Caption: Jimmy Breslin in his Manhattan home.
Jimmy Breslin in his Manhattan home. 

The Great America in Writing - Arnold Weinstein and Jimmy Breslin

From: Open Source with Christopher Lydon
Length: 58:59

This week we're delving into the world of American letters with Arnold Weinstein and Jimmy Breslin. Veteran journalist Jimmy Breslin might be the last reporter to encompass the whole human comedy of New York City in his writing. His new book is about Branch Rickey, the sports manager who changed our country when he hired Jackie Robinson to play for the Brooklyn Dodgers. Arnold Weinstein has been teaching the masterpieces - Proust, Joyce, Melville and Faulkner - for nearly half a century at Brown University. He calls himself a "secular Rabbi" - one who interprets texts for communities, theorizing novels as "workouts for the imagination." "Morning, Noon and Night" is Weinstein's new long reflection on the novels of his youth, his Memphis background, his place in the academy, and his "late afternoon."

Jimmybreslin_small Celebrated Professor Arnold Weinstein is talking about the books that made his life - how a bad reader in his Memphis boyhood found Melville and went on to write prolifically on the relationship of the reader to the text - as he puts in, the "common bloodline" between students, teachers, and books. Weinstein pairs his profound faith in the nutritional value of books with a healthy dislike for the literary theory that has dominated college teaching over the last four decades. The question for Arnold Weinstein is: who are we as readers?

Then, the great New York City reporter and columnist Jimmy Breslin is sounding off on war, race, and the death of the newspapers he once vitalized. Breslin describes his reporting style as "a dirty shirt at night." His new book is the story of how Branch Rickey and Jackie Robinson integrated New York baseball in the 1940s, paving the way, he says, for the Obama to the Whitehouse.

To hear the full audio, sign up for a free PRX account or log in.

Piece Description

Celebrated Professor Arnold Weinstein is talking about the books that made his life - how a bad reader in his Memphis boyhood found Melville and went on to write prolifically on the relationship of the reader to the text - as he puts in, the "common bloodline" between students, teachers, and books. Weinstein pairs his profound faith in the nutritional value of books with a healthy dislike for the literary theory that has dominated college teaching over the last four decades. The question for Arnold Weinstein is: who are we as readers?

Then, the great New York City reporter and columnist Jimmy Breslin is sounding off on war, race, and the death of the newspapers he once vitalized. Breslin describes his reporting style as "a dirty shirt at night." His new book is the story of how Branch Rickey and Jackie Robinson integrated New York baseball in the 1940s, paving the way, he says, for the Obama to the Whitehouse.