Showing posts from November, 2010

Breaking the Sabbath

Police force Orthodox Rabbi to break the sabbath

This is what happens when the establishment clause overrides the free exercise clause and we cease to understand that religion is more than a personal choice.  In some cases it includes a set of "guidelines for living" that should not be arbitrarily violated.  Yes, to you and me asking someone to write down their name certainly doesn't seem like an onerous burden, but that is because many of us are not bound by the same orthopraxis as may guide an orthodox rabbi.  I am not outraged, only because I can understand how ignorance was in the ascendant here and not necessarily malice--the rule seems a subtlety, an arbitrary thing.  But, it is no less a binding rule for all of that, and in approaching people in a pluralistic culture, all people must be accorded the respect that we would accord the majority--respecting their way of life.

I've said all of this very poorly, and I'm not certain it properly encapsulates my tho…

For Those Considering Writing

My long-time friend and "local" blogger has released his book Writing Assignments.  Take a look, it may be worth your while.

Another Review of Freedom

Another review of Freedom

Why do I keep posting these?  For one thing, I like The Corrections.  Liked, not loved.  I agree with this reviewer that it is highly overrated--Rohinton Mistry's Family Matters deals with essentially similar subject matter in a much more profound way.  (Aside: the other day at one blog or another, I read something that indicated that the amount of discussion of fecal matter in Family Matters rivalled that of any book published later than M. de Sade.  I would beg to differ--one need only enter Franzen's world of excess.)

For another thing, I do intend, eventually to read Freedom.  Each review potentially pushes that date into the future, but I don't mind; I'm not certain that it is really worth my time--but I do like Franzen's writing.  There is a sense, I have about Mr. Franzen, a sense similar to that I experience after enjoying a Quentin Tarantino film: just as I'm waiting for the film that Quentin makes for adults, so I am waiting …

Banville on Bellow

Houellebecq and the Creative Commons

Houellebecq and Creative Commons

This will be an interesting battle testing the legal validity of a creative commons license.

Is Fear of Death Rational

Philip Larkin Reading

My Friend, the Sociopath

A review of Ann Rule's first book--about Ted Bundy

I have interest in neither Ann Rule's writing nor Ted Bundy's career, but I found the review interesting.

Interview with Houellebecq

Interview with Houellebecq in the most recent Paris Review

Read about Houellebecq and H. P. Lovecraft, among other things.

Then take a gander at this commentary on Houellebecq's interview.

Must Read!--Poetry Retractions

Twitter has a purpose other than perpetual annoyance?  Who knew--Poetic Retractions

H. G. Wells's Radio Broadcasts

I love the thought of being able to hear a writer who means so much to me and who I never considered possibly hearing!  H. G. Wells Radio Broadcasts

50 for 2011 part 2

50 for 2011 part 2

Okay, so here are some books of interest.  I see that Petina Gappah has a new one due out.  After An Elegy for Easterly, I can think of only two authors I would more eagerly anticipate.  Yes, you've already guessed the first--Yiyun Li.  And the second would be Maaza Mengiste, author of the magnificent Beneath the Lion's Gaze.

But, oh my goodness, the announcement that sends chills racing up and down (and I mean that literally, as I type they are just subsiding) Rohinton Mistry has a new novel coming out.  That has to be on my very highest anticipation list!  Again, the only one I can think of in the same league would be Uwem Akpan.

The Winner of the Bad Sex Award

Drumroll please, Rowan Somerville for The Shape of Her

This must have been extraordinary considering how very, very bad Jonathan Franzen can be at his best.  The Corrections had some of the very worst I have ever read, and the brief, but nauseating excerpt I saw quoted as a nomination, Freedom easily topped the worst of The Corrections  and outdid anyone I've ever read with the possible exception of Philip Roth.

Hitchens on the Washington Novel

Hitchens on the Washington Novel

I think he is looking for the Washington Novel in all the wrong places.  From what I'm reading, I would nominate Dinaw Mengestu's The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears as a very fine Washington novel.  Yes, Washington is politics, but there is more to it than politics, and the politics there while of world importance don't tend to make for good novels, as exhibited by Mr. Hitchen's survey.  He does, however, deal with Henry Adams's magnificent Democracy, a novel I anticipated being bored by and ended up delighted with.

Ayelet Waldman on Bore-geous writing

Waldman on writing

A caution is always something worth contemplating.

Bad Poets, Worse Critics?

National Writers in a Supernational (or subnational) Age

Honoring C. S. Lewis

Recalling his birthday yesterday:

C. S. Lewis Quotation 1

Super Apologist, Supertaster

Jekyll and Hyde Together Again

An excerpt with a point--Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

Eliot on Baudelaire

Visit New Dork Review of Books

Visit New Dork Review of Books and scroll down for a good time.  Here are some of the neat things NDRB found on the web:

James Frey's Fiction Factory 

Dealing with DFW's Papers

Save the Words (possibly my favorite of these delicious tidbits)--I think I'll pick pamphagous, because short of Andrew Zimmern, I tend to be.

The New Book?

Lit Mag Tech

This Sounds Like One to Take Up--Unity Dow

James Watson on the Cure for Cancer

West with the Night--Beryl Markham

The review will be short as I have some conflicted feelings about the book.  At times overwritten, at time dominated by a personality that is none too likable, there remains about the book a sense of adventure, of freshness, of new insight into the whole colonial experience from the colonists' side.  On the other hand, much of the attitude of Ms. Markham, while certainly informed by the prejudices of her time, seems to be remarkably free of the condescension with which one suspects she treated her European friends.

These are the memoirs (whether or not written by Ms. Markham is subject to speculation) of Ms. Markham's time in Africa, from a little girl to an adult pilot.  We see Ms. Markham with all of her blemishes fully in place.  (The incident regarding a person dying of blackwater fever is particularly telling, and it occurs early enough in the book to resonate throughout.)

*** 1/2 Recommended to those who care for Chronicles of the 30s and prominent figures thereof, also …

LoA Story of the Week--Success in Entertaining

How to Entertain Guests by Ward McAllister

Free Audio Books

Two Advent Posts as Books Inq.

A Review of the New Harry Potter

A review with which I pointedly disagree

I found the movie by far and away one of the best of the series in terms of direction and execution, but given its extremely weak foundation in the seventh book of the series, painful to the point of wanting to leave the theatre several times.  The teen-angst aspect kept making me wonder when Harry was going to "sparkle."

I would still recommend that fans see it--but I'm with my son on this one, hoping the second installment will be better.

On Flannery O'Connor

Basho Memorialized

As with the Saints honored on the day of his death: Basho memorialized twice:

Basho Memorial by Fred

Basho Memorial by Interpolations

Dali Atomicus

Developing Apps for iPhone and iPad

Gift of a Friend

Herge meets Lovecraft

For those of you who missed them: The Adventures of Tintin at the Mountains of Madness, and Tintin and the Reanimator among others.

50 Books for 2011, part I

50 Books you might want to read in 2011

Many of these are already available, so get a jump on the new year.  The Anthony Doerr is of particular interest.

Books as Works of Art

Amazing Fore-Edge Painting  Presumably of Moby Dick.

Poem of the Week: Meet Deborah Dough

"The Epistle of Deborah Dough,"  Mary Leapor--an amusing and light trinket to start your week.

On Mishima's Temple

Temple of the Golden Pavilion reviewed and assessed. 

My opinion more than concurs, it coincides.  I've never been much impressed by Mishima, seeing his work often as one long rehearsal for his terrible and sad death. Like much of Sylvia Plath, one can only ask the question, why couldn't those closest see and help?  But then, even when one sees, I suppose help is only accepted in the mode of the receiver, who too soon passes beyond the pale of help.

On Walker Percy

Lost in the Cosmos considered

If there is anyone whose concept of grace in action is more inscrutable than Flannery O'Connor, it must be Walker Percy.  From The Moviegoer right through to The Thanatos Syndrome Percy is absolutely clear on his points, and yet that is what makes him so difficult to really understand.  What is Love in the Ruins really about? Lancelot

And yet his work makes for some of the most compelling reading you're ever likely to encounter.

Honoring the Clergy--A Poem

Marilynne Robinson on William James

Considering Cormac

Suttree examined

While I found The Road compelling and exemplary, I must admit to not being much of a fan of Mr. McCarthy's work.  As much as I've tried, I find that his vision of humanity is so radically different from, indeed, alien to my own that I can't find much of an access point.

I will point out as usual, "The fault llies not in the stars, but in [myself]."

Hoban on Riddley Walker

Stefan Zweig

Sondheim is Wrong About Noel Coward

But contra the entry author--he is also wrong about Gilbert and Sullivan.  Not every moment is laugh-out-loud hilarious, but all of them have laugh-out-loud moments, and a sly, sneaking humor.  "I can write my laundry bill in Babylonic Cuneiform. . . "  We all know about the qualifications of a major general.

Waiting for Bert Lahr

Neglected Poets: Charlotte Mew

The Buried Book--David Damrosch

This is one of those books that I couldn't wait to tell you about.  Normally, I'm on a weekend hiatus, but this book demanded a review.

So, what's the big deal?  Gilgamesh.  But not just Gilgamesh.  In the course of discussing how the epic was written, lost, and eventually rediscovered, the author shares insights about Victorian Archeology, Victorian prejudice, Asshurbanipal, Sumerian, Akkadian, Old Persion, Aramaic, Philip Roth, Saddam Hussein, among other things.  The book analyzes the writing, preservation, discovery, and decoding of an epic that we have come to take for granted as part of our heritage.  All the while one contemplates its potential loss and the question of how much more may be out there waiting recovery/discovery.

For a while the author went off on a long discursion regarding Esarhaddon, the father of Asshurbanipal.  Even as I gobbled up this information about a civilization I had been taught so little about, I did wonder where in the world this was goi…

Joyce Carol Oates on Flannery O'Connor

More Bach Than You Can Shake a Stick Out

William Seward's Thanksgiving Day Proclamation

First of Twelve--FREE!

Happy Thanksgiving Day!

To my readers in the United States--Happy Thanksgiving Day.  May it truly be a day of giving thanks for all that we enjoy.

To my readers around the world--you are one of the things for which I am giving thanks today.  Thank you!

Turkeys and Adam's Curse

Listen to This

Times Flow Stemmed notes Alex Ross's Listen to This

I loved The Rest is Noise, indeed, I am rereading it with great interest and intensity now.  And I had hoped to pick this one up sometime soon.  Go and listen to Mr. Ross, see what Anthony has to say, and if you're of a mind to learn more about music, pick up the book!

Here is a looong video of Ross talking about The Rest Is Noise.

The Anniversary Just Past

The Assassination for JFK

But wait, there's more.  For on this same day the literary world lost both Aldous Huxley and C. S. Lewis.

On Gridlock, the Budget, and Fallen Humanity

(thanks to Mockingbird)

How often do you see language like this in a financial editorial in NYT:

from "Sin and Taxes" (editorial in the New York Times)
David Brooks

For centuries, American politicians did not run up huge peacetime debts. It wasn’t because they were unpartisan or smarter or more virtuous. It was because they were constrained by a mentality inherited from the founders. According to this mentality, a big successful nation exists in a state of equilibrium between its many factions. This equilibrium is fragile because we are flawed and fallen creatures and can’t quite trust ourselves. So all of us, but especially members of the leadership class, should practice self-restraint. Moral anxiety restrained hubris (don’t think your side possesses the whole truth) and self-indulgence (debt corrupts character).

This ethos has dissolved, on left and right. The new mentality sees the country not as an equilibrium, but as a battlefield in which the people, who are…

On the Complexities of Dechipering Cuneiform

from The Buried Book
David Damrosch

Their task was much harder than the daunting challenge Champollion had faced. The pictorial quality of Egyptian hieroglyphs meant that at least some signs showed clearly what they meant, whereas the cuneiform symbols were all highly abstract. Even when the symbols once represented something concrete, the visual reference had been obscured over time. A head could be represent by two upright wedges that had once been the neck, topped by a cluster of wedges that distantly recalled an eye, nose, and head of hair. A triangular sign might have originally signified a basked or a vagina. Even when a sign's visual origin could be guessed, this information was rarely useful, as the signs were usually used for their phonetic value rather than as pictures.

Furthermore, while one of the Rosetta stone's parallel inscriptions had been in ancient Greek--which Champollion could readily read--all three inscriptions from Behistun were in cuneiform script. Rawli…

Freedom from Freedom--Another Take

Visiting the Beats Tangiers

From the Archives--An Interview with Rick Moody

Gao's Mountain

Artistic Failure

Artistic failure, or not?

The writer characterizes his as an artistic failure--but I think not.  I'm with Frank, from whom I derived the post.

Neuroscience and Free Will

Neuroscience and Free Will

Unreasonably characterized in this article as a "rant."  

I hardly think the approach this professor took would qualify in any way as a rant.  It is a measured, reasoned, rational response that he should not have had to made.  To be fair, the article headline is the only place the word appears, and the article seems fair enough.

Wow! I'm So Proud of My Local College Students

Recipes and Traditions for Thanksgiving

Heavenly Questions

The Lion's Roar

I've modified my plans (re West with the Night)  a bit from yesterday because what I wanted to include was so lengthy, that I think it better to advise you to look up the book and read the chapter.  However, to whet your appetite, I thought I might include one of the striking images that Beryl Markham conjures.

from West with the Night
Beryl Markham

The sound of Paddy's roar in my ears will only be duplicated, I think, when the doors of hell slip their wobbly hinges one day, an give voice and authenticity to the whole panorama of Dante's poetic nightmares. It was an immense roar that encompassed the world and dissolved me in it.
I can see what so impressed Hemingway in the writing.  It is vividly imagined and vividly rendered.  One can almost see Ms. Markham at her desk recalling the Elkington Lion and the incident that she recounts in so engrossing a fashion.

On Ozick

Thank Goodness We Have a New Bishop

First Today, Then Tomorrow

If you are a writer, desire to be a writer, or are just curious about the writing life, you owe it to yourself to indulge in the occasional insights into writing that you will find at the blog referenced above.

Of particular interest in the recent past:

Maintain or Grow

You Have Permission to Do Nothing

The blogkeeper is, I am pleased and privileged to say, a friend from my days in the bleak midwest.  It is wonderful that the internet has afforded me this opportunity to keep in touch, even if only peripherally--something that would, in the past, have required more effort than I can presently expend in maintaining correspondence.  No, rephrase that, more effort than I am likely to maintain--I can do whatever it is that I deem worthwhile--it's just so easy to dismiss really important things because of the trivia that crowds the scene and demands your attention.

Misinterpreting the Classics

Book Review in C minor

C by Tom McCarthy, reviewed

I thought this might give me the footstool I need to get up on my soapbox about "experimental" fiction.  But it does not appear to do so.  So, once I have the strength to climb up on my soapbox, perhaps I'll regale you with a few tidbits about experimental fiction.

Books I Wish I Hadn't Read

Books I Wish I Hadn't Read

or, for that matter started.  The first I can think of is Lolita.  This is swiftly followed, for a variety of reasons by The Dying Animal  (although, that is a much more mixed bag--there were just elements that were too nauseating for words and images I can't seem to get out of my head--much for the worse).  Ann Patchett's Bel Canto  and Berniere's Captain Corelli's Mandolin are on the list of over-hyped works--they are probably fine, but they are not nearly so fine as their various fans would make them out to be.  These are kind of the major league hitters. 

There are others that are more frivolous, so I can't say they fall in this league--they are regrettable only in that the time could have been better spent with better books.

Woolf on Hazlitt

More on Woolf's Essays--a distinct encouragement for me to reconsider.  The voice is so crisp, so plain, so very precise and inviting--everything I don't read Woolf for.

What Did the Pope Say?

For Catholics who care: what the Pope actually said.

The most recent media silliness as it swirls about the Catholic Church.  I'm amazed at the propensity for either innocently or deliberately getting it wrong.

Five Minutes with Richard Dawkins

Five Minutes with Richard Dawkins

Reporting a 68 percent certainty that there is no God.  Most interesting for this most avid of the proponents of the New Atheism and in some strange way heartening.

"He Though He Kept the Universe Alone"

Celebrity Recipes

Starting with Ian McEwan's Fish Stew and progressing through other writers' specialities, Biblioklept offers us a buffet of literate eating.

Oh, you'll need to click to the main site to get to the rest of these, but I wanted to be sure to bookmark exactly so that in the future I could return.

One More from Ms. Markham

I pull out the following passage for its odd cultural resonance.

from West with the Night
Beryl Markham

It wasn't a big farm as farms went in Africa before the First World War, but it had a very nice house with a large veranda on which my father, Jim Elkington, Mrs. Elkington, and one or two other settlers sat and talked with what to my mind was always unreasonable solemnity.
Two things--one very minor, but of interest to my point about memoir.  Obviously, the book was written after the commencement (at least) of World War II.  It just struck me as a matter of interest.

Ah, but then there is the matter of the complete vanishing of Mrs. Elkington.  I can see Beryl's father, Jim Elkington, and even the shadowy figures of the other people on the veranda.  But Mrs. Elkington has no substance, her very essence is absorbed into her identity as "mate of Elkington."  And it is this sort of thinking and this sort of view of women that remains a challenge today.  While I think t…

Great Whining and Wringing of Hands

The Google copyright heist?

Excuse me.  They negotiated with the copyright holders and worked out a deal.  This is a heist how?  And as to working out remuneration--the present copyright laws are so thoroughly draconian and so thorough antithetical to at least on of the purposes of a properly drafted copyright law (promoting the arts) but I shouldn't be surprised to see piracy become the norm.  When the law has gone out of its mind, no one will abide with it.  It's high time that we threw Mickey Mouse to the sharks and instituted good and reasonable copyright laws.  Laws that allow expiration at 20 years or the author's lifetime, whichever is longer.

Most-Love Meme? Most Unread? qui sait?

This list was telegraphed me by Dylan through facebook, and it seemed a public response would allow others to play as well.  So, this is supposedly a list from the BBC of books which most people will not have read 17 of.  I have bolded those that I have read.  And added some annotations. 1. Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
2. The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien
3. Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
4. Harry Potter series – JK Rowling
5. To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
6. The Bible
7. Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte

8. Nineteen Eighty Four – George Orwell
9. His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman--Never got through the entire first book despite many abortive attempts.  There is something lacking.
10. Great Expectations – Charles Dickens
11. Little Women – Louisa M Alcott

12. Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy
13. Catch 22 – Joseph Heller
14. Complete Works of Shakespeare
15. Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier
16. The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien
17. Birdsong – Sebastian Faulks
18. The Catcher in the …

"The Hunting of the Snark"

An agony in eight fits illustrated.

Beautiful and fascinating.  Not certain how much the illustrations have to do with Snark so much as they have to do with the feeling conjured by entering Carroll's dangerous world.

Keats's Plaint

One line from this echoes through my head.  Many people get tunes in their heads that they can't kick out--I get fragments of poetry.  So, I'm kicking it out by giving it to any who will listen.

from "Ode to a Nightingale" John Keats
Darkling I listen; and, for many a time  I have been half in love with easeful Death,Call’d him soft names in many a mused rhyme,  To take into the air my quiet breath;Now more than ever seems it rich to die,  To cease upon the midnight with no pain,    While thou art pouring forth thy soul abroad          In such an ecstasy!  Still wouldst thou sing, and I have ears in vain—    To thy high requiem become a sod.
I listened to this play round and round in my head as I was out walking at lunch time.  The building we presently occupy backs up to a lovely pond (really a drainage ditch, but then most things are in Florida, and the real natural beauty of this man-made pond belies the purpose). Looking up at the sky at first I thought it November …

The Elkington Lion

from West with the Sun
Beryl Markham

The Elkington lion was famous within a radius of twelve miles in all directions from the farm, because, if you happened to be anywhere inside that circle, you could hear him roar when he was hungry, when he was sad, or when he just felt like roaring. If, in the night, you lay sleepless on your bed and listened to an intermittent sound that began like the bellow of a banshee trapped in the bowels of Kilimanjaro and ended like the sound of that same banshee suddenly at large and arrived at the foot of your bed, you knew (because you had been told) that this was the song of Paddy.

Two or three of the settlers in East Africa at that time had caught lion cubs and raised them in cages. But Paddy, the Elkington lion, had never seen a cage.

He had gown to full size, tawny, black-maned and muscular, without a worry or a care. He lived on fresh meat, not of his own killing. He spent his waking hours (which coincided with everybody else's sleeping hours) w…

Thanksgiving or Franksgiving?

Many of you probably already know this.  Some of you may have been aware at the time it was happening.  But I found this discussion of the Thanksgiving Holiday and its economics very interesting.

If I don't remember to do so later, please accept these early wishes for a very pleasant Thanksgiving Day celebration.

"Hunting the Deceitful Turkey"

With his autobiography flying off the shelves and thanksgiving just around the corner, it seems appropriate for LOA to offer us Mark Twain's tribute to the (real) national bird.

Ben Franklin proposed the turkey for the national bird and there is a delightful moment in 1776 when the three (Adams, Jefferson, and Franklin) all propose for their favorite.  We may have the bald eagle as a symbol, but if there is any bird closer to the American heart than the turkey, it's difficult to imagine what it might be.  Nearly every day I can look out of the windows of my office building to an adjacent empty field and see twenty, thirty, or more wild turkeys strutting their stuff through the field.  "Truly a noble bird. . . "

Virginia Woolf--Essayist

My Favorite Virginia Woolf

While I agree with the author of the blog about the voice of the essays, I'm not certain that the essays have enough oomph to rank with the great essayists.  The book length essays--A Room of One's Own and Three Guineas are of a different calibre, but her ordinary run of things--I'd have to review yet again, but I don't recall being impressed with her perspicacity as a reviewer or her wisdom as an essayist. 

But at the time I read them, I was something of a snob.  When I reread these posts, I discover I'm still something of a snob--but to quote Monty Python regarding having been turned into a newt, "I'm getting better."

A Walk up Soul Mountain

A Velocity Challenged Gentleman

The Cartography of PKD

45 Cultural Icons Revisited

Of Birth and Its Process

The Birth Machine reviewed

Not normally my cup of tea but it does sound intriguing.  I'm not up on the principles of the debate--I didn't even realize that the subject was a matter of controversy--but there you have it.

Africa by Plane

from West with the Night
Beryl Markham

You cannot hunt an animal with such a weapon [a spear] unless you know the way of his life. You must know the things he love, the things he fears, the paths he will follow. You must be sure of the quality of his speed and the measure of his courage. He will know as much about you, and at times make better use of it. . . .

That day my eyes were filled with clouds, but they were young enough eyes an they soon cleared. There were other days and other dik-dik. There were so many things.

There were dik-dik and leopard, kongoni and warthog, buffalo, lion, and the 'hare that jumps.; There were many thousands of the hare that jumps.

And there were wildebeest and antelope. There was the snake that crawls and the snake that climbs. There were birds, and young men like whips of leather, like rainshafts in the sun, like spear before a singiri.
Of her work, Hemingway had this to say:

from a Letter from Ernest Hemingway to Maxwell Perkins

Did you read Beryl …

That Was Then, This Is Now

Baroque and Roll

Evening in the Palace of Reason--the review makes the book sound wonderful.

Fashion Tips from Mad Men

Who'd Have Thought It? Epithalamia

Gold Boy, Emerald Girl--Yiyun Li

Despite tremendous misgivings, I forced myself to finish Yiyun Li's most recent book Gold Boy, Emerald Girl, and now I must lament that I shall be Li-less for some unknown length of time while she prepares her next work for our delectation and delight.  And I do not use those words lightly in this case.  Every story, every line, every lineament, every breath, every character, every scene is etched in such lucid detail, such brilliant highlighting, that they come to life and play out their brief existence on the stage of the mind.

Unlike the second collections of luminaries like Jhumpa Lahiri, I did not see in these stories the abandonment of the central concerns of A Thousand Years of Good Prayers and The Vagrants.  She still loves the people she writes about.  Characters who start out as extremely unlikeable, are gradually revealed to be ordinary people, whose ordinary concerns have so shaped them as to make them unapproachable.

Each story ends on a luminous note that I am reluct…

Dipping in to The Prelude

from The Prelude: Book VII
William Wordsworth

Private courts,
Gloomy as coffins, and unsightly lanes
Thrilled by some female vendor's scream, belike
The very shrillest of all London cries,
May then entangle our impatient steps;
Conducted through those labyrinths, unawares,
To privileged regions and inviolate,
Where from their airy lodges studious lawyers
Look out on waters, walks, and gardens green.
The picture Wordsworth paints of life in London streets is priceless.  Go and see it out (c. lines 190).

How Could One Resist When There Are Hamadryads Involved

John Henry Newman of Blogging?

Jonathan Safran Foer

I can't agree with the philosophy, but many may be interested in Foer's most recent.

My problem with the idea of veganism is that many promote it to be the "natural" life-style.  But anyone who bothers to look at human dentition can see that it belongs to the class of animals known as omnivore's.  The part of the philosophy I can agree with is that there need not be the cruelty that is presently practiced in getting those things that we do eat.

Another thing that often bothers me about issues-oriented works like this is that they seem so narrow.  Certainly we have cruel practices in the food industry--but as a society, we tend to be fairly callous and cruel in an entirely arbitrary way.  The prevelance of abortion and the radicalism of the extremes on both sides of that issue is a revealing case in point. 

It sometimes seems to me that each person practices a kind of cruelty a hundred times a day without thinking about it.  Our summary judgments are often harsh a…

A Look at the NBA Winner

Lord of Misrule reviewed

And it reminds me that I also have Great House in my bag to go back to the library.

First Things 50 Best

First Things lists their 50 best blogs.  I can't agree with about 80% of them, but a few are worth attention.

Ayn Rand on Atheism

A Frosty November Poem

Michael Cunningham: Another Should I Try Again?

Specimen Days reviewed

I haven't enjoyed anything I've tried to read by Mr. Cunningham.  This included.  Perhaps that is my myopia--perhaps it is that I enjoy his sources more than his interpretations.

Close Reading

I saw this Wednesday Night and meant to post it yesterday--a close reading of "Black Mare."

Obviously, Professor UD needs to post these things more conveniently for me!  My deep thanks for each of these that she offers to us.  They are few and far between among the many interesting things at her blog, but each one is a delight.  I love it when people share what they love and why.

Issa Gives Us an Unusual Offering (for HIm)

An Interview with Olga Grushin

Olga Grushin interviewed

It's curious, in the one post by Mark A., I found a book I just finished and two that have been on my list for some time.  I've gotten each of them from the library, perhaps multiple times.  This one is in the bag to go back along with another by the same author.  Guess I'll just have to fish them out.

Stephen O'Connor's "Ziggurat"

Mark Atathakis Shows His Usual Good Sense

"Yesterday I was a guest on Minnesota Public Radio’s Midmorning program to discuss the National Book Awards and the upset win of Jaimy Gordon‘s racetrack novel, Lord of Misrule. (More on that book soon.) Asked to suggest a couple of books the NBA judges might have considered short-listing, I put in for Yiyun Li‘s Gold Boy, Emerald Girl and James HynesNext."

I haven't read Next yet, but to see it juxtaposed with Yiyun Li's latest is a mighty incentive.  Later this morning more about Yiyun Li.  Now--go read Mark.  There's a great little video embedded of Gish Jen at Boston College.  "Writing a book is like growing a tree. . ."  There is so much she says that is worth hearing and internalizing.

Voter Enthusiasm

On Dreamthorp

Dreamthorp--a book of essays that it sounds as though I must find.

And for those, who like me, demand immediate recourse:

The Project Gutenberg Dreamthorp

via Books Inq.

A New Look at Gulliver

Misreading Gulliver's Travels
Marvelous article c/o Books Inq.

One interesting insight:

from "Misreading Gulliver's Travels"
P. N. Furbank

That Swift means us to regard the Houyhnhnms as an ideal contrast to the wayward or sinful behavious of ordinary humanity is plainly false – indeed, frankly, rather absurd. The sooner a reader has cleared his (or her) mind of this idea the better; for it obscures the function that Swift has, in fact, and most ingeniously, assigned to the Houyhnhnms in his scheme. What he presents us with in his Houyhnhnms is an only slightly exaggerated version of the outlook of an early eighteenth-century Deist or devotee of Nature and Reason; and the point that his narrative is making, with steadily increasing force, is that, for a fallible and unwary mortal like Gulliver (or ourselves) an encounter with such rationalizing and Pharisaic doctrines could have a quite lethal effect on our character.

On the Many Meanings of Gay

Exorcising Henry James

Cynthia Ozick on James's Influence

All I can say is:

(1) I doubt it

(2) I hope not

Reflecting on Writing

Two posts worth your attention--from a writer's point of view:

"Don't Just Tell Stories--Ask for Them"

Unleash All of Your Aspects

In partial response to this latter, I would recommend as well spending some time to discover those aspects.  Who are you where?  In other words, does the environment change who you are and if so how and why?  But more importantly, what lies do you tell yourself to sustain a false image.  Look beneath that and discover aspects you've never wanted to look at--all the while remember that there is One who loves you regardless of what all of those aspects look like together.  Accept who you are and get on with living--everyone of us spends too much time in the closet.

The Little Stranger--Sarah Waters

I may as well have it out with you up front.  I think I am disappointed by this book.  Having only finished it last night, it may need to linger on the intellectual palate for a while to see if there is some aftertaste, so prolonged note that pulls it from others in the same vein, but my instinct suggests that there is not.  So, know as you read that one end of my reading is a slight disappointment.  The other end, though, was a real pleasure in a story well-told and in writing that is solid, compact, allusive, subtle, and rich.  Sarah Waters writes beautifully.    I would seek out her other books but for the subject matter--none of the others has any allure for me from a distance--reading the blurbs and sampling, I've yet to find anything that would compel me through it.  And so, therein lies the delight of reading The Little Stranger I finally have accessible subject matter.  Perhaps enough so that I can revisit earlier work and now enjoy it more.

The Little Stranger is a subtle …

Nagiub Mahfouz in Translation

Two of the masters later novels now available in translation. 

Review of The Final Hour

Review of In the Time of Love

Why Willows?

The Wicked Literary Willow

I mention this both for the Blackwood and the Tolkien references; however, the mystery first invoked might also make for good reading.

A Vision of Hell

A Vision of Hell--a relatively mature one at that--Hell as a culmination of the choices we make.

Revisiting Christine

National Book Awards

This year's winners of the National Book Award.

Odd, didn't hear as much rumble about it this year--perhaps I've grown tone deaf.  Haven't heard of the book, but there is an excerpt posted for those interested.

Another report 

The Short List  (via Books Inq.)

Frankenstein circa 1910

Realism is Stranger?

Stranger than Science Fiction

There's a good deal of truth in what is said in the article.  Every day it seems, I open my eyes to something more surreal than Dali, Magritte, or Tanguy would ever have imagined.

Too Ignorant

As tempting as the prize, I'm afraid I'm too ignorant (and maybe too lazy--you can probably google the answers)--but Lydia Davis fans should enter the contest