Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Hedgie indulges ...

... in Shameless Self-Promotion . Congratulations.

Listen to a chat ...

... with Edna O'Brien at Open Source.

Scott McLemee surveys ...

... The Lesser Known Heroes of Contemporary Criticism, Volume I.

Sound the trumpets and drums ...

... Irish Book Awards shortlist announced. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Clive James on ...

... Kingsley without the women. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Crime Fiction Reader ...

... thinks much of a debut novel: A Gentle Axe - R. N. Morris and chats with the author.

More on Wilfrid Sheed ...

... Critical Condition. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

“He doggedly went on reviewing, getting better, he thought, in a field where improvement is seldom noticed.” If ever.

Post mortem ...

... What Remains of What was Left .

"Theology still exposes the structures of human thought, it should be taught to children from the age of five at the latest." Indeed.

A most intriguing ...

... tale of two bookshops.

A crime-fiction spring preview ....

... from Maxine: Nuts in May.

Still more ...

... for crime fiction fans: Discovering Sherlock .

The GOB has a potent ...

... Wednesday mixture .

C.S. Lewis news ...

... Hooper vindicated?

Crime fiction fans ...

... will want to check out I see dead people.

Sidney Sheldon (1917-2007)

... Master of many media Sheldon dies aged 89. (Hat tip, Vikram Johri.)

Saying one thing ...

... meaning another, and not being understood: An unsuccessful ironist. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I confess that I find deconvolve a graceless word.

William Logan ...

... vs. Hart Crane: An Unbroken Tower. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

We link, you decide.

Farming the classics ...

... A Classicist's Works and Days. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

A.C. Grayling gets ...

... a much-needed real history lesson. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Pay a visit ...

... to the BooksForKidsBlog.

In case you've been wondering ...

... How to read a poem . (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

In this morning's Inquirer ...

... Paula Marantz Cohen reviews Ben Hills's Princess Masako: No fairy-tale endings for Japan's princess.

Also, economics columnist Andy Cassel looks at David Beito's From Mutual Aid to the Welfare State: The Economy Odd fellows and healthy bonds in a benevolent era.

Finally, although it has nothing to do with books, this piece by Karen Heller is well worth your time: A polka couple whose prize ribbons are always blue.

More on the inconstancy ...

... of poetic fame: Torquato Tasso, a Poet Both Obscure and Ubiquitous. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Check out ...

... Frosty Philly.

He's back ...

... Longfellow is Famous Once Again. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

The art of the anecdote ...

... Short but Seldom Sweet. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Bryan gets feedback

... regarding Google and the libraries.

I've been spending time ...

... reading Bud Parr over at Chekhov's Mistress. It's all interesting, so just keep scrolling.

Maxine discovers ...

... that OUP goes to the crime movies. Like Maxine, I am allergic to Martin Scorsese movies.

On the other hand ...

... here's word on How to be even happier.

The headline may be flip ...

... but the discussion is altogether serious: No sex please, we're drunk: rape ancient and modern.

Perhaps Richard Dawkins should convert ...

... Paganism without the blood.

Oops, I forgot ...

... in today's Inquirer Martha Woodall reviews Alice Hoffman's Skylight Confessions: Hoffman's latest is more enchantment.

Becky looks at ...

... The Red Queen by Margaret Drabble. (Hat tip, Maxine Clarke.)

A thoughtful look ...

... at The creation of Israel.

Stop the presses ...

... ice floats.

Don't tell Richard Dawkins ...

... but religion really has gone to the dogs: Amen.

Be careful about ...

... what you don't remember saying: Lost in the ozone.

When writing poetry ...

... can prove costly: Writing of Jordan, dreaming of Palestine. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden)

Here is a selection of Nasrallah's poems: Salvos of Mercy.

A chat with ...

... Didi Menendez of MiPOesias Poetry Magazine. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Who knew?

... I certainly didn't: The Fan Fiction Phenomena. (Hat tip, Dave Lull and Scott Stein.)

Bet this is a wild and crazy gathering ...

... Philosophers' Carnival #42. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Perhaps it's time ...

... to recognize and reward true courage. (Also via InstaPundit.)

Maybe it's also time for some others to admit they were wrong.

Courage is a major theme in literature - because it is so valuable in real life.

You heard it hear first ...

... specifically, here: I notice. Now others have noticed that Chris Hedges advocates suppression of speech. (Via InstaPundit.)

Monday, January 29, 2007

Also on this date ...

... in 1933, poet Sara Teasdale committed suicide.

Happy birthday, Tony ...

... Anton Checkhov was born on this date in 1860: `Being Without You is Like Being Without Hands'. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Jane Eyre, an email mystery ...

... and much else: Manic Monday.

And now ....

... Flatland, the Movie!

In praise of ...

... Robinson Jeffers.

Better read it while you can ...

... Soon to be Deleted...

Speaking of Jane Eyre ...

... I was curious to know something about the actress who played Jane. I thought she was very good. I didn't know we shared a surname: Jane Eyre's BBC will be Ruth Wilson.

Attention J. Eyre fans ...

... A Jane Eyre competition... sans Rhinoceros. (Hat tip, Maxine Clarke, who alerted us to the excellent production that concluded last night.)

This doesn't sound good ...

... Cuts at the British Library . (Hat tip, Maxine Clarke.)

Philosophical sleuths ...

... They think, therefore they detect. (Hat tip, Maxine Clarke.)

Attention H. Potter fans ...

... Harry Potter case – myth vs. truth.

Check out ...

... Liz Lopatto's Short Takes.

Daniel Stern (1928-2007)

... short story writer Daniel Stern diied last Wednesday: Rest in Peace, Mr. Stern.

Terry Teachout alerts us ...

... that he is Not blogging but working. This headline alludes to the same source as this one of Maxine's.

Terry provides the source in this Almanac entry.

Serendipity at work ...

... how Edward Mendelson became Auden's executor. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

A eureka moment ...

... So THAT's where Narnia is. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Deadline nears ...

... Last Group of Books Read For One Challenge.

Science or wizardry ...

... Impossibility is only the half of it. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

God bless him ...

... Reg Foster and Augustine's Jukebox.

No need to be put off ...

... by The Publication Curse.

Trust me, I have a copy.

I'm not sure ...

... what to make of this: Unfinished business. (Hat tip, Vikram Johri.)

Rachel Seiffert says, "It took me a while to work out why I was sad all the time, and then it occurred to me that if you begin each day getting up and talking about the Holocaust over breakfast with someone you've never met before, it's no surprise you feel low."

I suppose my problem is that thinking about the Holocaust and talking about it - while certainly sad - are so infinitely less sad than having experienced it.

A little bit ...

... of the old urban renewal: Goodbye Clockwork Orange estate.

Scott McLemee has a new blog ...

... where he makes some Inaugural Noises. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

More on Stoppard ...

... and Berlin: Stoppard has Oprah-effect for book about Russian Thinkers. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I wonder if Berlin discusses Lev Shestov.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

I suspect it is true ...

... that the best war reporting these days comes via alternative media: Reporting From Mosul.

Time for some fun ...

... A Good Selection of Tongue Twisters.

Let us duly note ...

... that today is The Feast of St. Thomas Aquinas. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The end of science (cont'd.) ...

... The Knock Out Mouse 2: The Poached Eggs Solution.

The ecclesiatical boobs ...

... responsible for approving the ghastly missal used at my church would do well to acquaint themselves with poetry. Then they might grasp how painful it was to listen this morning to a bowdlerized version of I Corinthians, 13: 1-13. In their version it is not "I am nothing," but "it is nothing." I have forgotten - Deo gratias! - what they did to the sounding brass and tinkling cymbal. Here, for your delectation, is the Douay-Rheims version, done by people with an ear for language:
1 If I speak with the tongues of men, and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. 2 And if I should have prophecy and should know all mysteries, and all knowledge, and if I should have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. 3 And if I should distribute all my goods to feed the poor, and if I should deliver my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing. 4 Charity is patient, is kind: charity envieth not, dealeth not perversely; is not puffed up; 5 Is not ambitious, seeketh not her own, is not provoked to anger, thinketh no evil;
6 Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth with the truth; 7 Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. 8 Charity never falleth away: whether prophecies shall be made void, or tongues shall cease, or knowledge shall be destroyed. 9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. 10 But when that which is perfect is come, that which is in part shall be done away.
11 When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child. But, when I became a man, I put away the things of a child. 12 We see now through a glass in a dark manner; but then face to face. Now I know I part; but then I shall know even as I am known. 13 And now there remain faith, hope, and charity, these three: but the greatest of these is charity.

Speaking of poems ...

... Shameless again pauses for one: talking sideways.

A clutch of poems ...

... John Yau's In the Kingdom of Poetry.

... Michaela Gabriel's Virginia.

... and Ko Un's Market Grannies.

(Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Apparently, the Mick ...

... not the Juice did in Judith Regan: Hack job on Mantle KOd Regan.

Scores of ways ...

... of drinking alone (something I know something about): Li Bai drinking alone (with the moon, his shadow, & 30 translators) .

Here's a pertinent link: 300 Tang Poems. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

The labor behind awards ...

... It sounded easy until I read the fine print. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I sympathize. A couple of years ago I was a Pulitzer juror (one of three, general nonfiction). We looked at well over 300 books.

Also nice to see someone take a swipe at Eliot Weinberger, whose dogmatism in matters of war and foreign policy has become tiresome.

Old folks' tomes ...

... Long past the time critics predicted their demise, the country's literary giants are still revered for their prose. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Hard to believe there is only one John Freeman.

Check this out ...

... Intoxicated - The Novel. The Inquirer had much good to say about John Barlow's novel.

I watch very little TV ...

... but I do like the Geico cave man ads (may favorite is the "trouble evolving" one). I hadn't seen the therapist ad, and tend to agree with Ron Rosenbaum: The Geico Caveman Finally Jumps the Shark...

Among today's Inquirer reviews ...

... the big one is Mark Yost's review of Max Boot's War Made New: Trends in warfare, and why they matter.

In other reviews:

... John Timpane finds Karl Kirchwey's latest collection of poems thrilling: Finding a world of happiness in the heart of home.

... I find Martin Amis's House of Meetings problematic: Amis' imagining of gulag suffering.

... and John Freeman finds Jonathan Raban's Surveillance disturbing: Unsettling look at price that fear exacts from society on high alert.

Also, Jen Miller ponders the plight of those discussed in Fame Junkies: Fame as a drug, by an author who says we're all addicts.

During the past week:

John Freeman joined Paul Auster in his Travels in the Scriptorium: The reader seeks answers for a man who has none.

I took a look at a one-time best-seller about my native city: 1957 portrait of a society Philadelphian.

And Sarah Weinman got a kick out of David Hiltbrand's latest: Caustic P.I. is back in another Hollywood whodunit.

Those of you who see these reviews only online are probably unaware that The Inquirer spreads its book reviews out. The main book page on Sunday is in Currents, which also frequently runs a review off the section front (as with Mark Yost's review today).
There are also reviews in the Arts & Entertainment section (today devoted to a spring review that has yet to appear online - though Jen Miller's review got through).
And during the week - usually on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday - we also run reviews. All are gathered here on Sunday.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

A look at the grey market ...

... Oldie oddments.

Martial art ...

... Rougher sex and sponging.

Hollywood, home of the brave ...

... but, as Andrew Klavan suggests, too timid for the war on terror. Glenn Reynolds has more here.

The end of scientific progress ...

... as we know it: The Knock Out Mouse that Stayed the Same.

I hope that those who worship science and scientists as somehow necessarily superior to other forms of knowing and knowers read and ponder this.

Critiquing the critic ...

... this is another very good review: Brian Henry of William Logan. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I don't much like Adrienne Rich or Paul Muldoon myself, and cultural studies, identity politics, the confessional impulse don't do much for me, either. As it happens, I confine myself to reviewing poets I like, because I want to let other people know about them. If I don't like a poet, it's hard to read the work, and what I would be likely to write is a long kvetch. Who needs that?Also, just because I don't like something doesn't mean it isn't any good.

Check this out ...

... arcane matter out of place. Make sure to scroll down and click on the recording.

A style of leveling ...

... or The Politics of Pants. (Hat tip, Scott Stein.)

Sullivan uses Nabokov inventively, quoting from his 1955 novel Lolita to demonstrate how the narrator’s “refined” sensibility is transformed by a whole world of low-end culture that has become—for him—eroticized. The novel’s motels and shopping strips, writes Sullivan, “are the consummate low-culture backdrops for Lolita’s jeans, sneakers, and lollipops.” It’s not just Lolita that Nabokov’s intellectual narrator has fallen for.

I never realized how perceptive Nabokov was in this regard. But this I quite understand: "Elvis actually disliked denim. To him, as to most people from real working-class backgrounds, it was just a reminder of working hard and being poor. The less denim Elvis wore, the happier he was."
It's one reason I am always suspicious of professional working-class types - as well academics bloviating about "the people."

The power of poetry ...

... lies in part in how it can insinuate itself in ways you never suspect: Park, He Said.

I don't rememebr Larner's novel, but I do remember - though only vaguely - the film based on it, which was directed by Jack Nicholson.

The sounds of music ...

... can be elusive, Byron Janis observes: Want a concert seat with good acoustics? So does the pianist.

The recording of the Mussorgsky Pictures at a Exhibition referred to in this piece has to be heard to be believed. It is spectacular.

Friday, January 26, 2007

I left work early today ...

... so I could spend the night reading about Goethe and writing a letter to a dear friend. And that is what I am going to do. Back - though probably only briefly - tomorrow.

Unlikely revival ...

... From Unread to in Demand, Thanks to ‘Utopia’ . (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

If the play gets people reading Fathers and Sons that will be a real bonus. And speaking of Russian thinkers, one of these days I have to get around to one of my all-time favorite thinkers, Nikolai Berdyaev. I've made mention of my Irish heritage, but I don't think I've mentioned that my mother was half Polish, and I have always felt the Slavic element was strong in my psychic makeup. All of which is neither here nor there. But Berdyaev is my kind of philosopher.

A hale ...

... and Hardy bulletin. (Hat tip, Maxine Clarke.)

This is interesting ...

... Lanier on Hopkins. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I wouldn't have connected the two myself, but it's an intriguing idea.

A list after my own heart ...

... Shakespeare’s Plants. (Hat tip, Maxine Clarke.)

Kevin Holtsberry has ...

... a Q&A with Keith Dixon, author of Ghostfires.

It's nice to know ...

... that Mozart's art did not come easily to him: The Triumph of Genius.

I am sitting at my desk ...

... proudly sipping coffee from my Asinine Poetry mug, which I received yesterday - along with an Asinine Poetry t-shirt - for being one of the judges for their recent competiton. Thank you, Richie Narvaez.

Neither a borrower ...

... nor a lender be. In which case, don't be a writer. Glenn Reynolds has a great post about plagiarism.

The Toqueville business is interesting indeed, and do check this link.

Gettting to know ...

... TEV"s Mark Sarvas (who, I proudly note, reviews for The Inquirer). (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

A chat with ....

... Poet Kevin Young. (Hat tip, Ken Gordon.)

Thursday, January 25, 2007

But not before ...

... I note that on this date in 1874, one of my favorite authors, W. Somerset Maugham (I realize fully how middle-brow that makes me - believe me, I couldn't care less) was born.

Thursday is the longest day ...

... of the week for me and I still have much to do. So blogging will resume tomorrow.

Inexplicably ...

... I missed this: A Webcast on That Book . (Hat tip, Susan Balée.)

This is something I highly recommend. Rope off some time and watch it.

A gathering of lost dreams ...

... Cheaper by the dozen. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Now this is a good review ...

... Jonathan Adler's Don't Politicize Science (Unless You're on My Side). (Via InstaPundit.)

Novel by cell phone ...

... Re: Book written in txt msg. (Hat tip, Scott Stein.)

Fat bastard it is ...

... Sensitivity lesson. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Words, words, words ...

... Wordie Lets LogophilesIndulge in, Well, Words. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The Religious Left ...

... Like a Mighty Wind.

The "authors focus far less on personal moral behavior than on collective political action. Social policy eclipses individual conduct as the locus of Christian ethics. The inadvertent but inevitable consequence is the collapse of religion into politics. This conflation of the personal and the political helps explain why the Religious Left is, other things being equal, more political than the Religious Right."

Why stop now?

... here's Sarah Weinman's review of David Hiltbrand's Dying to Be Famous: Caustic P.I. is back in another Hollywood whodunit.

Since I've been on ...

... a Philly-boosting kick, it seems only meet and just, right and availing unto salvation to submit for your approval (bet you've never seen those phrases conjoined) Rocky Stories: Tales of Love, Hope, and Happiness at America's Most Famous Steps by my colleagues Michael Vitez and Tom Gralish.

Here's a slide show to go with it.

Limousine liberal ...

... Edith Wharton: Intolerable, unstoppable, indispensable. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

"Not merely was her unearned income sweated from the brows of her uncivilised countrymen, her earned income came out of their pockets."

"... perhaps she isn’t as deep and subtle as Henry James — but then nor is Henry James. He just hides it better."

All aboard the Nautilus ...

... Connections: a series of Nature essays.

It's time ...

... for Lippardmania!

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

If you insist ...

... Don't tell me what's great. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

But I do beg to differ: Great works of art do not exist "only subjectively." Nothing does. If there is a subject, there must also be an object. "Existence," one might say, is grounded in the relation between the two. Moreover, I would say that the uplifting qualities attributed to, say, Bach's B-minor Mass are inherent in the work, precisely because it "was designed that way."

When literary protest ....

... comes at a price: Amnesty International: Well-known satirist Sakit Zahidov imprisoned following an unfair trial with questionable evidence.

The dish on ...

... chick lit from Patricia Marx.

Well worth pondering ...

... New meme for 2007.

Today's poem ...

... is Broken in Peace.

Best wishes to Maud ...

... Until next week.

So there!

... Expressions. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Style can certainly get in the way of substance, as the new Martin Amis novel I believe demonstrates.

"Orphans" and the court ...

... U.S. court upholds copyright law on "orphan works." (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Under covers ...

... The spy who loved me. (Hat tip, Vikram Johri.)

It's not easy ...

... being free: Long Love Affairs With Libertarianism. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Back in 1968, I gave a lecture on Albert Jay Nock at Rockford College. The lecture was attended by a number of Randians. They were indeed certain of their certainties.

Could this be ...

... The Next New Thing in Poetry?

Ryszard Kapuscinski (1932-2007) ...

... Polish Writer of Shimmering Allegories and News, Dies at 74. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Well, this is something ...

... worth saving: Third Factory Notes on Poetry.

Update: Enter through the front door here.

I still have ...

... that review to finish, so I probably won't be blogging again until tomorrow.

Take a listen ...

... to Jane Holland. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Hear, hear ...

... Lifelines worth betting on. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Probably not ...

... Is Philosophy Progressive? (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I like to think that philosophy has to do with wisdom, which is perennial, not progressive.

In today's Inquirer ...

... there are two book reviews.

One by yours truly of Richard Powell's The Philadelphian: 1957 portrait of a society Philadelphian.

Another by John Freeman, of Paul Auster's Travels in the Scriptorium: The reader seeks answers for a man who has none.

There is this, though ...

... which should hold your interest for a while: Gentle sex and free money.

Blogging will resume ...

... later today. I have a review to work on.

Watch out for this ...

... And Then There’s Passive-Aggressive Whitespace, Which Blames Others, is Terrified of Intimacy and Doesn’t Take Responsibility for Its Own Actions.

Crime fiction preview ...

... Books I'm looking forward to this year.

A success story ...

... Librarian's Place is growing.

Monday, January 22, 2007

This may help explain me ...

... since I am Jesuit-trained: Reason and Pop Atheism. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I am fan of Colin Wilson ...

... though I know I'm not supposed to be. Here's a chance for a few days to listen to Colin Wilson on Private Passions. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Today's poem ...

... Pandora's Box.

I told you ...

... I get a lot of books. Check this out - and check out the whole site.

I yammer away also: Literary memory.

Always merry and bright ...

... that's a phrase from Henry Miller, but apparently it applies to Wilfrid Sheed as well: An Upbeat Account of Down Times. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Sheed and I have something in common. We both spent a part of our childhood in Torresdale, incorrectly described here as "a town not unlike the setting for Pennsylvania Gothic." To begin with, it isn't a town. It's a section - the northeasternmost section - of Philadelphia. What the hell has in common with American Gothic I have no way of knowing. Sheed may well have found it lonely, especially since he arrived there nine years before I did. When we moved there, it was still pretty rural. Our house was in the middle of a wodds, the roads were gravel, and there were still some very small working farms. I loved it, but then I rarely feel lonely.

Speaking of Maxine ...

... she was right about Jane Eyre. Fine acting, fine production. Once upon a time, when I was much younger, a woman told me I reminded her of Mr. Rochester. Imagine that.

Maxine has ...

... a Free book offer.

Amy discovers ...

... Scott Stein: A New Method For Promoting A Book.

What's it all about ...

... blogger? Cassilis the Lost Blogger.

I'm not sure if it is all about traffic. For me, it's been about people. But for blogging, I would not know Maxine or Dave Lull ... or, in quite the same way, Bryan. Blogging brings a direct, human dimension to writing - and reading.

I'm half Irish ...

... so I think this is great: Scotland: Too Funny for Independence?

Just in case ...

... you're thinking about gouing to journalism school, consider this, about The Head of The Columbia Journalism School... What happened to those vaunted New Yorker fact checkers?

Talking about crime ...

... fiction, that is: Crime Authors Andrew Taylor and Phil Rickman interviewed at Hay's Winter Festival, Dec 2006.

I suspect ...

... my grammar would be better if I'd been taught by someone like this: 'Grammar Girl' a quick and dirty success. (Hat tip, Scott Stein.)

Grammar and usage ...

... The Battleship Refute and Battleship Refute II.

Men in the middle ....

... (I know, I should say "persons"): You the Author. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

A new column ...

... on How to Read Poetry.

More on D'Souza ...

... What Does This Have To Do With Right or Left? (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Last week ...

... as I noted here, The Inquirer gave Chris Hedges a soapbox. This week it's Dinesh D'Souza's turn. Why? Well, why not? Viewpoints, even pernicious ones ones like Hedges' and D'Souza's - maybe even those especially - are best got out in the open. Anyway, you can read all about it here: A Wretched Stew.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

That's it for tonight ...

... folks. I want to finish Martin Amis's House of Meetings before I watch Jane Eyre.

Amy has found ...

... A New Blog For Booklovers.

I have to get around to this myself ...

... sometime: Belated 'three things' meme.

Notice this, though: "Three things I'm doing right now: drinking a cup of cold coffee, emptying the dryer, writing this post." Talk about multi-tasking!

Maxine claims to be doing ...

... Linking but not much thinking. Me too, my dear.

Over at the Jackdaw's Nest ...

... Some Ekphrastic Poems.

Well, this is certainly true ...

... from Terry Teachout's Almanac.

Lyrics in Limerick ...

... Kindness, Generosity and great Poetry too.

This sounds ...

... and looks interesting: Wow!

Here is Cavafy's poem Thermopylae, which gets across the universality of it.

Well, I guess I favor this ...

... Saving Eric Hoffer from Althouse. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I don't, however, think that university campuses tend to be over-populated with "autonomous men" or women. And there do seem to be an awful lot of Hofferian true belivers around - and a lot of them populate university campuses.

Bryan Appleyard wonders ...

... Could this be the final chapter in the life of the book. (Not suprisingly, Dave Lull also sent along a link to this.)

... it is the teachers who will have the final say. They will determine whether people will read for information, knowledge or, ultimately, wisdom. If they fail and their pupils read only for information, then we are in deep trouble. For the net doesn’t educate and the mind must be primed to deal with its informational deluge. On that priming depends the future of civilisation. How we handle the digitising of the libraries will determine who we are to become.

Well, we'd better get some good teachers.

In the meantime, Bryan also goes back to the moon: Mission possible.

The certainly seems worthwhile ...

... New Code Of Ethics To Protect Net Users . (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

A literary eureka moment ...

... Smugging up on forgotten authors. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

One man's criterion ...

... fellow St. Joe's alum Joe Queenan: Astonish Me . (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I couldn't make it ...

... to the NBCC gathering in Manhattan last night, but here's the results: And the Finalists Are ...

Today's Inquirer reviews ...

... include something new - Katie Haegele's DigitaLit column: The word on technology: A new column on online literature.

Also:

Norman Mailer takes on Hitler. Carlin Romano referees: Who needs another book on Hitler? Even one by Mailer?

Anecdotal Evidence 's Patrick Kurp looks at the Guy Davenport/James Laughlin correspondence: Letters that keep teaching.

Vikram Johri of patrakaar2b is largely impressed by Vikram Chandra's large Sacred Games: A policeman and his prey, a Bombay gangster.

Liz Lopatto of The Kenyon Review visits some lesser-known parts of the City of Light: Paris' 'dangerous classes' and their hobbies.

Martha Woodall found herself much taken with Greg Downs's Spit Baths: Realizing the past can never be escaped.

And the very busy Katie Haegele also likes a graphic YA novel: Young Adult Reader Illustrations charm, and plot offers true teen moments, too.

During the past week:

Dan De Luca very much liked Dave Eggers's latest: Sudanese survivor's tale.

Len Boasberg found Noni Darwish's memoir quite interesting: Muslim girl's metamorphosis into a woman of the West.

Jen Miller was charmed by Ian Sansom's The Case of the Missing Books: No murder; mystery is one for the books.

John Freeman found the Paris Review interviews fascinating: Paris Review interviews that brought authors to life.

Jen Miller also considered the extent to which publishing seems to be going to the dogs: Dogs taking publishing for a good brisk walk.

I promised a while back that I would try to refrain from tooting my own horn, but I think it worth noting that this selection indicates three things about book coverage in The Inquirer: interest in short fiction, interest in the technological changes affecting writing and publishing. and interest in blogs and bloggers.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

In the meantime ...

... here's News from the Kenyon Review.

Although I've posted ...

... a few items today, my intention has been not to blog on Saturdays, because I need at least one day to let my brain clear. Still, an item now and then won't do any harm. Back again tomorrow.

Attention independent bookstores ...

... Wicked Witch of Publishing Takes Over Pretend Independent Bookstore. Will She Thrive—or Just Survive?

A good question ...

... Does what "elite professors" think matter?

My answer? It depends.

I'm afraid Bryan is right ...

... The Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome.

Those of an age will recall a fellow named Newton Minnow, who denounced U.S. television in the 1950s as "a vast wasteland." Given that at the time U.S. TV boasted such things as Playhouse 90 Requiem for a Heavyweight), Omnibus (with Alistair Cooke - I remember watching several episodes that had Peter Ustinov portraying Dr. Johnson), and even top-flight commercial shows like Peter Gunn, it seems safe to say that Newt didn't know a wasteland wheh he didn't see one.

By the bye, has anyone thought that Plato's myth of the cave has proved wonderfully predictive of the age of reality TV?

Friday, January 19, 2007

Lest we forget ...

... 'Poe toaster' visits writer's grave for 58th year. (Hat tip, Scott Stein.)

Jane Eyre alert ...

... Maxine sends along this regarding a TV adaptation of Jane Eyre. Readers of this blog will recall that it was Maxine who alerted us to the fine adaptation of Bleak House that was on TV last year. Check your local PBS listings. Here in Philly it will be on Channel 12 at 9 Sunday night. Part I, that is. It concludes the following Sunday. Thank you, Maxine!

When the Blogfaddah ...

... got snarky: Some comments on sacrifice. (You have to scroll down a bit.)

I am just getting over ...

... a round of penicillin, which for some reason made me feel fatigued. That's one reason I took the day off. I may blog a bit later on, but Debbie and I have decided to take in a movie and then stop by our favorite Japanese restaurant.

Jody Bottum ponders ...

... Who to Reread in 2007. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Geoffrey Chaucer addresses ...

... the V Thinges Meme . (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Plenty to ponder ...

... in the GOB's Friday phish.

Call Heidi Cullen ...

... Getting closer to the cosmic connection to climate. Please note that this involved an actual experiment. Here's some more: Cosmic rays linked to global warming.


As for Ms. Cullen, who yesterday wanted those who disagreed with her climate views to be decertified, well today she sheds crocodile tears over A very political climate. Jeez.

Meanwhile, another meteorologist laments The Weather Channel Mess.

Speaking of Maxine ...

... and of Dave Lull, have I brought to your attention another of Maxine's blogs? It's Librarian’s place.

Maxine takes a look ...

... at Metacritic's book choice. God knows it's a better list than the UK Bookseller's Top 10, but I confess to some reservations. Ed Champion, reviewing the Murakami for The Inquirer, found it underwhelming, and I am one of those who thinks Cormac McCarthy is a pretentious gas bag. Actually, about the only one I'd go out of my way to read is the Pelecanos.

Getting acquainted ...

... Mark Sarvas chats with John Freeman on the NBCC Award. (Hat tip, Dave Lull, who is not even down, let alone out.)

I am proud to note that John and Mark both review for The Inquirer. I think John has done a fabulous job as NBCC president.

Out of the shadows ...

... On the pleasures of teaching noir, an underdog genre. (Hat tip, Dave Lull - whose car got rear-ended yesterday, but who is - thank God - all right. Car needs a bit a work, though. Let's all wish Dave well.)

Thursday, January 18, 2007

It's been a wearying day ...

... so blogging will resume tomorrow.

I've just noticed this ...

... and will return to it later, but it seems very important: Memo from Cassandra.

To die for ...

... a review of Bryan's new book: Death, be not proud. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Locus classicus ...

... Seamus Heaney and Latin.

A few years ago, I attended at performance opf Heaney's Antigone at the Abbey Theatre in Dublin. I was not impressed. He took something timeless and made it shallowly topical. A far, far better modern treatment is Jean Anouilh's.

Adding up ...

... The rewards of crime. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Nature abhors a vacuum ...

... Scott McLemee's Chaos Theory. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Art Buchwald, RIP ...

... Columnist Art Buchwald dead at 81. (Hat tip, Scott Stein.)

Another free thought skeptic ...

... sounds off: Weather Channel Climate Expert Calls for Decertifying Global Warming Skeptics. I find it hard to take seriously the position of anyone who advocates censorsip of those who disagree with that position.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Today's poem ...

... is George Held's At the Guggenheim's Spanish Painting from El Greco to Picasso - Time, Truth and History.

Maxine also treats us to ...

... news on Napoleon's stomach ache.

And, speaking of Maxine ...

... here's Harry Potter at Leaky Lounge.

Just the question for Maxine ...

... What Hath Joanne Rowling Wrought?

This is a surprise to me ...

... Which Science Fiction Writer Are You?


I am:
E.E. "Doc" Smith
The inventor of space opera. His purple space war tales remain well-read generations later.


Which science fiction writer are you?

Hey, they may not read ...

... in L.A., but they do write there: The Battle of the Books.

Great new stuff ...

... at Blue's Cruzio Cafe.

The spy who gave in ...

... to overwriting: Belgravia Cockney. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Sage of Weimar ...

... Learning with Goethe. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Something very worthwhile ...

... Remembering Edwin Muir. (Hat tip, Dave Lull. Thanks, Dave. Muir is one of my favorite poets. His autobiography is a masterpiece.)

The trouble with newspapers (cont'd.) ...

... ProJo squashes kids' spelling bee. Yeah, they're really trying to attract younger readers.

Actually, there's another must-read ...

... Shilpa Shetty: Reality Bites Back . Specifically, it is the article of his that Bryan links to: Reality TV.

"It was subversive," Watson has said of Sylvania Waters. "But if you're afilm-maker, you're meant to be subversive."
Really? Why? I don't want my plumber to be subversive. What's so special about film-makers? And, if we always know he's going to be subversive, why bother watching his films?
So hypnotised are we by theconventions of television that the fly-on-the-wallers can get away with theireasy trickery. Childishly we believe that, because we are seeing something, itmust, in some sense, be true. This is depravity because it means we have lostfaith in the ability of argument and explanation to lead us to the truth.
Amen, brother!

Today's must-read ...

.... Christopher Benfey's look at that "terrifying poet," Robert Frost: Dark Darker Darkest . (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

There's certianly nothing cracker-barrel about this, from Frost's notebooks:

Here where we are life wells up as a strong spring perpetually piling water on water with the dancing high lights upon it. But it flows away on all sides as into a marsh of its own making. It flows away into poverty into insanity into crime. Now like all other great things poverty has its bad side and so has insanity and so has crime. The good side must not be lost sight of. Poverty inspiring ambition. Poverty has done so much good in the world I should be the last to want to see it abolished entirely. Only insanity can lift ability into genius. Crime is that smoldering defiance of law that at times bursts forth enobled into rebellion and revolution. But there is a bad side to all three poverty insanity and crime and this a dark truth and it is undeniably a dark truth.
But dark as it is there is darker still. For we haven't enough to us to govern life and keep it from its worst manifestations. We haven't fingers and toes enough to tend to all the stops. Life is always breaking at too many points at once. Government is concerned to reduce the badness but it must fail to get rid of it. There is a residue of extreme sorrow that nothing can be done about and over it poetry lingers to brood with sympathy. I have heard poetry charged with having a vested interest in sorrow.
Dark darker darkest.
Dark as it is that there are these sorrows and darker still that we can do so little to be rid of them the darkest is still to come. The darkest is that perhaps we ought not to want to get rid of them. They be the fulfillment of exertion. What life craves most is signs of life. A cat can entertain itself only briefly with a block of wood. It can deceive itself longer with a spool or a ball. But give it a mouse for consummation. Response response. The certainty of a source outside of self--original response whether love or hate or fear.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

In case you're wondering ...

... here are the Bestselling French novelists. ( Via KR Blog .)

An odd coupling ...

... Sir Francis Bacon on Poetry.

Sir Tom Stoppard ...

... library president: Shelf stocker. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Great headline on this post ...

... which of course is characteristically insightful: Not returning, but plodding. (I trust everyone gets the allusion.)

A moving look ...

... at Our Poem of the Week. This is very moving post.

So you like lists ...

... well, here's your chance to get into the act. First, here's a piece in Time about Peder Zane's The Top Ten: Writers Pick Their Favorite Books: The 10 Greatest Books of All Time .

Now, you can go to Peder's Top Ten Web site and, among other things, post your own Top 10.

Dave Lull inquires ...

... "A Canutist would be a good candidate for the FIS, don't you think?" Michael Gilleland thinks "The Canutist would be a good name for a reactionary's blog." But maybe not. Canute didn't actually try to order the tide not to come in. He did what he did in order to demonstrate to his vassals that there were limits to his power. In other words, he was an early advocate for limited government.
As something of a Canutist myself, therefore, I would say that Dave is right. But of course I leave all final decisions in the matter to Bryan.

Marking an anniversary ...

... for "the most underrated novelist of the century" - the 20th century, that is. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Another plum for Heaney ...

... Heaney wins TS Eliot poetry prize . (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Now for something ...

... completely different: A Rifle in Every Pot. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I have a number of objections to gun control legislation, not the least of which is the primary importance it assumes for the instrument over the agent, but mostly because, in the days when I had many friends in low places, I became aware of how any criminal can get a firearm in a matter of hours on the street - not surpsisingly, they don't concern themselves with licenses or registration. Guess that's why they're known as outlaws.

Bryan Appleyard on ...

... In Praise of John Ashbery. A good selection of Ashbery's poems can be found here.

May as well ...

... start the day with a chuckle: How It All Began.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Today's must read ...

... Allen Barra's heartwarming evaluation of Gore Vidal's latest: Too much Gore. (Via Critical Mass.)

Fair and balanced ...

... not: The AP gets it wrong.

Robert Anton Wilson ...

... RIP.

Hmmm ....

... 24-Hour Newspaper People . (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Some sensible talk ...

... from John Ashbery: Well Versed. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I love it ...

... Evolution in action.

Take a look ...

... at Vogon Poetry.

A couple of modest proposals ...

... from Terry Teachout: Bigger than life.

Since I'm not a working art critic, I will complain about people reading and listening about what they ought to be looking at. Really, folks, get acquainted with a painting on your own first, then see what others have to say. Then ask yourself if you agree - and don't be intimidated if you don't.

A taste for Ondaatje ...

... or not: Divisadero. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Also check out ...

... the GOB's Friday fun. In particular, check out what Lynne Scanlon has to say about independent bookstores: Mystery Entrepreneur Offers Advice to Independent Bookstore Owners: Future Boils Down to ONE Question!

Lots and lots ...

... of good stuff over at the KR Blog. Just keep scrolling.

David Thayer discerns ...

... that Marilyn Stasio Wants New Blood. The Times sure could use some.

This is a bit complicated ...

... Dave Lull sends along this link: Thoughts About Essays...Well, Sort Of, which links to this: Best American Essays 2006--I Don't Think So - and which also tells a story about one of the essayists cited, Sam Pickering.
The post about the essays seems about right to me. But regarding the Pickering tale, Dave alerts me that Pickering himself doesn't remember saying quite what he is quoted as saying. So,as Dave puts it, caveat lector.

For a total outsider like me ...

... this is very amusing: On Liverpool .

I notice ...

... that The Inquirer gave Chris Hedges, author of American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America, a soapbox from which to preach: Extremism: Radical preachers offer a magical world for battered believers.

I happen to be one of those people who takes umbrage at casual playing of the fascist card. Especially when, as Jon Wiener points out in this L.A. Times review, Hedges himself "endorses the view that 'any movement preaching intolerance places itself outside the law,' and therefore we should treat 'incitement to intolerance and persecution as criminal.' Thus he rejects the 1st Amendment protections for freedom of speech and religion, and court rulings that permit prosecution for speech only if there is an imminent threat to particular individuals."
How much you want to bet that Hedges would not say this about radical Muslims? Of course, Hedges himself would seem to be advocating intolerance and persecution. Perhaps he should turn himself in.

Also on this date ...

... though in 1804, William Blake wrote this Letter to William Hayley. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

This seems to be a very interesting site.

On this date ...

... in 1896, John Dos Passos was born: Modernist Recorder of the American Scene. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

There is much in what he says ...

... Newspapers...and After? (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

This is certainly true: "If there has been a model of American newspaper innovation in the past three decades, it's this: Never do something bold, edgy or intelligent when there is a predictable and useless gimmick into which energy and resources can be dumped for a few years."

Adaptation ...

... Novels That Are Impossible To Film.