Saturday, April 30, 2011

Continuing ...

... The Book Haven � Blog Archive � Irena Sendler, “The Female Oskar Schindler”: Interview with filmmaker Mary Skinner, Part 2.

Appreciation ...

... A Momentary Taste of Being: Dorothy Dunnett Considered.

The Toyal wedding ...

... as seen by The Dabbler.

Inducements to thought ...

... Anecdotal Evidence: `Fresh Grace and More Powerful Attractions.'

Who knew ...

... that any were? Top 10 Unforgettable Editorials | James Russell Ament.

The literary fallacy ...

... A Commonplace Blog: The inadequacy of literature. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Afterlife ...

... On Rattigan | Bryan Appleyard. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The whole point of a Rattigan play is that characters live in a world in which free emotional expression is not an option. In Flare Path that letter in French specifically acts as a mechanism for suppressing strong emotion. The cultivation of the self and the glorification of self-expression, which became, from the sixties onwards, the presiding ideology, were not virtues in Rattigan’s moral universe but threats. Honour, self-control and endurance were the qualities that mattered.

RIP ...

... Richard Cornuelle (1927-2011) | The Freeman | Ideas On Liberty. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Out of Africa ...

... Corvus (Novel excerpt) | Sentinel Literary Quarterly.

Real as you ...

... Zealotry of Guerin: Carnival of Harlequin (Miro).

Without tears ...

... The Leopard, by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa | A Lyric, Elegiac Lament for a Lost World | Masterpiece by Willard Spiegelman - WSJ.com.

Also born today ...

Thought for the day ...

After debauches and orgies there always follows the moral hangover.
- Jaroslav Hašek, born on this date in 1883

Friday, April 29, 2011

Roundup ...

... Links: Filing Extension | Mark Athitakis’ American Fiction Notes.

Listen in ...

... Two Voices Presents An Evening with Lydia Davis.

Mystery ...

... The New Atlantis � The Unbearable Wholeness of Beings.

The real problem with the mechanistic view lies in the nature of its underlying metaphor. A mechanism is an artifact, and an artifact demands an artificer. To speak of an artifact for which there is no artificer is to speak nonsense. (And no, this is not meant to give credence to intelligent design theory. It is merely to say that both ID theorists and mechanists think of living things in terms of something they are not.)

Work in progress ...

... Persistence: A Rich-Media Fiction by Eric Kraft — Kickstarter. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Questioning ...

... on The Future of History by John Lukacs (Yale University Press) | On the Seawall: A Literary Website by Ron Slate (GD). (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Something I missed ...

... but thoroughly agree with: Garrison Keillor, August Kleinzahler, and the perils of one-sided fisticuffs.

I could never warm to Prarie Home Companion, either.

Celebration ...

... The Book Haven � Blog Archive � 50th anniversary of René Girard’s Deceit, Desire, and the Novel gets kisses and punches.

Thought for the day ...

Great music is that which penetrates the ear with facility and leaves the memory with difficulty. Magical music never leaves the memory.
- Sir Thomas Beecham, born on this date 1879


Thursday, April 28, 2011

Life within all ...

... FROM THE MOUTH OF THE WHALE by Sjón’ reviewed by Carolyne Larrington - TLS.

This week's batch ...

... of TLS Letters: RLS and ‘The Hair Trunk’, Selkirk’s goats, Rosa Luxemburg,and more!

A pretty fair appraisal ...

... I think: Joseph Epstein on A. Alvarez and Hugh Kenner on Samuel Beckett. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Changing minds ...

... The Realm of the Disenfranchised and 'The Wizard of Oz' - NYTimes.com. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Knowing that there are things you haven’t thought of and couldn’t think of (unless the furniture of your consciousness were transformed) doesn’t give you the slightest hint of what those things might be.

In case you wondered ...

... Why Catholic Schools Matter by Patrick J. McCloskey, Sol Stern, City Journal Spring 2011.

Q & A ...

... Princeton University Press Blog � Blog Archive � Of Flesh and Spirit: Karl Kirchwey on Translating Verlaine. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

A most interesting site ...

... I did nor know about: Classical TV News, classical music, opera, performing arts: Mozart, Beethoven, and more...

On the one hand ...

... Last Typewriter Factory in the World Shuts Its Doors - Nicholas Jackson - Technology - The Atlantic.

(Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Checking on little truths ...

... Peter Stothard - Times Online - WBLG: Boadicea's remains.

And in some detail ...

... A Momentary Taste of Being: Arrian Considered.

The Case for Cursive

Big thanks to Dave Lull for directing me to stories on the state of handwriting in today's world, like this one in the NY Times. I find it fascinating that this skill is maybe possibly becoming obsolete. I cannot understand the logic behind the choice not to teach handwriting, that in order to learn something new (keyboarding, computer skills) you must also stomp out all related and older but still-viable skills. It just seems so short-sighted.

Your own ding ...

... Gore, Ex-Apple Engineers Team Up to Blow Up the Book | Gadget Lab | Wired.com. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

“The app is the richest form of storytelling,” Matas said. “[Push Pop Press] opens doors to telling a story with more photos, more videos and interactions.”

And minimal reading. And, presumably, minimal thought.

True crime ...

... Paul Davis On Crime: Escape From Death Row For Convicted Cop Killer Mumia Abu-Jamal?

Thieves in Paradise ...

... RealClearReligion - The Gethsemane of the Monks. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Fare thee well...

Typewriter...

Thought for the day ...

The book to read is not the one which thinks for you, but the one which makes you think. No book in the world equals the Bible for that.
- Harper Lee, born on this date in 1926

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Sounds taken for granted ...

... zmkc: Auditory Alterations.

The idea of diffusion ...

... Times Higher Education - Hume's diffuse effects cannot be reduced to Hefce's narrow vision. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Literary conversation ...

... Boston Review — Adam Fitzgerald: Interview with Harold Bloom (poetry, literature, criticism).

Small feast ...

... Simon Blackburn Reviews Stanley Fish's "How To Write A Sentence" | The New Republic. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Enter now ...

... Seventh Annual Black Warrior Review Contest � BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog.

FYI ...

... Why Digital Self-publishing Frightens Some Authors�|�Stormwolf.com. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

States of privation ...

... The Book Haven � Blog Archive � Richard Wirick: “the stamp of its self shines out like a weakening lamp.”

In case you wondered ...

... The Moral Implications of Dictionaries | Front Porch Republic. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

To Johnson, the appearance of new words is just as likely as not to signify the effects of ignorance, and to constitute a real corruption in the quality of the language. To simply consent that every popular new coinage should be granted the status of proper English is to submit to a tyranny, the tyranny of popular opinion. The duty of the lexicographer, therefore, is to set his face against this tyranny, and to wage an unremitting battle against the encroachments of ubiquitous bigotry and nonsense.

This week ...

at Five Chapters: The Autobiography Of Allegra Byron.

Apparently so ...

... Vetting Memoirs A Tricky Problem For Publishers : NPR. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

LIFE then ...

... Transmissions from a Lone Star: Party of the damned | Columnists | RIA Novosti.

“They came from 69 nations: one emperor, eight kings and a cardinal, grand dukes, crown princes, and sheikhs, presidents, premiers and vice presidents…They dined sumptuously on roast peacock, drank the finest wine… Fifty gold-threaded uniforms for (the) royal court cost $1,000 each…Colored light bulbs alone cost $840,000.”

Geoff Dyer

From The Paris Review...

Brooklyn bound ...

... Almost Amis. (Hat tip, Ed Champion, who correctly describes it as ridiculously epic.)

Valedictory ...

... Sendak, picturing mortality - Philly.com.

Thought for the day ...

Hero-worship is strongest where there is least regard for human freedom.
- Herbert Spencer, born on this date in 1820

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Depressing cheerfulness ...

... The man mountain of Fleet Street. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The power of oddness ...

... Why the King James Bible Endures - NYTimes.com. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Con amore ...

... Anecdotal Evidence: `From Books, Madam, Like Everyone Else.'

It is worth remembering that amateur means lover.

Time after time ...

... David Eagleman and Mysteries of the Brain : The New Yorker. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

... how much of what we perceive exists outside of us and how much is a product of our minds? Time is a dimension like any other, fixed and defined down to its tiniest increments: millennia to microseconds, aeons to quartz oscillations. Yet the data rarely matches our reality.

I have myself had the experience of time slowing down as I fell. So I know that is precisely true.

Revivals ...

... A blacker shade of blue.

Niall Ferguson

The politics of empire...

Topsy turvy

... The Social Affairs Unit - Web Review: The sins of the News of the World&lt are merely a reflection of the sins of British society - we have made vulgarity king when it should be court jester - argues Theodore Dalrymple. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The swipes continue ...

... More Memoir Bashing, aka Moore’s Absurd Memoir Bashing � BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog.

Bleak outlook ...

... Verse and worse: choosing poems for readers' gender | Books | guardian.co.uk. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Wordsworth is considered girly enough to have three poems in the female-friendly edition, and none in the book for boys. The dreamy lines of Christina Rossetti are again only for girls, although there are so few women in the boys' book that this is hardly surprising. The four women considered boisterous enough for boys are Emily Dickinson, Emma Lazurus, Laura Richards and Julia Ward Howe, who snuck in with the warlike "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" alongside the good, solid, masculine fare of Robert Louis Stevenson and Rudyard Kipling.

Comical epic ...

... The Phantom Tollbooth’ and the Wonder of Words. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Thought for the day ...

Be content with what you are, and wish not change; nor dread your last day, nor long for it.
- Marcus Aurelius, born on this date in 121

Monday, April 25, 2011

How kind ...

... Amis to Hitchens: be an agnostic - Philosophy and Life. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Pour la saison ...

Very interesting

... Status Update: The Personal Essay in the Age of Facebook | TriQuarterly Online.

Why do I think this is very interesting? First, because Susan is a very good writer -- I can highly recommend Slipping the Moorings -- and a very bright person. But also because I've been doing some work in this line and I think she's pretty much on the money.

History alive ...

... Stratblog: Elizabeth, The Armada and the Strategy of Yin | Via Meadia.

The text we used was Garrett Mattingly’s delightful The Armada, a triumph of scholarship, strategic analysis and literature all at once.
Nice to know this book hasn't been forgotten.

Hmm ...

... Reform the PhD system or close it down : Nature News.

One reason that many doctoral programmes do not adequately serve students is that they are overly specialized, with curricula fragmented and increasingly irrelevant to the world beyond academia. Expertise, of course, is essential to the advancement of knowledge and to society. But in far too many cases, specialization has led to areas of research so narrow that they are of interest only to other people working in the same fields, subfields or sub-subfields. Many researchers struggle to talk to colleagues in the same department, and communication across departments and disciplines can be impossible.

Time passing ...

... Lincoln Hunter Writer's Ramble: Stale Afternoon.

Hmm ...

... A Case for Hell - NYTimes.com. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

This is more a case for believing in Hell rather for Hell itself. The two are not quite the same. I certainly think we "will not come out of it until we have paid the last penny," and I even go along with the notion of everlasting fire. But the nature of eternity makes eternal damnation a little difficult.

Why wisdom is scarce ...

... Anecdotal Evidence: `Nothing to Think, and Little to Say.'

FYI ...

... How meditation might ward off the effects of ageing - Readability. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Privy to billets-doux ...

... The Book Haven � Blog Archive � The day after Shakespeare’s birthday, and “the first of arts.”

So there ...

... First Known When Lost: "Anyone Happy In This Age And Place Is Daft Or Corrupt."

In case you wondered ...

... How Easter and Christianity undermine atheism - USATODAY.com.

We can’t reduce the whole of reality to what our senses tell us for the simple reason that our senses are notorious for lying to us. Our senses tell us that the world is flat, and yet it’s not. Our senses tell us that the world is chaotic, and yet we know that on both a micro and a macro level, it’s incredibly organized. Our senses tell us that we’re stationary, and yet we’re really moving at incredible speeds. We just can’t see it.

John Williams

Is it just me - or do the slender novels published by the NYRB pack a serious emotional punch? I ask because I've just finished John Williams's Stoner, a captivating, but ultimately devastating, book of memory and redemption.

Set on the campus of the University of Missouri in the years between the First and Second World Wars, the novel charts the loneliness attached to the Academic Life. There were moments in Stoner (which takes its name from the novel's central character, William Stoner) which approached a sort of American Existential: for as the aging professor contemplates his career, Williams constructs a universe tinged with sorrow, one which resembles the atmosphere of Cather's The Professor's House. The difference, however, is that Williams is unrelenting - positively unrelenting - in his quest for the meaning of regret. (And I mean no disrespect to Cather, because I enjoyed The Professor's House.)

This book really is a masterpiece - a quiet, unassuming masterpiece in which Williams captures the missed opportunities that, in the end, return to us with a frightening, unavoidable consistency. I leave the last word for Williams (271):

"And like any traveler, he felt that there were many things he had to do before he left; yet he could not think what they were."


Unsteady autocrat ...

... Harold Bloom by the Numbers - The Chronicle Review - The Chronicle of Higher Education. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Thought for the day ...

All day long the door of the sub-conscious remains just ajar; we slip through to the other side, and return again, as easily and secretly as a cat.
- Walter de la Mare, born on this date in1873

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Tough subject ...

... A Commonplace Blog: Novels about Jesus. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I think the best way to approach Jesus fictionally is by indirection, as in Pär Lagervist's Barabbas (an excellent book). On the other hand, Franz Werfel's Song of Bernadette is so good it's hard not to think he could have done a good job. Kazantzakis's book is unfairly criticized, I think. After all, Jesus is known to have been tempted, and in Kazantzakis book, if memory serves, he in fact overcomes the last temptation.

Ancestral piety ...

... Southern Comforts - Bill Kauffman at Chelsea Green. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Peepers ...

... Anecdotal Evidence: `As of the Air Airy.'

Suggesting the world ...

... Issa's Untidy Hut: Gary Hotham: Spilled Milk.

Forget failure ...

... zmkc: Please Yourself.

Women and SciFi ...

... Quid plura? | “Ten hundred books could I write you about her…”

Lovely ...

... Nigeness: Two Spencer Gores.

Language ...

... Green’s Heroes of Slang: Edward Bradley (aka Cuthbert Bede) � The Dabbler.

Turned against itself ...

... The Superstition of School, by G.K. Chesterton | James Russell Ament.

Poetry town ...

... Pulsing with verse.

Today's Inquirer reviews ...

... Mammoth poem of a century.

... Émigrés learning how to live in freedom.


... 'Uppity': A baseball veteran takes a few swings.

Happy Easter!

Thought for the day ...

As to that leisure evening of life, I must say that I do not want it. I can conceive of no contentment of which toil is not to be the immediate parent.
- Anthony Trollope, born on this date in 1815

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Work and luck ...

... On Poetry - Matthew Zapruder and Rachel Wetzsteon - NYTimes.com. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Family business ...

... Elmore Leonard And Sons' Recipes For Writing, Fried Spam : NPR. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Magnificent obsessions ...

... National Book Critics Circle: In Retrospect: Mark Athitakis on John Updike’s “Roger’s Version” - Critical Mass Blog. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Lent ends ...

... About to break... | Facebook. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Online now ...

... Autumn Sky Poetry 21.

FYI ...

... Science Friday Archives: Science Diction: The Origin Of The Word 'Robot.' (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I actually read R.U.R. years ago. Didn't know it was Čapek's least favorite among his works.

A blog to watch ...

... Not Even Wrong.

Posing fundamental questions ...

... The Vintage Thrillers of John Buchan - The Barnes & Noble Review. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Prep time ...

... Paul Davis On Crime: Len Deighton On Writers Facing The Hard Questions Before Chapter One.

Simon Schama's...

Newest scribbles...

Inked paper ...

... Zealotry of Guerin: Winter Landscape (Sesshu).

When's the payoff?

... I'm a Poet. Yes, That's a Real Job - Speakeasy - WSJ. (Hat tip, aave Lull.)

Thought for the day ...

I got disappointed in human nature as well and gave it up because I found it too much like my own.
- J. P. Donleavy, born on this date in 1926

Friday, April 22, 2011

Predicting is difficult ...

... especially the future: Voodoo Economics? How About Voodoo Climate Science? - Patrick Michaels - Climate of Fear - Forbes.

Birthdays -- lots of them ...

... The Book Haven � Blog Archive � Tomorrow: Meet the authors, and celebrate birthdays with Shakespeare, Wordsworth, Nabokov, Pushkin, and St. George.

I'll never tell ...

... Review of an Unnamed Documentary (2011).

World War II - Film and Fiction

Looks pretty interesting...

Lessening gravity ...

... Dorothy Parker’s Perfect Contempt by Jason Guriel. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Highlanders ...

... When Falls the Coliseum � Lisa reads: Corrag by Susan Fletcher.

Uncle Bill ...

... On William Harrington: My Uncle the Thriller Author | The Abbott Gran Medicine Show. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Metafictional wonder ...

... The Tragedy of Arthur - The Barnes & Noble Review. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

No need to pester ...

... Anecdotal Evidence: `My Normal Habits of Reading, Thinking and Writing.'

More ludicrous than blasphemous ...

... The Final Testament of the Holy Bible is shocking. Shockingly bad, that is | Mark Vernon | Comment is free | guardian.co.uk. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Contentions ...

... A Commonplace Blog: Viktor Frankl and Auschwitz. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

No human experience is comparable to Auschwitz. There is no possible advice that floats like ash from the crematorium’s chimney. The Holocaust is another world, and any effort to adjust it to the ordinary world of ordinary human experience is a perversion and a lie.

I wonder, though. Frankl was only briefly at Auschwitz, as I recall, and was a slave laborer for six months or so after being moved to a camp connected to Dachau. I would hesitate to challenge the view of anyone who had actually experienced the horror of the camps. That said, David's post makes for powerful and unsettling reading.

Roundup ...

... Links: Heat Treatment | Mark Athitakis’ American Fiction Notes.

Mark thy calendar ...

... Thomas Devaney at PHILA POETRY FESTIVAL & the ICA's LAUNDRY BOAT APRIL 23, 2011.

Puzzled ...

... One Poet's Notes: Pondering the Prose Poem.

Rhetoric as performance ...

... Writing Teachers: Still Crazy After All These Years.

Thought for the day ...

All nature wears one universal grin.
- Henry Fielding, born on this date in 1707

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Once again ...

... The Fake Memoir � BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog.

Preview ...

... The Los Angeles Review of Books � ReadySteadyBlog � ReadySteadyBook - a literary site. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The author's voice ...

... Anecdotal Evidence: `Its Audible Being.'

What to do with leisure ...

... Judith Flanders explores the history of Broadway, according to Larry Stempel, Stephen Sondheim and Charlotte Greenspan - TLS.

James Garfield, the twentieth President of the United States (and a character in Sondheim’s Assassins), suggested that “We may divide the whole struggle of the human race into two chapters. First, the fight to get leisure; and then the second fight of civilization – what shall we do with our leisure when we get it?”.

Ouch ...

... Is it real, or is it Kathleen Turner?

Better late ...

... we hope: Jack Kerouac's Big Sur heads to the big screen | Film | guardian.co.uk. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The latest batch ...

... of TLS Letters: Metal codices, Greek nationalism, Djuna Barnes and more!

Mark thy calendar ...

... FLP - Author Events - Author Events.

Indeed ...

... Consider the hot cross bun | Life and style | guardian.co.uk. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Sail away ...

... Peter Stothard - Times Online - WBLG: Hoi Polloi and whores at sea.

Another sentence ...

One sentence ...

Superfluous information

... When Falls the Coliseum � To peek or not to peek: On selective ignorance.

Thought for the day ...

Depression is the inability to construct a future.
- Rollo May, born on this date in 1909


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Very thoughtful ...

... Married to Religion | Drexel Publishing Group.

New look ...

... Bloggerel - Alma Books and Oneworld Classics.

Shaggy dog koan ...

... Anecdotal Evidence: `Not Chosen for His Grave Out of Mere Whim.'

For the month ...

... The Unhagaddah – The Arty Semite – Forward.com. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Grand tour ...

... The Millions : The James Joyce Book Club: Julian Rios’s The House of Ulysses. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

50 Best Blogs to Follow For National Poetry Month | Online Colleges

... 50 Best Blogs to Follow For National Poetry Month | Online Colleges. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Literary conversation ...

... Pulitzer Winner Kay Ryan on Poetry, Rhyming, and Terminal Cancer - Speakeasy - WSJ. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

One movie star after another ...

... Rides A Bike.

My latest column ...

... Back at work.

Invaded by philistinism ...

...WEB: I read the NYT ... | Facebook. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Thought for the day ...

No man knows till he has suffered from the night how sweet and dear to his heart and eye the morning can be.
- Bram Stoker, who died on this date in 1912

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

He has a point ...

... Political Ad Compares Philly to Libya | NBC Philadelphia.

FYI ...

... Amazon.co.jp Introduces Print-On-Demand Program for Books.

Passing time's test ...

... Witness, by Whittaker Chambers. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Plainspoken abstractions ...

... Close Encounters | Mark Athitakis’ American Fiction Notes.

More on D.F.W.

One wonders how Foster Wallace would have responded to all this attention...

Images of horror ...

... Review: Drawings from the Gulag by Danzig Baldaev � The Dabbler.

I hope someone sends a copy to Eric Hobsbawm.

Congratulations ...

... The Book Haven � Blog Archive � Kay Ryan wins the Pulitzer Prize: “I would like my work to be weightless.”

Thought for the day ...

All that non-fiction can do is answer questions. It's fiction's business to ask them.
- Richard Hughes, born on this date in 1900

Monday, April 18, 2011

Apologies ...

I had hoped to do a bit of blogging at The Inquirer this afternoon, but couldn't get the computer to copy anything from one site to another. I will look into that tomorrow. In the meantime I had to help an an elderly couple I know get back on the internet (which I did) and now that I am home I have things to do and am mainly exhausted. That is fine, because I realize now is what I want to do is keep working at a nice clip and one day just run out of gas. Not going to do anything tonight because I really am tired.

Quicker than prose ...

... News of the World | Books and Culture.

Watching your tongue ...

... Fashions in forbidden speech. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Certain certainties ...

... Book Review: Moral Combat - WSJ.com. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

To write a history of morality, Mr. Burleigh must steer between the conventions of the historians and the ethicists. On the one hand, he makes no claim to knowledge of the under lying ethics of war. On the other, he does not regard morality, as some historians might, only as one factor among others, to be understood dispassionately. He insists on the ineluctable historical presence of morality in our lives, which leads him to his basic insight: that those who did evil believed that they were doing good.

Creative uncertainty ...

... He Plants His Footsteps On The Sea: Faith Matters | Via Meadia.

God seems to believe in keeping it real. He wants us to face challenges that are bigger than anything we know, more complicated than we can figure out, and so dangerous and all encompassing that we are forced to develop our gifts and our characters to the highest possible degree. He wants us to ‘be all that we can be’, and he won’t take anything less.

That’s not how we want it. Human beings want to tame the wild uncertainty that surrounds us on every side. We want that raging sea to calm itself, now. We want predictable returns on our stock investments, and we want steady economic growth. We want to build institutions that can carry on just as they are until the end of time; uncertainty is the dish humans hate most — and it’s the one thing we can count on God to serve.

Remembering ...

... POETRY MONTH: Kevin Young: 'Ardency: A Chronicle of the Amistad Rebels' | Huntington News. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Literary deshabille

... It's exciting to hear that so many women writers work in the nude | Hadley Freeman | Life and style | The Guardian. (Hat tip, Lee Lowe.)

Uh-oh ...

... Questions over Greg Mortenson's stories - 60 Minutes - CBS News.

Thought for the day ...

Writing is the only way to distance oneself from the century in which it was one’s lot to be born.
- Nicolás Gómez Dávila (Don Colacho)

Sunday, April 17, 2011

A day with the tree-huggers ...

... Anecdotal Evidence: `The Things We Love for What They Are.'

Luxurious lines ...

... The Millions : Treasure Unearthed: Sir Thomas Browne’s Urn Burial. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

How it happens ...

... Drawn by Criticism | HiLobrow. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

From Maxine ...

... Book review: The Fifth Witness by Michael Connelly | Petrona.

Farewell to an ancient tree ...

... In memory of a ponderosa pine friend | this lively earth.

This link had been included in a comment on my WFTC column, but I have only just seen it.

Listen in ...

... The Bat Segundo Show: Ian Rankin.

Time for ...

... The Bad Prose Reading Project #2 (“It Was Real Light”).

Inclusive, all right ...

... Electrician faces sack for displaying Christian cross in his van - Telegraph.

Maybe he should display the Koran. Bet they wouldn't complain about that.

Scary ...

... I’m a poet. I need my mouth. : Patricia Smith : Harriet the Blog : The Poetry Foundation. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Pretty harsh ...

... Jenny Diski on Tiger, Tiger by Margaux Fragoso – review | Books | The Guardian. (Hat tip, Lee Lowe.)

Footloose legend ...

... Book Review: Johnny Appleseed - WSJ.com. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The primitive businessman had no overhead but sky. He carried an ax, a scythe and a hoe. Nature watered his trees, and for transportation he used those callused feet. He usually slept outside. He dined on nuts and berries "straight out of the John the Baptist cookbook," Mr. Means says—although eating locusts, he adds, "would have taxed Chapman's animism."

Loops of self-consciousness ...

... Robert Potts reviews The Pale King by David Foster Wallace in the TLS.

Wallace was a formidable philos-ophy student, as well as an impressive junior tennis player and linguistics enthusiast; he wavered between philosophy and creative writing, to the extent that his supervisor Jay Garfield comments “I thought of David as a very talented young philosopher with a writing hobby, and did not realize that he was instead one of the most talented fiction writers of his generation who had a philosophy hobby”.

This week's batch ...

... TLS Letters: Thomas Hardy, Poetry funding, At the eye, and more!

Today's Inquirer reviews ...

... I review Simon Tolkien's latest: Evidence of guilt, yet gnawing doubts.


... Impressive poetry, full of doubleness.

Rooster-maker ...

... Charles Portis, the man who wrote True Grit - Telegraph.

Thought for the day ...

Difficult times have helped me to understand better than before, how infinitely rich and beautiful life is in every way, and that so many things that one goes worrying about are of no importance whatsoever.
- Isak Dinesen, born on this date on 1885


Saturday, April 16, 2011

Ya gotta believe ...

... Unearthing Matriarchy - Innovations - The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Ping Pong and more ...

... Philosophy, lit, etc.: 'History is written by the winners, literature is written by the losers.'

When a little goes a long way ...

... The Book Haven � Blog Archive � Ginsberg: “America when will you be angelic?”

I once walked out of a Ginsberg reading. He just didn't seem very interesting. At least not that night.

And the winners are ...

... NEA Chairman Rocco Landesman congratulates recipients of 2011 Guggenheim Fellowship Awards.

No apology needed ...

... John Updike's "James Agee, Talker" | The New Republic. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

If Agee is to be remembered, it should be for his few, uneven, hard-won successes. The author of the best pages ofLet Us Now Praise Famous Men and A Death in the Family owes no apology to posterity. As to “the quarter of a million unsigned words,” surely a culture is enhanced, rather than disgraced, when men of talent and passion undertake anonymous and secondary tasks. Excellence in the great things is built upon excellence in the small; Agee’s undoing was not his professionalism but his blind, despairing belief in an ideal amateurism.

True crime ...

... Paul Davis On Crime: Blood Into Gold: Former Bonanno Crime Boss' Home Was New York's Answer To Fort Knox.

Some poems ...

... What She Said by Billy Collins.


(Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Very sad news ...

... A Commonplace Blog: It seeks me out that sometime did me flee. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Those of us who pray should say some prayers for David.

See also these, which Dave has just sent along: Diagnosed with cancer and Cancer etiquette.

Post bumped.

Cart, meet horse ...

... Matt Ridley on Cause and Effect Mix-Ups | Mind & Matter - WSJ.com. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Twister ...

... Zealotry of Guerin: I-70.

Thought for the day ...

Of all the ways of defining man, the worst is the one which makes him out to be a rational animal.
- Anatole France, born on this date in 1844

Friday, April 15, 2011

In case you wondered ...

... Why the iPad Is Changing Everything — Again � Tennant: Digital Libraries. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

FYI ...

... Lessons from 10 years of Pepys's diaries online - Boing Boing. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

He's got a point there ...

... Pointless Is Pointless Is Pointless: David Orr Writes Useless Guide to Poetry’s Uselessness | The New York Observer. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Bridges on Lamb ...

... Anecdotal Evidence: `No Bad Reading.'

Labor news ...

...Visual Art Source: "On Strike from the Huffington Post."

Literary conversation ...

... David Bezmozgis and Francine Prose | The New York Public Library.

Enter now ...

... The Last Martin Story Contest from Author Jonathan Friesen and Zonderkidz.

Interiors ...

... 'Rooms With A View: The Open Window In The 19th Century' At The Met | The New Republic. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I'm late with this ...

... but Julian Barnes is featured this week: Sleeping With John Updike — Part One � Five Chapters.

Sad news ...

... R.I.P. Arthur Marx – Deadline.com. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Roundup ...

... Links: Speaking Terms | Mark Athitakis’ American Fiction Notes.

Getting up there ...

... Paul Davis On Crime: Happy 58th Anniversary To Ian Fleming's Fictional Secret Agent, James Bond.

Holding the frantic in check ...

... Ron Slate on The Long Goodbye, a memoir by Meghan O’Rourke (Riverhead Books) | On the Seawall: A Literary Website.

Thought for the day ...

Be not afraid of life. Believe that life is worth living, and your belief will help create the fact.
- Henry James, born on this date in 1843

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Poetry month ...

... at The Compost Heap.

Admirable and dubious ...

... Anecdotal Evidence: `I Killed a Rat the Other Day by Punching Him to Pieces'.

Objecting to accuracy ...

... For New Mass, Closer to Latin, Critics Voice a Plain Objection - NYTimes.com. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

In the current Mass, when the priest says, “The Lord be with you,” the congregation responds, “And also with you.” Come November, the congregation will respond, “And with your spirit.”
That's because "et cum spiritu tuo" means -- mirabile dictu! -- "and with your spirit."

Check out the comments.

The Times, the customs ...

... A Commonplace Blog: “Breaking faith with readers.”

Adventure ..

... The Abby Sunderland Story | James Russell Ament.

FYI ...

... Nassim Taleb on Living with Black Swans - Knowledge@Wharton (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Psst ...

... The Secret History of Ads in Books - NYTimes.com. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Together forever ...

... Freedom of speech and cosmic stupidity | Columnists | RIA Novosti.

Thought for the day ...

While it is well enough to leave footprints on the sands of time, it is even more important to make sure they point in a commendable direction.
- James Branch Cabell, born on this date in 1879

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Glorious brevity ...

... The Book Bench: Review Poems in 140 Characters (But Don’t Call them Tweets) : The New Yorker. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Choice selection ...

... Petrona’s choice from the Internet (10 April) | Petrona.

FYI ...

... Amazon.com: Jacques Barzun: Portrait of a Mind eBook: Michael Murray: Books. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Milosz matters ...

... Virtual ink for An Invisible Rope at Words Without Borders.

Eccentrically beautiful ...

... Anecdotal Evidence: `A Walk in the Dogwood Swamp.'

And not in the good sense ...

... Ai Weiwei: 'China in many ways is just like the middle ages' | Art and design | The Guardian. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

A day late with this ...

... The Centered Librarian: April 12, 1861 the American Civil War began. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Day work ...

... Letters reveal Walt Whitman's other job: Government clerk | McClatchy. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Stefan Zweig


A link to my recent review of his South American letters.

Literary conversation ...

... Stephen King on the Creative Process, the State of Fiction, and More - James Parker - Entertainment - The Atlantic. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Thought for the day ...

It is, I believe, the primary charm of poetry to give the lesson of mirage, that is, to show the fragile and vibrant movement of creation, in which the word is in a certain way human quintessence, prayer.
- J. M. G Le Clézio, born on this date in 1940

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Check it out ...

... Poetry Foundation relaunches website | TeleRead: News and views on e-books, libraries, publishing and related topics. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

OK by me ...

... The Motherf**cker With the Hat, Catch Me If You Can | Don't Let Its Name Be a Curse | Theater Review by Terry Teachout - WSJ.com.

What makes "Hat" more than just a foul-mouthed, fast-moving farce is that Mr. Guirgis's real subject turns out to be moral relativism. The impeccably sober Ralph D., who has swapped booze for fluorescent-colored nutritional beverages, preaches the gospel of AA with a convert's fervor, yet it doesn't stop him from doing whatever he wants to whomever he wants. Jackie, by contrast, has yet to master his self-destructive impulses, but at least he knows that the point of getting sober is not to become more efficient at taking advantage of other people: "Your—whaddyacallit—your world view? It ain't mine. And the day it is, that's the day I shoot myself in the head. I didn't get clean to live like that."

A chat ...

... with Elif Batuman. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I wanted The Possessed to be fiction, actually, so I could take more liberties with it. But because it is based on true stuff there was a lot of pressure for it to be non-fiction, and when it is your first book, you have to do what you are told.

In this corner ...

... Art vs. Laundry by Stephen Burt. (Hat tip, Lee Lowe.)

And what would Disraeli say?

... What Would the Community Think? | Mark Athitakis’ American Fiction Notes.