Thursday, April 24, 2014

Moral cowardice …

… Charles Lane: Gabriel García Márquez was a gifted writer but no hero — The Washington Post.

What Gabo never did was raise his voice, or lift a finger, on behalf of Cubans’ right to express themselves freely in the first place.
Far from being “a representative and voice for the people of the Americas,” he served as a de facto spokesman for one of their oppressors.

In case you wondered...

Church doings …

… Bryan Appleyard — In Praise of Mild English Faith. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

…  religion as such cannot die. Secularists always make the same mistake. They think faith is like a tumour that can be painlessly removed from the body. In fact, every society has been religious and ours, in its own strange way, still is. It is just that the church is not the place where religion is happening.
I am not at all spiritual, whatever that means. I am, however, incorrigibly religious. In my case, of course, that involves attendance at Mass. But what it involves most of all is prayer. "Something unknown," Arthur Eddington, "is doing we don't know what." That's as good a reason to pray as any.

Overrated …

… Spengler � Garcia Marquez Lied About Macondo. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)



I could never get into 100 Years of Solitude and I lost interest in Garcia Marquez when he explained that his friendship with Fidel Castro was based entirely on their mutual love of fishing and fish recipes. I have never thought to criticize the Commandante's bouillabaisse. His record human rights is a bit less savory.

Celebration …

… IN REVIEW: PHILLY POETRY DAY (PT.1).

Together at last …

… On Design, Books, Kickstarter and Russian Criminal Tattoos | Publishing Perspectives.

Reading patterns …

…and more: Bryan Appleyard —  Bestsellers and Our Reading Lives. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

… before the cultural pessimists rush to cry woe at our literary dependence on film and TV, it’s worth pointing out that this pattern has been unchanged since that very first list back in 1974, which contained Papillon (film), The Exorcist (film), Frederick Forsyth’s The Odessa File (film) and The World at War (television).

Helpful hints …

… What I Wish I Knew After My MFA Ended | BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog.

By the time I got to grad school, I had already been published and had worked as an editor. Grad school did not square with my experience. So I dropped out.



Gods on the street …

… & poetics | Alternatetakes2.

Try it …

… you may like it: Taking Religion Seriously — The American Magazine.

If you’re waiting for a road-to-Damascus experience, you’re kidding yourself. Taking one of the great religions seriously, getting inside its rich body of thought, doesn’t happen by sitting on beaches, watching sunsets, and waiting for enlightenment. It can easily require as much intellectual effort as a law degree. Even dabbling at the edges has demonstrated the truth of that statement to me for Judaism, Buddhism, and Taoism. I assume it’s true of Islam and Hinduism as well. In the case of Christianity, with which I’m most familiar, the church has produced profound religious thinkers for two thousand years. You don’t have to go back to Thomas Aquinas (though that wouldn’t be a bad idea). Just the last century has produced excellent and accessible work. But whomever you read, Christianity considered seriously bears little resemblance to your Sunday school lessons. You’ve got to grapple with the real thing.

Well, why not...

A thought for today …

The habit of reading is the only enjoyment in which there is no alloy; it lasts when all other pleasures fade.
— Anthony Trollope, born on this date in 1815

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Navigating life …

… Book Review: 'The Curmudgeon's Guide to Getting Ahead' by Charles Murray - WSJ.com. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)



As Oscar Wilde noted, the only thing to do with good advice is pass it on.

Centenary lady …

… Stanford’s “Another Look” spotlights Marguerite Duras’ The Lover | The Book Haven.



…  But Did It Really Happen?

Thematic diversity...

Vocation …

… The Millions : Sacrament of Fiction: On Becoming a Writer and Not a Priest. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)



I quite understand.

Man of letters …

… He Worked at the Writer’s Trade |. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The Long Voyage is also a reminder of a time, not long ago, when literature had a more central place in the cultural conversation. Although he did produce some poetry, Cowley made his living writing about literature, working with literature, editing and lecturing and sitting on boards concerned with literature. What’s remarkable about that to a contemporary reader is that he did so almost entirely outside of academia. Today, with a few exceptions — this publication being one notable example — literature happens in the universities and colleges, in MFA programs, campus readings series, scholarly journals, and seminars. 
Not necessarily an improvement.

About Last Night:

… About Last Night: Roads taken. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

A thought for today …


I got disappointed in human nature as well and gave it up because I found it too much like my own.
— J. P. Donleavy, born on this date in 1926 

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

A good bargain...

... Hugo Williams: 'I need poems more than they need me'

A translator's tale

… Detectives Beyond Borders: "Poissonally in poisson": Detectives Beyond Borders interviews Andrea Camilleri's translator, Stephen Sartarelli — Part I.

The sound of faith …

… faith being understood not as a suite of propositions, but as a disposition toward being:


Together at last …

… On Literary Editing and the Nature of Love | BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog.

Celebration …

… Happy Birthday, Nabokov: A BBC Documentary on Lolita and Life | Brain Pickings. (Hat tip, Dave  Lull.

Windhover to the rescue …

… Piercing the Veil | Time's Flow Stemmed. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)



Windhover is another name for the kestrel.

Listen in …



A thought for today …

Fashion is the science of appearance, and it inspires one with the desire to seem rather than to be.
— Henry Fielding, born on this date in 1707

The Western Front...

...Newly translated journals from the French solider Louis Barthas. Their review here.

An excerpt from the essay here:

"A century after the guns of August first boomed, World War I has lost none of its power to boggle the mind. The numbers are simply too big: 65 million men under arms, 37 million casualties, 12,000 miles of trenches on the Western Front, 1.45 billion shells fired. Rather than a human event, it often seems like an immeasurable abstraction, like negative infinity. 

Louis Barthas, an enlisted man from southwestern France, managed to reduce the conflict to human scale with a pen and 19 notebooks that he filled with observations and comments from his more than four years of service in the army, most of it spent in combat on the Western Front. With Edward M. Strauss’s translation of “Poilu,” English-language readers now have access to a classic account of the war, a day-to-day chronicle of life in the trenches and a richly detailed answer to the seemingly unanswerable question: What was it like?"

Monday, April 21, 2014

Spontaneous Robert …

… 21 April (1919): Robert Frost to Marguerite Ogden Bigelow Wilkinson | The American Reader. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Final scene …

… How to Write John Updike's Deathbed - The Awl. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I’m not a great researcher. I tried to keep the death scene as clean and simple and spare as I could. I thought that less would be more. I thought that if I put in a few details that I could corroborate that that would do a lot more than trying to guess or pad or inject emotion by saying what people were feeling. Or getting them to tell me what people were feeling. I thought if I could get where they were in relation to the soon-corpse, and where they were standing and what hand gestures they made, it would say more than I was devastated by the sight of his emaciated body.

A man and his city …

… The Dickens of Detroit �. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Delightful...

Hmm …

… the editorial review: Jacques Barzun on Editing. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)



My own golden rule of editing derives from Lord Falkland — if it is not necessary to change, it is necessary not to change. Apart from obvious slips — a misspelling or a dropped comma — it is best to ask questions. Even in the case of Barzun, if you think there's actually room for improvement, I don't see why one wouldn't bring it up, even at the risk of being shot down.

Just a thought …


"Verily I say unto you, Except ye turn, and become as little children, ye shall in no wise enter into the kingdom of heaven. " Just imagine if you could once again see the world and life and people as you did when you were a small child, when you could clearly apprehend what you sensed you would never comprehend. Imagine how things would seem if you could see them that way now and compare that point of view to those you've come to rely on — reason, passion, science, religion, literature, and the rest. Of course, it is just around the time that we arrive at that initial coalescence of apprehension that we begin to be instructed in those things, and in much else besides. We begin to be shaped and come to accept what we have been shaped into, and shaped ourselves into.

Cruisin' …

… Paul Davis On Crime: Cruising the Caribbean Aboard The Explorer Of The Seas.

In case you wondered …

… 10 Reasons Why Making a List is Not Writing | BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog.

Peculiar perplexities …

… The University Bookman: On Incomprehensibles. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

… Pascal points to at least five examples of things that we cannot but wonder about—the existence of God, the union of body and soul, the nature of the soul, creation, and original sin. In considering such issues, we might well “know” something about each topic or its denial, but we really cannot “comprehend” its full depth. If we cannot “reject” something formally, we have to leave it open. We may be sure about many things, but still realize that many aspects of reality are not so clear to us.

The talented Mr. Updike (cont'd.) …

… Louis Menand: John Updike’s Cultural Project : The New Yorker. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Check this out …

… a new interactive website and lecture series about the interface between religion and psychology: Jewish Thought and Psychoanalysis.



The inaugural lecture, you will note, is next Sunday, April 27, which is Yom Nashoah, the Day of Remembrance of the those murdered during World War II.

A thought for today …


Cheerfulness, it would appear, is a matter which depends fully as much on the state of things within, as on the state of things without and around us.
— Charlotte Brontë, born on this date in 1816