Blood Will Out -- The True Story of a Murder, A Mystery, and A Masquerade by Walter Kirn, Liveright '14, $25.95, 255 pages, ASIN #0871404516. No index, bibliography, notes or illustrations.
Some people may think having a Rockefeller as an intimate friend would be good for one's ego. But author Walter Kirn may rue the day he met Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter, a/k/a Clark Rockefeller. For in setting out to write the saga of one of history's foremost con men, he ended up being conned himself.
Blood Will Out outdoes true crime accounts "by delving into the psychology of being had, of being fooled, of gross betrayal, and how any of us -- no matter how smart we may think we are -- can fall for the outrageous claims and dangerous charms of a poseur like Clark Rockefeller. Replete with kidnapping, identity theft, art fraud, supposedly excessive money, and most recently, Gerhartsreiter's conviction for the 1985 murder of John Sohus in San Marino, CA. -- Blood Will Out reaches its climax with a tense jailhouse interview between Kirn and the man he thought he knew."
Novelist Kirn is used to gauging where truth ends and fantasy begins, a helpful guide when he finds himself at the very heart of a detective thriller, one in which Rockefeller is framed as a Talented Mr. Ripley for our times. During his narrative, Kirn discovers the truth about his friend, "a psychopath masquering as a gentleman, and a sinister fantasist whose crimes were, at least partly if not wholly, based on books and movies."
Walter Kirn is author of Thumbsucker and Up in the Air, both made into major films.
Homeric Speech and the Origins of Rhetoric by Rachel Ahern Knudsen, Johns Hopkins UPress '14, $49.95, 230 pages, ASIN #1421412268. Index, bibliography, notes, b&w images sprinkled through text.
From the back cover:
"Traditionally, Homer's Epics have been the domain of scholars and students interested in ancient Greek poetry, and Aristotle's rhetorical theory has been the domain of those interested in ancient rhetoric. Rachel Ahern Knudsen believes that this academic distinction between poetry and rhetoric should be challenged. Based on a close analysis of persuasive speeches in the Iliad, Knudsen argues that Homeric poetry displays a systematic and technical concept of rhetoric and that many Iladic speakers in fact employ the rhetorical techniques put forward by Aristotle.
"Rhetoric, in its earliest formulation in ancient Greece, was conceived as the power to change a listener's actions or attitudes through words -- particularly through persuasive techniques and argumentation. Rhetoric was thus a 'technical' discipline in the ancient Greek world, a craft that was rule-governed, learned, and taught. This technical understanding of rhetoric can be traced back to the works of Plato and Aristotle, which provide the earliest formal explanations of rhetoric. But do such explanations constitute the true origins of rhetoric as an identifiable, systematic practice? If not, where does a technique-driven rhetoric first appear in literary and social history?
"Perhaps the answer is in Homeric epics. Homeric Speech and the Origins of Rhetoric demonstrates a remarkable congruence between the rhetorical techniques used by Iliadic speakers and those collected in Aristotle's seminal treatise on rhetoric. Knudsen's claim has implications for the fields of both Homeric poetry and the history of rhetoric...."
Author Rachel Ahern Knudsen is a lecturer in classics at Santa Clara University.
Deaths in Venice -- The Cases of Gustav von Aschenbach by Philip Kitcher, Columbia UPress '13, 254 pages, ASIN #0231162642. Index, notes, no bibliography, unillustrated.
From the dust jacket:
"Published in 1913, Thomas Mann's Death in Venice is one of the most widely read novellas in any language. In the 1970s, Benjamin Britten adapted it into an opera, and Lucchino Visconti turned it into a successful film. Reading these works from a philosophical perspective, Philip Kitcher connects the predicament of the novella's central character to Western thought's most compelling questions.
"In Mann's story, the author Gustav von Aschenback becomes captivated by an adolescent boy, first seen on the lido in Venice, the eventual site of Aschenbach's own death. Mann works through central concerns about how to live, explored with equal intensity by his German predecessors, Schopenhauer and Nietzsche. Kitcher considers how Mann's Britten's, and Visconti's treatments illuminate the tension between social and ethical values and an artist's sensitivity to beauty....Haunted by the prospect of his death, Aschenbach also helps us reflect on whether it is possible to achieve anything in full awareness of our finitude and in knowing our successes are always incomplete."
Author Philip Kitcher is the John Dewey Professor of Philosophy at Columbia University and the author of numerous books and articles.