Sunday, January 31, 2010

Plus ça change ...

The chairs were arranged in a semicircle, and when all his guests were seared, Pompey stood. He was, as I have said, no orator on a public platform. But on his own ground, among those whom he thought of as his lieutenants, he radiated power and authority. ... He began by giving the latest deatils of the pirate attack on Ostia: nineteen consular war triremes destroyed, a couple of hundred men killed, grain warehouses torched, two praetors - one of whom had been inspecting the granaries and the other the fleet - seized in their official tobes, along with their retinues and their symbolic rods and axes. A ransom demand for their release had arrived in Rome yesterday. "But for my part," said Pompey, "I do not believe we should negotiate with such people, as it will only encourage them in their criminal acts." (Everyone nodded in agreement.) The raid on Ostia, he continued, was a turning point in the history of Rome. This was not an isolated incident, but merely th most daring in a long line of such outrages ... . What Rome was facing was a threat very different from that posed by a conventional enemy. These pirates were were a new type of ruthless foe, with no government to represent them and no treaties to bind them. Their bases were not confined to a single state. They had no unified system of command. They were a worldwide pestilence, a parasite which needed to be stamped out, otherwise Rome - despite her overwhelming military superiority - would never again know security or peace.
- from Imperium by Robert Harris

Post- centennial ...

... Picturing Welty.

Wow ...

... in brief May, the dogwood in New England.

Reading Tolstoy ...

... over at Ivebeenreadinglately.

Beautiful uglies ...

... Quid plura's Archive for ‘gargoyles/grotesques’.

One of the good ones ...

... `When Speaker and Hearer Commune'.

When was the last time you laughed while reading an introduction to the thought of St. Thomas Aquinas? McInerny must have been wonderful company but I missed my chance. I visited the Notre Dame campus only once, almost 40 years ago, in the company of the professor with whom I was studying analytic philosophy. We were there to hear John Searle speak on Speech Acts, a book we had read together. Campus security escorted us, drunk and disorderly, out of the building before we could hear Searle’s lecture.

There's something admirable about that drunk and disorderly bit.

Just in case ... ...

... a Reminder.

Bazaars for readers ...

... The 13 Biggest Used Book Sales in America.

FYI ...

... Peter Carey's Latest.

Oo la la ...

... Sex and the novel.

The nature of discourse (cont'd.) ...

... what an honest, open (and polite) discussion looks like. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Happy birthday, Bill ...

... Some Thoughts on Bill Turning Fifty (Or, well, how did I get here?)

FYI ...

... More on the Author of this Blog's Title.

Check out ...

... Poem of the Week: "Glasses" by Dave Smith.

Over at Petrona ...

... Book review: Sacrifice by S. J. Bolton.

... Two crime festivals and an interview with Jo Nesbo.

Tudor crime ...

... Revelation by C. J. Sansom.

Noticing ...

... Scene out the window.

See also: Proseable and Poemable.

Today's Inquirer reviews ...

... Serious story from Gaza in comic form.

... A packed-full first novel.

... Debunking a myth about slavery.

... Wise poems chronicling vulnerability of the self.

... A golden couple, flying high and headlong.

... Travel Bookshelf: Guides offer a world of vacation ideas.

Thought for the day ...

I wrote for nearly six hours. When I stopped, the dark mood, as if by magic, had folded its cloak and gone away.
- Zane Grey, born on this date in 1872

Saturday, January 30, 2010

The science is settled ...

... UN climate change panel based claims on student dissertation and magazine article.

Nothing to be skeptical about here, folks. Don't want to be accused of being one those nasty denialists now, do you? So just move on, please.

Something I missed ...

... this past Tuesday was the anniversary of the premiere of Richard Strauss's Der Rosenkavalier in 1911. I have always felt that Strauss and Hofmannsthal together sensed that the world as they knew it was about to end. This is nowhere more apparent than in the final trio. This clip gives you most of the final scene, but the not very end, which is too bad.

Nice piece ...

... The kitten killers and how a dog guy came to adopt a feral kitten.

Weighty volumes ...

... The Skinny on Fat in Fiction.

But ... bear this in mind: Moderately Overweight Elderly Live Longer?

Nice to know, especially since I'm less than two years away from the the big Seven-O. Luckily for me I have a high fear threshold. I usually don't get scared until afterward, which in this case is very useful.

One more ...

... Christopher Hitchens on JD Salinger: An author who flirted with immortality. (Hat tip, Paul Davis.)

And doing it himself ...

... Don DeLillo Deconstructed.

I guess my work is quite three dimensional; by that I mean, I describe people in relationship to what is around them. There are tables and chairs and walls and skies and rivers. I don't write essay-like fiction. I've always leaned toward descriptive prose. I want the reader to know what something looks like and sounds like and feels like. It's just the nature of the work I've always done.

Shandean game player ...

... The Pre-Postmodernist. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Nearly everybody loves “The Catcher in the Rye,” and most readers enjoy Mr. Salinger’s first collection of short stories, “Nine Stories.” But the work that followed, the four long short stories paired together in two successive books as “Franny and Zooey” and “Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters and Seymour: An Introduction,” were less reader-friendly and provoked more critical comment, leading eventually to the retreat of the wounded author into solitude.

Sage advice ...

... Read a Lot, Forget Most of What You Read, and Be Slow-witted.(Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Didn't the ancient Greeks regard the capacity to forget as a blessing from the gods? If do, it is a blessing they have yet to bestow on me.

Very sad news ...

... Ralph McInerny (1929-2010). (Hat tip, Dave Lull, who also sends along this appreciation.

I did not know Professor McInerny well, but he reviewed a couple of books for me, we chatted on the phone and corresponded a bit. Boy, was he sharp.

Any satire ...

... of academic and social pretension is OK by me: Brief Review: "Pen, Sword, Camisole" by Jorge Amado.

Very interesting ...

... Still Open. (Hat tip, Dave Lull,)

Come right in ...

... Weird Book Room.

Thought for the day ...

It's strange how the simple things in life go on while we become more difficult.
- Richard Brautigan, born on this date in 1935

Friday, January 29, 2010

Telling the truth ...

... `Bound By Contract to His Duty'.

Now you know ...

... Why there is no "Catcher in the Rye" on film. (Hat tip, Dave Lull, himself a very centered librarian.,)

Ballsier than his son ...

... Amis Speaks. (Hat tip, Paul Davis.)

Get to know ...

... some Famous Literary Drunks & Addicts. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Christ, they have to have been more interesting than most professors of literature. I was myself in the alcohol and various drugs category, the drugs includingsome serious no-nos. Big deal.

Something to check out ..

... on a Friday night: Brief Review: "Pen, Sword, Camisole" by Jorge Amado.

Oh, my ...

... The Rap on Happiness. Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

My Jesuit mentor used to say that happiness is for pigs, and the sort of happiness written of here would seem to be just the sort suited to pigs (to whom I mean no disrespect), a kind of psychic torpor. If you have to think about it, you're not happy.

A discovery ...

... at least for me - and I gather it originates not far from here: College Hill Review. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Definitely worth a look ...

... Vip Throws A Party.

I love Partch's work. I was a devoted follower of Big George.

Something else ...

... to ponder: Science, Faith, Scepticism, Belief and The Great Unknown. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Lamenting ...

... Wise Men Gone. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

In Cosmopolis, Toulmin started talking up the 16th-century humanist thinker Montaigne as the truly must-read philosopher of the early modern period. Could he have chosen a thinker more likely to drive away the technocrats who dominated professional philosophy at the time? But Toulmin, trained in the hard sciences and mathematics himself, saw through the science worship of less-credentialed sorts. He didn't relent, announcing "our need to reappropriate the wisdom of the 16th-century humanists, and develop a point of view that combines the abstract rigor and exactitude of the 17th-century 'new philosophy' with a practical concern for human life in its concrete detail."
Hard to object to that.

Something to ponder ...

... “School is a complete failure...”

Streamlining ...

... Why the Fetish About Footnotes? (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

One of the worst trends in the humanities in recent decades has been the insularity of scholarly expression. The conversation is so mannered and self-involved, so insider-like, that it has no readership beyond a few dozen colleagues in the same sub-sub-field. How many people could stomach a sentence like this one, a runner-up in the celebrated Bad Writing Contest a few years back: "Punctuated by what became ubiquitous sound bites—Tonya dashing after the tow truck, Nancy sailing the ice with one leg reaching for heaven—this melodrama parsed the transgressive hybridity of un-narrativized representative bodies back into recognizable heterovisual codes"?

More on Salinger...

... from John Timpane: Reclusive author spoke for alienated youth.

... and Ron Rosenbaum: J.D. Salinger: The Man in the Glass House.

... an Stephen King: 'The last of the great post-WWII American writers'.

Discovery ...

... A Russian titan revealed. (Hat tip, Daniel Kalder.)

What's in a name?

... The Name of the Novel (1) and The Name of the Novel (2).

Bummers ...

... Dangerous books, miserable children, the latest celebrity memoir.

Which Mary Beard is that?

... Mary Beard the physicist -- on Desert Island Discs.

You've got mail ...

... Dear Edmund Wilson. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Thought for the day ...

Music is an outburst of the soul.
- Frederick Delius, born on this date in 1862



Thursday, January 28, 2010

An online guestbook ...

... to express condolences for J.D. Salinger.

Crushed by success?

... Tennyson now.

This week's batch ...

... of TLS Letters: Animal rights and ethics, Regius professors, Olivetti, and more!

Teller of tales ...

... Stories waiting and aching to be told. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

In case you wondered ...

... What Reading a Magazine Could Be Like on an iPad.

But why does it need to be?

... A SUGGESTION FOR MAKING POETRY USEFUL. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Sad anniversary ...

... On the first anniversary of John Updike’s passing. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

News alert ...

... 'Catcher in the Rye' Author J.D. Salinger Dies.

Here, from Dave, is the NYT obit: J. D. Salinger, Enigmatic Author, Dies at 91.

Here is the Times (of London) obit: J. D. Salinger: Author of The Catcher in the Rye.

Here's Terry Teachout: J.D. Salinger, R.I.P.

Those darn kids ...

... How Non-Digital Space Will Save Education. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Today, students write more words than ever before. They write them faster, too. What happens, though, when teenagers write fast? They select the first words that come to mind, words that they hear and read and speak all the time. They have an idea, a thought to express, and the vocabulary and sentence patterns they are most accustomed to spring to mind; with the keyboard at hand, phrases go right up on the screen, and the next thought proceeds. In other words, the common language of their experience ends up on the page, yielding a flat, blank, conventional idiom of social exchange.

Would that be all students, some students, or most students? Back in my day most kids weren't so great at composition, which is why most of them didn't become writers. Even those who had some ability had to learn how to write skillfully, which took time. In fact, writing is a continuous learning experience.

Something else ...

... to worry about: Democratic, but dangerous too: how the web changed our world. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

It can be said of the Web what Lichtenberg said of certain books, that they are like mirrors, and if an ape peers in an angel won't be seen peering back. Thanks to the Web we no longer need to take information sources at their word; we can undertake to do some cross-checking. And we are finding out that ... we can't always take information sources at their word. Things are so not because someone says they are, but because they can be independently verified.

Another ...

... thought for the day:

Because philosophy arises from awe, a philosopher is bound in his way to be a lover of myths and poetic fables. Poets and philosophers are alike in being big with wonder.
- Thomas Aquinas, whose feast is celebrated today

'Twas ever thus ...

... The Brontës Query A Publisher (1846).

Thoughts ...

... on intelligence.

A riddle herself ...

... Riddles, Silences, Secrets, and Lies: A Biographer Investigates the Curious Case of Tillie Olsen.

And the winner is ...

... Christopher Reid wins Costa book prize. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

For Kindle users ...

... “The circuit boards are linking up in rhyme…”

Skepticism now permissible ...

... Science chief John Beddington calls for honesty on climate change.

See also: Scientists in stolen e-mail scandal hid climate data.

Guess they weren't behaving like all the rest of us.

Introducing ...

... Poetica.

Stately clarity ...

... Geoffrey Hill - Restful? (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Thought for the day ...

The faults of husbands are often caused by the excess virtues of their wives.
- Colette, born on this date in 1873

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

RIP ...

... Louis Auchincloss, 1917-2010.

... also, from Terry Teachout: Louis Auchincloss, R.I.P.

(Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

It's called music ...

... Making Sense Of Sound. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Oddly, atonality and aleatory music—both enjoying a vogue, among the elite, in early and mid-20th century—have failed to find any real momentum, even though they were viewed as contributions to musical "progress." In the meantime, earlier styles—from the Renaissance and Baroque periods, for instance—have captured the interest of serious listeners.

A few years ago I sat through a performance of Schoenberg's Gurrelieder, one of pre-12-tone pieces. It was long and boring. On the other hand, I like a lot of Ives and the little there is of Ruggles. There is plenty of modern classical music that is well worth listening to, but it doesn't get programmed - John La Montaine's Pulitzer-winning piano concerto, to name just one off the top of my head.

Take a peek ...

... Building A Home With My Husband Book Trailer.

Worry, don't be happy ...

... Russian happiness guru faces psychiatric ward. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Collectibles ...

... More Beautiful Boxed Sets.

A couple of poems ...

.. courtesy of Rus Bowden:

Magic Turns to Math and Back by Brenda Shaughnessy.

A Lesson in Ballooning by Joanne Limburg.

Compelling narrative art ...

... Ron Slate on The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, by Rebecca Skloot.

How smart is Mart ...

... Martin Amis, pauses, gender. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

We are all Finns now ...

... Did You Get the Message? (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Ho-hum ...

... Between God and a Hard Place. (Hat tip, Lee Lowe.)

If Pat Robertson did not exist, Richard Dawkins would have to take up bench science and invent him. Novelist Wood should pay just a bit of attention to the central mythos of Christianity, the premise of which is that God became man in order to participate in man's suffering. This seems a cut above most theodicies. Ponder the Pietà for a while, Jim, or listen to Poulenc's Stabat Mater. (I would suggest that Robertson do the same, but I suspect Wood is far more likely to get the point.) The mystery of suffering is at the heart of the Christian faith. As with all true mysteries, no easy explanation is available. Probably most Christians, I suspect, when they heard of the earthquake in Port-au-Prince, offered up a prayer for the people of Haiti and reached for their checkbooks.

Giving jackals a bad name ...

... You’re a terrorist, a murderer, in prison for life and called a jackal, and you’re concerned about your image now?

DVD alert ...

... The Evelyn Waugh Collection (Scoop and A Handful of Dust). (Hat tip, Paul Davis.)

I have a copy of A Handful of Dust. I think it's a terrible adaptation. A better bet is the Sword of Honor trilogy starring Daniel Craig.

Problemata ...

... Google, copyright, and our future. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Start small ...

... After Three Months, Only 35 Subscriptions for Newsday's Web Site. (Hat tip, Paul Davis.)

Still going strong ...

... 'I look at the good'. (Hat tip, Lee Lowe.)

Read all about it ...

... thiugh we're a tad late linking: Poetry News For January 25, 2010.

Live and online ...

... Issue 16 of Autumn Sky Poetry.

Explaining longevity ...

... Gilbert and Sullivan: The unbearable lightness of being.

Speech and music have to be seamless; timing is vital; the mechanism is as precise – and as likely to malfunction if done hamfistedly – as Rossini. The plot moves forward by way of the dialogue: do it badly and the show will grind to a halt. G&S can never work as a series of short, ­disconnected musical numbers; it is an integrated work of divine lunacy, ­propelled by an inner logic, or it is nothing.

I think that's right on the money.

A Poedcast ...

... Philly Poe Guy Gives It to Boston.

Mark you calendars ...

... Stanley Middleton 1919-2099: A Celebration on May 8th 2010. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Thought for the day ...


If you don't know where you are going, any road will get you there.
- Lewis Carroll, born on this date in 1832


Also born on this date, in 1805, was Samuel Palmer. This is Ploughing at Sunset.


Tuesday, January 26, 2010

How about this ...

... Top 10 Books Written by Librarians. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

If not every day ...

... Romantic Poet of the Day--William Wordsworth.

Words, words, words ...

... Coining by Association.

Something to ponder ...

... Climate Change and the Poetic Imagination.

But I wonder: What is it we are supposed to do about "climate change"? Stop it? Alter its direction (on the presumption we know the direction it is going in)? Is there some optimum climate we should be aiming for? Has there ever been such a climate and, if so, when and where? If the historical record is to be believed, the 13th century seems to have been better, in terms of climate, than the 14th. But, pace Michael Mann, the 13th century may have been warmer than it is now.

Il faut cultiver notre jardin.

Check this out ...

... A great actor reads.

A feckless life ...

... The Jerk.

The end grows nigher ...

... the longer things go on: Death wish: Why are we so in love with the Apocalypse?

Disappointing indeed ...

... Conservative novels.

Not forgotten ...

... and Still Read.

Winner's circle ...

... Costa Book Awards: Colm Toibin interview.

Contradictory and extreme ...

... Philip K. Dick: A 'plastic' paradox. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)


He had just had an impacted wisdom tooth pulled and was awaiting delivery of a painkiller from the pharmacy. When the doorbell rang, he was greeted by a beautiful dark-haired girl with a fish pendant on her necklace. "This is the sign used by the early Christians," she said and took off.

Soon after, Dick began having nightmares and visions. He began to sketch out a theory that these were divine interventions. In his new cosmology, what looked like Orange County was actually 1st century Rome. "The Empire never ended," Dick wrote, realizing he was a fugitive Christian in 70 A.D.

This sounds good, too ...

... Olright!

Truth in advertising ...

... Review - Shakespeare's Philosophy.

As an academic philosopher, McGinn looks at Shakespeare’s plays “expressly from the point of view of their underlying philosophical concerns.” By using that rhetorical approach, McGinn promises (and makes good on his promise) to reveal “the source of their depth.”
This sounds well worth reading.

Words fail ...

... The eccentric personal ads of 'romantically awkward eggheads.' (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Let us be kind.

My latest column ...

... The holy and the spirit of our age.

The Best African American Essays, 2009

The review below was intended for publication in Britain; unfortunately, this no longer appears likely. Always generous, Frank Wilson has suggested that I post the essay here - on Books, Inq. I hope readers will enjoy the piece and consider purchasing the collection. Thank you, Jesse

Gerald Early and Debra J. Dickerson, editors

Best African American Essays: 2009

290 pp, Bantam. $16.00.

978 0 553 38536 6


The Best African American Essays: 2009 is the first volume in what is intended as an annual celebration of contemporary “black essayistic art” (xviii). Edited by Gerald Early and Debra J. Dickerson, the anthology pays homage to the “grand tradition” (xiii) of Du Bois and Booker T. Washington by showcasing the work of those – including Barack Obama – who have registered their “blackness” (xxi) through non-fiction prose.

The most engaging pieces in the collection tend to be those which confront, and seek in part to remedy, what Early and Dickerson label in their introductory remarks, “the blood-soaked hypocrisy” (ix) of American history. In ‘Jena, O.J. and the Jailing of Black America,’ for instance, Orlando Patterson writes of a “gulag of racial incarceration” (234) in which a full ten percent of African American men between the ages of twenty and thirty-five are imprisoned. The “catastrophic state of black family life” (235), he maintains, has contributed to a cycle of unemployment, anger, and violence. Indeed, the rate at which blacks commit homicides in America is seven times that of whites.

Like Patterson, Malcolm Gladwell addresses the role of the family, noting in a discerning essay on intelligence testing and race that between the ages of four and twenty-four, African American children, nearly seventy percent of them born to single mothers, lose six-tenths of an I.Q. point per year against their white counterparts. For Maxwell, the celebrated author of Blink, the lesson here has less, however, to do with “cognitive disability” (95) than it does the “quality of the world” (101) in which African American youth are raised. As Kwame Appiah remarks in his essay ‘A Slow Emancipation,’ liberation is only the “beginning of freedom” (170).

Despite the occasional inclusion of banal meditations on hip-hop or international aid, the Best African American Essays succeeds in providing a vivid, often jarring, portrait of what it is to be black in America. From Bill Maxwell’s reflection on the state of Historically Black Universities to Hawa Allan’s perceptive analysis of the racial underpinnings of the fashion world, the anthology reaffirms the centrality of the essay in the history of African American writing, and does justice to what Obama refers to in an assessment of pluralistic democracy as the power of the oppressed “to spur social change” (239).

–Jesse Freedman



Jesse Freedman holds degrees in history from Amherst College and Hertford College, Oxford.




















Assembly line ...

... James Patterson Inc. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

FYI ...

... A Note on Clarion.

The book as artwork ...

... Arguably the most beautiful book ever Printed…

Deservedly neglected ...

... The Great Fake Book, by Vance Bourjaily.

Divertissement ...

... Light reading miscellany.

Or used to ...

... Curing Provincialism: Why We Educate the Way We Do - A Conversation with Jacques Barzun. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The student who reads history will unconsciously develop what is the highest value of history: judgment in world affairs. This is a permanent good, not because history repeats--we can never exactly match past and present situations--but because the "tendency of things" shows an amazing uniformity within any given civilization. The great historian, Jacob Burckhardt, said of historical knowledge, it is not "to make us more clever the next time, but wiser for all time."

Thought for the day ...

Truth is power, but only when one has patience and requires of it no immediate effect. And one must have no specific aims. Somehow, lack of an agenda is the greatest power. Sometimes it is better not to think in terms of plans; here months may mean nothing, and also years. Truth must be sought for its own sake, its holy, divine greatness.
- Romano Guardini

Monday, January 25, 2010

Art from clutter ...

... EL Doctorow: 'I don't have a style, but the books do'. (Hat tip, Dave Lull)

Winter scenes ...

... Hunters in the Snow.

Well, why not ...

... Let’s really be honest about blog reviewing.

The debate continues ...

... Digital Clutter: Why How We Read Matters. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

There really is room in life for both the books on your shelves and the books in your Kindle.

Hmm ...

... Hofmann damns even Zweig's suicide note.

I think Zweig deserves better. I just ordered a copy of his book on Verlaine.

Well, maybe ...

... A third way through the Bible. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

There are, however, other choices besides militant atheism, Biblical literalism, and the approach suggested here.

Attention writers ...

... The 2010 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award: Submit Your Novel.

Philly book scene ...

... Local Area Events.

No double standard ...

... The Naturalist's Version of Fides Quaerens Intellectum. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Naturalism faces what we can call the problem of mind (where this subsumes all the subproblems mentioned above, including intentionality, qualia, etc.) The fact that no naturalist has every solved this problem is never taken by a naturalist as a reason to abandon his naturalism. So why should the problem of evil, which has not been satisfactorily solved either, be taken by a theist as a reason to abandon his theism? If the naturalist can get away with saying 'We are still working on it,' then so can the theist.

Now here's a roundup ...

... Serious-Minded Sunday Smatterings.

Good advice ...

... `Don't Prettify Decrepitude'.

RIP ...

... Poet and Partisan Avrom Sutzkever Dies.

... here is his poem Elegy.

(Hat tip to Rus Bowden for both links.)

Lamenting chaos ...

... Twilight of the Mad Men.

Finality ...

... Death and Art in the Blogosphere.

Definitive ...

... For Those Attracted To The Word "The".

Deathbed indictment ...

... Brief Review: "Everything Flows" by Vasily Grossman.

No. 251 ...

... Celebrating Robert Burns.

One galvanic throb ...

... “No poet ever invented such a scheme of curse….” (John Jay Chapman). (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

This week ...

... at Five Chapters.

Attention poets ...

... Poetry Ink Registration.

Time and tide ...

... Confessions of a Book Pirate.

Thought for the day ...

Any nation that thinks more of its ease and comfort than its freedom will soon lose its freedom; and the ironical thing about it is that it will lose its ease and comfort too.
- W. Somerset Maugham, born on this date in1874.

Here is an interview with Maugham:

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Peering ...

... Apple's tablet and the future of literature. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Maxine catches up ...

... Deon Meyer at the London Book Fair 2010.

More from Bryan ...

... God, I Love America.

Anniversary tale ...

... Sleeping with John Updike by Julian Barnes. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The envelope, please ...

... National Book Critics Circle Prize Nominees Are Chosen. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

No accidents ...

... Bryan on Chinua Achebe: the lord of misrule. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

FYI ...

... Tournament of Books Field Announced (a Little While Ago).

This month's IBPC winner's ...

... courtesy of Rus Bowden:

... the poems, with commentary.

... the judges' page.

Today's Inquirer reviews ...

... take the form of a preview: Good reading awaits you.

Thought for the day ...

Is it not in the most absolute simplicity that real genius plies its pinions the most wonderfully?
- E.T.A. Hoffmann, born on this date in 1776

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Young American Authors

And the winners in the Under-35 category are...

Light blogging ...

... Debbie and I are off to visit my brother to celebrate his birthday. Blogging will resume later.

Reprise ...

... Mark Richardson's comment is so to the point that I feel obliged to link to this earlier post of mine: Attack of the pipsqueaks ...

Imprimatur ...

... Pope Encourages Priests to Blog, Interact With Faithful Online.

Favorite among favorites...

... Penguin authors name Orwell as their favourite stablemate. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Nervy ...

... How Art Affects the Brain. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I have an idea: How about a study of the aesthetics of neuroscience?

Never too late ...

... for a list: PopMatters Picks: The Best of Books 2009: Fiction and The Best of Books 2009: Non-Fiction.

Thought for the day ...

The trouble with being a priest was that you eventually had to take the advice you gave to others.
- Walter M Miller, born on this date in 1923

Friday, January 22, 2010

The form of truth ...

... Henri Frederic Amiel on the French Mind.

Nice to see Amiel get a mention somewhere.

Drawing distinctions ...

... The social concerns of the thriller.

Generally speaking ... the distinction between crime and thrillers on the one hand and "literary" fiction on the other lies in their attitude to language. Many crime novelists seem indifferent or unaware that it might be a good idea to have a view of the matter at all, and the result is work that suggests that the writer believes he or she can operate in some medium which exists prior to, or instead of, language.

More Nordic crime ...

... N for Nesbø and Nesser.

Check this out ...

... At Words Without Borders: Marías, Perec.

Check your trust ...

... at the door: Dangerous Data: Lessons from my Cheminfo Retrieval Class. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Language and reality ...

... Is there a language problem with quantum physics? (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Bohm pointed out that quantum effects are much more process-based, so to describe them accurately requires a process-based language rich in verbs, and in which nouns play only a secondary role. In the last year of his life, Bohm and some like-minded physicists, including myself, met a number of native American elders of the Blackfoot, Micmac and Ojibwa tribes - all speakers of the Algonquian family of languages. These languages have a wide variety of verb forms, while they lack the notion of dividing the world into categories of objects, such as "fish", "trees" or "birds".


Alan Watts made a similar point many years ago (he also referred to American Indian languages, I believe) - suggesting that we are not so much "people" as "peopling".

Suggested reading ...

... Authors' Club Best First Novel Award.

"... who am I to argue with Woolf and Calvino ..." Oh, go ahead, Anthony. Do it anyway!

From Shameless ...

... A New Poem.

Solar inhabitants ...

... A sun + Some days away.

Beavers and aspirin ...

... Reviews for Mithradates and Spartacus - and why to avoid St John's Wort.

Just you don't miss it: Book review: On the Spartacus Road. (I just checked on Amazon, and it seems that Peter's book reaches these shores in June.)

Signs of the times ...

... “And beyond it, the deep blue air, that shows nothing, and is nowhere, and is endless.”

And another ...

... Whither Publishing In The Twenty Teens? (Hat tip, Lee Lowe.)

Interesting question ...

... What's the point of blurbs?

One thing seems pretty certain: They won't going away anytime soon.

Characters ...

... Two Butterfly Lives.

Thought for the day ...

A single grateful thought toward heaven is the most perfect prayer.
- Gotthold Ephraim Lessing, born on this date in 1729

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Anniversary ...

... Debbie's and mine. Our 15th. (It was actually a couple of weeks ago, but she was away). Anyway, we're off to dinner. Blogging will resume whenever.

Have a listen ...

... Dewey Music. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Great stuff ...

... the TLS Poem of the Week.

This week's batch ...

... of TLS Letters: The Brothers Karamazov’, I. F. Stone, Ariosto abridged, and more!

Forget about paying the NYT for online content. Buy a subscription to the TLS (I've had one for years).

FYI ...

... further details: The Times to Charge for Frequent Access to Its Web Site. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Who knew?

... the dance of Kurp.

Everybody has one ...

... Underappreciated author pep rally...

Odd queries ...

... and more from Georgy Riecke. Just keep scrolling.

Still inspiring ...

... after all these years: Satan rules.

From the Literary Review

David Lodge on Vladimir Nabokov...

Dang ...

... Whoops!

Well, I didn't notice it, either.

Attack of the pipsqueaks ...

...Giving Emerson the Boot.

We only wish that Emerson could have witnessed the 20th century, its brutality, its murderous regimes, its epochal indifference to life.

Ever hear of the Civil War, guys? Emerson lived through it.

Thought for the day ...

Language ought to be the joint creation of poets and manual workers.
- George Orwell, who died on this date in 1950

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Dark indeed ...

... A Dark Day for the Enlightenment. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Laying it on ...

... IN DEFENSE OF PURPLE PROSE. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

A heady mix ...

... Паранойя paranoia in Belarus ? and more.

Zero sum ...

... The Problem with Prizes (or, Who Cares About the International Booker?).

For the season ...

... If You're Already Looking to Lent. . .

Literary nourishment ...

... `Counsel, Sustenance, and Solace'.

Highly recommended ...

... Garner’s Modern American Usage. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Forget online piracy ...

... well, maybe not, but: Offline Book "Lending" Costs U.S. Publishers Nearly $1 Trillion. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Touchstones ...

... or, The Tell-Tale Line.

Lots of Poe news ...

... over at The Bibliothecary. Just keep scrolling.

And it's still with us ...

... 'Inverted snobbery' -- an old political vice.

Very good advice ...

... managing Stock & Flow. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Taking no sides ...

... Must There Be a Bottom Line? (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Too busy to blog ...

... will pick up the pace later.

More on Robert B. Parker ...

... His Spenser Novels Saved Detective Fiction. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Thought for the day ...

Virtue often trips and falls on the sharp-edged rock of poverty.
- Eugène Sue, born on this date in 1804

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Good question ....

... What to cut in universities?

Wittgenstein and more ...

... Mr Vulgar (and sister).

Ouch ...

... The Un-manned.

Sounds good ...

... Aging publicity practices to jettison for the new decade.

Suffering yes ...

... but no despair: Percy and Updike. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Ohhhh, nooo ...

... someone tell Ed Pettitt: Nevermore? No mystery visitor on Poe birthday.

RIP ...

... Love Story author Erich Segal dies aged 72. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

RIP ...

... Robert B. Parker, An Appreciation. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Unfashionable classic ...

... A Look Back At Robin Moore's Classic Book On Vietnam, The Green Berets.

A different undertaking ...

... Ron Slate on Apparition & Late Fictions: A Novella and Stories by Thomas Lynch.

anti-Harry ...

... Writer as magician (Books - The Magicians by Lev Grossman).

Lonely boy, strange girl ...

... Lisa reads: Let the Right One In by John Ajvide Lindqvist.

A look at ...

... James Branch Cabell: After the Fairy Tales. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I have never read Jurgen. I guess I should, and I think I will, this summer, on vacation.

My latest column ...

... Death is something inconceivable.

Yes, indeed ...

... Happy Birthday Lysander Spooner! (Via Instapundit.)

More winners ...

... 2010 Newbery, Caldecott and Other ALA Award Winners Announced.

Willa?

... Was Shakespeare a woman? (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

And the winner is ...

... Colossus of odes: Philip Gross wins TS Eliot poetry prize for The Water Table. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

New Series ...

... The Gateless Gate.

Thought for the day ...

Books say: she did this because. Life says: she did this. Books are where things are explained to you, life where things aren't.
- Julian Barnes, born on this date in 1946

Monday, January 18, 2010

Mystery class ...

... A course on 'The Maltese Falcon'. (Hat tip, Paul Davis.)

Photolinks ...

... by way of Rus Bowden:

... Portrait shows morbid Poe in more flattering terms.

... William Burroughs’s Stuff. All the stuff is here.

Getting noticed ...

... Follow the circular links.

Timely ...

... Voltaire on the Lisbon Earthquake of 1755.

Plenty here ...

...The state, the arts, gossip & accomplished nephews.

Try this ...

... A Meme about Books.

The Lull Report ...

... for this afternoon:

... Haiti in Ink and Tears: A Literary Sampler.

... Amid Rubble, Seeking a Refuge in Faith.

... On Language: Movie Misquotations.

... How to hook them from the start.

Fugitive in chief ...

... Review - The Machiavelli Covenant.

More than just laughs ...

... Stormtrooper satirists take on the jihadists. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)