Monday, July 28, 2014

Helpful hints …

… Strap on Your Running Shoes | BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog.

Anglophile prince …

… Anecdotal Evidence: `He Took a Cold Bath Each Morning'.

Ch-ch-ch-ch-Changes …

… New Statesman | The Great English Novel is dead. Long live the unruly, upstart fiction that’s flourishing online.  (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

David Mitchell is not the first writer to use Twitter to produce innovative fiction. The Nigerian-American writer Teju Cole has become an internet phenomenon after his seeding of fractured stories on the social networking site. Mitchell’s story, “The Right Sort”, does something new again. The experience of a boy with a Valium addiction going to visit a mysterious benefactor is told in 140-character nuggets, because being on Valium “breaks down the world into bite-sized sentences. Like this one. All lined up. Munch-munch.”

An invitation …

… AttackingtheDemi-Puppets: Needed: Artists and Writers.

The art of espionage …

… beyond eastrod: "You are either good or bad, and both are dangerous."




Q&A …

… Women in Form: AE Stallings | Tupelo Quarterly. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Looking ahead …

… William Gibson and Neuromancer: the man who saw tomorrow | Books | The Guardian. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

A thought for today …

I write with experiences in mind, but I don't write about them, I write out of them.
— John Ashbery, born on this date in 1927

Hark...

That should settle it...

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Certainly...

The man behind the titles …

… Hail Augustus! But Who Was He? by Daniel Mendelsohn | The New York Review of Books. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

No resemblance to his former self: it is here that the hidden kinship between Augustus and its two predecessors lies. A strong theme in Williams’s work is the way that our sense of who we are can be irrevocably altered by circumstance and accident. In his Augustus novel, Williams took great pains to see past the glittering historical pageant and focus on the elusive man himself—one who, more than most, had to evolve new selves in order to prevail. The surprise of his final novel is that its famous protagonist turns out to be no different in the end from this author’s other disappointed heroes; which is to say, neither better nor worse than most of us. The concerns of this spectacular historical saga are intimate and deeply humane.

Q&A again …

… interview: aaron belz | antler. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Q&A …

… Recording the American Catholic Experience: Questions for Paul Elie | America Magazine. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Novels with tendencies...

Reading Through Someone Else’s Eyes

...from The New Yorker

Inquirer reviews …

… Rick Reilly's wit and humanity on display in 'Tiger, Meet My Sister'.

… Smothered by detail, stories give up the ghost.

… Stressed for success.

A thought for today …

Statistics are the triumph of the quantitative method, and the quantitative method is the victory of sterility and death.
— Hilaire Belloc, born on this date in 1870

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Tomorrow night …

… Whirlwind Press Magazine-release party Sunday, July 27th.

Appreciation …

… Kreeft Talks About 'Till We Have Faces'. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Of two minds …

… The Millions : Americans Love Poetry, But Not Poetry Books. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

The chasm betwen words and deeds...

...Writers or Missionaries?
Mughniyeh was, for Hezbollah, a heroic figure in what they call “the resistance.” No word is more sacred for Hezbollah, which has sought to portray itself as a “national resistance” rather than another sectarian militia. When I started out in journalism, I was more willing to use this word without quotation marks; it seemed preferable, after all, to the alternative, “terrorism.” Today, I am more skeptical of terms like “resistance,” “armed struggle” and “solidarity.” When I read these words, I want to ask: What do they actually mean, and what do they conceal? What do the people who use these words actually do? What does the word “resistance” mean if it can describe a Sunni-based insurgency against Bashar al-Assad and the Shiite-based insurgency in Lebanon that is fighting to crush that uprising? What ambitions, what goals, lie behind floating signifiers like “resistance”? What do those who hold up its banner hope to achieve? Mouloud Feraoun, an Algerian novelist who kept an extraordinary diary of the Algerian war before he was murdered by the OAS in 1962, put it well when he stated: “Sometimes you start asking yourself about the value of words, words that no longer make any sense. What is liberty, or dignity, or independence? Where is the truth, where is the lie, where is the solution?”

In case you wondered...

Good to know...

Q&A …

… Jog Our Memories and Spirits, James � MFA Creative Writing. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Though my Latin is every bit as poor as one would expect of someone who studied it one night a week with an ex-Jesuit after working all day in Boston, I’ve been deeply influenced by the classical poets, not to mention Dante.  One of the great satisfactions of trying to write poetry is the experience it gives of toiling in the same, long tradition that Homer, Virgil, and Dante worked and developed before me.  So, as I think of it, here are three particular joys of poetry: first, that sense of drawing the whole of truth, goodness, and beauty together in the unity of the art work; second, of being informed by it; and, third, the filial communion with the dead that participating in a tradition affords to us, that keeping of faith.
I believe that a review of mine of three books of poetry, including one by James Matthew Wilson, will run in The Inquirer on August 3.

Gods and monsters …

… Zealotry of Guerin: Water Wars, Sonnets #192 and #193.

The world within us …

… The Heart of the Matter | The New Psalmanazar. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I can’t help feeling that our true predicament is one of metaphor rather than medicine, that all sickness is somehow spiritual. 
There is much truth in that.

A thought for today …

The most valuable of all education is the ability to make yourself do the thing you have to do, when it has to be done, whether you like it or not.
— Aldous Huxley, born on this dat in 1894

Q&A with...

...Luc Sante
The city we have now is the one we deserve, the coagulation of money. I’m very pissed off because I love cities and yearn for them, and I can’t live in them now—and not just because I can’t afford to. My ideal city is more like the city (New York and Paris come to mind, but it sort of applies to all) that existed up to and including the 1930s, when different classes lived all together in the same neighborhoods, and most businesses of any sort were mom-and-pop, and people and things had a local identity. The sort of city where—I’ve just been reading Richard Cobb on 1930s Paris—a burglar, a banker, a taxi-driver, an academician, a modiste, and a pushcart vendor might all fetch up together in a corner banquette at the end of the night. That won’t happen again unless we have some major, catastrophic shakeup, like war (at home) or depression, and do we want either of those?

A full life...

...You could impress Nadine Gordimer, disgust her, but not fool her
No one was therefore surprised when, on being released from prison in 1990, Mandela asked to see Gordimer. And it was no ‘for courtesy’s sake’ meeting. In an amazing piece on Mandela written for The New Yorker, six months before Mandela’s death, Gordimer says: “I suppose I thought, with a writer’s vanity, that the great man wanted to talk about Burger’s Daughter. We were alone in Johannesburg, some few days later. It was not about my book that he spoke but about his discovering, on the first day of his freedom, that Winnie Mandela had a lover. This devastation was not made public until their divorce, six years later.”

Friday, July 25, 2014

Hmm …

… Native Sons in Philadelphia: Why We Need More Novelists Like Jean Love Cush | Reluctant Habits.



This book sounds interesting and provocative enough to deserve serious attention. But so much that  I hear about race seems grounded in theory and statistics rather than experience. My first wife and I and her four kids spent 20 years in a neighborhood that was maybe slightly more black than white. Looking back, it could have have been Anyneighborhood, USA. Our next-door neighbors were black and about the nicest neighbors you could hope to have. One day, though, the lady of the house talked to me about a gang that had started congregating across the street from us. It was getting bigger and louder and more unruly. She told me they were afraid to do anything because of possible reprisals. I was something of a wild man in those days, so I did something about it. End of problem. Funny thing, though. When I lived there, as often as not we didn't even lock the front door. Not too long ago I drove by the old manse and noticed how so many houses now had ADT signs. My point, I guess, is that peaceful neighborhoods have less to do with race than with just common humanity.

American master …

… An Unknown America of the Mind by Pico Iyer | The New York Review of Books. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Darling begins by asserting that it will address the world in the wake of September 11 and try to bring the writer’s Catholicism into a better relation with its desert brother Islam. Happily, it soon abandons that somewhat rote mission for a much more ungovernable and unassimilable wander across everything from the decline of the American newspaper to the debate over gay marriage, from Cesar Chavez to the world of camp. Five of the ten essays have appeared already in magazines, such as Harper’sand The Wilson Quarterly. But as in all his books, Rodriguez throws off a constant fireworks display of suggestions and reveals more in an aside than others do in self-important volumes. As you read, you notice how often Don Quixote keeps recurring, and death notices, and meditations on the “tyranny of American optimism,” each one gaining new power with every recurrence, and reminding us of how the pursuit of happiness leaves us sad. The overall mosaic is far more glittering than any of its parts.

Help for the humor-challenged …

… ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic Explains His Secret Formula for Going Viral and Hitting No. 1 - Speakeasy - WSJ. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The role of the critic …

… An interview with Rohan Maitzen | Truce. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Recognition at last...

Blogging note …

I have an unexpected dental appointment. If I can blog from the dentist's office, I will. If not, sometime later on,

A thought for today …

Kindness can become its own motive. We are made kind by being kind.
— Eric Hoffer, born on this date in 1902

More to come …

… Paul Davis On Crime: Unpublished Elmore Leonard Stories Coming In 2015.

Finding the right thing to say...

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Something very much worth noticing …

… Instapundit — JUST READ DAVID DRAKE’S The Sea Without A Shore. Pretty good, but I didn’t think it was quite as go…



Glenn's comment, and the comments engendered by it, represent a visualization of that legendary trope, "word of mouth," the book review most likely to float or sink your book.