Percussion.” There are tracts about literary nomads Paul Bowles (whose Selected Songs Garland issued in 1983), Jamie de Angelo, and B.. Traven. There are lengthy discussions of Conlon Nancarrow, Silvestre Revueltas, Harry Partch, and Lou Harrison. And there are three travel journals written in Mexico, an autobiographical respite from his cause. In general, the book shakes its fist on behalf of the experimentalist radicals of American music and their attacks on American musical propriety.

Unanswering the Question: Charles Ives Meets Charles Olson Print E-mail
Essays and Memoirs

cdeb024128a0546bfd209010.L(Perspectives of New Music. Double issue: Fall-Winter, Vol. 20, No. 1, 1981; Spring-Summer, Vol. 20, No. 2, 1982)

This essay started out of a desire to experience my own convergence with the music and writings of Charles Ives and the esthetics and poetry of Charles Olson. What began as a measure of my relationship with them became their relationship, in something larger, with each other. Furthermore, the same experience has always been counterpointed in my own work as a composer and writer. The legacy of the arts as being separable, by virtue of their expressive content, audience, differing perceptive modes, etc., has seemed to me to be an illusion propagated by some traditional casting of identity, of what art-forms "say."

How one form can say something, or one thing, better than another, the economic argument of the efficiency of art mediums. I feel that the genesis and experience of music and language are inseparable, if one can get beyond, if one can unanswer, the questions they supposedly address, to the exclusion of each other. They indeed converge in essence.

This essay, perhaps my first significantly original work, is now available here.

Thomas Larson Vita Print E-mail
Web Exclusives

large past1987 Surfing-on-Acid 0Thomas Wallin Larson



Masters of Arts in English and American literature from the University of California, San Diego, 1986.

Graduate courses in music at the University of California, San Diego, 1982 and 1983.

Bachelor of Music, University of New Mexico, 1982.


Faculty (retired), Ashland University Low-Residency MFA Program in Creative Writing, 2010 - 2017: program development, residency and online classes, thesis advisor, post-thesis editor.

Complete List of Thomas Larson's Publications: 1981 - 2019 Print E-mail
Web Exclusives


Spirituality and the Writer: A Personal Inquiry. Athens, Ohio: Ohio University Press / Swallow Press, 2019.

The Sanctuary of Illness: A Memoir of Heart Disease. Albany, NY: Hudson Whitman / Excelsior College Press, 2014.

The Saddest Music Ever Written: The Story of Samuel Barber's "Adagio for Strings." New York: Pegasus Books, 2010.

The Memoir and the Memoirist: Reading and Writing Personal Narrative. Athens, Ohio: Ohio University Press / Swallow Press, 2007.


Awash in Celebrity Authors. Amazon Kindle, March 2012.

We Are Their Heaven: A Family Memoir. Amazon Kindle, August 2011.

On the Poetry of James Wright. Amazon Kindle, March 2011.

What Exactly Happened: Four Essays on the Craft of Memoir. Amazon Kindle, January 2011.

Books Edited:

A Year in Ink: San Diego Writers’ Ink Anthology. Editor. San Diego, California: The Ink Spot Press, 2008.

Works Anthologized:

"Kneaded." Sustenance: Writers from B.C. and Beyond on the Subject of Food. Vancouver, CA: Anvil Press, 2017.

"This Shining Night." Solstice Selects: Two Years of Diverse Voices. Edited by Lee Hope, 2016.

"A Few Photographs of Molested Children." Eclectia Magazine: Best Nonfiction, Volume 1. October 1996 - February 2016.

"'In Spite of Everything': The Definitive Indefinite Anne Frank." Anne Frank: People Who Made History, ed. by Jennifer Hansen. Greenhaven Press, 2003.

"A Political Vision of Afro-American Culture: Richard Wright’s 'Bright and Morning Star.'" In Richard Wright: Myths and Realities, ed. by C. James Trotman. Garland Publishing, 1988.

The Social Author:

Essay Series at Guernica.

"Rachel Maddow, Isocrates, and the Power of Speech." May 22, 2014.

"The Fearless Oratory of Christopher Hitchens." February 6, 2014.

"The Great Literary Future Behind Us." December 20, 2013.

"On the Social Authorship of the Bible." November 13, 2013.

"Our Multimedial Beginning." September 30, 2013.

"Writing Seen, Writing Spoken." August 26, 2013.

Video Essay:

"I'm Sorry / What For." AWP, Boston, LIR, March 7, 2013.

Psychology Today "Mysteries of the Heart":

"Inflammation & Heart Disease." November 2014.

"Thinking Ourselves Heart-Sick." October 2014.

"From 'Not Me' to 'Why Me?'" September 2014.

"Women Caretaking Men, Part 2." July 2014.

"Women Caretaking Men, Part 1." June 2014.

"Inextinguishably Alive." May 2014.

"The Heart and a Language To Describe It." April 2014.

"Cuddling with Mamie." March 2014.

Blog Posts:

"My Vegan Heart." Everyday Health. January 15, 2014.

"How We Spend Our Days: Thomas Larson." Catching Days blog. October 1, 2013.

"After Many a Summer Still Writing My Parents." Michael Steinberg's blog. November 28. 2012.

Multimedia Presentations:

"James Agee and Music." The Sembrich Museum. Bolton Landing, NY. August 26, 2015.

"The Sanctuary of Illness." Premiered, January 26, 2014, Swedenborgian Hall, San Diego, CA. One dozen other dates.

"And Titanic's Band Played On: 100 Years of a Musical Mystery." Multimedia performance, summer/fall 2012, five dates.

"Disenthralled: An End to My Heart Disease." Ashland University MFA program multimedia performance, August 3, 2011.

"The 'Author' in the Digital Age." Multimedia talk. Two venues, 2011.

"The Saddest Music Ever Written." Multimedia presentation. Fall 2010 National Tour, thirty dates.

Writing on the Art of John Daniel Abel:

"Hopelessly American." An afterword to Rank 'N File: Life and Death for the American Underclass. Summer 2014.

"Whatever." An Introduction to The Last Word: 76 American Epitaphs. New edition, 2014.


Feature Articles and Critcal Essays:

"We Wish There Were Fewer." San Diego Reader. January 23, 2019.

"Sorrento Valley Lacks Stickiness." San Diego Reader. November 21, 2018.

"Users and Their Words: Wrestling with John D'Agata." River Teeth. Spirng 2018, 19.2.

"All Those Glittering Notes: The Music of Richard Thompson." San Diego Troubadour. May 1, 2018.

"Fanfare for an American Maverick: Ruth Crawford Seeger." San Diego Troubadour. February 1, 2018.

"Rejoice! Secularism Won! Why We Can Never Celebrate." The Truth Seeker. January 31, 2018.

"In My Heart, I Hate It: Little Italy." San Diego Reader. January 17, 2018.

"Thomas Merton and the Language of Spirituality." Berfrois UK. October 17, 2017.

"The Reliably Spiritual Author." Pacifica Literary Review. Summer 2017.

"Between Indifference and Hope." San Diego Reader. June 28, 2017.

"One Smartphone, 100 Million Users, and Privatizing Faith." Free Inquiry. June 2, 2017.

"San Diego's Top 12 Donors." San Diego Reader. April 19, 2017.

"What I Am Not Yet, I Am." Assay: A Journal of Nonfiction Studies. April 1, 2017.

"The Purgatorial Trenches of Wilfred Owen." The Truth Seeker. January 15, 2017.

"Leo Tolstoy and the Origins of Spiritual Memoir." Los Angeles Review of Books. January 13, 2017.

"Who Are You Calling an Atheist?" Church & State, UK. October 15, 2016.

"Christploitation @ the Movies." The Truth Seeker. October 1, 2016.

"Oldest Things in San Diego." San Diego Reader. August 31, 2016.

"A New Art Aloud: On Margaret Noble." San Diego Reader. June 8, 2016.

"Consume, Discard, Repeat: The Industrial Landscapes of Kim Reasor. San Diego Reader. June 1, 2016.

"The Taxman Cometh Not." The Truth Seeker. May 2016.

"A Secular Founding Father: On Ian Ruskin's 'Thomas Paine.'" The Truth Seeker. May 2016.

"Between Words & Images." Profile of Justin Manor and Sosolimited. San Diego Reader. February 3, 2016.

"I Don't Know Why I'm a Musician." Profile of Joe Garrison. San Diego Reader. December 24, 2015.

"Denying and Welcoming the End: The Evangelical Duplicity." The Truth Seeker. Volume 142. September 2015.

"In the Guise of Telling the Truth." Referential Magazine. September 23, 2015.

"On Medical Authority." Guernica. August 6, 2015.

"Child No More." San Diego Reader. July 22, 2015.

"San Diego For Sale." San Diego Reader. April 2, 2015.

"Print (Almost) Anything." 3-D printing. San Diego Reader. January 28, 2015.

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