Monday, April 30, 2007

Intellectual dishonesty ...

... Check out the item here headed A scientific survey?

So Scientific American thinks it's important that "83 percent of Americans now say global warming is a "serious" problem, up from 70 percent in 2004 ..." Unfortunately, it fails to note that the same survey of the same people indicates that "58% agree that 'as the Bible says, the world was literally created in six days.' "

Something new ...

... from Debra Hamel: TwitterLit.com.

The sun, the sun ...

... Climate change hits Mars.

Willie Mays and climate change ..

... Hot Baseball News - Say Hey to Global Warming?

Trumpets and drums, please ...

... Los Angeles Times Book Prizes awarded. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Try this out ...

... from Joel Weishaus: North-3, Text-5. Joel emails some instructions:

-Text appears by caressing the face with your cursor.
-Paratext appears by passing your cursor over the first words of the quote.-Speakers on.

This is page 15 of a projected 35 pages.
Button at bottom right returns you to the Introduction.

On the other hand ...

... Michael Connelly decries The folly of downsizing book reviews. (Hat tip, Paul Davis.)

The future of book reviewing ...

... some contrarian views.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Taking cover ...

... so to speak: Publishers increasingly focus on the cover story. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

What's this about "a dwindling generation of readers"? Then why are book sales up?

Rounded by a sleep ..

... Death and Glass.

I realized, while I was reading Bryan's excellent book, How to Live Forever or Die Trying, that I was, regarding the current quest for immortality - or, more precisely, an indefinite lifespan on earth - completely old-fashioned. I don't want to live indefinitely. I'm not sure I would want to even if I had optimum health and at least a modicum of youth. Aesthetically, it seems to me, there has to be an end to the story. As for having my body preserved in some way or another, I'm content to have my ashes scattered in my garden.

Trumpets and drums, please ...

... the IBPC's Winning Poems for April 2007. Here are the Judge's comments. And here is a look at the Judge.

Two founding members of the Failed Intellectuals Society have now served as IBPC judges.

Today's Inquirer reviews ...

... include:

... Ed Pettit's look at Adam Sisman's take on Wordsworth and Coleridge: A friendship that sparked great poetry.

... and Patrick Kurp's look at Scott Donaldson's take on Edwin Arlington Robinson: A poet's life that's worth resurrecting.

... Katie Haegele is charmed and moved by Eavan Boland: An Irish poet writes of her land.

... Katie also likes Catherine Ryan Hyde's The Year of My Miraculous Reappearance: Young Adult Reader Good kid makes some bad moves, but there's hope by the end.

... and Desmond Ryan is impressed by Asa Larsson's latest: Swedish novelist spills out engrossing intrigue.

Yesterday, Michelle Reale reported on Rishi Reddi's new story collection: Book Review Surprising variation on popular South Asian themes.

And, during the week ...

... Scott Esposito took the measure of Roberto Bolaño's The Savage Detectives: Hispanic's epic tale makes its English debut.

... and John Rooney paid a visit to umpiring: Book Review An umpire's memories of the Negro Leagues.

There should be something for everybody in that mix.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Very light blogging day ...

... in fact, this may be it until tomorrow. Debbie and I heading out to Doylestown to see the other hald of the Daniel Garber exhibition at the Michener Museum before it closes. Back whenever.

Shakespeare joins the Bible ...

... The Relic and the Damage Done. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Two things, it seems to me, that one ought to know in order to be educated (at least in the English-speakinmg world) are the Authorized Version and Shakespeare. Not the only things. But necessary things.

'Twas ever thus ...

... Framing the Great Atheist Schism. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I think this is an admirably reasonable post, but I was struck by this sentence: "... I would go so far as to say that religions tend to be inherently misogynistic and intolerant, because they reflect the inherently misogynistic and intolerant cultures that produce and maintain them."

I presume this means that atheism, by definition, is neither misogynistic nor intolerant. So atheism has either been produced by some other culture, which is not misogynistic or intolerant, or atheism does not reflect the culture in which it is produced. In the former case, it would be useful to know what culture(s) that is. In the latter, atheism would seem to be a cultural aberration, and would have to demonstrate what makes it necessarily superior to the culture(s) it deviates from. (I happen to think that misogyny and intolerance are bad and do not think my religion encourages either, though I am well aware it has been gulity of both. Moreover, anyone who has read Dawkins or Dennett knows that tolerance at least is not their long suit.)

Friday, April 27, 2007

Something unforgettable ...

... Jacqueline Du Pre playing Elgar's cello concerto. There are links to an entire film or you can just play the concerto.

No longer admissible ...

... Dean at M.I.T. Resigns, Ending a 28-Year Lie.

Well, there's no doubting that she lied, amd that's certainly bad. But there's also no doubting that she did the job and did it, apparently, well. This suggests to me that, while a degree may be a desirable qualification for such a job, it is obviously not a necessary qualification. Indeed, is it not true that, in most cases these days, a degree simply functions as a union card?

Could there be any other ...

... but Good Lecture By Robertson Davies.

When I was in high school, a column by Robertson Davies ran in the now-defunct Sunday Bulletin. I read that column religiously and it made me think that when I grew up that's what I'd like to do, write a Sunday newspaper column about books and literature.

A tonic author ...

... Is Hilaire Belloc out of date? (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

A couple of plays ...

... Poor Richard.

Debbie and I saw a pretty darn good production of Ibsen's The Master Builder at the Pearl last year.

Never underestimate a palimpsest ...

... Text reveals more ancient secrets. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Clear your throat ...

... Poetry Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts announce the 2007 Nattional Finals of Poetry Out Loud: National Recitation Contest. (Hat tip, John Brumfield.)

Trimming the biggies ...

... Publisher makes lite work of the classics.

I'm of the opinion that skipping is best left to readers themselves.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Greeneland ...

... Graham Greene: Orient Express and Graham Greene: The Name of Action & Rumour at Nightfall.

Itakiagatta ...

... The power of verse. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Clever fellow ...

... Questions for Terry Eagleton. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

A lesson in stoicism ...

... Life on Earth: Bad Things Happen.

The Bibliothecary expands ...

... Ed Pettit interviews Cornelia Frances Biddle.

Open correspondence ...

...Emory to unveil O’Connor letters. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

A centenary mystery ...

... Total fiction or true romance? (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Barrel of laughs ...

... Bestselling author tackles comic books. (Hat tip, Scott Stein.)

Goodness, gracious ...

... great balls of fire: Jerry Hall at poem school .

A most interesting post ...

... traditions & prisons.

At least there's no smoke ...

... The New Book Burning.

If you have a moment ...

... Take a Word Out for a Walk. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I found it interesting that, to Patrick's inner ear, tenebrous doesn't sound dark. It does to mine - but I attended Tenebrae when I was very young.

Time to lighten up ..

... When comedy was king.

An independent mind ...

... that how Martin Amis strikes me. I had wanted to like House of Meetings but found it exasperating. Listening to him makes me wonder if I should re-read it.

A chanting bard ...

... that, clearly, is how Ezra Pound saw himself: Pound at Penn Sound. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

It is interesting how artificial Pound's approach is (by which I mean no disparagement; I use the term simply as the adjectival form of artifice) both as regards the writing itself and the reading.

An Inquirer debut ...

... Scott Esposito of Conversational Reading reviews Roberto Bolaño's The Savage Detectives: Hispanic's epic tale makes its English debut.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

A grand tour ...

... Islands in the Stream: A Walking Tour of New York's Independent Booksellers. (Via Bookdwarf.)

He likes to read ...

... A thousand books and more.

Makes me feel like a sluggard indeed.

A pleasant chat ...

... An interview with a ghost.

A great shot ...

... Eakins Wannabes.

Always a pleasure ...

... to Browse. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

About 10 years ago I wrote a piece detailing how the Internet was revolutionizing the seond-hand book business. As I see it, if a second-hand bookstore gets connected to the Internet, the enhanced revenue that results helps underwrite the store itself, keeps it afloat, and leaves it as place to visit and to browse.

A Grand Prix ...

... for Margaret Atwood: Atwood in Blue.

In case you missed it ...

... Kay Ryan Discusses New Collection of Poems. (Hat tip. Joe of New York.)

Classical Gass ...

... William H. Gass wins 2007 Truman Capote Award for 'A Temple of Texts' (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

So we're late ...

... what of it: Forever England! (Hat tip, Maxine Clarke.)

More strong words ...

... Terrible poet - great museum.

Well, I don't think Wordsworth is a terrible poet - try "Tintern Abbey," Sam - and I don't think "Daffodils" is a terrible poem (though it's far from being a great one). I do think it fair to point out that Wordsworth says nothing in the poem about daffodils being lonely. The phrase is "lonely as a cloud." J.B. Priestley got it about right: "His essential poetry, as distinct from his uninspired verse-making, can be reduced to a very small volume, containing ecstatic moments of communion expressed in lines unlike those of any other poet, apparently simple in language and structure but curiously haunting, necromantic, as if brought from some depth of ancient incantation."

A look at ...

... 'The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas' by John Boyne. (Hat tip, Maxine Clarke.)

Mind your words ...

... Language clinic: to prey is not to predate.

Take no prisoners ...

... novelist Orson Scott Card sure doesn't in this: Evil Fiction. (Via Brandywine Books.)

The disadvantages of holding your tongue ...

... novelist Andrew Klavan on The Big White Lie.

I've always been a fan of the York abbot ...

... The Alcuin Society.

Wilder about Alec ...

... Eight isn't enough.

Quite a fellow, actually ...

...Famous Amis.

In a deeper deconstruction of the president's soul, however, Mr. Amis gives him credit for exceptional social courage. "In one veteran's hospital alone . . . Bush has made 35 visits to severely injured troops, and that's a lot. If I were president I'd try to keep it down to three, or perhaps two, or maybe one. Or maybe not visit at all. I mean, it's so impossibly painful. Some people have said to me that they think . . . it's very emotional and that he's addicted to that. But I'd give him the benefit of the doubt and say, that's brave to do that, to go and confront the results of your policies."

The spirit of place ...

... Picturing Surfaces and Shadows. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Bryan sallies forth valiantly ...

... Science and Religion Again. Sorry.

I fully share Bryan's feeling that this is a tiresome debate. As I have said before, it is like having one group of people trying to explain Hamlet in terms of the carpentry of the Globe Theater and another group convinced, by virtue of having figured out the carpentry of the Globe, that Shakespeare never existed. Neither bothers to watch the play.
Grand assertions about religion, such as those Gordon seems fond of, remind me of the grand assertions one hears about blogging. You cannot arrive at a valid general proposition about something tens of millions of people are doing in all sorts of diffents ways for all sorts of different reasons. Surely even Gordon can see that a nun working in a hospital in Africa manifests faith in a way differently from some oleaginous preacher shilling on the tube.
Moreover, I think one has to consider that John Polkinghorne, Owen Gingerich, Francis Collins and others are no less scientists for being believers. Does Gordon think lack of faith makes for a superior scientist? As I pointed in a review a while back, Collins had made significant contributions not only to human knowledge, but also to the alleviation of human suffering. The Great Dawkins has done nothing comparable.
Like Bryan, "I'm perfectly happy for people to shout their disbelief as I am for them to shout their belief," even though I am reflexively skeptical of those who feel a need to shout about such things.

Update: I notice just now that Dave Lull also sent mea link to Bryan's post. Great minds at work again.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Come one, come all ...

... International Pixel-Stained Technopeasant Day - A great opportunity for new writers. (Hat tip, Laurie Mason.)

More here: Your International Pixel-Stained Technopeasant Day Gift: The Durant Chronicles.

Maxine reviews ...

... The Tenderness of Wolves.

Retrospective distortion ...

... and why we insist on trying to do the impossible, namely, predict the future and prevent disaster. After all, as Niall Ferguson asks and Nassim Nicolas Taleb explains, We can see the causes of Cho's rampage now, so why not before? (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Take Rick moody's advice ...

... and Speak Up in Defense of Book Reviews.

And here's ... How to get Involved in Saving Book Reviews.

I've been arguing for years that if readers of newspapers would make it plain to the people who run newspapers that they'd like to read more book reviews and fewer deep ponderings of American Idol said newspapers would likely run more book reviews. Readers have to understand that newspapers are giving them what the people who run them think they want.

Highland crime ...

... Listen to Ian Rankin. (Hat tip, Maxine Clarke, whom I'm beginning to think of as the Guinevere of the Blogosphere - hey, that rhymes!)

E pluribus unum ...

... The U.S. is Two Countries?

At least someone's paying attention to me ...

... Trav writes that it "looks like the Chicago Tribune has run with the "enhanced book online book review" idea, you posited to your readers last year ..." - Books is moving.

In brief ...

... Ficlets.

Dissenting opinion ...

... Against A National Poetry Month.

Seems to me it ain't necessarily so. Before this particular National Poetry Month is over The Inquirer will have reviewed Derek Walcott, Eavan Boland, W.S. Di Piero and Nikki Giovanni. In recent weeks or months we have reviewed Zbigniew Herbert, Frieda Hughes, Paul Muldoon, Karl Kirchwey and ... Charles Bernstein. You honor the month as you honor the month. No obligation to stick to Billy Collins (who I am not, by the way, disparaging because he is accessible).

Blogging will gradually pick up ...

... as I gradually climb out from under a load of wowrk.

Who knew she was so beautiful ...

... The Black Widow. (Via Instapundit.)

Pomo marketing ...

... Post-modernism is the new black. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

What eludes the enemies of capitalism - aside from the fact that, once you get past barter, all economic exchange depends on "capital" - is the shape-shifting nature of the market.

Congratulations to Morgan Pozgar ...

... 'Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious' wins $25,000. (Hat tip, Scott Stein.)

Sunday, April 22, 2007

But you shouldn't miss this ...

... Jeanette Winterson's ‘Save the old. Art isn’t a washing machine needing constant upgrading’

Normal blogging will resume ...

... tomorrow. I spent all day getting that book room back in shape and I now have to do some reading - a lot, in fact. Thanks to all of you who have sent me links. I'll get to them tomorrow.
For now - later.

A big-time debut ...

... for Mark Sarvas.

High praise indeed ...

... See That Face. (Hat tip, Maxine Clark.)

This should prove interesting ...

... Tim Lambert's Reynolds claims "More Guns, Less Crime". (Hat tip, Maxine Clarke.)

Of course, here is a recent post of Glenn's on a different subject: I agree that Tim Lambert makes a poor spokesman for, well, ... anything.

I realize there is a cultural divide on the subject of firearms and I hope to have time to elaborate my thoughts on the subject later today (I am at the office still trying to restore order to the book room). But I feel obliged to remind people that a human being killed the 32 people at Va. Tech. He used firearms. The fiorearms did not act on their own. They never do. Had the killer been unable to use firearms he would likely have used explosives, since it seems clear he was bent on killing. It is those factors - him and his being bent on killing - that should be the focus of the debate. The logic of asserting that because criminals (who do not bother to obtain them legally) and lunatics commit crimes - often horrendous crimes - with firearms, no one else except the state should be allowed to posses forearms simply eludes me. As if the state itself were never guilty of horrendous crimes, often commited with firearms.

Update: I think we all would like to hit upon effective ways to lessen the likelihood of incidents such as the one at Va. Tech. But the reflexive gun-control response is not effective, if for no other reason than that it is not going to happen. So the question is this: Given that it is not going to happen, are there other things than can be done? I think training people to be prepared for such events and steps to take should they occur is feasible. And I do think it both possible and desirable to enact laws mandating strict licensing for gun possession. After all, why should anyone be sold a gun if they don't know how to use and use it with skill. A proper licensing procedure might also serve to alert the authorities to anyone mentally unstable seeking to possess a gun.

Today's Inquirer reviews ...

... Mohsin Hamid tells John Freeman he loves the U.S., but: Author loves U.S., but says, 'My world has been split apart'.

... but Vikran Johri has a hard time finding that love in Hamid's The Reluctant Fundamentalist: A perplexing shift to hatred of America.

... David Hiltbrand has some reservations, but on the whole finds Scott Stein's Mean Martin Manning enjoyable: Urban hermit's rescuers. I think it worth mentioning that the photo editor who scanned the book cover into the system came over to me and said she started reading the book and became so absorbed she realized she had forgotten to scan it. So she borrowed it to read on vacation. Proof, if any were needed, that reviewing is far from being an exact science. I may read reviews differently from the way many others do: I am less interested in the reviewers judgment of a book than I am in his reporting of it. So David's review struck me as fundamentally positive and I thought it would prompt most readers to take a look at Scott's book, irrespective of David's quibbles. But, one of the great things about the Internet and blogging, is that it makes dialogue possible. So here's Scott's Response to a review.

Katie Haegel looks at Getting a handle on just what is e-literature.

Carlin Romano recommends a Scholar's canny look at hip-hop's denigration of black women.

Susan Balee is disappointed in Tracy Chevalier's take on Blake: Been done before, and done far better.


Sandy Bauers listens to a couple of physicians: Two books by doctors explore controversial, intriguing topics.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Is evil real ...

... or just a matter of opinion: Evil. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Terminus ad quem ...

... terminus a quo: Philosophy. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

In order to arrive there,
To arrive where you are, to get from where you are not,
You must go by a way wherein there is no ecstasy.
In order to arrive at what you do not know
You must go by a way which is the way of ignorance.
In order to possess what you do not possess
You must go by the way of dispossession.
In order to arrive at what you are not
You must go through the way in which you are not.
And what you do not know is the only thing you know
And what you own is what you do not own
And where you are is where you are not.

I particularly like this point of Bryan's: "I don't think Daniel Dennett, for example, is a philosopher at all, but merely a flunky at the court of secular, materialist scientism. He's just there to assure Dawkins and friends that they are wonderful in every way. I find no sense of exploration or meditation in Dennett. Much academic philosophy is like this and I am constantly disappointed when, having read the works of hyper-intelligent philosophers, I find they are, in the real world, amazingly, well, unamazing."

Something else to think of at the movies ...

... What goes around.

Blogging will range ...

... from little to none for the remainder of the day, because we have dinner guests tonight and much to do. And it's Saturday and it's beautiful outside. Later.

Next time you go to a movie ...

... remember this: 40 Things That Only Happen In The Movies. (Via Instapundit.)

The best thing Auden ever wrote ...

... in Sarah Crown's opinion. (Hat tip, Maxine Clarke.)

I agree that it's a great poem, but I don't think it's Auden's best. At least as good is this villanelle, from The Sea and the Mirror, Miranda.

Calling all readers ...

... Podcasts That Book Fans Can Adore. (Hat tip, Maxine Clarke, who also sends along Your 100 favourite podcasts.)

Don't tell anybody ...

... but this is what I hear: Six new producers of Acoustic Philly will be sworn in on Monday, April
23 at 8 p.m.!!! Upstairs at 1718 Sansom Street!!! It's an ultra-secret
ritual!!! SHHHHH!!! ... We are giving these new producers and our
new Web site a big stinking top-secret launch party!!! Doors open at
7:30 p.m.! It's FREE! It's top secret!!!!

The guy who edits my column ...

... has better things to do ususally - like write (and read) poetry: In Town.

Are there no prisons ...

... are there no workhouses: Great forebodings about Dickens World. (Hat tip, Maxine Clarke.)

Friday, April 20, 2007

A terrific piece ...

... by Robert Marshall in Slate: The dark legacy of Carlos Castaneda.

And here we thought he was just funning everybody.

More facts on gun violence ...

... from James Q. Wilson: Gun control isn't the answer.

In 2000, the rate at which people were robbed or assaulted was higher in England, Scotland, Finland, Poland, Denmark and Sweden than it was in the United States. The assault rate in England was twice that in the United States. In the decade since England banned all private possession of handguns, the BBC reported that the number of gun crimes has gone up sharply.
Some of the worst examples of mass gun violence have also occurred in Europe. In recent years, 17 students and teachers were killed by a shooter in one incident at a German public school; 14 legislators were shot to death in Switzerland, and eight city council members were shot to death near Paris. The main lesson that should emerge from the Virginia Tech killings is that we need to work harder to identify and cope with dangerously unstable personalities.It is a problem for Europeans as well as Americans, one for which there are no easy solutions — such as passing more gun control laws.
More here and here.

Force of character ...

... A Hero Is Laid To Rest.

Time to learn some quantum physics ...

... Richard Feynman Lectures: Physics - 02 - Quantum Behaviour. (Hat tip, Joe of New York.)

Now if we can only get the U.S to do the same ...

... Chinese officials crack down on bad English.

Finding your way ...

... Great Books Guide.

Gunning down a claim ...

... Only in America? The following is from a review I wrote a few years ago of Emmanuel Carrere's The Adversary:

A well-regarded man comes home one evening, bludgeons his wife to death with a rolling pin, shoots their two small children to death with a rifle, then drives to his parents' house and shoots his mother and father to death as well, returns home, takes an overdose of barbiturates, and sets fire to the house.
Only in America, right?
Not in this case. It happened in France, in a region called Gex near the Swiss border, across which many residents commute daily to jobs in Geneva. That's what Jean-Claude Romand's friends and family thought he did. And however appalling Romand's deed may have been, his motive for it - to avoid being exposed as a liar and fraud - only makes it more so.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

In case you missed it ...

... from the New York Times, of all places: The Killer in the Lecture Hall.

Wondrous views of Ireland ...

... The Inspiration Of Erin.

Congratulations, Homer ...

... not that one: For Homer Simpson.

A blog worth visiting ...

... The Endicott Studio for Mythic Arts. (Hat tip, Laurie Mason.)

Not much there there ..

... Harold Pinter: Old Times

The GOB takes a look ...

... at Eccentricities of the net.

Trumpets and drums, please ...

... Congratulations to Kimbooktu

Is there such a thing as a Jewish writer?

... The people of the book. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Intelligent commentary on Blacksburg ...

... at Dr. Helen.

Instant poetry ...

... with Paul Muldoon and Brad Leithauser. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Also at QuickMuse this and this.


Also worth checking out is Online April Is the Coolest Month.

Nikki Giovanni and Va. Tech ...

... first Nikki Giovanni’s “We Are Virginia Tech” Then this: Her warnings were ignored.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Saving beauty ...

... Michelangeli - Debussy - La Cathedrale engloutie.

How about a little a beauty ...

... or maybe a lot: Glimpses from the Road 4.

The endangered book editor ...

... or, Another Book Review Casualty.

Teresa Weaver sure in hell deserved better than this. And there is no getting around what this tells you about how the people in charge of newspapers regard the public: as a bunch of morons stuck in front a TV all day. No wonder all the people who aren't stuck in front of a TV all day aren't bothering to spend any of their time reading newspapers, either.


Knowing when to act ...

... and how to: A Culture of Passivity.

Getting serious ...

... Peer review for science fiction.

Good to pay a regular visit ...

... to Ami Greko's FSG Poetry Blog.

People don't stop killers ...

... rather, as Glenn Reynolds points out: People with guns do.

I don't like to go into detail about my wilder years, but let me just say I've been among people and in places where peace, love and understanding just wouldn't cut it. I also think the classic distinction between an agent and an instrument ought to kept in mind.

Crime and revishment ...

... the indefatigable Maxine has set up a crime fiction group: Revish.

Painter of souls ...

... on Excess and Sexcess, to say nothing of trucks.

Play it again, Mary ...

... who wonders, Will we "always have Paris"?

Brief but deep ...

... Short poems in a long life of poetry. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Thought, with feeling ...

... Carlin Romano remembers Robert Solomon: Remembering, Emotionally, a Philosopher of Emotion. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Carlin's been busy lately: Will George Tenet's book be a dud?

Another one bites the dust ...

... Atlanta Journal Constitution Eliminates Book Editor. (Hat tip, Vikram Johri, another Broad Street Irregular I am much dependent upon.)

Perhaps book editors should be placed on the list of endangered species.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Happy belated birthday ...

... to Charles Willson Peale: Founding Father. (Hat tip, Ed Pettit.)

Regarding Blacksburg ...

... Patrick Kurp has two pertinent posts: `Added Significance' and `A Quick Thorough Job'. In the later, the quote from Robert Burton is a must-read.

Simply amazing ...

... Jukebox - Glenn Gould, Again.

Perfectly minimal ...

... and I agree with everything Brit says in this post: Old Blue Eyes.

Time to lighten up ..

... Light Verse of the Week: No. 1.

So you want to write a book ...

... Practical books for writers. Also, Just keep at it....

Out of darkness. light ...

... A Hero at Virginia Tech.

I link, you decide ...

...because I don't think I agree: What Is Poetry?

First Nations - I like that ...

... a lot better than Native American, because after all I'm a native American. As Mr. Bloom tells the Citizen in Ulysses, "I was born here." Anyway: Many Endangered Languages in B.C.

Dissenting opinion ...

... from Terry Teachout: Another prize gone wrong.

Peter Stothard on downward mobility ...

... From nags to hacks in three generations.

You heard it here first ...

... Then and now, or 8 (more) reasons the 1950s are unfairly maligned.

Of crime and libraries ...

... wherein friends meet and a fine blogger gets some recognition: Thanks Library Journal! (Hat tip, Maxine Clarke.)

What a difference an ocean makes ...

... London in April. (Hat tip, Maxine Clarke.)

Here we are enduring one of the colder Aprils on record, I gather. Of course, I am old enough to remember one May in the 1950s - I remember it because it was last the day of the school year - that was so cold and rainy we had to have to heat on. This past January was one of the mildest on record, but was followed by one of the coldest Februarys ever. March was pretty nice until spring ariived. It's been mostly unseasonably cold ever since. (In January, people kept pointing to the cherry trees along the drive here that were blossoming. A more pertinent observation would have been that no native species was taken in by the warm weather. Philadelphia's weather - and I speak as a native - is unusually variable.)

The question puzzling newspapers ...

... all over the country.

Bryan links to the whole set: Some Cinematographer Talks About Love, Life and the Movies.

Money quote: "The covers capture the babbling inanity of the newsstands where each mag demands your attention by being exactly the same as every other mag."

Monday, April 16, 2007

A nice gesture of sympathy ...

... for the students at Virginia Tech and their families. I think it best to suspend blogging for now.

As darkness falls ...

... What does ‘old’ mean?

People should skip journalism school and just study Bryan's work. Though I do have one nit to pick: The Baby Boom offcially started, I believe, in 1946. So people Like Dylan - and me - are not Boomers. There is a difference between those born before WWII ended and those born after. trust me.

Reading habits of the rich ...

... famous and powerful: Who Reads What? (Hat tip, Maxine Calrke.)

I wonder if Maxine has checked out Tony Blair.

So much for quiet working conditions ...

... Librarians 'suffer most stress' . (Hat tip, Dave Lull, who should know.)

The 2007 Pultizers ...

... have been announced. (Hat tip, Lynne Scanlon.)

The usual suspects ...

... to put it mildly: Judges’ List of Contenders for the second Man Booker International Prize. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Speaking of Lynne Scanlon ...

... she poses an interesting question: Should Writers Run the 26.2-Mile Publishing Marathon or Join Rosie Ruiz and Take the Subway to Success?

And here are the Litty Awards ...

... Litty Awards: Best Publishing Litblogger

...Litty Awards: Best Christian Litblogger

(Hat tip again to Lynne Scanlon, who points out that we made first runner-up! That sure made my day.)

The 2006 Best of Blogs Awards ...

... And the winners are. (Hat tip, Lynne Scanlon.)

Sounds like news ...

... NYTBR looks at Fiction in Translation -- for once.

The proofreaders are around ...

... but the publishers don't want to have to pay for them: Are there no competent proofreaders left? (Hat tip, Maxine Clarke.)

Short and poetic ...

... writers who murder and poets who bum your smokes.

Something I missed ...

... amd shouldn't have: On Poetry Reviewing.

Art and the city ...

... Is the third strike on the way for local arts?

I'm enough of a free marketeer to think that if the arts can't pay their own way, too bad for the arts. The "edgy" stuff tends to be inside baseball, of interest only to the people who do that sort of thing - and their friends, relatives, and people trying to be hip.

I can't resist ...

... Coldening strikes home!

And don't miss the link to Tim Blair's "coldening" rule.

The house as love object ...

... Daphne's unruly passions. (Hat tip, Vikram Johri.)

Home on the range ...

... Kinky Friedman and Herodotus. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Who knew?

Two cheers for truth ...

... This is what the clash of civilisations is really about.

"... belief in something is almost always preferable to belief in nothing." Come now. I don't think I'm alone in feeling I'd rather believe in nothing than in National Socialim.

Forget William and Kate ...

... here's the romance to keep an eye on: Amanda and Jeff: More Foreplay.

Few things are funnier than subjecting the humorless to ridicule.

Fanatics are all alike ...

... Imperial Darwin. (Dave Lull also sent me a link to this. Great minds at work.)

Moderate Muslims ...

... Protest in Pakistan. Good for them. Brave of them, too.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Kinky Friedman on Imus ...

... Cowards Kick Away Another Piece of America's Soul.

I never listen to Imus myself - or talk radio at all, for that matter - and this is the only post on the subject I plan to have - mostly because I admire Kinky.

A remarkably insightful post ...

... "KINSEY" -- a smart movie on sexuality.

Putting on a happy face ...

... otherwise known as an Editor's Note. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Should an obituary for the American newspaper have to be written eventually, I hope someone notes that the demise may have been caused by trying to adapt the deceased to the needs of those interested in things other than reading - such as American Idol or Dancing With the Stars. Given the number of books published and purchased every year it seems genuinely moronic of newspapers to pay less and less attention to them.

Update: Looks like the obit's been written: The news, the purveyor of 'new things,' dies at 606

Maybe not so out of tune ...

... maybe just Out of context. David Shribman on Joshua Bell's subway concert. (Via Power Line.)

Heartbreaking ...

... Images of a Lost Community.

Since many are braving snow ...

... to demonstrate about global warming, we bring you, complete with charts and graphs, Remembrance of Things Past: Greenhouse Lessons from the Geologic Record.

Today's Inquirer reviews ...

... Carlin Romano remembers Kurt Vonnegut: Why does Vonnegut endure so well?

... I was completely charmed by Sheridan Hay's debut novel: Through the prism of enchantment.

... Chuck Leddy is impressed with Chandra Manning's look at How Civil War soldiers saw slavery.

... Judith Musser finds something missing in Nikki Giovanni's latest: Giovanni hails the 'Acolytes,' sounds the call for power poetry.

... Rita Giordano finds The Knitting Circle deeply affecting: After losing child, finding way to go on.

... Katie Haegele likes the way Dana Reinhardt grapples with the truth in Harmless:
Young Adult Reader | Three young women and three views of a life-changing lie.

... Paula Marantz Cohen casts an appreciative glance at Nora Roberts: At first suspicious, but now appreciative of NR.

During the past week:

... John Freeman took delight in Pete Dexter's journalism: Book Review | Dexter's weird tales ripped from the headlines.

... Karen Heller just loved Tova Reich's My Holocaust: Brash satire set at Auschwitz mocks martyrdom.

... Jen Miller gave an A to Pauline Chen's Final Exam: The making of a physician.

Also, I forgot to link to this great profile of Pete Dexter that Amy Rosenberg did: Driving with Pete Dexter. This even comes with video: Video: Dexter on interior decorating and Video: Dexter on some childhood memories.

Finally, Carlin Romano had a pleasant chat in Brooklyn with Man Booker and NBCC winner Kiran Desai: Bagging laurels, logging miles on book tour.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

More put briefly ...

... Competition of twelve words

To put it briefly ...

... One Sentence Stories

Move over, Mr. Disney ...

... or, What the Dickens? (Hat tip, Maxine Clarke.)

Criminal duo ...

... Novelists John Banville and Donald Westlake compare notes on the seedy worlds that inspire their fiction. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Sheer beauty ...

... The Sixteen perform Tavener, Tallis. (Hat tip, Joe of New York.)

And not just for him ...

... Writing 'always gets harder' for Michael Ondaatje. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

A wild and crazy play ...

... from Will S.: A Dish Best Served Cold. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Something to look forward to ...

... Site improvements coming soon. (Hat tip, Maxine Clarke.)

A world-class author, trulu ...

... Maive Binchy. (Hat tip, Maxine Clarke.)

Blake and his wife have split ...

... after all these years! At least that's what it says here (among other things): The Squirrel Plot. Oh, apparently, it's some other William and Kate: In My New Role as Royal Correspondent...

Blogging will resume later ...

... when we finish meeting some obligations.

Headline of the week ...

... as noted by Glenn Reynolds, who also draws our attention to the Don Imuses of the Environmental Movement.

The story eneath the headline concludes with one of the more inane analogies:

"Locke points out that the rallies are on the 95th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic, which struck an iceberg near Newfoundland.

" 'They didn't see it coming, the tragedy,' she said. 'But we do.' " (400 miles from Newfoundland - which is where the Titanic collided with the iceberg - doesn't seem too "near" to me, by the way.)

The comment at the other link makes mention of someone I much admire: Gifford Pinchot.

Friday, April 13, 2007

And that's it for me tonight ...

... I want to finish a book about quantum physics - seriously.

Something I missed ...

... and shouldn't have - A.E. Housman's birthday: Terence Hearsay; or, the Benefits of a Friend's Discerning Eye.

One of my favorite cheeses ...

... comes from Caerphilly. No wonder it tastes so good: On Caerphilly Mountain, yesterday evening.

Yes, it is ...

... and Frank (not me) is a fine young man: T'internet is a strange place.

Maxine is back ...

... and hard at work. Check out:

... A look at some history

... ThrillerFest in July

... Science in fiction at Catbird

And that's just a start!

Before Dr. House grew serious ...

... Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry On Language and Censorship.

Reasons rather than causes ...

... Better off without religion? (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Suppose someone were to say that we would be better off without love. After all, love often leads to disaster: the love of Helen for Paris, for instance, which led to the Trojan war. Love brings with it jealousy, possessiveness, obsession and grief. People can love the wrong things and the wrong people. They can go astray through love as through hatred.

Robinson Crusoe, librarian ...

... desert island novels. (Hat tip, Maxine Clarke.)

Bryan weighs in ...

... Blair and the Death of Virtue.

Money quote: "At the heart of the matter is the hyper-democratic condition - or pretence - of the contemporary political process. This engenders a new tyranny, validated by a spurious, spun populism. "

The right place ...

... in the right place: Bedlam. (Hat tip, Maxine Clarke.)

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

... The coming end of books? (Hat tip, Vikram Johri.)

Speaking of women writers ...

... The politics of prose. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Bet you didn't know this ...

... Men write better books than women, reveals UK's biggest book chain. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

I didn't know it, either. And, in fact, I don't believe it. Any of these people read Willa Cather or Isak Dinesen?

More than meets the eye indeed ...

... The Bethsaida miracle - Jesus healing a blind man

Both Positivist and Christian are stalemated on the subject of New Testament miracles. Positivist thought is certain that no miracle could ever have taken place -- because such an event would fatally contravene natural law. Your traditional Christian, by contrast, will accept the Gospel accounts on faith. Until now, these two categories of thinking were mutually exclusive: science and faith could not collaborate. But, at Bethsaida, something quite different came about: a miracle that depends on science for its proof, that cannot be understood except by adducing modern medical data -- quite unknown in 30 A.D. -- as evidence. And, when one miracle has been proved, it then at once becomes not just possible, but probable, that another miracle can also be proved true.
I linked to this story last summer, but happened to come upon it again and thought it worth linking to again. Here is a biologist's take on this: "Walking Trees": The science of the miracle at Bethsaida and More on "walking trees", the science of miracles.
Julian O'Dea's blog, Biology Notes, is very worth making a regular stop on your blog stroll.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

My irrepressible contrarian streak ...

... compels me to link to this: Andrew Roberts's Diary.

This, in particular, caught my eye:

The next morning, after my lecture to White House staffers and Agency officials, we were asked if we’d like to spend some time before lunch in the Oval Office with ‘the reviewer-in-chief’. My original thought was the same as Churchill’s when Baldwin offered him the chancellorship in 1924 — ‘Does the bloody duck swim?’ — but I confined myself to saying yes please. When the door opened and we were ushered in, the President called out in mock surprise: ‘Andrew Roberts!’ So I adopted the same surprised tone, crying: ‘George W. Bush!’ (Lucky wouldn’t have approved.) Then Susan and I had 40 minutes alone with the Leader of the Free World, talking about the war on terror. He was full of resilience and fortitude — as I’d taken for granted he would be — but he was also thoughtful, charming and widely read. If he wasn’t the most powerful man in the world, he’d be the sort of chap you’d have as a mate.

The sound of love ...

.. in a tonal language. (Hat tip, Maxine Clarke.)

Shakespeare on the whole ...

... The be-all and end-all. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Pontifex Maximus ...

... Thank God for a wise, truth-telling Pope.

He makes the Oxford chemistry professor who recently attacked religion as ‘the crack-alley of the intellect’ seem like a savage.

Pontifex Maximus ...

... Thank God for a wise, truth-telling Pope.

He makes the Oxford chemistry professor who recently attacked religion as ‘the crack-alley of the intellect’ seem like a savage.

More from the Hogarthian perspective ...

... Our enemies are right to mock us. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Well worth a look ...

... Dark Knowledge: Banville's Black Cloak.

I had thought of mentioning the derivation of the name Benjamin in my review, but I couldn't work it in.

Check out ...

... Arabesques.

Can this be so?

... Good people have become a defeated class in Blair's Britain, argues Theodore Dalrymple.
(Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Bryan, Maxine, where art thou?

Remembering Kurt Vonnegut ...

... Bruce Boyle sends this, which he has graciously allowed me to post:

I read that he died. Probably the best-natured cynic in American literature since Twain.

A long time ago, after being shot in Vietnam, when I was lying immobile in a hospital bed at Walter Reed Army Hospital, my father saw me reading something by Vonnegut. My father rarely talked about his WWII experiences but he told me that he was Vonnegut's squad leader and they were captured together at the Battle of the Bulge.

They had not had contact since being liberated but my father sent him a new copy of "Slaughterhouse Five" for autograph. I have it still. It says "To Bruce Boyle who was the wise commander of me and Bernard V. O'Hare in World War II. Peace."

We exchanged a couple letters after that and I remember getting one after I'd made some remark about war never being justified. He didn't defend World War II or Vietnam but said Biafra was worth supporting in its then fight with Nigeria.

Years later I was working as a reporter at The Bulletin and on its last day he called the city desk and asked me if there was anything he could do for me. There wasn't but I remain grateful for the thought.

And now for something simply lovely ...

... A Day in the Forest. (Hat tip, Minx.)

Another discovery ...

... by way of Bryan's blog: The Blogger’s Lament.

Not just this, though. This, too: Think of England.

And in particular, The Gratuitous Nazi Reference Page and Woolly thinking and popular misconceptions.

I was not a fan ...

... but de mortuis nil nisi bonum: American novelist Kurt Vonnegut dies.

Peter Stothard, however, demurs: The bad about Vonnegut.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The April issue ...

... of The Wild River Review is up.

Visceral reaction ...

... Chuck Palaniuk Strikes Again.

Wow, a movie about Keats ..

... Bright Star.

Ch-ch-changes ...

... Ovid, Poet of Transformation. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Take your time ...

... Defining the 20th century.

The problem with this is that the way we might now define the century is probably not how it will ultimately be defined. I am sure the Victorians would have defined themselves differently from how they are now. The contemporary view of the 20th century is likely to be something on the order of the Bloomsbury view of the Victorian era. I continue to be amazed by the views I often hear expressed about 1950s America, my formative years. I do not recognize the decade I lived through in many of the accounts I hear of it. It was a decade that gave us some of the best plays America has produced, some of the best films, some wonderful - if now sadly neglected - classical music, some very good novels and poetry. Though abstract expressionism is not one of my favorite styles of art, it still turnedout more interesting work than came later.

I was alerted to this last week ...

... but was too damn busy to do anything about it: Brian McGilloway - Interview with the Author.

And here's a review: Borderlands - Brian McGilloway.

Queen of crime ...

... Donna Leon on Radio 4. (Hat tip, Maxine Clarke.)

Deep down, that is ...

... Women Are So Shallow.

Set 'em up, Joe ...

... The Blog Pub.

The Internet, through blogs and forums, has made it possible for just about anyone who wants to say something in public to do so. Some who were able to say something in public by means of the limited number of outlets available previously apparently do not like this. Huge numbers of foolish and false things have been said in print, are being said still, and will continue to be said. The same is true of blogs and Internet forums - only the volume is much greater. It is a messy business, but life is messy. Still, in the long run it is good that information is less controlled and that more and more people can not only speak up, but be heard. It's not anything to be afraid of.

Examination of conscience ...

... Elizabeth Bishop's Christian sin. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Books with impact ...

... or, The Most Memorable Books of the Last 25 Years. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Taking time ...

... Academy of American Poets claim the entire month of April as its own. And why not? (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

We'll always have Henry ...

... The Little Vases of Henry James. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Three heresies ...

... pronounced by Freeman Dyson in his University of Michigan 2005 Winter Commencement Address.

I particularly liked this:

You students are proud possessors of the PhD, or some similar token of academic respectability. You have endured many years of poverty and hard labor. Now you are ready to go to your just rewards, to a place on the tenure track of the university, or on the board of directors of a company.
And here am I, a person who never had a PhD myself and fought all my life against the PhD system and everything it stands for. Of course I fought in vain. The grip of the PhD system on academic life is tighter today than it has ever been. But I will continue to fight against it for as long as I live. In short I am proud to be heretic.
I am not sure I quite agree about the U.S. no longer being top nation by 2070 (though I hold no brief for its remaining in that position, either). I think that America will mirror Rome and be around for a long time in much the same way that Rome was - and for much the same reason: because the roads lead here.

My freshman Latin professor ...

... in college was very enthusiastic about this: The Canticle.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

That's it for tonight, folks ...

... I just finished a review for Sunday (I worked at home today) and I am always depressed (at least as depressed as I ever get) when I finish a review. I have plenty to link to tomorrow morning, thanks to my faithful Broad Street Irregulars.

Definitely check out ...

... the FSG Poetry Blog.

Hear, hear ...

... from Terry Teachout's Almance: Edmund Wilson on reviewing.

A nice discovery ...

... A Stray Impressionist Finds his Home.

The title of this post refers to the link, but could just as well refer to the blog linked to.

All for one ...

... Donkeys in pyjamas. And my compliments to Miss Lucy Dallas, with whom I share a fondness for Dumas. I wonder if Peter has read Twenty Years After.

A wonderful discovery ...

... made by sampling items on Bryan's blogroll: The Dao of Wallace Stevens.

Me either ...

... Not a Literary Agency.

People have sent me their manuscripts via email. The result is that my email ceases to work until I get rid of their manuscript. I actually do sympathize. But it would be useful for people to remmeber that they are not alone in wanting to get attention for their work. That, in fact, people wanting get attention for their work are legion.

A lot of people will be surpsied ...