Sunday, April 30, 2006

Week 17 ...

... of Louise Doughty's novel-in-a-year column: What is your novel about?

Sorry it took me so long ...

... to link to this: Blue's Cruzio Cafe. This is really neat stuff.

Drum roll, please ...

Maxine Clarke has been declared an SOB for Successful and outstanding blogging . Congratulations! (Thanks to Dave Lull for alerting me.)

The National Book Critics Circle wants ...

Your Thoughts. Be generous.

A grand old tree ...

You don't see much Olive Tree Blogging, but this is certainly worth a look. While you're at it, and especially if you think the world of French sophistication, you can look at this at the same blog: Clearstream - French for Watergate?

The spirit of the Times ...

... is taken note of at Power Line: Correcting Where It Counts.

In case you missed them ...

... the Book Standard has the Edgar Awards: No More Mystery for Edgar Awards Nominees .

If you don't know of this site ...

... and are interested in poetry, you may want to visit Desert Moon Review.

Gas vs. gasbags ...

The likelihood of global warming increased noticeably this week as politicians on both sides of the aisle in Washington bloviated compulsively on the subject of "rising gas prices." Check out A Look at Oil Profiteering at InstaPundit. Even if the guys in D.C. had staffers who could put a check on their ignorance, would any of them actually have the nerve to challenge conventional wisdom? I rather doubt it.

Another poet journalist

George Witte remarks upon Tina Kelley. (I had trouble with George's link to Verse Daily. So just in case, here is a link to Tina's poem Having Evolved From Trees. I am pleased to report that The Inquirer reviewed The Gospel of Galore quite favorably.

Update: Here, thanks to Dave Lull, is Susan Balee's review of The Gospel of Galore: A poet's words ascend with winged spirit.

The spirit of place ...

... and its effect on style. Shameless discusses A Tampering With The Brain . Minx's comment is interesting, too. I've never heard David Beckham speak, so I didn't know he had a girly voice. What would Arnold say?

Dave Lull for president?

Maxine Clarke thinks Libraries (should) rule. Wonder where book review editors would fit in?

And you thought ...

... eocnomists were a humorless lot. Well, think again: Every Breath You Take. (Hat tip, Dave Lull, whos suspects a Misean plot.)

Today's Inquirer reviews ...

Karen Heller looks at Wendy Wasserstein's Elements of Style: Wasserstein goes out with a (shopping) bag

Glenn Altschuler ponders Stepher Miller's Conversation: Mourning conversation using angry argument

Katie Haegele thinks the world of Anita Horrocks's Almost Eden: How 12-year-old girl finds way to adulthood

But John Freeman doesn't think the wortld of Cludia Emerson's Pulitzer Prize-winning Late Wife: Poet's divorce meditation is prosy, repetitive

And Desmond Ryan thinks Robert B. Parker has done better than Sea Change: Burned-out cop is worn-out tale

This may not be any help ...

... if you had too many a few last night, but we post it anyway: Questions & Answers: Hangover. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Saturday, April 29, 2006

The mysterious Minx ...

... conjures a poem: Seedlings.

A poet worth remembering ...

Patrick Kurp recalls Karl Shapiro: Comfort. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
It's worth recalling, too, the opening sentence of Shapiro's introduction to Henry Miller's Tropic of Cancer: "I call Henry Miller the greatest living author because I think he is."

Blogging will be light ...

... today. In the meantime, thanks to The Inner Minx, you can do Some Homework . Especially for Tolkien fans.

Friday, April 28, 2006

The poem of the day ...

... is by Kate Greenstreet: Leaving the Old Neighborhood.

Speaking of Terry Teachout ...

Golden Rule Jones links to Terry's piece about Fats Waller and to much else besides: Music: Can you stand me to tell you about it?

Spin this, babycakes!

Terry Teachout on The lost language of candor.

It's never too late ...

... to learn Latin (or anything else for that matter - I took up the piano at 50), and Amy Nelson-Mile has discovered a fun way to do it: A Pain-Free Method of Learning Latin .

At the risk of making people like me ..

... redundant (or are we redundant already?) here, via Petrona, is Armchair Interviews ... Connecting Authors to Their Readers.

I am feeling increasingly inadequate ...

... to the task I have set myself. How fit it all together? Here, for instance, is Sentinel Poetry Live.

Tracking down a quote ...

The Volokh Conspiracy finds the source for the "dark night of fascism is always descending in the United States and yet lands only in Europe." Tom Wolfe on Fascism Priceless.

Maybe this says it all ...

... at Carl's Tiny Brain: Hell.

One more poetry link ...

... before I sign off for a while to live my life: From the Poetry Library on the South Bank. (Hat tip this time to another of my Broad Street Irregulars, Dave Lull.)

What think you?

I know what I think about Book Banning. And what might that be? I am opposed, period, across the board, no exceptions. If your only defense against a book is to ban it, you don't have any defense against it. (I had seen this earlier, but decided against linking to it. Then Maxine Clarke sent it along, and so I changed my mind. See the influence you have over me, Maxine!)

So you want to be a writer ...

... but you're only sweet 16. John Scalzi has some advice: 10 Things Teenage Writers Should Know About Writing. (Via InstaPundit, which appears to be accessible again.)

And something else ...

... worth noticing about online poetry: It can be easily matched with other elements - photography, for instance. Introducing PoemADay.eu.

Shamelessly borrowing ...

… from Shameless, I pause for a poem.

Directions

Where doesn’t matter
Nor is there
A dress code, speech code
Hair style. No I.D.
Needed. You are
Already known
And admission’s free.
It’s only up
To you.
Enter here.

Progress report on online poetry ...

I promised this yesterday, but got too involved reading stuff and thought it best to let some of it settle in before mouthing off.
These are strictly preliminary observations and, as I’ve tried to make clear, I’m open to comments, criticism, whatever.
So here goes:
1) I think everybody agrees that there has been an explosion of poetry on the Internet.
2) Most seem to think that among the major factors are the sense of community, the interactivity, the critical feedback. Those who have participated in online poetry workshops seem to have benefited from them.
3) Everybody also seems to agree that a lot of the poetry to be found online is not very good and that one of the problems is separating the gold from the dross. (Regarding this, I have a further observation: This is hardly unique to the Internet. As someone who has hundreds of books delivered to his office every week, I can assure you that such is the world of publishing, whatever the medium. Commercial publishers don’t come near to batting 1.000 when it comes to quality.)
4) Some think that there are more poets than readers of poetry — though obviously the writers of online poetry must also be readers of it.

I have a few other things I could note, but I want to think about them some more and continue reading. I do want to make one point, though, about the good/bad business. There was a reference to Hallmark in one of the comments, and I know what point was being made. But let me say this: If you had the job of writing for Hallmark, you might not be so dismissive. I have actually had to write a couple of poems on deadline. T’ain’t  funny, McGee. And what do I care if that’s the sort of “poetry” someone likes? I take a very latitudinarian view of poetry — and literature. Poetry is what poets do and there are a lot of different poets doing a lot of different things. Poetry’s house has many mansions. The mere fact that someone would take the trouble to memorialize a moment or an experience in even clumsy rhyme and meter deserves respect, not condescension or ridicule.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

I know I'm supposed to be concentrating ...

.. on poetry, but I got distracted by these great photos at Art Durkee's site.

Why stop now?

Let's take a look at the Wild Poetry Forum.

Another online poetry link ..

John Vick's Blog. Lots of stuff here. A lot of which you can listen to.

But enough of poetry for a bit ...

... let's listen to Brad Thor as interviewed by Dr. Blogstein: Canned Tuna and Powdered Milk Under The Bed: An Interview with Brad Thor .

Oh, I missed this ...

... because I was out of the office: Publishing Contrarian Elbows Past SRO Crowd to See THE HISTORY BOYS on Broadway.

We've found yet more ...

... that we find interesting: The O'Malley Poems. (There are a couple of old Inquirer typographers who would find this interesting, too.)

And here's another poem ...

... I just came upon Stephen Burt's "After Callimachus." I'm trying to organize my thoughts on this subject, but I keep getting sidetracked reading poems and posts. Bear with me - this is the fun part of journalism: the reporting.

Poetry onlin e (cont'd) ...

Rachel Dacus had some thoughts before I posted anything : Poetry online - the question .

Online poetry link No. 3 ...

... is to Apryl Fox's "After Reading Stephen Hawking's Essays on a Nutshell-Shaped Universe" at Strange Horizons. Here's a link to Strange Horizon's Poetry Archive. Lots of interesting stuff there. (Hat tip, Laurie Mason - Thanks, Laurie. I got Mythic.)

How could I have forgotten?

Gee, today was Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day! Oh well, here's something to do when you take them home: Every day can be Put Your Kids to Work Day. And ought to be. (Bia InstaPundit.)

I knew it!

I knew there was more to Justice Peter Smith's Da V Code decision - at least more than is to be found simply by reading it. Michael Allen has the story and the links: The Da Vinci code cracked. (Another hat tip to Maxine.)

Notes of an also-ran ...

John Barlow tells How I didn't end up like that Harvard sophomore accused of plagiarizing her novel. There's more here: I coulda been a contender. (Hat tip, Maxine Clarke.)

Old way not best ...

... Alan Coren discovers the hard way: Only Keats would understand the trouble I've had writing this piece. (Hat tip - why, Dave Lull.)

Ohhh, noooo ...

... not another addiction! A vision of the future: Blogaholics Anonymous and a timer on the modem? (Is Dave Lull trying to tell me something?)

Move over, Army of Davids ...

... the Army of Poets is on the march: Powow poets play their part. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Faith and reason ...

The Literary Saloon has a PEN report: Faith & Reason: Writers Speak. I can't say I quite grasp from this what points were actually made regarding the stated subject. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The book business ...

Roger Simon, who knows his stuff, has couple of worthwhile posts on the subject: Hix Nix Kos Pix and Little, Brown "works hard for the money."

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Nice shot ...

... at My Photos: Gorrion.

Online poetry update ...

Tomorrow afternoon I plan to read through again all the comments I've received on this topic. I also plan to look at all the links I've been sent. And tomorrow night I hope to put together a substantial preliminary report.

Otherwise, as Bugs Bunny would say, That's all, folks! For tonight, at least.

Things could be worse ...

... John Osborne could have been your father: Look back with loathing . (Via Jenny Davidson at Light Reading.)

Just for good measure ...

... here's another poem, this one from The Inner Minx: Gin Scribblings.

Anything worth doing ...

... is worth doing for its own sake. Which brings us to Prairie Mary and Non-Monetary Compensations. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Online poetry link No. 2 ...

Today's link is to Four Poems by C.E. Chaffin. Chris O'Carroll, who sent me this link, descriv=bes Chaffin as a "larger-than-life figure in the online poetry world" and suggested I Google him. So I did. I found C. E. Chaffin's Blog. And this Tryst Interview .

Since this is a blog that's supposed to give readers a behind-the-scenes look at what I do, I figured I might as well keep you informed on my thoughts about this article I'm planning as they develop. That's the advantage of blogging, right?
So here goes. I'm thinking that, given the size of the topic, the most I can hope to do in an article is provide an overview - and a portal to the work. I am planning on quoting a good deal of what has been said in the emails I have received and the comments that have been posted here. I think we ought to be able to find space in the paper for some poems. And right here, on this very blog, I ought to be able to put together on the day the piece runs in the paper, a fairly comprehensive set of links and maybe a good sampler of poems, something like a Carnival of Online Poetry (it wouldn't be the first; I know that, because I linked to one a while back).
Well, that's where my head is so far. Comment away, folks.

Kaavya Viswanathan ...

... has a champion. Bill Poser offers this In Defense of Kaavya Viswanathan. (Hat tip, the always honorable Dave Lull.)

Update: Here's another piece in the Harvard Independent (I think this is the piece David Thayer referred me to): Inside 17th Street Productions.

As for me, I haven't looked at it in enough detail to have formed an opinion. I do think the TA was a more than a little out of line. I was once a TA. The job is to help students learn how to write reasonably well. The job is doable.

Later today ...

... turns out to be right now, because I thought I'd pass along something I just came upon at InstaPundit: Gasoline Price History. This is actual, factual information. It's what the media should be passing along.

Blogging will resume ...

... later today.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Matter of life and death ...

Kevin Holtsberry on The party of death.

Borrowing acknowledged (cont'd.) ...

Maud Newton has more on the Kaavya Viswanathan business: Notes from Kaavya Viswanathan’s former instructor. (Via The Elegant Variation.)

Visions and revisions ...

David Montgomery has a Website update.

Online poetry link No. 1 ...

This is the first of what will be a series of links to online poetry. There will be at least one every day. This one links to the current issue of Botteghe Oscure and features poems by Rhina P. Espaillat. (Hat tip, Chris O'Carroll.)

Poems deserve from time from the reader, which is why I'm only posting these one at a time.

A garland of links ...

... at Petrona: While I was away, Part 94. (Though I, being pro-civilization, was unimpressed by How to Save the World. Amazing how the myth of a golden age persists in human consciousness. Must be as hard-wired as religion. Even if true - and I suspect there's something to it - you can't go home again, boys and girls. You must go on.)

A writer's blues ...

Lynn Viehl wonders What's Sad?

Copyright chronicles ...

SCI FI Wire reports that Star Wars Fanfic Still On Sale. More on this at John Scalzi's Whatever: And Now, Some Marketing Coverage (scroll down to the end).

The future of newspapers (cont'd) ...

Abe at NYC24 links to a New Media Survey in the Economist. Much has been made of the parallel between blogging and the invention of movable type. But the decisive factor in the 15th century wasn't the printing press so much as it was the employment of the vernacular as the language of choice. Had Latin remained dominant, things might have turned out quite differently. Writing in the vernacular parallels blogging also: people deciding to do journalism on their own, by themselves - and finding they can do it as well or, in some cases, better than the professionals. And by so doing taking away the mystique.
[But you're a professional journalist. - ed. To quote a guy from back then: "If this be heresy, then make the most of it."]

Borrowing acknowledged ...

Critical Mass links to the story alleging plagiarism by Kaavya Viswanathan, 21-year-old author of How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild, and Got a Life.

Online poetry update ...

Here's my plan. I am off this week and want to do some things not associated with my job. But I'm going to read all the comments and emails, visit all the links, read a lot of the poetry, and put together a piece I hope will give readers a pretty good overview of the field. Know of an online poem you think is pretty good? Send it along.

The Middle Ages live on ...

Right after penning the previous post, I got into a conversation with Ray Nocella, our roofer. He noticed the gargoyle in my home office and mentioned the original function of gargoyles in his business. In fact, they get an honorable mention in An Industry Overview at his Web site. Let's hear it for gargoyles!

Caveat scriptor ...

Amy Nelson-Mile links to A Blog Featuring Cautionary Tales for Writers . This link, I see, came by way of Digital Medievalist, which also has this post: Using Medieval Latin: A Toolbox of Resources. While I do not, like Miniver Cheevy, "miss the medieval grace of iron clothing," I do find the Middle Ages fascinating - especially the 13th century - and expect to spend much of retirement (when it occurs) there.

The Gnostic shuffle ...

... gets a nice going over by Paul Mankowski, SJ at Catholic World News: The Pagels Imposture. Refreshing to encounter something of the old Jesuit spirit. I don't know if this link is accessible if you're not a subscriber, so here's a key section:

Pagels's The Gnostic Gospels is in large measure a polemic against St. Irenaeus (approx. 130-202 AD), Bishop of Lyons and a Father of the Church, and is aimed in particular against the defense of ecclesial orthodoxy offered by Irenaeus in his work Against Heresies -- which was written in Greek but which survives, for the most part, in an ancient Latin translation.

In a chapter called "One God, One Bishop," Pagels is concerned to show that the doctrine of monotheism and the hierarchical structuring of the Church were mutually reinforcing ploys designed to consolidate ecclesiastical power and eliminate diversity -- specifically, the diversity that Pagels finds in the Gnostics whom Irenaeus was at pains to refute. Pagels claims that Valentinian Christians (disciples of the Gnostic Valentinus) "followed a practice which insured the equality of all participants" and put the bishop Irenaeus in a double-bind situation by ignoring his orders. Says Pagels (page 43: brackets, ellipsis, and emphasis are Pagels's):

What Irenaeus found most galling of all was that, instead of repenting or even openly defying the bishop, they responded to his protests with diabolically clever theological arguments:
They call [us] "unspiritual," "common," and "ecclesiastic." ... Because we do not accept their monstrous allegations, they say that we go on living in the hebdomad [the lower regions], as if we could not lift our minds to the things on high, nor understand the things that are above.

Pagels's quotation of Irenaeus is tagged by an endnote reference which, on page 162, reads "Ibid. [Irenaeus AH], Quotation conflated from 3.15.2 and 2.16.4." To put it mildly, an interesting method of citation. Let's look at the sources.

The first part of Pagels's quote comes from Book III, Chapter 15 of Against Heresies, where Irenaeus is arguing for the genuineness of the whole of the New Testament, here against the Valentinians:

Hi enim ad multitudinem propter eos qui sunt ab Ecclesia, quos communes et ecclesiasticos ipsi dicunt, inferunt sermones, per quos capiunt simpliciores et illiciunt eos, simulantes nostrum tractatum, uti saepius audiant. [They give speeches to the crowd about those from the Church, whom they call "common" and "ecclesiastic," through which they entrap the simple and entice them, counterfeiting our teaching, that they might listen to them more often.]

From this sentence Pagels takes only the words communes et ecclesiasticos ipsi dicunt, omitting the larger context. Note that the "[us]" which Pagels inserts in her quotation refers not, as her context requires, to bishops, but to all the Catholic faithful: those who belong to the Church. After the ellipsis, her quote resumes midway through a sentence found in Book II, Chapter 16. In this chapter, Irenaeus is primarily concerned neither with the authenticity of Scripture nor with the Valentinians, but with the doctrine of creation propounded by another Gnostic heresiarch named Basilides. Once more, let's examine the text:

Etenim hoc quod imputant nobis qui sunt a Valentino, in ea quae deorsum Ebdomade dicentes nos remanere, quasi non adtollentes in altum mentem neque quae sursum sunt sentientes, quoniam portentiloquium ipsorum non recipimus, hoc idem ipsum qui a Basilide sunt his imputant. [For that which the followers of Valentinus impute to us -- claiming that we remain in the lower Hebdomad, as if we could not lift our minds on high or perceive the things that are above, since we reject their own extravagant discourses -- this very thing the followers of Basilides impute to them.]

We note that the last phrase is omitted and the order of the preceding clauses reversed to disguise the non sequitur -- and for a very good reason: Irenaeus actually says that the same allegations made against the orthodox by the Valentinians are made against the Valentinians by their fellow Gnostics, the disciples of Basilides, and that's an embarrassment to Pagels's notion of the Gnostic-Catholic divide. To recapitulate: Pagels has carpentered a non-existent quotation, putatively from an ancient source, by silent suppression of relevant context, silent omission of troublesome words, and a mid-sentence shift of 34 chapters backwards through the cited text, so as deliberately to pervert the meaning of the original. While her endnote calls the quote "conflated," the word doesn't fit even as a euphemism: what we have is not conflation but creation.

Re-reading Pagels's putative quotation, you may have noticed that the word "unspiritual" corresponds to nothing in the Latin. It too was supplied by Pagels's imagination. The reason for the interpolation will be plain from the comment that immediately follows (page 44 in The Gnostic Gospels). Remember that she wants to argue that Irenaeus was interested in authority and the Valentinians in the life of the spirit:

Irenaeus was outraged at their claim that they, being spiritual, were released from the ethical restraints that he, as a mere servant of the demiurge, ignorantly sought to foist upon them.

Put simply, Irenaeus did not write what Prof. Pagels wished he would have written, so she made good the defect by silently changing the text. Creativity, when applied to one's sources, is not a compliment. She is a very naughty historian.

Monday, April 24, 2006

And one more ...


... from Maxine: Which cell organelle are you?
Maxine turned out to be Mitochondria.
Me?

The Endoplasmic Reticulum
You're the Endoplasmic reticulum! The ER modifies proteins, makes macromolecules, and transfers substances throughout the cell. It has its own membrane, and translation of mRNA happens within it. You tend to have two sides to you - sort of a jekyll and Hyde kind of story. One side of you tends to be rough and tumble, but also very useful. Your other side is less well-defined and slightly more mysterious.

You scored 76 Industriousness, 35 Centrality, and 7 Causticity!

And with that, we finish blogging for today - because I wnat to continue reaidng my review copy of Yasmina Khadra's The Attack, which may turn out to be the book to read this year.

Maxine is on a roll ...

Check out Blinded by science. And here's one we can all use: Improve your blog (notice Dave Lull has a hand in this).

A warming debate ...

Since we linked to the 60 scientists raising doubts about global warming, it's only fair we link to this: Climate Scientists Strike Back (you have to scroll down a bit).

This link was sent by Maxine Clarke, who sends along a good bit more:

Curate's Egg from the BBC

Come on, get happy ...

... though there's more to True happiness is more than feeling good . (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Today's poem ...

... is "Consolation" by Wislawa Szymborska. (Hat tip, Maxine Clarke again.)

Faith and beauty ...

John Polkinghorne talks about Quarks and Creation on Speaking of Faith. (Hat tip, Maxine Clarke.)

All-time religion ...

James Wood turns in a splendid performance reviewing Harold Bloom's Jesus and Yahweh: The Names Divine: The Misreader.
Two comments:
1)Bloom, Wood says, "finds that American Christians emphasize what he calls "a Gnostic knowing of Jesus through direct acquaintance..." That seems to me to have more in common with Zen Buddhism than Gnosticism.
2) "Whatever reasons people over the centuries have had for worshipping Jesus rather than Yahweh," Wood writes, "they have not been primarily aesthetic." I wonder. I have always found the God of the New Testament more aesthetically satisfying that the God of the Old Testament. It has always seemed to me that at the very least Jesus would have to be regarded as a genius for discerning that God is love, having only Yahweh to work with as a model.

Well, there seems to be a lot of interest ...

... in a piece about poetry online, if the comments attached to this earlier post are any indication. This will now one of things I do during this week I've taken off - I also want to read a couple of online books: James Aach's Rad Decision and Michael Allen's How and why Lisa's Dad got to be famous. Because I also have something planned about other writing on the Web.

Blogger is apparently working again ...

... which is nice. But I won't be able to blog for a while, since I have other things to do now.

A fine appreciation ...

... of a fine poet: Allan Massie's Why Housman holds up. It is worth noting, once again, how simple is the language Housman employs, and I am pleased to see that both Eliot and George Barker - the latter sadly neglected these days - were fans. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Sunday, April 23, 2006

In the meantime ...

... just click on Petrona and read. It's all interesting.

Trash is defended stoutly ...

... at The Inner Minx: Get your Jilly Cooper out and wave it in the air!! I do not object to The Da Vinci Code because it is trash. I don't think it rises to that level. A good, entertaining, diverting book is not trash, in my view. Every book doesn't need to be Anna Karenina - which has some distinctly trashy qualities to it, by the way. I'd rather read unpretentious "trash" than pretentious "literature."

Week 16 ...

... of Louise Doughty's novel-writing course: Make a list of what helps you to write.

A gathering of goodies ...

... at Sarah Weinman's Weekend Update.

Wow!

I couldn't find the piece I wrote about glass sculptor Christopher Ries myself, but Dave Lull managed to: Glass pieces combine science and art. Shows you what I know. Also shows you how good Dave is.

Dave also sends along something I posted here that is pertinent: Vacation Days (Part II) .

OK, folks ...

... how about helping me out. I want to write about literature and the Internet. In particular I want to begin with a piece about poetry and the Internet. Feedback, suggestions, whatever - all will be appreciated. I figure if I propose this online, I'll get a better perspective with the help of those online. It's certainly worth a try.

Damned if you do ...

... and if you don't: A Shameless Titbit.

I notice ...

... that the Everhart Museum in Scranton has an exhibition opening Friday - Capturing the Light: Masterworks of Contemporary Glass. I notice it because included in the show are works by Christopher Ries, whom I wrote about last summer. Online access to that piece currently eludes me, but even better is my colleague Eric Mencher's flash show: Reflections in Glass.

Cover story ...

Amy Nelson-Mile links to A Site Devoted To Book Design .

Yesterday ...

... we welcomed Petrona back online by linking to Maxine's review of, among other books, John Baker's White Skin Man. Here, posted by John Baker, is an extract from the book.

Speaking of Pulitzers ...

... which we mentioned a couple of posts back, Roger Simon has some thoughts: The Leaker's Tale . My only comment is "Walter Duranty."

The propagation of myth ...

... the New York Times way. Mickey Kaus on Burn, Burkle, Burn! (Via InstaPundit - and yes, of course I know that Burkle and Yucaipa have partnered with the Newspaper Guild to buy The Inquirer.)

Update: As Glenn Reynolds points out, the Times is having a bad weekend. Not what so many continue to expect from the vaunted newspaper of record: Oops! Never Mind.

Update No. 2: Tom Lipscomb does his usual incisive job examining the Times's parlous financial state: Pinch Gets Punched.

Sunday's Inquirer reviews ...

... include my first Editor's Choice column in a while: Two more spawn of the 'Code': Middling and less

Here are the rest:

My Last Grievance, by Elinor Lipman, reviewed by Paula Marantz Cohen: P.C. parents, restless child, eccentric new friend in academe

John Freeman chats with Doris Lessing: The author on 'Gen. Dann' (There's also a review of Gen. Dann, but it doesn't seem to have been picked up online. Guess iwe will have to get that tomorrow, since, thanks to Knight Ridder's pathetic cost-cutting, the online desk isn't staffed on Sundays anymore. Hope whoever buys the paper has enough elementary business sense to know that a product must be invested in if you want people to keep buying it - and more people to want it.)

Carlin Romano looks at Museum, Inc., by Paul Werner: In 'Museum, Inc.,' an insider's look at business of art

And, in Audio Books, The baffling and lovely novel with the intriguing cover

I should also bring to your attention Karen Heller's review earlier this week of The Lightning Keeper by Starling Lawrence: Powerhouse novel about love and electricity .

Also, this week, John Freeman reviewed Geraldine Brooks's March, which won the Pultizer for fiction this week: A Pulitzer-winning novel about the 'little women's' father

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Probably won't be ...

... blogging much , if at all, for the rest of today. I've been in the office getting things in order - no mean feat, let me tell you - so I can take the coming week off (except for a brief trip in Wednesday). It's a quarter past 4, I have a 45-minute walk home, then have to get ready so Debbie and I can go out to the orchestra tonight: Mahler's Das Lied von der Erde. Just what I need.

Today's poem ...

... is "In Defence of the Bush" by Banjo Paterson.

A good example ...

... of good reviewing marks the return of Petrona: Holiday reading (even if Maxine does mix up John Baker with John Barlow - they're right next to each other on my blogroll).

I would read White Skin Man even despite the caveat (which counts with me - see this post). I suspect I would skip James and Connolly.

The art of book reviewing ...

... such as it is, is nicely appraised by Scott Esposito: Trusted Fellow Reader.

I think that readers develop a sense of which reviewers they can trust. It isn't that they necessarily agree with them, or immediately run out and buy every book they recommend or scrupulously avoid any they dismiss, it's rather that they feel they've got a fair appraisal - and can take it from there themselves.
Because of space constraints, I usually tell reviewers that if they really don't like a book, don't bother reviewing it. Find something you like that you can tell readers about. I also think positive reviews are more heeded by readers than negative reviews are. Moreover, a good reviewer tells you enough about the book and his reasons for liking or disliking it that you can make up your own mind about it.
My column, Editor's Choice, is designed for recommending books, so I rarely have the opportunity to write negative reviews. Tomorrow will be an exception, since I was asked to look at a couple of European-bred Da Vinci Code clones. I was underwhelmed.
Again, much has to do with the tone adopted. Dale Peck's tone is pretty narrow-gauged. And a lot of people seem to have adopted a snarky manner in order, I guess, to get across how tough and tough-minded they are. I've been around the block far too many times to be impressed by that sort of thing (and also for reasons indicated in this post). In fact, it turns me off.
If anything ought to be an example of a civilized manner, it's book reviewing.

Should you be planning ...

... to attend BookExpo America 2006 in D.C. next month, the will interest you: Marching on Washington.

More on British intellectuals ...

... presuming there are any (see earlier post): Intellectual (n): clever dick.

Nice to learn that Orwell thought Jean-Paul Sartre was "a bag of wind." That's exactly what he was.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Drum roll, please ...

The National Book Critics Circle has started a blog: Critical Mass.

Wallace Stevens meets ...

... Samuel Beckett. Steve Mitchelmore on The material of expression. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

This explains to some extent my aversion to topical literature. Leave editorializing to editorial writers.

So you like adventure stories ...

... then you should be readng Michael Totten: Back to Iraq Part VI - Smuggling My Way Out of Iraq.

The envelope, please ...

An alert from Amy Nelson-Mile: Winner of 2006 Best Romantic Novel Announced.

Can't ignore this ...

... at cafe' cafe': on the rez.

Local boys make good ...

Read all about it: Harry Potter and the Madding Gerund: Secrets of the Language Log Code. And visit the Language Log, which I have only just discovered thanks to Maxine Clarke.

Time to pause ...

... with The Inner Minx for A small, but very exciting, celebration.
Minx had a post yesterday about A Writers Voice . Tone of voice, I find, is an especially significant factor in blogging.

Who can you trust?

Lots of people. You just have to know some criteriology. In the meantime, consider Lies, damned lies and Wikipedia. (Hat tip, Maxine Clarke, who is back online at Petrona.)

An influential list ...

... or so UK bookseller Blackwell's claims: 50 Books That Shaped the World. Only six of them seem to have exerted any influence on me. This comes via Micael Allen: Bibliophile Bullpen.

Whatever you do ...

... don't tell Dan Brown there's A New Bible Code

Quote of the day ...

... is from John Updike at Terry Teachout's Almanac. One reason I've never wanted to be famous.
Rich is something else. Like the late Spike Milligan, I wouldn't mind having a chance to prove that great wealth wouldn't corrupt me.

Equivocation alert ...

Arts & Letters Daily links to Alphabets are as simple as... in The Telegraph and alludes to this passage: "... the reason the letters of the alphabet are shaped as they are is to be in harmony with the mental machinery we have evolved to analyse the patterns of the natural world, not for ease of writing, said Dr Changizi."
But I have no mental machinery. I am not a machine. I am an organism. Organisms are not machines. If you want to draw an analogy between an organism and a machine, fine, though to what purpose remains unclear to me. All machines I know of are designed and constructed by those organisms known as human beings. I know of no organisms designed or constructed by anybody - at least not in the sense that machines are.

Sometimes reviewers get it right ...

Kevin Holtsberry links to Frank Meyer on Lolita.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Trumpeting his work ...

Just came upon this interview with Terry Teachout at Jerry Jazz Musician. It's about the Louis Armstrong biography he's at work on.

For fans of the sweet science, there's also this interview with David Margolick about his Joe Louis/ Max Schmeling book.

A discovery ...

... at Another 52 Books: Mystery author #13: Georges Simenon. Part 1.

The numbers game ...

Lynn Viehl has an interesting date coming up: Oh dear .

The results are in ...

... at The Publishing Contrarian: Wicked Witch Survey Results: Publishing Companies Create Vanity Web Sites, Authors Twist in the Wind, Readers Really Do Read.

We're listening, Minx

... A Writer's Voice

Another poem ...

... from Shameless - with pictures to boot : A Pause for a Poem

Blog alert ...

Yale University Press has a blog: The Yale Press Log.

Maxine Clarke ...

... is having problems with her broadband connection - which is why Petrona hasn't been updated lately.

Today's poem ...

... Jo McDougall's "What We Need."

Let's hear it ...

... for the Owl of Minerva! Carlin Romano on Francis Fukuyama: An intellectual's heresy: Flip-flopping on Iraq. Tell the truth - how many of you had to look up the concluding allusion?

A wondrous roundup ...

... at The Elegant Variation: Obiter Dicta - Thursday Edition. (This is my deadline day and I have to get two weeks' work done this week because I'm taking off next week. So I regard something like this as a blessing from heaven.)

Nothing wrong with the world ...

... that the elimination of humans wouldn't fix: Mick Hume on Confronting the New Misanthropy. Apocalypticism and predestinarianism and other puppet-theories never seem to go away and at certain times exert an inordinate appeal upon many.

Blogging (circa 1918) ...

The Future of Journalism as Told by Hilaire Belloc in 1918 (Hat tip, Roger Miller.)

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

No more blogging today ...

... because I just got home after 12 hours in the office. I'm going to just flop down and read a bit. Back tomorrow.

Get happy ....

Anthony Selden on Lessons in life: Why I'm teaching happiness . (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
I am thinking of writing about John Cowper Powys's The Art of Happiness, out of print but well worth reading - and re-issuing.

All aboard ...

... the streetcar to heaven: 'Prayer coach' wants to wear out, not rust. (Hat tip, Jim Bowman.)

Well, is there?

Is there such a thing as a British intellectual? (Hat tip, Gene D'Alessandro.)

Today's quote ...

... also comes from Kate's Book Blog: Experiencing Fiction.

The street where she lived ...

“I was born in Edinburgh, at 160 Bruntsfield Place, the Morningside District, in 1918,” wrote Muriel Spark in Curriculum Vitae. And here, via Kate's Book Blog is a shot of Bruntsfield Place.

Brandywine Books ...

... wants to hear from you: Looking for Feedback.

Good news ...

... from Ohio State: Librarian Cleared. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

What you are reading ...

... we are happy to report, is eminently readable - on a level with Reader's Digest, the Bible and Mark Twain, at least according to the readability test at Juicy Studio. (Dave Lull sent this link a while back, but I missed it.)

Today's poem ...

A Score for Reverend Jack.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Who better to remember this date ...

... than Chaucer himself: Nota bene: Make melodye today .

Thanks to blogging ...

... I have been reminded today of a new novel by Michelle Lovric. Now Mark Sarvas reminds me, in this post, of another that's been in my office for a while: When Good Theories Go Bad. On that link is also a notice about Sheila Heti's Ticknor, which I have also put aisde for a look. But I ma so behind schedule it's pathetic. And I just spent the day writing the first negative review I've done in a long time. Woe is me.

Want to be a great writer?

Then head for the gym, if John Barlow is right: Mr. Rushdie's Bed Sheets. But what about Dr. Johnson?

More 'Television' ...

... as The Mumpsimus Catches Up with the LBC .

Psst! Over here ...

... a French novel. Brandywine Books links to French TV.

This may have nothing to do with books ...

... but it does have something to do with news. It's also a pretty moving story: Little Things Can Mean A Lot.

A worthy anniversary indeed ...

On this day (though it may have been the next) Geoffrey Chaucer's 29 pilgrims gathered at the Tabard Inn to ready themselves for the trip to Canterbury, "The hooly blisful martyr for to seeke / That hem hath holpen whan that they were seke." (Another good reason to subscribe to Today in Literature.)
Here's The Canterbury Tales complete with hypertext glossary.

OK, learned readers ...

... Michael Gilleland wants you to give Walter Harding a hand: Unidentified Quotations and Allusions in Walden.

Whatever happened to ...

... the guy who wrote God's obit back in 1966? Well, Death of God theologian Thomas Altizer has a memoir coming out: 'Is God dead?' ex-professor reflects years later. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
It is worth noting that Altizer is not really an atheist.

Look it up ...

... in OED online free for a week, thanks to BBC Balderdash and Piffle. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

How could I have missed this?

Michael Allen posts Michelle Lovric: The Remedy . I reviewed Lovric's The Floating Book a couple of years ago and thought it was great. Can't understand how this new one eluded me, since it came out in December. I may track it down and review it anyway.

I'm not sure what to make of this ...

Amy Nelson-Mile tells you all about the Holy Tango Anthology of Literature .

Think a book's worth reviewing?

David Montgomery wants to hear about it: Book recommendations?

Beckett as poster boy ...

... for Irish tourism: Welcome to Beckett country . This is sufficiently absurd to have actually appealed to the old boy, I suspect.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Just when you thought ...

... there was nothing more to say about The Da Vinci Code, Michael Allen comes up with plenty that 's fresh: David Hooper on the Da Vinci case .

Reading to Borges ...

Alberto Manguel explains How I learnt to see from a blind master.

It's week 15 ...

... in Louise Doughty's novel-writing course: Setting stories in the past.

More about Muriel Spark ...

Martyn Everett has some links and a good quote. Power Line also noted her passing: Muriel Spark, RIP. This includes a link to a fine piece by Roger Kimball.

Take a listen ...

... to AnnMarie Eldon reading some of her poems.

Speaking of Terry Teachout ...

... this is a thoughtful piece: In a yellow wood. I find myself curiously detached from my past, on the rare occasions I bother to think about it. It seems to have happened to someone else, certainly not the person I am now.

A word from the Master ...

Terry Teachout's Almanac features Noel Coward. I think he's right - which of course means there is no normal.

The title to titles ...

Lynn Viehl talks about the difficulty of coming up with titles that haven't been used: Title Recall .

When I was in college two books with the same title made the best-seller list just years apart: The Devil's Advocate, one by Morris L. West, the other by Taylor Caldwell.
Of course, some titles are sacrosanct. No point in calling your new novel Moby-Dick. Also, some authors are very good at choosing titles, others not so good. I've always thought Henry Miller was good at it, but not D.H. Lawrence.

Science, religion and lucre ...

John Horgan sends along this link to Anjana Ahuja's Science Notebook: I'm so sorry, you fellows, but I always religiously avoid your sort (this also contains a link to a piece by John that I linked to and commented on a while back).
There is one evident difference between the two cases: Ahuja did not accept the invitation and hence got no money.
It does seem reasonable for someone dogmatically opposed to the reconciliation of religion and science not to take money from an organization whose aim is preciselysuch reconciliation - though apparently it didn't bother Richard Dawkins, who was at the conference John attended and spoke in his usual uncompromising fashion.
It still seems to me that John and Ahuja are implying that scientists who are religious are intellectually dishonest. Indeed, if science and religion are incompatible and irreconcilable, that must be the case.
I also wonder if John would have had similar qualms, back in the day, about accepting funding from, say, the old Soviet Union, given that communism had in a relatively short time wreaked at least as much havoc as any religion has. In fact, the anti-religious ideologies of the 20th century were far worse than any religion. And religion gave us some good things - hospitals, manuscripts, glorious art, music, and literature. I don't recall any such benefits accruing from communism or fascism.

The joy of gardening ...

I live right in the city, in South Philly, off the Italian Market, and my garden is a tiny postage stanp patio garden. But it's large enough to raise a good supply of herbs ( I like to cook) and a fair share of flowers. As I realized once again over the weekend, even a tiny garden takes a good bit of time and effort to be readied for the season.
Amy Nelson-Mile emails that it's still a little too early to garden in Saskatchewan. But at Books, Words, And Writing, her post Gardens and Writers links to a fabulous site. Amy also sends along this link to some virtual gardens.
Toward the end of his life, Henry Miller wrote that if he had his life over again he would have become a gardener. Had my circumstances been only slightly different, that's exactly what I would have become. Oh well.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Editing Beckett ...

Jim Knipfel looks at the centenary edition: Still waiting for Beckett. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

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Happy Easter ...

... and once again, blogging will be light because, well, it's Easter and we have guests coming for dinner; I have some cooking to do, and I haven't finished the garden work. Also, it's good to take a breather from blogging and reading and writing. The result, I hope, will be mo' better blogging starting tomorrow.

In the meantime here are Sunday's Inquirer reviews.
One especially worth noting isn't exactly a review. It's this essay by Roger Miller: Getting his '71/2 Cents' worth

Here are the rest:

Black Swan Green, by David Mitchell: Sensitive, suffering boyhood: A tour de force

John Freeman talks with David Mitchell: The author on stammering, his rules for fiction, and disregarding readers

The Judgment of Paris: The Revolutionary Decade That Gave the World Impressionism, by Ross King: Intriguing story of 1860s art wars

Some Fun, by Antonya Nelson: A masterful reassembly of lives left in pieces

Audio Books: The baffling and lovely novel with the intriguing cover

If I do say so myself, I think this is a particularly nice mix. I feel about it the way an impresario might.

By the way, those in the Philly area should know that David Mitchell will appear at the Central Library of the Free Library of Philadelphia, 1901 Vine St., tomorrow night - Monday, April 17 - at 7. Free. 215-567-4341.
Also Ross King will be there Thursday at 8. That one's not free. Tickets are $12, $8 and $6. Phone 215-567-4341.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

I missed this yesterday ...

... but it remains well worth reading: Inappropriately Good Friday (warning - explicit, orthodox Christian content).

Why this guy never impressed me ...

Bill Peschel quotes Sartre on philosophy. "Man can will nothing unless he has first understood that he must count on no one but himself..." Well, sure - if you decide to go through life not taking a chance on anyone besides yourself. But life is precisely about taking those sorts of chances. Sartre's premise woul make love impossible. Only love happens to be actual - rare perhaps, but actual. Sartre is one of those thinkers who make grand preposterous assertions that somehow strike a chord in the adolescent psyche (which can remain dominant in persons long past adolescence, unfortunately).

Muriel Spark (1918-2006)

Muriel Spark has died: Still in her prime. Her last novel, The Finishing School, published in 2004, became a best-seller. I reviewed it. It was delightful, characterized by "economy of means, precision of language and formal perfection." She lived in Tuscany too. God bless her.

There is more: Ian Rankin comments here. And Alan Taylor, literary editor of the Glasgow Herald, here. And Kelly Jane Torrance posts Spark of Genius.

Blogging will be light ...

... today. There is work in the garden to be done - and I need to rest up after a hectic week. But I would draw everyone's attention to this piece by my colleague Annette John-Hall (which I had the pleasure of editing): Say yes to dress-up.
Note this quote: "We have become Tacky Nation, a society whose dress reflects our dumbed-down, diminished sense of what's important. Even rich people dress like they're about to make a Wal-Mart run. Somehow Bill Gates addressing stockholders wearing a golf shirt reeks of condescension, especially when he can buy the whole stinking course.
If moneyed folks like Gates think that sporting Dockers and deck shoes puts those of us less affluent at ease, they should think again."

Then consider this piece by Theodore Dalrymple: Minding Our Manners. Perhaps these two articles by very different writers represents the start of a grand new convergence of views.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Warm thoughts ...

... about Beckett at The Mumpsimus: Beckett at 100 .

"It is right that he too should have his little chronicle, his memories, his reason, and be able to recognize the good in the bad, the bad in the worst, and so grow gently old down all the unchanging days, and die one day like any other day, only shorter. "

Next stop, Edinburgh ...

Kate S. is heading to the Athens of the North (a.k.a. Auld Reekie) and savoring a literary portrait: Robert Louis Stevenson on Edinburgh . My own favorite Stevenson book is Travels With a Donkey.

Calling all story writers ...

... The Village Green Rag has a short story contest. (Via Metaxu Cafe.)

Help wanted ...

... by M.J. Rose: Join Backstory .

Still sounds pretty bad to me ...

Jenny D. links to Hilary Mantel on Robespierre. I am reminded of what Schiller has a character say in Don Carlos, that lovers of humanity tend to become persecutors of mankind.

Not so cranky after all ...

James Marcus on Jonathan Swift: Custards in a blind alley.

Attention readers of litblogs ...

... Lynne Scanlon has some questions for you: Wicked Witch’s Simple Survey of Online Book Publishing. I will take the survey either tonight or tomorrow.

Atta boy ...

Martin Amis has a story in the works about the last day of Mohammed Atta: Amis flies into fresh controversy with story of 9/11 hijacker .

I like this:
The publisher said of the new work, which will be released in September: "These themes and settings may look like unfamiliar ground for Martin Amis. But in fact he is returning to his central preoccupation: the nature of masculinity, and the connections between male sexuality and violence."
Maybe he should first think of a good story.

More crushing of dissent ...

... as Glenn Reynolds likes to put it: OSU librarian slapped with “sexual harassment” charge for recommending conservative books for freshmen. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.) Sounds like a pretty dim-witted faculty to me.

Update: Glenn Reynolds links to more on this at the Volokh Conspiracy. It is truly appalling that any educational institution would exhibit such a fear of ideas. The professors behind this ought to be canned. They clearly know nothing about education.

And, speaking of poetry ...

... Adam Kirsch has a roundup: April's Verses. He agrees with yours truly about George Witte's The Apparitioners.

Ban on Auden lifted ...

A federal judge has give a ninth-grader permission to recite a poem by W. H. Auden: Student can recite poem with profanity. The poem is "The More Loving One." (Via The Poetry Foundation.)

Poets on the cutting edge ...

Bud Parr links to a piece in PR: Poets Leading the Way in On-line Publishing. This is something we've been looking into and want to know more about.

And, speaking of the Da V Code ...

... I believe the book would have been improved by the inclusion of any of these sentences cited by Bill Peschel: And you thought your fiction sucked. Have a nice vacation, Bill.

Now here's a contrarian view ...

... of The Da Vinci Code: The Popish plot (thank goodness).

Thursday, April 13, 2006

A gathering of goodies ...

... chosen by Sarah Weinman: midweek smatterings.

Young Goodman Brown ...

... meet The Master of the Temple.

What a bizarre tale ...

... Daniel Green recounts at The Reading Experience: Talking to the Wall. Not a good idea to underestimate the intelligence of your readers. Also not a good idea not to review authors you admire. Good to litsen to people who may know more than you do, too.

Another fine painting ...

... from Shameless Words: A Beautiful Compromise.

On the other hand ...

... The Manolo has some disturbing evidence for global warming: Mush! (Via InstaPundit.)

This says it all ...

Poet George Witte, whose wonderful collection The Apparitioners I reviewed a while back, has blog. And on it he has posted a poem that captures perfectly what it is to work in an office: "Long Hours."

Saint Oscar (cont'd) ...

Kevin at Collected Miscellany discusses The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde. I myself would not call it a conservative book, but rather a moral book. And the morality is distinctly Catholic. Again, the book to read in this regard is Ellis Hanson's Decadence and Catholicism.

Serious vs. breezy ...

Maxine Clarke considers Reading "serious" books. I suspect there really are only books that grab you and books that don't. The Magic Mountain, I presume, is serious enough, but I read it as if it had been a thriller. On the other hand, Sartre's Nausea annoyed me from first page to last - I only finished because I had to. The same with The Catcher in the Rye. Holden Caulfield just struck me a s whiny little creep. What is called serious is often pretentious and unpretentious books often turn out to be quite serious in their way - Jean Giono's the Man Who Planted Trees, for instance.

Blog alert ...

Here's one I just learned about: Into the Lowelands, specializing in "fantasy and speculative fiction for teens and young adults."

Words, words, words ....

... Jeff McDonald's got five to test you with (I knew four of them). Succedaneum stumped me.

The media and Judas ...

Judas: Bookseller at the Millions. Amen.

Dare to be a blogger ...

... so suggests the Incomparable Minx: Head on the block .

Ebb tide ...

Terry Teachout has been feeling Adrift.

Beckett turns 100 ...

Today is Samuel Beckett's 100th birthday. Heres a good start at Anecdotal Evidence: Happy Birthday, Sam.

"It is right that he too should have his little chronicle, his memories, his reason, and be able to recognize the good in the bad, the bad in the worst, and so grow gently old down all the unchanging days, and die one day like any other day, only shorter. "

Not another how to book ...

.... that would be Ray Bradbury's Zen in the Art of Writing, according to Stefanie Hollmichel in this post at So Many Books: The Art of Writing . Stefanie rightly discerns that a lot of the how-to books are more about marketing than writing. The best book I know of on what it takes to be a professional writer is Somerset Maugham's The Summing Up. (Hat tip, Maxine Clarke.)

And the winner is ...

Ali Smith's The Accidental has won the 2006 Tournament of Books, beating Sam Lipsyte's Home Land 9-7. NBCC prez John Freeman - who reviewed it for me - won't be pleased.

Mature bloggers ...

Isn't mature the euphemism these days for old? Well, Michael Allen has a post about Pensioners who blog . We're not on any pensioners' list yet, but we're old enough to be.
I confess to being skeptical of the NYT's assertion that "just 0.3% of blogs are run by people aged 50 or older." If it were 60 or older I might believe it - but 50? I don't think so. Like the GOB, I'd like to know where they came up with their figures.

Just don't call him Al ...

Bill Peschel presents: Alexander Pope on mistakes.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Oh, noooo ...

... not another Da Vinci Code suit! CultureVulture has the story: Da Vinci Code: the plot thickens.
Also at CultureVulture is this, which I, as a former copyeditor (subeditor to Brits), much appreciated: Moving poetry.

Looks like some other people ...

... 60 in fact, who know a lot more about it than I do, also have doubts regarding global warming, and have sent an open letter to Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper: Open Kyoto to debate. Check out this post of Roger Simon's for some more information about the signers: Global Warming takes a hit . Wonder if any of this will make the papers here. And here's Climate of Fear by one of the signers.

Guess the novel ...

... at Shameless Words: Famous first lines.

You've heard a bit here ...

... about my Jesuit education. You also know that I like to cook. Until now, though, I had never put the two together, as perhaps I should have.
Here be The Jesuit Gourmet and Jesuit Recipes. My mentor Father Gannon, I should note, knew his food. (Hat tip, Jim Bowman.)

And you won't want to miss this ...

... the Literary Salon links to a George MacDonald Fraser profile .

Ordinarily, I'd let this drop ...

... but this is James Marcus: HOM returns (again), Kakutaniana, The Age of Illusion, Ellington clip.

If you haven't already ...

... now's a good time to visit - and bookmark - Dragonfire. Among other things, there is my colleague John Timpane's column: Reading poetry, living poetry.

A must-read for all prospective writers ...

Michael Allen offers Editing for beginners.

Want to be geopolitically smarter?

Read great literature. Patrick Kurp talks about Murray Kempton, and Chekhov as a guide to the Soviet Union, and Conrad's Nostromo as a guide to Central America: I Read It in the Paper.
Kempton is right. Literature provides insight into precisely the matters that tend to elude politicians and political scientists - and journalists.

Why do so many men of a certain type ...

... like Camus' L'Etranger so much? What is it about Albert Camus' The Outsider? asks Marcel Berlins, who reports that "a whole swathe of English male media types, academics and students" are deeply attached to the book. I think it's the same reason such types are fond of noirish things in general - the vicarious experience of being a tough guy. Genuine tough guys - I've known a few (one of whom is doing life) - are usually quite different in reality from how they are portrayed fictionally. For one thing, they don't tend either to talk or to act tough. They just are tough. Media types, academics, and students take Meurseault as a model for a fashion statement. In real life, Meurseault wouldn't give them the time of day - and they probably would go out of their way to avoid him.

Update: Here's A tale of two genders: men choose novels of alienation, while women go for passion , which has the list of books men found inspiring and a link to the women's list. I must be very weird myself. I greatly admire a number of the books, but only Ulysses has exerted any real influence over me. Not because of its style or literary innovativeness, by the way, but because it teaches one so well how to pay attention to the details of every day life.

Our friend ...

... Maxine Clarke made her American reviewing debut in this morning's Inquirer, taking a look at Martyn Waites's The Mercy Seat: Carrying not coals to Newcastle, but hard-boiled, U.S.-style crime .

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Keeping a low profile ...

Mark Sarvas links to the growing list of the 50 Least Influential People in Publishing. I thought of having somebody nominate me, but that would be to exter influence, wouldn't it?

Speaking of poetry ...

... anyone interested in national Poetry Month should bookmark this site: The Academy of American Poets.

Speaking of poetry ...

... anyone interested in national Poetry Monthy should bookmark this site: The Academy of American Poets.

Another quiz ...

Which Famous Modern American Poet Are You? (Via Ed Pettit at The Bibliothecary, who got the same result I did: Wallace Stevens. Fine by me. He's probably my favorite modern American poet.)

Say it ain't so, Camille ...

Apparently, Ann Althouse's Dinner With Camille has been canceled, at the request of Camille herself. What was it Hamlet said about frailty?

Some good advice ...

... from Shameless Words, who wonders Whose Head Are We In? Here's my two cents: A career in writing is a long-distance run, not a sprint. The reason there tend to be so few second acts in American lives, as Fitzgerald put it, is that too many Americans try to cram the whole play into Act One. And it looks as if the rest of the world may be following suit. Slacken up your pace a bit. Forget about the finish line. Enjoy the run.

The flavor of words and phrases ...

Patrick Kurp considers Tasting the Language
Patrick says that "Moby-Dick is a great black comedy brought to life by the rowdy, philosophical, undomesticated, masculine voice of Ishmael. No voice, no book: It’s a tall tale told by a mad autodidact – the antiauthoritarian voice of American democracy, the counterpoint to Ahab’s ravings."
I think that Moby-Dick - at least in the person of Ahab - is a great commentary on Calvinist predestinarianism. As Ahab tells Starbuck: "Ahab is for ever Ahab, man. This whole act's immutably decreed. 'Twas rehearsed by thee and me a billion years before this ocean rolled. Fool! I am the Fates' lieutenant; I act under orders."
No garden variety Calvinist he, Ahab doesn't appreciate being determined:
"All visible objects, man, are but as pasteboard masks. But in each event --in the living act, the undoubted deed --there, some unknown but still reasoning thing puts forth the mouldings of its features from behind the unreasoning mask. If man will strike, strike through the mask! How can the prisoner reach outside except by thrusting through the wall? To me, the white whale is that wall, shoved near to me. Sometimes I think there's naught beyond. But 'tis enough. He tasks me; he heaps me; I see in him outrageous strength, with an inscrutable malice sinewing it. That inscrutable thing is chiefly what I hate; and be the white whale agent, or be the white whale principal, I will wreak that hate upon him. Talk not to me of blasphemy, man; I'd strike the sun if it insulted me."

Monday, April 10, 2006

It's a day late ...

... but here's the latest installment in Louise Doughty's Novel in a Year column: Here comes the crunch.

I promised ...

... I would have more to say about Daniel Green's post Opinions, but never got around to it. Dave Lull has graciously reminded me of that, so here is what I wanted to say.

First, I pretty much agree that a critic or reviewer whose work is characterized largely by unsubstantiated opinions is unlikely to stay on my reading list. (Terry Teachout's own views, by the way, tend to be quite well informed.) But what caught my attention in Daniel's post was this question: "Are the best critics today those who pontificate, or those who direct readers back to the specific qualities of the works ostensibly under review?"

I think it is defintely the latter and the reason I think that is because, in the Jesuit college I went to, the course I had in metaphysics was taught by Father Edward Gannon, who used as the text book William Luipen's Existential Phenomenology. It was my introduction to that school of thought and had a lasting impact on me. Among other things I learned that if one accurately and precisely describes what one experiences one will make clear what one feels and thinks about that experience. This frees you from having to use stale evaluative terms and forces you to be concrete in your judgments. Regarding criticism, it ensures that your opinions are grounded in specifics and substantiated by the details of the work under consideration.

Update: Dave Lull sends along a quote from John Ciardi's How Does a Poem Mean? that fits in perfectly with what I was trying to say:
"A useful first distinction can be made by dividing all adjectives (and by extension, all modifiers) into those which present evidence and those which
present judgments."

And the winners are ...

Strange Horizons has it 2005 Reader's Choice Awardsup. (Hat tip, Laurie Mason, who thinks "it's telling that the winning article is about poetry."

Caveat scriptor ...

... or something like that. David Thayer on Crime and Punishment.

I know I'll get hollered at for this ...

... but, according to this fellow, There IS a problem with global warming... it stopped in 1998.

And the winner is ...

... well, it's hard to say: The 2006 Tournament of Books. They should have paired Peck with Carlin Romano.

More on writing ...

... by the mysterious Minx: The Craft. (Hat tip, Maxine Clarke.)

Unacknowledged legislator ...

... takes a stand: Poets for the unmourned dead... with a political agenda.

"So a depressed loner commits commits suicide and a friendless woman succumbs to old age, and you, you sensitive poet, show up to use their funerals as a political platform against the people who are outraged by the murder of Theo van Gogh?"

Via InstaPundit.

Words, words, words ...

Martyn Everett wonders: One Million English Words? Interesting how the experts got riled up over the amateur.

John Donne needs your help ...

... sort of. Amy Nelson-Mile posts: Help Make The Best-Known John Donne Portrait Part Of A Public Collection.

A warning ...

... and some sound advice from Bill Peschel: It’s spring! Take a duster to your computer’s security. This is worrisome.

I am no fan ...

... of Garry Wills and Christ Among the Partisans reminds me why. "There is no such thing as a 'Christian politics', " Wills opines. "Jesus brought no political message or program." Maybe so - though one could argue that Jesus was the first to propose separation of church and state ("Render unto Caesar ...").
Of course, this whole piece amounts to nothing more than Wills's ex cathedra assertion as to who Jesus was and what he meant. It is one more installment in the Gospel according to Garry Wills.
But if you take what Wills says to its logical conclusion, then the abolitionists were wrong and so was Martin Luther King, because their sociopolitical positions were grounded in their Christian faith.
Like other citizens, people of faith are likely to vote for the party or candidate they feel is most in sympathy with them, not the party that merely claims to sympathize with them.
After all, "faith without works is dead," wrote St. James. And he knew Jesus better than Garry Wills.

A good question ...

... is posed by Steven M. Cohen, who is in a position to wonder: Who's Fault is it Anyway? (Hat tip, Maxine Clarke.)

Ben Yagoda has a suggestion ...

... for A critic with a fixation.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

When to review ...

The Emerging Writers Network looks at Review Dates vs. Publish Dates. (I posted a comment myself.)

It ain't easy ...

... doing poetry readings, apparently. Amy Nelson-Mile recounts Glitches During Poetry Readings.

There's a new online poetry magazine ...

.. it's called Goblin Fruit and it's pretty neat.

So you want to be a writer (cont'd) ...

... then you may want to consider Lynn Viehl's Ten Novel Pitches You Probably Shouldn't Make. I'm not sure about The Crackerjack Code. That might work.

So you want to be a writer ...

... well, here's where to start: A Simple Writers Guide or a Guide for Simple Writers! (Hat tip, Maxine Clarke.)

Today's poem ...

... is by Lisa Janice Cohen: Lilacs for One Hundred Springs.

Something to ponder ...

John Baker considers What type of writer should you be?

Want to see just how much material ...

... goes into a book? Take a look at John Barlow's Foul Matter. John also posts Sara Gran: The True Story.

Forthcoming literary events ...

David Montgomery offers a ThrillerFest Sneak Peek and previews State of The Thriller at BookExpo America. Unless whoever buys The Inquirer decides to spend the money, I won't be attending BookExpo America this year. Woe is me.

Today's Inquirer reviews ...