Thursday, August 31, 2006

Guess we missed it ...

... Blog Day . Who knew?

Shameless admits to ...

... Squeezing The Last Out Of Summer. And who can blame him?

Voices in the wilderness ...

... An Oasis in the Desert . (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

But first, this ...

... from Amy Nelson- Mile: Donating Books To The Needy.

Blogging has been light ...

... bacause, among other things, it has taken me a good bit of time to open two dozen or so bins of books outside my office. I also have to leave shortly for a dinner engagement. So blogging could well not resume until tomorrow.

It's the best of times ...

... even if the Times doesn't know it: We're Much Wealthier.

America out-of-print ...

... BookFinder.com Report Reveals Demand for Classic Out-of-Print Americana.

Here's the full report: The BookFinder.com Report - August 2006.

Ends and means ...

... Sacrificing truth on the altar of diversity. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Well worth reading ...

... in my view, at least, is today's Inquirer Daily Magazine section, starting with

Annette John-Hall's excellent profile of Edward P. Jones: No-frills artist ...

... and continuing with Tirdad Derakhshani's essay 'Wicker Man' must appease classic's fans ...

... and David Stearns's piece about the Utrecht Early Music Festival: Early-music fete defies convention.

There's also Martha Woodall's review of The Natural History of Uncas Metcalfe: Self-obsessed professor faces upheaval in his orderly world .

If your daily newspaper were always this good, you'd never miss an issue.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

It has been ...

... a fairly grueling day. Lots of stories had to be moved to the copy desk. And I am too weary to continue blogging. Until tomorrow ...

The art of writing ...

... Conscious Craft or Dictation? I find myself that the "inspiration" comes during the act writing, and that the act of writing is rarely precipitated by any "inspiration."

The autumn issue ...

... of Simply Haiku is up.

Well, do you?

... Do You Know The "Official" Answer to the Question, "What is the Sound of One Hand Clapping?"

Now for something ...

... about a really great writer: Lessons from John Steinbeck. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

On the other hand ...

... Jeffrey Archer is a Genius - of sorts.

Hear, hear ...

... John Betjeman is not a Genius .

Nobel winner ...

... Naguib Mahfouz has died: First Arab Nobel laureate dies, aged 94 . (Hat tip, Vikram Johri.)

Shooting star ...

... Norman Mailer still obsessed with WWII. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.) I had not realized how passe Mailer seems to have become.
But I have an uncharacteristic story to tell about Mailer. One of my best friends in college was a guy named Bill McLaughlin. He was tragically - I do not use that word lightly - killed in a car accident not long after we graduated.
Bill was the editor of the college literary magazine (I was the editor of the college newspaper.) Bill wrote to Mailer, then approaching the apogee of his fame, asking advice on how to pursue a literary career. Now understand that Bill and I were students at what was then a small Jesuit college. Mailer responded to Bill - and not briefly, but with long, expansive and encouraging letters. AAnd not with just one letter, but several. Pretty classy, I thought then - and still think now.

Google book giveaway ...

... Google to offer free book downloads. (Hat tip, Trav.)

Good news ...

... 'Challenged' books drops to all-time low. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.) For another example of the wrong way to deal with what you do not agree with, see Alex Beam's MIT's inconvenient scientist

Bill Peschel ...

... ponders Webcam Venuses. Hi blog has a spiffy new look, too - as does Bill!

One downside of technology ...

... is fake news. Glenn Reynolds observes that FX May Soon Be Short for Faux:

Once again, as I've said in previous columns, it boils down to whom you can trust. And although it seems that Big Media outfits, which want to make money and be around for the long term, would have a sufficient investment in their credibility not to fake news themselves, or to pass along fake news except in extraordinary circumstances, the evidence of recent weeks is that journalism is rife with fakery, and that we're seeing more of it now mostly because it's easier to spot now that lots of people can examine the evidence and compare notes.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

OK, folks ...

... since Laurie Mason has graciously seconded the proposal I made in this post, why don't some more of you weigh in. If enough comments appear, I certainly won't mind passing them along.

Update: In the comments attached to this post so far, I think Trav comes nearest to what I had in mind: "... the 'bells and whistles' should wrap all of the available technology around the book review, which is key and placed at the center."
But the other suggestions fit well into this.
I would raise one caveat about Gene's suggestion regarding length. I know for a fact that giving a reviewer more space frequently results in a less focused review. Check out the TLS and see how many of those long, long reviews are really flaccid, providing not context for the book under consideration, but a soapbox for the reviewer. That said, space not being a problem online, a reviewer would be able to write as long as necessary. The problem would be avoiding self-indulgence and unnecessary digression.

But keep the suggestions coming. More in this case is definitely better.

Something I missed ...

... but shouldn't have: How has your first book changed your life? (Note list at bottom of post.)

Today's poem ...

... is Blood Orange.

Music hath charms ...

... that are difficult to put into words, but this, from Terry Teachout's Almanac, does a good job.

A neat piece of art ...

... but untitled.

Donald Hall ...

... on being poet laureate. (Hat tip again to Dave Lull.)

We missed it ...

... on Sunday, so post it Tuesday night: Poetry Sunday. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

What would science have done ...

... without religion? (Hat tip, the OWL himself, Dave Lull.)

Lots of good stuff ...

... at The Inner Minx. Just keep scrolling.

Lisa Coutant ...

... lists More Bread Loaf Bloggers (In No Specific Order) .

If you haven't been following ...

... John Baker's Five Questions series, you really should take a look.

Mind your apostophes ...

... or maybe not: John Barlow on The Good Opinion of Pedants.

Check out ...

... Beautiful Screaming Lady. Gayla is serving up reviews of the books on the Booker long list.

Why blogging has been light ...

... because lots of people are on vacation and those of us who remain have to do yeoman's work to see that the section comes out. So not much time to blog. It'll pick up tonight, if I ever get home.

Fool for love ...

... Hoax love letter fools Betjeman biographer. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Here are the finalists ...

... for the 2006 Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize:

Christian Barter, The Singers I Prefer (CavanKerry Press)
Jack Gilbert, Refusing Heaven (Knopf)
Dorianne Laux, Facts About the Moon (W.W. Norton)
Eleanor Lerman, Our Post Soviet History Unfolds (Sarabande Press)
Ron Slate, The Incentive of the Maggot (Mariner Books)

And here's more about the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize.

The state of the media ...

... GlennReynolds has a couple of interesting posts: "How dare he demand we tell the truth" and Howard Kurtz on John Mark Karr.

I can't help thinking that Glenn is right when he notes that "If any other industry were doing as much public harm by producing a similarly substandard product, the press would be screaming for the government to take action."

Monday, August 28, 2006

I'm off to meet Debbie ...

... to see a flick, so blogging may not resume until tomorrow.

The Wicked Witch ...

... goes worldcatting.

You don't see many of these ...

... A Björnstjerne Björnson selection.

Move alert ...

... Books, Words, and Writing has moved. Amy also has another blog, Amy on the Web (which I linked to in the previous post).

I think we can all identify ...

... with this: A Bank Machine With Attitude.

I have no dog in this fight ...

... actually, but I found one passage in Jonathan Chait's The fallacy of zero-sum politics fascinating: "In 1964, the federal government spent 18.5 cents of the American economic dollar. In 2005, it spent 20.5 cents. This is not what small-government conservatives would call progress."
Why wouldn't they call it progress? Adjusted for inflation. 18.5 cents in 1964 dollars is $1.15 in today's dollars. A three-cent increase over 42 years is spectacularly low.

Update: Inquirer economics columnist Andy Cassel sends me this link that is pertinent to the discussion: The Price of Government.

Still hot after all these years ...

... Burning Man Turns 20. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Two cheers for sin ...

... Sinning Boldly. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.) A group of college cronies and I took as our motto that very phrase from St. Augustine: Pecca fortiter. Sin boldly.

Lisa Coutant is back ...

... from the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference. So far she's posted Reports from Bread Loaf and Jus' Loafin' Around. More to come.

Left turns right ...

... or something like that: How right wing the left sounds after its moment of racial truth. (Via InstaPundit.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

What the world needs now ...

... is some good book reviews, apparently: The decline of the book review. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Update: Here, thanks to Dave Lull, is the link to We Love You Toby.

One heck of a story ...

... James Ellroy's My Mother and the Dahlia. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Award alert ...

... Glenn Reynolds reports that John Scalzi is a winner at the Hugo Awards.

Patrick Kurp has a suggestion ...

... Let's Review. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.) I suppose full disclosure is in order. Patrick reviews for The Inquirer. Like him, I am a Guy Davenport fan.

Oh, and here is Davenport's complete letter (also compliments of Dave Lull.)

The future of newspapers ...

... or at least that of the New York Times: Panic on 43rd Street. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Poetry and pictures ...

... Rus Bowden sends along this splendid link, which includes "10 poetry and photography posts about our trip to Norway": Baffin Island Resort and Spa . Just keep scrolling.

Rus adds some info regarding this photo: "In the distance is a little hamlet of about maybe 5-7 houses. Little clusters of houses like that are well-spread out at ins and outs of this very large (and beautiful) fjord. People live there all year round, there in the arctic winters, way way away from everybody in the world, except their very few close neighbors who stay after seasonal friends and family leave. I was thinking how one had better get along with one's spouse, and asked in town if there was a high domestic crime rate. Quite to the contrary, I was told. Also, in one of those clusters, lives a 53-year-old woman who never leaves her tiny arctic surroundings, even to take the boat to Reine, a town of 1400, when her mother died."

Today's Inquirer reviews ...

Michael Harrington find much to praise in F.X. Toole's posthumous Pound for Pound: Toole's last work: Parts pack a punch.

Glenn Altschuler looks at what Joseph Epstein has to say about Friendship: About friends, life's annoying and invaluable indispensables.

Carlin Romano finds Andrea Lee's Lost Hearts in Italy intriguing: Blurring fact, fiction in love.

Katie Haegele loves Matthew F. Jones's Boot Tracks: An assassination gone awry, and the day after.

Last week, Katie also looked into the subject of adults reading young adult books: Grown-ups turning to teen books .

David Montgomery is very impressed with Karin Slaughter's Triptych: Flawed people struggle to uncover a killer .

During the week, last week:

Karl Kirchwey liked Wendy Salinger's Listen: Poetic memoir tells of torn loyalty to an abusive father.

Leonard Boasberg found Gerald Felix Warburg' The Mandarin Club entertaining and informative: China-Taiwan dispute heats up in insider's thriller.

And Paul Davis found I Spy For a Living fascinating: Concise review of history's best spies and covert operators.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Something else I missed ...

... Trot Trot to Boston to Loft Off to Lofoten.

Something worth pondering ...

... Dueling Headlines. I used to write headlines. Let me tell you, the Times headline in this case is not remotely acceptable as far as communicating the gist of the survey is concerned.

I almost forgot ...

... to link to David Hiltbrand's weekly demonstration of why it's best to leave the remote where it is and find a good book to read: Dave on Demand Suddenly, it's great to be watching TV.

Don't know how ...

... to say an author's name? Amy Nelson-Mile links to How To Pronounce Those Difficult Literary Names at The Millions.

I knew Coetzee when I wrote about him a few years ago - and I knew about Thoreau, well, because I've read a lot about him.

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

... More media, less news.

The Inquirer gets mentioned:

Brian Tierney, who became owner of the Philadelphia Inquirer after Knight Ridder sold it last year, noticed that a popular item on the paper's website has been a video of Mentos mints causing a 2-litre bottle of Diet Coke to explode into the air. “We should do more of that,” he says.

How about an online book review with all the bells and whistles, Brian? Does anyone else think that would have broad appeal?

What do you speak ...

Amy Nelson-Mile links to What Kind Of American English Do You Speak? (Amy is clearly more cosmopolitan than I.)

Here's my result (interestingly, my grandmother's family hailed from south of the Mason-Dixon line. Must have picked up the Dixie from her.) One question threw me and I din't answer it, the one about putting toilet paper in front of your house. What's that about?:

Your Linguistic Profile:
40% Yankee
30% General American English
20% Dixie
0% Midwestern
0% Upper Midwestern

What I was trying to post last night ...

... just as Comcast went down, was this excellent piece by Michael Allen on Nick Tosches: Night Train. I shall have to read Tosches's book.

The GOB also has plenty of valuable Stuff for the weekend.

Blogging stopped abruptly ...

... last night because Comcast went down. It will have to be light today because I have much to do and some social obligations to fulfill.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Amen, brother ...

... Scott Stein In Praise of Consumer Culture. I think it worth noting that much "high culture" goes out of its way to turn off the average consumer. I can't begin to say how weary I am of most contemporary classical music (the stuff that has tunes gets ignored) and a lot of contemporary drama ( half-baked sermons), pretentious indie films, equally pretentious "literary" fiction.

Something I missed ...

... and shouldn't have. Yesterday was Dame Antonia Byatt's 70th birthday. I am fond not only of Antonia's work, but most especially of Antonia herself. I can refer to her by her first name because she told me to when I met her a few years ago. She was an absolutely delightful companion.

You won't want to miss ...

... the pcitures Minx has been posting. Just keep scrolling.

Cri de coeur ...

... well, it's been a week now, and I certainly hope she's having a wonderful time, but I miss Maxine and can't wait for Petrona to be active again.

Get ready for ...

... Stunning photos of world libraries. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I notice that it includes Trinity College's library, but not the National Library in Dublin - where a key chapter of Ulysses takes place.

Jeffrey Archer alert ...

... Bryan Appleyeard announces that He's Back!!!!!!

A Shameless painting ...

... Amsterdam.

Shameless could also use some advice on Biting the Apple.

Lawyer as sociopath ...

... Bill Peschel looks at what we shall call here Anonymous A.

But first ...

... you should know that there is more Shakespeariana at Bibliothecary - and also that I had a very pleasant visit yesterday with Ed Pettit, the young man behind Bibliothecary.

I have off today ...

A man apart ...

... A.N. Wilson on The personal reflections of Roger Scruton. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

"One of the things which makes political distinctions increasingly confusing in England today is that neither of the main Parties represents the views and aspirations of serious, thinking people."

I think this is true in this country also and that it is something the parties' leaders and boosters - as well as the media - fail to grasp.

Remembering Pluto ...

... Mike Allen's Lunar Harems. (Hat tip, Laurie Mason.)

Thursday, August 24, 2006

I have a dinner engagement ...

... so this is probably it for blogging tonight.

More power to her, I say ...

... What does JK Rowling do with her money?

Scott Stein sends along ...

... a link to Shopping for Me, But Not for Thee: The complications of voluntary simplicity. This is wonderful.

Conquest's first law ...

... and other useful insights: Muslims desperately need "insensitivity training." (Hat tip, Dave Lull, who mus be in a puckish mood today, having also sent along Oh boy! Charts and graphs from... the group I'm actually criticizing .

The books of summer ...

... or In praise of the holiday tome . (Hat tip, Vikram Johri, who notes: "Despite what the papers might suggest, for most readers, the pleasures of holiday reading do not lie simply in abandoning oneself to solitary escapist fantasy, but in doing something beyond the limits of everyday life. It is a time to allow oneself to be stimulated and provoked - to have all those discussions and those thoughts that one is usually too tired or too harassed to pursue.")

A couple of anniversaries ...

On this date in 1872, Max Beerbohm was born in London. What better memorial that Joseph Epstein's The Beerbohm Cult: Why Max Beerbohm is the world's greatest minor writer.

And Max himself: "Only mediocrity can be trusted to be always at its best. "

Also on the-is date, in 1899 in Buenas Aires, Jorge Luis Borges was born.

Why only yesterday ...

... we were raising again "the problem with experts." It may, in the future, be less of a problem: Age of the Empirical.

The exponential growth in the numbers of empiricists helps resolve another debate as old as that of the Greeks. Platonists are sympathetic to rule by experts and elites. Artistotelians are more receptive to democratic rule. As Aristotle himself puts it in the Politics, “For the many . . . may be better than the few good, if not regarded individually but collectively, just as a feast to which many contribute is better than a dinner provided out of the single purse.” Expertise in the form of empiricism straddles these two political poles. It is a more democratic expertise in that it is replicable, transparent, and sharable. Moreover, as discussed above, it is disciplined by the information inputs of blogs and information markets. Thus, expert judgments will no longer be those of the few wise persons who rely on authority to impress their conclusions on society. Instead, they will reflect the collective sentiments of the empirical community.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

The Poet of the Week ...

... is a fine poet indeed: Robert Pinsky on Walter Savage Landor. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Nice ...

... Speaking of the rain.

I reviewed ...

... Kenneth J. Harvey's The Town That Forgot How to Breathe and liked it a lot. Here's a piece about Harvey in the Globe & Mail: 'A writer like no other'

While I was on vacation ...

... I read Come and Tell me Some Lies by Raffaella Barker and By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept By Elizabeth Smart. Smart was the mistress of the poet George Barker and the mother of four of his children. Raffaella was his daughter by the woman who eventually became his second wife. One of his children by Smart is the poet Sebastian Barker. Another is Christopher Barker. In Rhymes of passion Christopher Barker tells about writing The Arms of the Infinite, his book about his parents.

Christopher Hitchens takes aim ...

... at Guenter Grass: Snake in the Grass. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Some interesting links at the bottom under "Related in Slate."

At The Bibliothecary ...

... lots of interesting Shakespeariana.

Something I missed ...

... and definitely shouldn't have: Terry Teachout on Dirty Laundry: How to react when artists and morality collide.

He elaborates further in Talking a bad game.

A most refreshing example ...

... of common sense: Books and Sales. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

It would be even more frightening, I bet ...

... if they had a ready answer: What Kind of Poetry Do You Read, Mr President? (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

This is a must ...

... a BBC program about Cavafy: Reaching Ithaka. (Hat tip, Susan Balee.)

The splendid readings are by Bill Nighy (who played the superannuated rock star in Love Actually).

The problem with experts (cont'd) ...

... Lee Siegel eviscerates James Kincaid: The Professor's Dirty Little Secret. Just to be fair, here's Kincaid's piece: Little Miss Sunshine. One more example of someone being educated beyond his intelligence.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

The GOB ...

... has filed a Report from Edinburgh.

Check out ...

... the latest issue of The Quarterly Conversation.

Who knew?

... You Too Can Vote in the Quill Awards .

A look ...

... at Geoffrey Hill's latest and some Hill criticism: Passionate Profundities. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

That meme again ...

... this time at New Tammany College: One book that…

Remembering the forgotten ...

... James Sallis recalls three Great unknowns. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Regrettably, Sallis continues the misunderstanding about the American Dream: "Among the bleakest, most resolutely existential novels ever written, it belongs up there on the shelf with James M. Cain's 'The Postman Always Rings Twice,' Hammett's 'Red Harvest,' and a handful of others that serve as landmarks of the time when the truth of the great American dream first began burning holes through the paper."
The American Dream is not a dream of crass materialism. The phrase was coined by James Truslow Adams in The Epic of America. He describes it thus: "that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement. It is a difficult dream for the European upper classes to interpret adequately, and too many of us ourselves have grown weary and mistrustful of it. It is not a dream of motor cars and high wages merely, but a dream of social order in which each man and each woman shall be able to attain to the fullest stature of which they are innately capable, and be recognized by others for what they are, regardless of the fortuitous circumstances of birth or position." This is the dream Martin Luther King was referring to in his great speech. It remains a worthy dream. And it is unworthy to identify it with the cheap hopes of low characters.

Two writers chat ...

... Claire Dudman posts MORTAL GHOST and an interview with L Lee Lowe .

The subject of writing ...

... Bil Peschel ponders The Wrong Writing Question. I believe that one can be taught to write correctly, even to write well. Beyond that, the magic of talent has to do its work.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Today's poem ...

... is A Dad / Daughter Poem (draft) .

Call me Ahmed ...

... Islamicised classics ?

Dick Margulis sends along ...

... this very interesting link: Why Do Critics Ignore Certain Books? I'll have more to say on this later - probably tomorrow.

Helpful hints ...

... More Fiction Secrets Revealed.

Poetry and science ...

... may cross paths in Neil Turok's Colliding Universes .

Where novels come from ...

... Scott Stein on Novel Beginnings.

Lee Lowe ...

... weighs in on the Grass controversy in With so much furore. It seems to me that Grass is simply being judged by a standard that he himself set. I do agree that his hypocrisy does not necessarily make his fictions any less effective, because it is the story itself, not the storyteller, that we should trust. But I have never been a fan of Grass's work, so that's not much a problem for me.

Missing the point ...

... is what John Berger deftly does in The denial of true reflection . (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

"Günter Grass, aged 15 and dreaming of being a heroic warrior, volunteered to join the army and, when he was 17, accepted to enlist with the Waffen SS. After a few months, having participated in no atrocity - except that of wearing a uniform that rightly provoked an atrocious fear - he became a prisoner of war and started to learn, with horror, what the forces that he had enlisted with had perpetrated."

"That he was naive when he was 17 means only that he was 17."

All of this is probably true, and as true 60 years ago as it is today. So one question is why it took Grass 60 years to get around to mentioning it. But the point is that, having kept it quiet all these decades,Grass never missed an opportunity to lord it over others for much the same thing. He established himself as an exception and turned out not have been exceptional at all. No one is actually condemning Grass for what he did 60 years ago. They are condeming him for his posturing between then and now.

At Critical Mass ...

... The Critical I: Six Questions for M.A. Orthofer.

At Brandywine Books ...

... a Book Giveaway: Open Drawing for Fantasy Novels.

In search of ...

... New Authors To Read.

The Coleridge papers ...

... British Library acquires 'outstanding' Coleridge family archive.

The making of a drama critic ...

... Terry Teachout tells of a Ghost world. Gee, and I'm sure Terry's a lot younger than I am.

Remembering one of the great moments ...

... in photojournalism - and a great photjournalist: Joe Rosenthal, RIP.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

This is getting confusing ...

... maybe: Hypocrisy reconsidered. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.) "... hypocrisy means doing the right thing for the wrong reason," writes John Lukacs. Well, if that's all it meant there might be no problem. But what we tend to object to is someone preaching what he does not practice, and holding others to standard he does not himself meet. The antidote to hypocrisy is humility, which means not palming yourself off as any better than you are.

By the way, Imlac's Journal, is an excellent blog. I'm glad Dave put me on to it.

Well, I think this true ...

... that poetry is `A Spell Woven By Consonants and Vowels'. That certainly simplfies things - though it doesn't make them any easier.

OK, so it has nothing to do ...

... with books. But I notice that my colleague, Dangerous Dan Rubin, has linked (on blinq) to a video of Boz Scaggs doing Lowdown. So I thought I'd link to it, too. Go here and you can flick on some other Boz videos.
I spent the afternoon at my office sorting books and I have much reading to do tonight, so there will be little to no blogging for the rest of the night.

This is pretty funny ...

.. Amy Nelson Mile brings to our attention Combining Book Titles and Band Names. Imagine the Doobie Brothers Karamazov. I'd better stop.

There has been much comment ...

... regarding this earlier post: Judgment call ... The comments have centered on Hannah Arendt's notion of "the banality of evil." Norm Geras had an interesting post on this a while back: Hannah Arendt: The Banality of Evil.

Today's Inquirer reviews ...

John Esposito chats with John Updike about Terrorist: Updike imagines a killer who may be victim himself.

Paula Marantz Cohen nicely dissects Elizabeth Buchan's Wives Behaving Badly: Twist on the domestic-revenge plot.

I found Carlo Lucarelli's Carte Blanche a little unsettling: Character study disguised as cop story.

Glenn Altschuler enjoyed a chronicle of Yul and other Brynners: Getting to know them: A Brynner family tree .

Katie Haegele is impressed with Joyce Carl Oates's novel for young adults: Young Adult Reader Oates' newest challenges with violent death, painful rebirth .

During the past week, John Freeman reviewed Kiffe Kiffe Tomorrow: A teen tells her story of life in a Muslim Paris suburb.

Also, Ned Warwick took a long hard look at Irene Nemirovsky's Suite Francaise: Novel of WWII France cut short by writer's death in Auschwitz

L' Affaire Grass ...

Inquirer literary critic Carlin Romano thinks that Nazi past will likely tarnish Grass.

But Yale's Peter Gay takes a more charitable view: The Fictions of Günter Grass . (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Supreme fiction ...

... according to John Banville, is The art of self exposure. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Horror stories ...

... A Russian Anne Frank.

Also: A Visit with Cuba's Persecuted and Castro's Last Battle.

(All via Arts & Letters Daily.)

What is a picture worth again?

... Photojournalism in Crisis .

"The stakes are high. Democracy is based on the premise that it is acceptable for people to believe that some politicians or news media are lying to them; democracy collapses when the public believes that everybody in government and the press is lying to them." Well, yes.

It's a trifecta ...

... for C.A. Conrad's Deviant Propulsion. There's Bill Knott's CAConrad, Antipoet. Then there's this at Live Journal. And finally this at Silliman's Blog.

The cinematic trifle ...

... referred to in a post last night was Love Actually, which turned out to be less of a trifle than I anticipated and, while overall pretty good, tried to do a little too much and left a few threads hanging in the process. The film weaves together a number of love stories and takes place in the weeks before Christmas.
Hugh Grant - who was my principal reason for renting it - was his usual insouciant self as the British prime minister (but the scene where he publicly break with U.S. President Billy Bob Thornton was embarrassing, a painful reminder that most of the people who make movies haven;t a clue as to how politics actually works). In fact, the film would have been better if the Hugh Grant character had been eliminated.
But the Laura Linney character's problems with her mentally ill brother are left unresolved, as are Alan Rickman's and Emma Thompson's (did Rickman actually have an affair with his lovely young assistant or did her jsut give her the necklace as a startup? Beats me).
A perfectly example of a film that could have used a ruthless editor.

Bible studies ...

... of the extraordinary kind: Robert Alter's Books on the Book of Books . (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Check this out ...

... One Life: Walt Whitman / a kosmos. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I've always thought of that 1855 frontispiece picture as the represneting the true Whitman, That's the guy who wrote the poems.

More turns out to be ...

... less: Another turn of the screw - Books - Times Online. (Via Sand Storm.)

The sound of borborygmus ...

... Bryan Appleyard on Kellogg's, Yakult and Coprophobia.

Worth ponder also - though it sounds frightening is Paris Hilton Meets Jeffrey Archer .

Blogging will be light ...

... today because I have mucho things to do outside the house. But we will provide our weekly public service by posting a link to David Hiltbrand's Dave on Demand column, so that you will know for certain that you'd be better off putting aside the remote and picking up a book. David also tries to spare you a visit to Snakes on a Plane: 'Snakes': Constricting concept.

And while we're on a David Hiltbrand kick, here's David Montgomery's review of Deader Than Disco:

Deader Than Disco
By David Hiltbrand
Avon. 304 pp. $6.99
Although there have been numerous excellent satires of Hollywood and the film industry written in recent years (Michael Tolkin's The Player and Terrill Lee Lankford's Earthquake Weather are two that come immediately to mind), the music industry has not suffered similarly at the hands of writers.
This is likely not due to a lack of material - from the outside, at least, the denizens of the music biz appear every bit as wacky as their movie counterparts. But even the great Elmore Leonard, who scored with the brilliant Get Shorty, stumbled with its music-oriented sequel, Be Cool.
Inquirer writer David Hiltbrand has set out to fill that gap, and in the process he has written one of the funniest books of the year. Deader Than Disco is a dishy mystery that only a wise and witty observer of the music scene could write, and we can be thankful he did, as it's a riot to read.
One of the country's most popular rock stars, a character transparently based on Madonna who goes by the name of Angel, has been accused of murdering a controversial and colorful NBA player. Private investigator Jim McNamara, who specializes in cases involving rock stars, is called in to help with the defense.
What McNamara finds is a world of comic excess fueled by egos gone wild, celebrity worship, and way too much money. The P.I. finds it hard to do his job, considering that he can't even talk to his client the first half-dozen times they meet. As McNamara learns, Angel is constantly surrounded by such a persistent coterie of aides, cronies, and sycophants of varying stripe that it's hard to imagine she was ever by herself long enough to commit murder.
Eventually he begins to uncover a smattering of clues, most of which lead in the direction of Angel's sociopathic actor ex-husband, Cam, a man who bears more than a passing resemblance to noted bad-boy thespian Sean Penn. Hiltbrand isn't above thumbing his nose at Hollywood when he has the chance, and who better to lampoon than a pretentious, insecure actor?
Part of the fun of Deader Than Disco is the inside observations of the music world, most of which are uncomplimentary, to say the least. Madonna isn't the only victim of Hiltbrand's acid pen, although she gets the worst of it. "The most successful strumpet in history" is one of his kinder descriptions of Angel.
McNamara shares his observations about other stars as well, writing that Sheryl Crow is "vain and self-absorbed" and that he'd have "nightmares about Gwyneth Paltrow for the rest of [his] life. " (His thoughts on Paltrow's husband, musician Chris Martin of Coldplay, can't be shared in a family newspaper. )
Even absent the juicy gossip and satire, Deader Than Disco works quite well as a mystery. McNamara is a fine character, a humane and intelligent investigator cut from the same cloth as Lawrence Block's Matthew Scudder. (McNamara, too, is a friend of Bill W.'s.)
What's more surprising is how sympathetic Angel turns out to be as we get to know her. Initially a relentless caricature of a pop diva, she's actually a warm and decent person at heart, and the more McNamara (and the reader) get to know her, the more we're able to see that Hiltbrand isn't just trying to skewer egos. He's also creating real characters worth reading about.
Whether attracted by the insider's view of the music industry, or looking for a good mystery story well told, readers will find much in the very lively Deader Than Disco to enjoy.
David J. Montgomery is a freelance book reviewer and the editor of Mystery Ink .

Friday, August 18, 2006

Debbie and I ...

... just returned from an evening of sushi (sashimi for me) and we're about to watch a cinematic trifle, so blogging may not reume until tomorrow morning.

Daniel Johnson's ...

... Open Letter to Günter Grass Part II: A Nation Betrayed. "Now that we know how you began your career, with a thorough indoctrination in the Waffen SS, your lifelong loathing of the West takes on a new and sinister significance."
Wonder if John Irving will read this.

Shameless has an offer ...

... Macmillan New Writing will probably refuse: Macmillan New Righting.

At the Jackdaw's Nest ...

... A Short Collection of Short Canadian Poems. Definitely worth a look.

"Not color, nothing but Nuance! ...

... Oh! only nuance brings / Dream to dream and flute to horn!" So wrote Paul Verlaine in "Art poetique." And it appears we need more nuance in baseball as well: Eskimo Ballplayers Have 108 Words for Slump. (Hat tip, Dave Lull. Notice this, though: "The term to describe the state which lies approximately halfway between normal performance and a slump is: a Lull." Dave hasn't been in a slump for as long as I've known him.)

This is priceless ...

... Bryan Appleyard on Jeffrey Archer: the Blog . (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Some good links ...

... at The Bibliothecary.

And now for something else ...

... completely contarian: John Irving defends author Guenter Grass. "Grass remains a hero to me, both as a writer and as a moral compass; his courage, both as a writer and as a citizen of Germany, is exemplary, a courage heightened, not lessened, by his most recent revelation," Irving said Wednesday in an e-mail message sent to The Associated Press.
Not much of a defense, in my view, just an assertion backed up by no argument whatsoever. If Irving wants to take Grass as a moral compass - well, for those who like that sort of thing, that's the sort of thing they like.

I'm off today ...

... and have things to do, so blogging will be light for a while.

The irrepressible Bonnie Calhoun ...

... brings to our attention the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance.

Daniel Johnson has written ...

... An Open Letter to Günter Grass.

What we do know is that your panzer division saw action on both the Eastern and Western fronts in 1944-45, notably during the Allied airborne landings at Arnhem. Your bitter, bloody and ruthless resistance there and elsewhere postponed Germany's inevitable defeat. While you were making your heroic last stand, Jews and other helpless "enemies of the Reich" were still being murdered in the camps and, later, on the death marches — thousands of them every day.
In the last weeks of the war, you were wounded in a battle near Cottbuss. Apparently your unit was under orders to rescue Adolf Hitler from the bunker in Berlin, in order to let him complete his self-appointed mission to exterminate the European Jews. As it turned out, Hitler preferred to die by his own hand in Berlin.

BookBlog ...

... has returned to life: Resurrection.

Judgment call ...

... read `The Gentlemen Enjoyed Their Evil' at Anecdotal Evidence. My heart is with Scholem on this - "I don’t picture Eichmann, as he marched around in his SS uniform and relished how everyone shivered in fear before him, as the banal gentleman you now want to persuade us he was ..." - and yet ... there is a germ of truth to Arendt's notion of banality. The strutting, the uniforms, the cheap formality, are all vulgar in the worst sense. This is worth recallling as an antidote to the tendency one often encounters to glamorize evil - think of all the Milton criticism that sees Satan as the hero of Paradise Lost. Evil's dimension of banality does not excuse it or make it any less evil. In fact, it helps illustrate its utter lack - in itself - of redeeming qualities.

What a tease ...

... Terry Teachout promises Dirty laundry (a user's guide) ... tomorrow.

I would note a couple of salient differences between the Schwarzkopf and Grass cases. First Schwarzkopf joined the Nazi party, not its elite military corps. Second, she did not make a career out of moralizing regarding the evils thereof, ready at the first sign of an epaulet to point an accusing finger at others.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Don't you hate it ...

... when that happens? From Terry Teachout's Almanac.

What's in a name?

... more than you might think, as Duane Swierczynski has learned: Duane Swierczynski Is Dead . I understand, actually. My mother's maiden name was Gajtkowski (I think I've got it right). But Wilson is so bland.

Today's poem ...

... is The Knife by Rik Roots.

Now for something ...

... completely contrarian: A Defense of Ann Coulter by Elspeth Reeve in TNR. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
I happen to agree. I think if Ann Coulter directed her barbs at George Bush she'd be acclaimed for being what she in fact is: a contemporary Juvenal.

John Baker answers ...

... Maxine's questions.

Gene Justice alerts us all ...

... that The Results Are in ...

Deb does ...

... the book meme.

Nihilism, deconstruction and Gunter Grass ...

... Austin Bay's Gunter Grass and the Waffen SS.

Exhuming Graves ...

... Robert, that is. Mary Beard wonders Who wrote "I Claudius"? And Nick Lowe advocates Killing the Graves myth.

With spin like this ...

... who needs bad press? In Fact, My Son Is Named Satan.

Imprimatur ...

... (which, in case your Latin is rusty, means "let it be printed"): Publish and get instant gratification with the iTunes of literature. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Crabby Grass ...

... Storm grows over Grass's belated SS confessions . (Hat tip, Vikram Johri.)

Who knew?

... The new kid on the blockbuster list is Jiang Zemin: Friends in high places help push Jiang's works up bestseller list. (Hat tip, Vikram Johri, who observes: "Reminds me of Saddam Hussain's fiction making it to Iraqi bestseller lists." As Glenn Reynolds would say, indeed.)

Wicked Witch ...

... mixes with glitterati: at Novel Night. Way to go, Lynne!

Man in the middle ...

... craetionists to the right of him, atheists to the left, Francis Collins, the man who mapped the human genome gets it from all sides: Faithful to God, Science. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

There is a wide range of foolishness on display in this piece. You could base a lecture on logic on this one: " 'Not accepting the history in Genesis undermines the entire gospel,' said Ken Ham, president of a ministry called Answers in Genesis, which promotes creationism. 'The Bible says from dust we come and to dust we return. We don't return to an ape-man when we die.' "
Or this: " 'I could just as well say that there are 70 pink elephants revolving around the Earth,' said Herbert A. Hauptman, a Nobel laureate in chemistry. Science and faith 'are simply incompatible,' he added. 'There's no getting around it.' "

Obviously, neither of these guys has any grasp of how mythopoesis works.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Maxine does the meme ...

... One-book answers.

She has also gathered some Pearls from the sea of blogs.

Dave Lull sends along ...

... Memories and myths of George Mackay Brown. (Thanks, Dave.)

Andrew Saikali ...

... Flaubert in Egypt at The Millions: Splendid Things Gleaming in the Dust.

On a serious note ...

... also check out and ponder Nelson Ascher's The Uses of Anti-Semitism. (Via Roger L. Simon.)

Check out ...

... the GOB's Wednesday whatnots.

Very nice ...

... Rob Mackenzie's With a nod to Auden...

Time for a quiz ...

... from Rob Mackenzie: Poetry or Prose? (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Something I should have noticed ...

... but didn't: Maxine's Librarian's place. Extremely useful.

Help down memory lane ...

... Stump The Booksellers ... (Hat tip, Maxine Clarke.)

Mark that book ...

... Printable bookmarks . (Hat tip, Maxine Clarke.)

The critic as poet ...

... Adam Kirsch's The Philosopher Stoned: What drugs taught Walter Benjamin. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Benjamin’s essay “On Language as Such and on the Language of Man” states, “There is no event or thing in either animate or inanimate nature that does not in some way partake of language, for it is the nature of each one to communicate its mental contents.” Everything in the world—stars, faces, animals, landscapes—has a meaning, and Benjamin accepts that this implies the existence of a cosmic author. “God,” he declares, “made things knowable in their names.” Of course, secular reason holds that human languages are purely conventional, but Benjamin would not countenance the idea that words are arbitrary: “It is no longer conceivable, as the bourgeois view of language maintains, that the word has an accidental relation to its object.” Instead, he holds that every human language is really a failed and garbled translation of a divine language that speaks in things: “It is the translation of the
language of things into that of man.”

Read the whole thing.

Want to know more ...

... about those Booker long list authors? Reading Matters can help: The authors behind the 2006 Booker longlist: MJ Hyland. (Hat tip, Maxine Clarke.)

Mahfouz in hospital ...

... reports Amy Nelson-Mile.

There is surely the germ ...

... of a grand chronicle herein: Brooke Astor - Special Series.

Drum roll, please ...

... the winners of the 2006 Collegiate Book-Collecting Championship are up.ore about the contest here.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

I am woefully behind ...

... in just about everything, so must cut the blogging short and do some other things. Here is a poem by a poet I have only just come to know: The Poet by George Mackay Brown. (Note you can read along as Mackay Brown reads it.

Wow, these are ...

... what shall I say, shamelessly beautiful? More Portuguese Memories . Also check out this: Keeping Things Together .

Because of a coding glitch ...

... one of Sunday's reviews did not make it online until today. Here it is, Jen Miller's review of Rae Meadows's Calling Out: Trying to find herself in Utah’s escort world.

While we're at it, here is Sandy Bauers's review of By Jonathan Trouern-Trend's Birding Babylon: A birder braving fire.

An unsettling thought ...

... from Rennie D: dreamers of the day are dangerous .

Ready, set, go ...

... Novel of the Year by the Book Bloggers. (Hat tip, Maxine Clarke.)

Metaphorical precision ...

... Bryan Appleyard on Wallace Stevens, God and Metaphor.

Bryan has a related post as well: More Metaphors and More Science .

May loss of faith be due to lack of imagination? (Actually, that's too glib, even for me. A lack of imagination seems to afflict those at the opposite end of the spectrum as well, those we shall call religious literalists, for whom faith is reduced to rules, especially prohibitions.)

Cures for writer's block ...

... at Critical Mass: Focusing Techniques: Learn From The Pros . (Hat tip, Dave Lull - who notes this odd locution: "... a conversation between he and Diane Ackerman ..." Presumably a typo, but, as Dave notes, something one sees more of these days.)

At Critical Mass ...

... Critical Outakes: David Mitchell.

"Rock 'n' Roll" roundup ...

... that is, a gathering of reviews of Tom Stoppard's new play at The Complete Review. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Guest blogging ...

... at Confessions of an Idiosyncratic Mind continues. Check it out.

Moving pictures ...

... are those you look at long and well: Anita Brookner's The eyes have it. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

"Forget blockbuster exhibitions: this is the way to see pictures." Indeed.

A correction ...

... and a rather important one. Contrary to what was said in a comment attached to this post Some very nice words ... poet Stephen Magee is not dead. The passage in question is this:

As our community's circles continue, I e-mailed our friend Sarah Crown of The Guardian, to mention that we were linking to three of her articles this week, but also another one which may be of interest to her, the one from Bexhill Today (with offices in East Sussex, by the way), that someone in "the community"--not that I used those words--has died; Stephen Magee, ring a bell? It should to many of you. I Googled. Stephen Magee, as I wrote to Sarah, "is probably the same poet who wrote both 'Rightly' that appears in John Burnside's workshop [that has Pam Varnum's], and "Temeraire" in David Harsent's."
It was his sister Anna Elliot's words in the article, not the later connections made through Google, that convinced me his death should be announced in our new "Poetic Obituary" section, by saying that he "loved to write and had some of his poetry published." It only follows that like many of us who are so passionate, Stephen Magee would submit his poems to The Guardian.

Stephen himself, however, has just me an email, in which he says:

Towards the end of the blog, you reproduce a report that I am dead. The mistake is quite understandable, since there can't be too many published poets called Stephen Magee (especially, although the author of the report didn't know this, two who come from Belfast). Nevertheless, I'd like to set the record straight: the author of "Rightly" and "Temeraire" is alive and well and living in Sydney, Australia.

As I told Stephen in my reply, this is good news indeed. Here, by the way, is a link to one of the poems he mentions, "Rightly" - to find it, just scroll down: Other lives .

Monday, August 14, 2006

Shameless ...

... is Back, Refreshed, Inspired! As well he ought to be.

Debbie and I ...

... are going to watch Shirley Valentine, which she has never seen. So blogging is likely suspended until tomorrow morning.

Calendar check needed ...

... at the BBC. James Taranto, in the WSJ's Best of the Web, draws attention to this BBC piece: Fidel: The world icon, which solemnly informs us that Castro is "the world's longest-serving leader." Taranto then notes that Castro came to power in 1959, while another world leader became head of state seven years earlier - "and it's one the BBC should have heard of: Queen Elizabeth II. "

The man behind the Booker Prize ...

... All shall not have prizes. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The need for perfect pitch ...

... in fiction: Getting Voice Right.

Drum roll, please ...

... a reader, signing himself Trav, alerts me that the Booker 2006 Long List has been posted.

More on ...

... Germany's "moral guide" from Gary Farber and Tim Blair. (Via InstaPundit.)

I came of age at a time when the Nazi atrocities were still fresh in people's minds. I was 11 when the diary of Anne Frank was published in the U.S. So I grew up taking very seriously the notion of "never again." I haven't changed my mind and don't expect I ever will.

Here be solid grounds ...

... for reader envy: Reading Week in Languedoc: Part 1; Reading Week in Languedoc: Part 2 ; and Languedoc: a post-script . (Hat tip, Maxine Clarke.)

Meet the blogger ....

... Edward Champion. (Hat tip, Maxine Clarke.) Sounds like a fairly typical middle-class upbringing to me.

Common-sense alert ...

... Michael Allen comments on Romantic Novelists' Assocation honours three members:
"This is not the place to rehearse the detailed reasons for my approval of genre fiction in general, but perhaps it is worth pointing out that I have been studying the theory and practice of writing fiction, in a reasonably structured and methodical way, for some fifty years. In the whole of that time I have never come across any argument which convinced me that one particular type of fiction is technically or morally superior to any other kind."

Turns out ...

... there's quite a bit of life in dead characters. Hence, More About Dead Characters at A Book A Week.

So you want to be a writer ...

... well Scott Stein has a story for you - two, actually: The Story of a Story: "The Stacker"

Metaphors be with you ...

... not: Bryan Appleyard on Terrorists, Genes and Metaphors . (Hat tip, Dave Lull.) We have frequently made much the same point - if I do say so myself.

On a lighter note ...

... one of my reviewers. Roger Miller, sends along Ken Richmond, 80, Gong-Striker Familiar to Filmgoers, Dies and wonders, neologiostically, "Is there no one obscure enough that the NY Times will not obiturate him?"

I have long regarded ...

... Gunter Grass as a sanctimonious hypocrite. Seems I may have been right: The last man they expected to have an SS secret.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

"In my end is my beginning ..."

... so wrote T.S. Eliot and it may be pertinent to the newspaper business. Once upon a time, every fair-sized city had several. Philadelphia, I believe, had maybe 10 still the year I was born. Now it has two, both owned by the same company (I refer only to dailies, of course). So this from Terry Teachout is altogether pertinent: Ink not included. (Hat tip goes to the indefatigable Dave Lull.)

Aaron Haspel demonstrates ...

... The Fractal Geometry of a Poem. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.) I think it interesting that "perfectly symmetrical verse forms have never gained much traction in English." I am reminded of a point Isak Dinesen makes in Shadows on the Grass, that true unity demades a degree of dissimilarity, that two left hand gloves are worthless. It is a left-hand glove and a right-hand glove that constitute a unity.

More local news ...

... here is the latest on the Inverse Reading Series. Try to go. Put your poetic money where your mouth is.

Creative journalism ...

... The Language Log looks at Truth in captions . An earlier post that this links to, "Approximate" quotations can undermine readers' trust in The Times is especially interesting in light of Byron Calame's column in today's Times : Eavesdropping and the Election: An Answer on the Question of Timing . Imagine what the Times ediorialists would have to say if Bill Keller were an adminstration spokesman.

Fiction in a flash ...

... Bill Peschel reports on Flash Fiction and thinks maybe it should slow down a bit. Regarding flash fiction of an altogether different kind, he links to a very useful roundup of Reuter’s Photo-Funnies,

Local alert ...

... if you're in Philly or thereabouts, you can meet the people connected with the Underground Literary Alliance this afternoon, in an appropriately impromptu gathering: Meet the ULA. I'd go myself except that I'm working today and about 3:30 will probably be writing about some witless celebrity for tomorrow's Newsmakers column.

Also on Friday ...

... Dorothy W. looked at Jane Hirschfeld's Given Sugar, Given Salt - Poetry Friday: Jane Hirschfield. (Hat tip, Maxine Clarke.)

As usual ...

... the GOB's Friday roundup is filled with goodies.

Today's Inquirer reviews ...

... tip the hat to blogs. At least of couple of them do.

While I was on vacation I read Michael Allen's Grumpy Old Bookman and loved it - started it shortly after getting up and finished a couple of hours later, enjoying many a hearty laugh in between: British 'bookman' is one funny blogger.

Katie Haegele, meanwhile, was delighted with Far From the Madding Gerund, by the Language Log's Mark Liberman and Geoffrey K. Pullum: With wit, style, linguists compile words on words.

Marietta Dunn discovers a satisfying new crime partnership in Alicia Giménez-Bartlett's Dog Day: Partners' relationship spices up a mystery.

Karen Heller chats with Nora Ephron: Nora Ephron's body of work.

Sandy Bauers gets and earful about Charles Darwin: The intriguing Charles Darwin, the man behind the theory .

Last week, Carlin Romano heaped praise on Steven Conn's Metropolitan Philadelphia: Living With the Presence of the Past: Beyond a clunky title is a lively, endearing look at Philadelphia and also pondered Tom Schachtman's Rumspringa: To Be or Not to Be Amish: Amish gone wild? It's teens sowing oats to test their faith.

Martha Woodall doesn't think Kit Reed's The Baby Merchant quite comes off: A trafficker in babies, cold and aloof - as is this tale.

Tanya Barrientos was disappointed in Laura Esquivel's Malinche: Invented story of a real woman, Cortés' translator and mistress .

David Hiltbrand thought Michael J. Diamondstein's Cloaked in Doubt showed much promise: Did the mayor do it? Philly prosecutor hunts girlfriend's killer.

And Karen Heller found Kate Muir's Left Bank delectable: Fictionalizing a famous Parisian couple .

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Mirabile dictu ...

... Dave Lull sends along a couple of fascinating links: "Walking Trees": The science of the miracle at Bethsaida and The Bethsaida miracle - Jesus healing a blind man by D. Keith Mano. The former comes from a blog worth noting: Biology notes.

These are nice ...

... Motherhood and You, now .

Well, everybody seems...

... to find this remarkable: Bush reads Camus's 'The Stranger' on ranch vacation. Maybe, like my wife a couple of years ago, he just picked it up, started reading it and coulnd't stop. Camus is, after all, a great writer. Because he claims not to read newspapers, the story has gone out - on the basis of nothing whatsoever - that Bush doesn't read. Actually, many people that read a lot, do not read newspapers, shocking though that may be to journalists.

There is much in what he says ...

... and yet Harry Ritchie doesn't quite get the point: Look back in wonder. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.) I was 15 when Colin Wilson's The Outsider was first published. It was a perfect fit for those of us who had heard about the existentialists and were soon to hear about the Beats. The book is no more silly - and no less - than the philosophical discussions my friends and I were having at the time. And yes, some of my friends and I did have philosophical discussions. It was a book, not so much for its time, as for a time of life. And Wilson's notion that we make far less use of our capacities than we might has much to recommend it. At least he made it fashionable, for a while at least, to think about something other than celebrities and politicians.

This is depressing ...

... Art and war help The Independent win back readers. (Via Critical Mass.)
In particular, this:
"With the escalation of hostilities in the Middle East, readers may also have turned to the paper for veteran correspondent Robert Fisk's take on events.
The editor Simon Kelner said both were factors in the paper's improved performance.
'What has been important in our rise is a big running news story in the Middle East, and having Robert Fisk, the most celebrated Middle-East correspondent covering it. Obviously this translates into more sales,' he said, also acknowledging that the giveway had been very successful."

Perhaps these readers should be reminded of this: fisking. Perhaps the NBCC members should be reminded, too, when it comes to voting on their awards.

Maxine raises an interesting question ...

... in Lists, stories and loop-holes: "I am not sure if short stories are intrinsically more or less memorable than full-length books. Some in both categories stand out in my memory, whereas the vast majority have faded away." I think the proportion of truly memorable stories is the same as the proportion of truly memorable novels - though I suspect other factors, besides the works themselves, figure in what makes them especially memorable, namely, the time and place of their reading, who we are at the time we read them, and so on. Anyway, among stories that I have found unforgettable, I would include Theodor Storm's "Immensee," Isak Dinesen's "The Poet," Henry James's "The Beast in the Jungle," and A.E. Coppard's "Judith."

A most thoughtful post ...

... by Patrick Kurp: `The Knowledge Which Experience Must Confer'. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I was struck by some similarities between myself and Auden and Johnson (and, I gather, Patrick). I certainly suffer from poor eyesight, though I am far from indifferent to either cleanliness or my surroundings. I like to dress well, and live well, and I do.
But I certainly agree that “effort in daily habits – such as rising early – was necessary to 'reclaim imagination’ and keep it on an even keel.” And I value loving more highly than being loved (luckily for me) and agree that “the `main of life’ consists of `little things.’
I also agree with Patrick that books are experience. But the appreciation of them surely is enhanced by "the knowledge which experience must confer.”

Margaret Drabble ...

... writes admiringly of "that eccentric novelist of genius," as J.B. Priestly called him, John Cowper Powys: The English degenerate . (Hat tip, Ed Pettit.) Readers of this blog will know that I love Powys.

Dr. Helen ...

... has some interesting suggestions for Summer Reading.

"I am currently engrossed," she writes "in Walter Laqueur's book, The Changing Face of Anti-Semitism: From Ancient Times to the Present Day. With all that is going on right now with Israel, this is a great read and is a terrific review of antisemitism throughout history up until the present day. My favorite chapter so far in the book is chapter nine on 'Antisemitism and the Left' in which the author discusses how antisemitism has moved from a preoccupation of Christian and right-wing movements to one of Muslims and left-wing groups. " The latter shift, I think, has been eveident for quite some time. If you think I exaggerate, consider these two gems cited by Lanny Davis (President Clinton's special counsel) the other day in the WSJ:
• On "Lieberman vs. Murtha": "as everybody knows, jews ONLY care about the welfare of other jews; thanks ever so much for reminding everyone of this most salient fact, so that we might better ignore all that jewish propaganda [by Lieberman] about participating in the civil rights movement of the 60s and so on" (by "tomjones," posted on Daily Kos, Dec. 7, 2005).
• "Good men, Daniel Webster and Faust would attest, sell their souls to the Devil. Is selling your soul to a god any worse? Leiberman cannot escape the religious bond he represents. Hell, his wife's name is Haggadah or Muffeletta or Diaspora or something you eat at Passover" (by "gerrylong," posted on the Huffington Post, July 8, 2006).
That anti-Jewish enough for you?

Something I happened to come upon ...

... a Camus Monument in Villeblevin, France .

Maxine was right ...

... as soon as I felt I was up to a nice cup of tea, I was indeed on the road to recovery. But wow! Was I ever knocked flat on my back. Certainly my long-standing view that exertion generates energy was sorely tested. The slightest exertion left me completely enervated. Which is why I just spent the greater part of the past 48 hours in bed, mostly asleep.
But I just had another nice cup of tea, followed by a couple of nicely coddled eggs, and while I don't feel just ready to run around the block, I certainly feel ready to blog again. Even better, my knee problem has mostly cleared up.
(I was going to go in the office today, but figure I can do some of what needs to be done - namely, culling the in-box - from here. And I have to go in tomorrow anyway, because I'm the Sunday features editor.)
Once again, thanks everyone for the encouraging words.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Thanks, folks ...

... for the kind words (here and via email). I've been laid low (literally: I've been mostly in bed since I got home yesterday afternoon) by some stomach bug. I hope to resume blogging later today, once I feel capable of sitting up and taking nourishment.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

I'm feeling a bit ...

... under the weather. So I'm going home. Later, maybe.

Skint witer ...

... is having a good day: