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Showing posts from February, 2010

An Original Translation from the Chinese

Books Inq. has reported working with another author to produce a translation of some Chinese Poetry.  Here's a Sample: "Ascend the Heron Tower"

Beneath the Lion's Gaze--Maaza Mengiste

I have, after long reading, finished the book.  It is perhaps too early to give a coherent review--books like this one sometimes need to linger on the palate (as it were) before one can truly give them their due.  Be that as it may, I'm going to try to give a sense of the work.  Like Uwem Akpan, I expect that my sense of the work will change over time, and if I'm correct about it, more likely to change for the better, although, as you'll see, I'm starting from a very good place with the book.

Ms. Mengiste gives us the story of the transition of the Ethiopian Government from rule under a muddled Emperor with vaguely beneficent intent, to rule by a military Junta becoming progressively more aligned with Soviet and Cuban powers. She tells this story through the family of Hailu, a doctor in Addis Ababa.  Hailu has two sons--Dawit and Yonas, a daughter-in-law Sara, a wife Selam, and a number of other hangers-on who are, for all intents and purposes family.

The book starts i…

Via Woodenspoon--Adventures of Lil' Cthulhu

Lest We Forget. . .

The Literary Gothic: an online repository of texts including works by the remarkable Vernon Lee, William Hope Hodgson, and a great many others.

Truly Animated Writing

Nifft the Lean--An Appreciation

Geoff Dyer's Point 3

From the previous post on how to write, I liked this so much I needed to keep it forever:

Don't be one of those writers who sentence themselves to a lifetime of sucking up to Nabokov.

Friday in Hell with Maurice

Yesterday, or perhaps the day before--mornings are a cloudy time for me, I introduced M. Sceve, a poet living in France at about the time of Sir Thomas Wyatt.  His Délie is counted by Harold Bloom as among the world's great poetic works.  And the book I have before me is a wonderful introduction--but only that, leaving the reader longing for more.  And I hope you were, because I will share again, first the French, then the English.

from Emblems of Desire: Selections from the Délie of Maurice Sceve
Ed. and Tr. Richard Sieburth

XXII

Comme Hecaté tu me feras errer
Et vif, & mort cent ans parmy les Vmbres:
Comme Diane au Ciel me resserrer,
D'ou descendis en ces mortelz encombres:
Comme renante aux infernalle vmbres
Amoidriras, ou accroistras mes peines.
     Mais comme Lune infuse dans mes veines
Celle tufus, es, $ seras DELIE,
Qu'Amour à ionct a mes penseés vaines
Si fort, que Mort jamais ne l'en deslie.

22

As Hecate, you will doom me to wander
Among the Shades, alive &…

Ten Rules

On "Easter 1916"

A brief appreciation


And the poem itself

Easter, 1916by William Butler Yeats 
I have met them at close of day    Coming with vivid faces From counter or desk among grey    Eighteenth-century houses. I have passed with a nod of the head    Or polite meaningless words,    Or have lingered awhile and said    Polite meaningless words, And thought before I had done    Of a mocking tale or a gibe    To please a companion Around the fire at the club,    Being certain that they and I    But lived where motley is worn:    All changed, changed utterly:    A terrible beauty is born.
That woman's days were spent    In ignorant good-will, Her nights in argument Until her voice grew shrill. What voice more sweet than hers    When, young and beautiful,    She rode to harriers? This man had kept a school    And rode our wingèd horse;    This other his helper and friend    Was coming into his force; He might have won fame in the end,    So sensitive his nature seemed,    So daring and swe…

Tournament of Books

Witty, Profound, Touching, a Real Three Hanky Book

Just went to Blog2Print to discover what this brilliant gem of a blog is worth as far as literary property goes, and judging by the price tag, I'm assuming they expect very, very low sales--like library only sales. To print this blog as a beautifully bound book--fully as advertised above--would cost $166.85.  As magical as I think words may sometimes be, especially my words (to me), I think I'll forego the pleasure--I don't expect the library sales to recoup my investment--unless you, my faithful readers wish to have a volume to peruse at your leisure.  (Before you write me saying yes, please consult with your nearest mental health care professional.)

John Banville Interview

All over the blogworld--interview with John Banville.

Aleksandar Hemon on Five Books

An appreciation of five of Hemon's favorite books.  WARNING: Graphic Death Camp Imagery (going along with the discussion of Tadeusz Borowski's powerful This Way for the Gas Ladies and Gentlemen.

For French Poetry

Composing the last I came upon a really nice site for French Poetry that I wanted to preserve here and in the links in the right-hand column:

Les Grands Classiques

How About the Sir Thomas Wyatt of France?

I was delighted to find on the shelves of a local library a "scholarly" publication that provided translations from the work of a major French poet who was lost for some time and only rediscovered in the 1940's.  I present the excerpt below in a manner opposite that of the publication--the French first, for those who read it well (very well) to formulate their own opinions before reading the translation.

from Emblems of Desire: Selections from the "Délie" of Maurice Sceve
Ed. and Tr. Richard Sieburth

I

L'oeil trop ardent en mes ieunes erreurs
Girouettoit, mal cault, a l'impourueue
Voicy (ô paour d'agreables terreurs)
Mon Basilisque auec sa poignant' veue
Perçant Corps, Coeur, & Raison despourueue,
Vint penetrer en l'Ame de mon Ame.
    Grand  fut le coup, qui san tranchante lame
Fait, que viuant le Corps, l'Esprit desuie;
Piteuse hostie au conspect de toy, Dame,
Constituée Idole de ma vie.

I

The Eye, too afire with my youthful errors
W…

An Interview Uncovered

On Miéville on McCarthy

For One Friend In Particular--The Book of Revelation

The Book of Revelation is one of my favorite in the Bible--I think it may be because the imagery speaks more fully than any interpretation of it ever can.  And what the imagery actually says, I cannot say, because sometimes one must just appreciate the beauty.  This was the advice I gave a gentleman who confessed the other night that he never could make it through Ulysses because he could not understand it.  Sometimes it isn't necessary to understand in order to appreciate.  I know that flies in the face of our logical positivist, scientific empiricist world--but it is simply the truth.  Truth, goodness, and beauty, the platonic triad need not be fully comprehended to be appreciated--nevertheless, they will out if one gives them the opportunity.  (Full disclosure forces me to note that I have a high tolerance for reading things I do not fully understand as witnessed by the fact that I have been through The Wake three times now--on the other hand, I'm not certain Joyce understo…

A Reconsideration of My Decision Yesterday

A reader was kind enough to leave a note and ask me to reconsider my decision not to include the poem I referred to yesterday.  Because I was waffling yesterday on the matter, and because I agree in large part with the reasoning supporting the conclusion, and because, frankly, the blog acts as a kind of system of record for me and so I would like to be able to find this once again--the plea was enough to make me reconsider.  If the author of the poem should google herself and find herself transported here and if she should prefer not to have the poem here, I will gladly remove this post.  For the time being however, let it stand in honest appreciation for work well done.

Requiem
Abigail Gramig

Today
is the
perfect day

The sky
just so
clouds moving
fast

Drops of water
on leaves
of Russian sage

Dog sitting
her chin
on crossed paws

Light streams
through branches
of locust tree

I sit
just so
at the
small table

Everything is
perfect
just like this
you would have said

Poetry Last Night

Last night I was glancing through and anthology edited by Billy Collins 180 more Extraordinary Poems for Every Day and happened upon a poem by Abigail Gramig which was absolutely lovely.  Because copyright does not allow for quotation of entire works and because one should not take so freely of an author's work, and because the whole thing is quite short and completely integrated, it would serve no purpose to try to post an excerpt; however, I encourage everyone to get the book from the library and read the poem.  It is simple and lovely and a truly fitting requiem.

On the other hand, excerpts from two other poems that I read (at least in part) are suitable.

from The Throne of Labdacus
Gjertrud Schnackenberg

The first warning passing through Thebes--
As small a sound

As a housefly alighting from Persia
and stomping its foot on a mound

Where the palace once was,
As small as a moth chewing thread

In the tyrant's robes;
As small as the cresting of red

In the rim of an injured eye; …

I heard the end of an era. . .

Or did I?

Two nights ago, as we were settling to sleep, a sound, like that of thunder, only louder, more powerful, shook the house and rattled the blinds.  Thunder, no being uncommon where I live, I thought it rather sudden and tremendously intense, but then my wife said, "I guess the shuttle has returned."

Yes, I can watch them as they go up from my front yard, and I feel/hear them as they come back to Canaveral. And this one, if I am not mistaken is the last of its kind.  Given the mood of the nation, I am a little worried about the fate of the program. But I know that NASA has plans if we can only find the money to fund dreams.

But see here for other possibilities.

On Flannery O'Connor

Reading Wise Blood--a continuing series

Wolf Hall: A Dissenting View

A dissenting view for at least the audio performance of Wolf Hall. (Although I'm in the minority, I do tend to agree with the overall evaluation of the novel.

Favorite Australian Novels

via Literary Saloon, this list of favorite Australian novels.

For those with Kindles or other E-books that can use TXT or for which you can produce properly formatted texts,  #2 The Fortunes of Richard Mahony is available at Project Gutenbery Australia.

More on Natsume Soseki

A new translation of Shanshiro is available. (ht Philosophy etc.)

This is not a work I am familiar with, but it is one that I hope to possess soon and review when I actually have it in hand.  This is great news for fans of Japanese literature.

Harry Potter Plagiarism Again?

J. K. Rowling has once again been slapped with a plagiarism lawsuit.  I fully expect that it will be summarily dismissed based on a comment on this description of the legal action.  "The plagiarism allegation concerned the story plot rather than the words."  But what is copyrighted in every case is the words, their placement and usage, their accumulation into a work.  You cannot copyright an idea, not even an idea like an entire plot.  If not, then we would lose a substantial part of the world of the Romance Novelists--there are limited permutations and combinations of events and incidents.  Plots--a wizard challenge (for example) are the structural backbone of writing, but I'm willing to bet if one went to the Index of Folklore and mythology, such a challenge of witches and wizards would be a fairly common theme.

Forster on Jane Austen

"Jane, How Shall We Ever Recollect" an article by E.M. Forster in The New Republic, 1924

Once again, isn't the internet wonderful?  We are so blessed (and cursed) with its capabilities.

A Review of German Short Works

Philosophy--Alain de Boton

Not being a professional philosopher, I have no idea of the standing of Alain de Boton in that field.  However, if one is interested in evaluating his work, one could do worse than to view the six episode Philosophy: A Guide to Happiness, starting here.

From the Office of Readings for the Day

from a sermon by Pope St. Leo the Great

Dear friends, at every moment the earth is full of the mercy of God, and nature itself is a lesson for all the faithful in the worship of God. The heavens, the sea and all that is in them bear witness to the goodness and omnipotence of their Creator, and the marvelous beauty of the elements as they obey him demands from the intelligent creation a fitting expression of its gratitude. Not only His mercy, but his chesed which is often translated as loving-kindness, but which really doesn't seem to have a word or word chain in English that can encompass the fullness of the phrase.  It is God's deep love that sustains all that is--His abiding concern for His creation is not the fondness of a watchmaker for his wares, but of a Father to His children, each of whom He loves as though an only child.

If you are of a mind to read more, and there is much more worth reading, you can find the whole of the Office of Readings at Universalis.

The Lion's Gaze--Preliminary Notes

As I may have intimated in previous posts, Beneath the Lion's Gaze is emotionally difficult fare--how could any book set in Ethiopia during the famine not be? It is made more so by the author's deft hand with detail.  Rather than say more myself, it seems wise to let the author speak:

from Beneath the Lion's Gaze
Maaza Mengiste

Now, in front of him was a small child with a head bigger than the rest of his body, crouched in a posture of fatigue that only dying old men should know. His bony skull rested on frail wrists, and he stared into the distance blankly, his sagging mouth host to flies and holes where once teeth grew.
It is a perfect word-picture of an image many of us have seen.  It adds to that picture the gritty details of the specter of death that hovers around it.  Add to that this dulled and jaded reaction:

"What about this boy?" Mickey said, pointing to the child, "Shouldn't we take him somewhere?"
"His mother left him there to look fo…

An Elegant Exposition of Dickinson

Oh, there are so many, many good things available on the web--here's another via Books Inq.  (a marvelous blog for sources if there ever were one.)

On "The soul selects her society. . ."

An excerpt of this interesting reading:
Mark Richardson

Now, it is not possible grammatically to sever the first line from its successors in this stanza, which leads me to the second point I’d make: the grammar is equivocal, in that the stanza admits of several possible readings. We might read the stanza as follows (and here I will print it, for illustrative purposes, in sentence form): 1) “The soul selects her own society, then shuts the door. To her divine majority, present no more.” Or we might read it: 2) “The souls selects her own society, then shuts the door to her divine majority, present no more.” Or: 3) The soul selects her own society, then shuts the door to her divine majority. Present no more.” In examples 1 & 3 “present” is a verb, with the accent on the second s…

Objects at Rest and Otherwise

From the Online Version of the New England Review (via Books Inq.)--Matthew Olzmann--"Sir Isaac Newton's First Law of Motion."

Excerpt:

Matthew Olzmann
is an object at rest, and will remain at rest,
reclining on the couch while drinking Guinness
and watching football. Or, he is an object at rest,
and will remain at rest, sprawled over the couch
while drinking Guinness and watching hockey.


And don't you complain--I DID NOT give away the punchline.  Enjoy.

Free Options for Online Language Learning!

An article from NYT
Followup from NYT
From Open Culture

These were tremendously exciting to me--some of the real promise of the internet realized.

Open Culture

Originally sent to the blog to hear F. Scott Fitzgerald read from Othello (see February 7, 2010), there is a tremendous amount of useful, interesting material on the blog--open source resources for culture--Open Culture, very nice.

See the construction of Fallingwater
Picasso painting on glass
An ultra-deep field 3-d tour of the universe
and others that may be of more interest to you.

Jewish Orthodoxy--A Compelling Witness

Mr. Myers of A Commonplace Blog writes about Jewish Orthodoxy in terms that many of those of us in the Catholic Faith comprehend and acknowledge.  Powerful, interesting, wonderful.

Death Cat

Found via another blog, I think Maverick Philosopher, Oscar--the Cat who Predicts Death

Natsume Soseki--New Translation

Kokoro, one of  the best novels from pre World War II Japan is available in a new translation.  For those seeking entree into the world of Asian Literature, Kokoro   (Heart) offers a starting place that is curiously accessible to the western reader.  Unlike Japanese classics such as The Tale of Heike, The Tale of Genji, and even Narrow Road to the Deep North (On the Road to Oku), Kokoro provides handles and a story with incident that a western reader of realism and naturalism can grasp. In a certain sense, Kokoro is akin to Akira Kurasawa's Ikiru--distinctively Japanese, but with story elements and symbols that transcend the culture and reach out to grab and engage the reader.  Also there is less of the Ukiyo-e/ethereal feeling one might get with other Japanese writers. Another delightful novel, in three volumes, by Soseki is I Am the Cat.  Either of these works provides a starting place that is not so difficult or culturally dependent as say Yasunari Kawabata, Yukio Mishima, or e…

First in a Promised Series

Wilfrid Owen in the Underworld

"Strange Meeting" and an analysis.

A great poet, one of the many tragic loses of World War I, Wilfrid Owen was killed just a week before the war ended.  It is a shame we have so little of what this poet could have given us.

"Patriotism"

Mookse reviews Mishima to fine effect.

With his complexes, obsessions and concerns Mishima has never been one of my favorite Japanese authors.  He has some really fine works, and this reader's review makes me want to reconsider the short stories.  Perhaps time has tempered my impressions.  I love it when I find I've been looking at things the wrong way round.

Indeed, one of the great pleasure in life is being able to repent, change your mind, and enjoy what you had previously forbidden yourself to enjoy.  Too bad so many are so afraid of being wrong.

An Intriguing Conjunction

The blogger at Blographia Literaria finds an interesting conjunction in The Forever War and The Spy Who Came in from the Cold

I love these kinds of finds--books that resonate peculiarly when they are brought into contact with one another.

A Dissenting View on The Unnamed

Joshua Ferris's book The Unnamed has received decidedly mixed reviews.  It's always a pleasure to find someone who can point out the high points and encourage us to read.  The blogger at Reading Matters does a nice job of it for The Unnamed.

Robert Louis Stevenson as You Probably Have Never Seen Him Before

Really Cool Post on Irregular Verbs

Literature in Translation Awards

At the Literary Saloon

I was struck by the thought of how chauvinist the title of this award is.  Literature in Translation--but really literature in translation can be Romanian to Greek, Albanian to French, Arabic to Chinese.  But really the award is about the best Literature translated to English.

Not that I really care--just wanted to share the perversity of my brain.

From the Office of Readings for the Day

For Ash Wednesday--from the Office of Readings

Isaiah 58:1-12

1Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and shew my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins.
2Yet they seek me daily, and delight to know my ways, as a nation that did righteousness, and forsook not the ordinance of their God: they ask of me the ordinances of justice; they take delight in approaching to God.
3Wherefore have we fasted, say they, and thou seest not? wherefore have we afflicted our soul, and thou takest no knowledge? Behold, in the day of your fast ye find pleasure, and exact all your labours.
4Behold, ye fast for strife and debate, and to smite with the fist of wickedness: ye shall not fast as ye do this day, to make your voice to be heard on high.
5Is it such a fast that I have chosen? a day for a man to afflict his soul? is it to bow down his head as a bulrush, and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him? wilt thou call this a fast, and an acceptable day to…

"Ash Wednesday"

Ash Wednesday
T. S. Eliot

Because I do not hope to turn again
Because I do not hope
Because I do not hope to turn
Desiring this man's gift and that man's scope
I no longer strive to strive towards such things
(Why should the aged eagle stretch its wings?)
Why should I mourn
The vanished power of the usual reign?

Because I do not hope to know again
The infirm glory of the positive hour
Because I do not think
Because I know I shall not know
The one veritable transitory power
Because I cannot drink
There, where trees flower, and springs flow, for there is nothing again
Find the full poem here

Hunger Trilogy--Wang Ruowang

This must be in the running for the book with the most unpromising title neither of the two words taken separately can be considered auspicious for launching into reading.  Hunger, um, no, I prefer feast, as in Babbette's, or for that matter Belshazzar's.  Trilogy--not only am I going to read about and perhaps be hungry myself, I'm going to have to go on and on and on.

First, let me prepare you--the shocking reality is that this trilogy--the entire three pieces just barely reaches a short novel length.  And secondly, it is really good reading.  It is good reading for at least two reasons: (1) it is intrinsically interesting and (2) it is written by an author who is a member of  an underrepresented group among Chinese writers.

Wang Ruowang  is (or is it was at this point in time?  I cannot say) a member of the Chinese Communist Party.  He was a member long enough that the first section of this trilogy takes place during the time of the guomindang--during which time he was p…

Who Knew?

Evidently, many, if they were paying attention.  Via Quid Plura--Tolkien's Translation of the Book of Jonah.

"Can Creative Writing Be Taught?"

via Books Inq. Francine Prose on the question that has puzzled educators for some time.

Like Ms. Prose, I tend to side with those who say that there are aspects that can be taught.  But there is a fundamental reality that sometimes we struggle to come to terms with.  While almost anyone can be taught to write acceptable prose, there are a very small number of people who are born writers.  And by this, I don't mean particularly good prose artists, all of whom are published, but rather, people for whom there is no other way of living. I think of myself, regardless of my occupation at any point in my life, as a writer because when I cease to write, there is a fundamental instability in my life.  That is, writing provides a framework, a real framework, for everything I do.  It allows me to process information and make sense of it.  In some ways, things do not become real until they have been written.  The process of writing is the process of reification--of bringing new light and new …

The Week Blogging from Washington D.C.

Not that it matters, but often while away from the office on such assignments as may come up, it becomes more difficult to blog with the vigor I would like.  So please be aware, if things are somewhat sparser than they usually are, I haven't the leisure in the evening to prepare the things that will occur the following day--nor can I use my lunch break to catch up.  Ah well, the perils of earning a living. 

But I would like to share a review of Wuo Rangwuo's Hunger Trilogy and some notes on Beneath the Lion's Gaze if opportunity permits.

A Different Kind of Twilight--Samuel Menashe

""Europe is the Less. . . "

It is sad to hear that Dick Francis has died.  I've never been able to plow through a single one of his books, but to quote from one of John Donne's most famous pieces:

from "Devotions upon Emergent Ocassions XVII"
John Donne

No man is an island. entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main; if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend's or of thine own were; any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.
With Sallinger and Francis, and others who have died this year so far, the literary world is the less.  Not because there are not legions ready to fill to the holes in the ranks, but because there is no one who will be the same--there never is, nor can there ever be.

Where in the World

One Last Sharing of Present Reading

I have longed to read the work of W.G. Sebald, but honestly Austerlitz was too stern, too strong a beginning. For a variety of reasons, I could not start there and have cast about since for some way to begin readily available to me from the library resources.  Between the two counties, they do not have much, but I found and embraced the book excerpted below, and hope that what has sustained me through the beginning can entrance me through to the end.


from After Nature
W.G. Sebald

Here two painters in one body
whose hurt flesh belong to both
to the end pursued the study
of their own nature. At first
Nithart fashioned his self-portrait
from a mirror image, and Grünewald
with great love, precision and patience
and an interest in the skin
and hair of his companion extending
to the blue shadow of the beard
then overpainted it.
The martyrdom depicted is
the representation, to be sensed
even in the rims of the wounds,
of a male friendship wavering
between horror and loyalty.
It is conceivable …

Seamus Heaney and his Aeneid

The introductory poem from his collection Seeing Things is a translation of a portion of book 6 of the Aeneid.  And, as with all of his poetry, there are memorable highlights, and observations.  But I plucked this one out because its mood and mode matched most closely that of the other excerpt I have made available today:

Day and night black Pluto's door stands open.
But to retrace your steps and get back to upper air,
This is the real task and the real undertaking.

The Deep Sadness of the Lion

I'm not certain that I will be able to finish the book I have most recently started--not because it is not good--the excerpt below pleads otherwise--but rather because it is so good that the deep sadness of it is difficult to bear for any length of time.  Perhaps that fades after this very early portion--I don't know.  But let me share a few lines with you:

from Beneath the Lion's Gaze
Maaza Mengiste

Then, without a word, she started clapping, her hands and feet moving her shoulders up and down. Like this. Now faster. Don't think, move the way your heart wants you to move, ignore the body. Let the muscles go. There is no room for anger in our dances, pretend you are water and flow over your own bones. His tears stopped, his attention focused on his movement. . . .

One day, Emaye, my mother, I will put water into my bones and dance until my heart obeys. Dawit spun, eyes wide open to take in the slowly darkening sun.
And add to it, this gorgeous observation:

There is this t…

"The Ballad of Judas Iscariot"

A kindly commenter at University Diaries alerted me to this poem.  Judas Iscariot has always been a figure of deep interest for me (and, by the way for St. Francis Borgia).  I excerpted this poem because I find some of the thought exceptionally appealing and some of the imagery superb.

The Ballad of Judas Iscariot
Robert Buchanan

'Twas the soul of Judas Iscariot
    Did hush itself and stand,
And saw the Bridegroom at the door
    With a light in his hand.
The Bridegroom stood in the open door,
    And he was clad in white,
And far within the Lord's Supper
    Was spread so broad and bright.
The Bridegroom shaded his eyes and look'd,
    And his face was bright to see —
'What dost thou here at the Lord's Supper
    With thy body's sins?' said he.
'Twas the soul of Judas Iscariot
    Stood black, and sad, and bare —
'I have wandered many nights and days;
    There is no light elsewhere.'
'Twas the wedding guests cried out within,

Virginia Woolf Speaking

I thought I had posted this earlier in the week, but I can't seem to find evidence of it.  (I was reminded by seeing it at Nigel Beale's blog) Virginia Woolf pictures and voice:



More Literary Neuroscientists

"The Far Field" continued

Nice presentation and commentary on "The Far Field."  Things like this are what make the internet so wonderful.  Outside of a college class, there are few chances to share in this kind of reflection and, dare I say it, true love of literature and of a poem.  My deepest thanks and appreciation to the commentator--nicely shared, beautifully done.

The Art of the Short Story

Lydia Davis short stories reviewed

Lydia Davis is a writer with whom I have only recently become acquainted.  The few pieces I've scanned I've found interesting and intriguing.  But I suspect that nearly single-handedly she has forged a revolution in what can be considered a short story and a short-short story.  I noticed that Sam Shepherd's latest book of short story seems to follow closely in Lydia Davis's tracks.  And there is a delightful little ditty out called Sum: Forty Tales of Afterlives by David Eagleman that seem to take cues from some of the innovations and stylistic tendencies of Ms. Davis.

A Close Look at Poetry

An On-Line Developmental Epic

A Collection of Interviews with Authors

Author Interviews from the BBC  Some are quite old, but they include Updike's last recorded interview and an interesting session with Joyce Carol Oates.

Young Conservatives

Young Conservatives composing books.  Very young--14 years old.  I could care less about politics, but pursuant to my anecdote about Son and Kafka, young people can be far more perspicacious than we give them credit for.

The Global Novel

More Lenten Reading

Laughing at Lucifer in Lent

An interesting perspective from an interesting author.

Kafka and My Son

To start with, from Books Inq.  The Last Days of Kafka.

Now to the relationship with my son.  I may have narrated how recently in a book-buying blitz, my son (11) chose from all of the possibilities a small volume of Kafka's short stories.  Now, I wouldn't push Kafka on anyone, 11 or otherwise, and I'm fully cognizant that being 11 my son will not derive from Kafka all there is to get.  On the other hand, exposure to great, if weird literature, is always a good thing.  Son dutifully read "The Metamorphosis" and reported back to his mother on the details of it.  His mother, not being entomoligcally tolerant succinctly expressed her views about any human sympathetic to or being one with the Dictyoptera.  Which, of course, produced much merriment and a search on Son's part for more such to share with his mother. 

Well, the other day we were at Disney and riding around on the steam engine train that circles the park.  Our seats got somewhat crowded as an extended…

Zora Neale Hurston

Keeping in mind the adage of one thought one post, I try my reader's patience with yet another set of downloads generously offer by Biblioklept.  This one is Zora Neale Hurston's WPA work collecting folklore and stories from Florida (indeed, quite nearby I should think).

Huxley and Hermann Together Again for the First Time

Aldous Huxley narrating Brave New World with Bernard Hermann soundtrack--downloadable mp3 tracks.  I don't know which prospect is more exciting.  Haven't heard this yet, but hope to asap.

via Biblioklept

Renewing One's Home

On a Snow-Covered Satyr

Saudade-- a poem that brought to mind through the manifold perverse associations this little ditty from one of my long-time favorite authors

That is not dead which can eternal lie
and with strange aeons even death may die.

Yesterday, I exalted the poet in striving to reach a comparison, today, I bring him down from his lofty heights and compare him to. . . well, still one of my favorite authors--so I guess it isn't really a plunge.  And this doggerel is really not comparable to the poem you will enjoy if you click the link.

There is a disturbing and fascinating metrical irregularity to the poem that prevents it from falling into the sing-song while still suggesting (around the edges, as it were) a song.

What's Your Addiction?

A fascinating run-through of some of literature's more spectacular drugs

My favorite and one that is keenly missing is the one from Philip K. Dick's Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said; however, if I told you what it did, I would be committing the ultimate spoiler.  So I sha'n't--but read it and find out.  It is one powerful drug.

Geert Wilder Interview

Geert Wilder Interview

Entirely beside the point, but I never fail to be fascinated by the fact that so many people around the world speak such beautiful English.  Would that I were so fluent in the languages that I can read but hardly speak.  I have little trouble reading Désert, but tremendous difficulty reading it aloud in anything like the way it should sound.

Catholic Lenten Reading

A few days ago, I may some suggestions that might constitute a list of possibilities for Lenten reading.  Most of those sources had Protestant roots (very good, very firm, very reliable Protestant roots) and today,  I thought perhaps it was time for a few possibilities rooted in the Catholic Tradition.

I must, of course, make at least a head nod to what is perhaps the most-read Christian spiritual work outside of the Bible--The Imitation of Christ. It has earned its place in the library of spiritual reading through its no-nonsense, solid, practical advise for those who are seeking a better way.  One can find it in everything from Latin to on-line editions,  (two) (three)(four)(five) this is one work that every Catholic should take the time to acquaint themselves with.  It rewards slow lectio-like reading and could make a perfect devotional (depending on one's temperament) for the season.


For a little break in the prose, one might wish to intersperse the reading of the Imitation wi…

My Before Breakfast Routine

from Through the Looking Glass
Lewis Carroll

Alice could not help laughing at this, even in the midst of her tears. `Can you keep from crying by considering things?' she asked.

`That's the way it's done,' the Queen said with great decision: `nobody can do two things at once, you know. Let's consider your age to begin with -- how old are you?'

`I'm seven and a half, exactly.'

`You needn't say "exactly",' the Queen remarked. `I can believe it without that. Now I'll give you something to believe. I'm just one hundred and one, five months and a day.'

`I ca'n't believe that!' said Alice.

`Ca'n't you?' the Queen said in a pitying tone. `Try again: draw a long breath, and shut your eyes.'

Alice laughed. `There's no use trying,' she said `one ca'n't believe impossible things.'

`I daresay you haven't had much practice,' said the Queen. `When I was your age, I always did …

An Evolutionary Theist

Francis Collins at the Veritas Forum

As you can see--the video is quite long, but for those interested in the subject worthwhile.  I have read his arguments against creationism but NOT against theism and agree with him on both points--it is possible to at once ascribe to evolution as a reasonable theoretical construct encompassing life on Earth as it is presently and a theological worldview.  It is not possible to maintain these stands when allied with any form of literalism--evolutionary or biblical.  Literalism in the evolutionary sense gives rise to Spencerian nonsense and some of the worst strains of Kipling's "White Man's Burden" ideology. 

Self-Refuting Positions

From a NZ Theology Geek--site looks most interesting.

Father Longenecker on the Future of the Church

Alvin Plantinga via Maverick Philosopher

The Plantinga family is one I have been awe of for some time--at least I believe they all comprise a family: Alvin, Cornelius (author of a magnificent book--Not the Way It's Supposed to Be) and Harry who runs (or ran) the CCEL and made it into the magnificent resource it is.  Thanks Maverick!

One Feels As Though One Has Stumbled into a Stash of Long-Lost Keats

Or Milton, or other long lost poet who actually has some clue as to whom Philomel is.

"From Arcadia to the stone fields of Inisheer. . ."

Yetis and Wendigos--For Those for Whom It Is an Issue

Ever wonder how to distinguish a Yeti from a Wendigo--wonder no more--all is made clear.

from Monster
A. Lee Martinez

"And you believe you have a yeti in your freezer--is that correct?"

The words were beginning to lose their absurdity.

"Yes, I think so," she said, though she wasn't as certain as she had been five minutes before.

"Can you describe it?"

"It's big and white and eating all the ice cream," she said.

"What flavor?"

"What?"

"What flavor does it seem to prefer? Yetis generally go for rocky road. Now wendigos, on the other hand, prefer strawberry in my experience."

"What's a wendigo?" Judy asked.

"Like a Yeti, except meaner."

Judy considered that this woman might be screwing with her. If Judy were working a lonely job in the middle of the night and got a crank caller, she'd probably do the same.

"It didn't seem to like vanilla."  There was an awkward pause. &qu…

A Cultural Perspective

See how evocatively, but to the western eye exotically a very common occurrence can be described.

from Hunger Trilogy
Wang Ruowang

"Hey! Look--there are lights over there!" Someone had discovered light glimmering in the far distance. Everyone looked int he direction he was pointing and, sure enough, there were spots of light looking like soy beans in the distance.
It would never occur to me to describe the glimmering of lights in the nighttime as "looking like soybeans in the distance."  There is something about this that is strangely evocative--particularly considering the title of the work and the primary focus on times of starvation.

Fortcoming Free E-Books

e-Book versions of 19th Century Literature to be made available for free from the British Library

The number mentioned in the article is 65,000, so this obviously includes more that your Standard Austen, Dickens, Trollope, and Hardy.  Even throwing in Mrs. Gaskell isn't going to push the number up over a thousand.  I can't wait to see what they may be.  I wonder if they'll have bulk downloads for people like me. 

(I think Books Inq. led me here.)

Brutal Fictions--Maeve Brennan

Maeve Brennan has a deft hand with the short story.  She is unsparing in her details, indeed brutal in incident. 

from "A Free Choice"
in The Springs of Affection
Maeve Brennan

Then he began laughing and he asked her if she had ever danced with a feather bed, and without giving her time to say no he told her to look over her shoulder and she found herself straight straight at Mrs. Fleming, who was in charge of the hat counter, and whose extravagantly towering hair arrangement was designed to draw attention away from her fatness, which was alarming, seeming to flow solidly not down to the floor but away from her and around in all directions, as though she grew larger as you watched. But Mrs. Fleming had been on the floor all evening. She had not missed a step, dancing around like a young girl with all the younger me, smiling brightly on everyone, like an empress.
The description of Mrs. Fleming's physique, is, in a word, brutal.  And it is entirely surprising considering the…

A List! A List!

Via Books INQ.: My Favorite Historical Novel

Limits--American Historical Fiction

Another Blogger Heard From

For those Awaiting 2012

This elegant and tasteful end-time clock.

Buy now, and we'll throw in a lifetime supply of demi-urge repellent, guaranteed to keep away denizens of the lower circles of fallen angels.

More About Torgny Lindgren

A gentle reader requested to know a bit more about Torgny Lindgren.  And so ever one to oblige those seeking knowledge about my favorite writers, you all shall be punished for his curiosity.


I have only five books, I don't know how many are available in translation: The Way of a Serpent, LightSweetnessBathsheba, and Merab's Beauty.  The first three that remain most vividly in my mind--the first a story about a wicked landlord who collects the rent from a family in rural Sweden and when the money runs out begins to exploit the women of the household.  The title is taken from proverbs 30:19

the way of a serpent upon a rock; the way of a ship in the midst of the sea; and the way of a man with a maid.  (KJV)


And though my recollection is at something of a distance now, at least two, and possibly all three of these is developed in the course of a very short novel.  Perhaps the best description of the book is gritty and realistic.  It is a novel of sin, redemption, self-sacrif…

Abigail Adams Advises

Interview with Aleksandar Hemon

An Interview with Mr. Hemon at Guernica

I've checked his books out from the library a couple of times but never got to them--not because they were not good--but because I am too distracted.  (In the short life of this blog, how often have you heard that?)

Drowned Boy--Jerry Gabriel

Normally I wouldn't post a review like this one, and I suppose I shouldn't with this--but I thought that perhaps by writing it I could come to terms with the book in a way that would otherwise not occur.

Let's start on the upside--there are some evocative moments in the book--some good writing, some memorable scenes.  The book inspired me to remember my own experiences in Ohio and to write about them in somewhat more detail that I have heretofore.  And there were moments when Mr. Gabriel really locked in a sense of the setting for me.

On the downside:  I had read two reviews of the book that suggested that it would be superb reading--an up and coming artist whose work I needed to pay attention to.  And perhaps to some extent this is true--there are flashes of brilliance, moments of real poetry.  But for the most part, the stories didn't really go anywhere.  The title story evoked neither sympathy for the drowned boy, nor sympathy for those affected by his death, nor ho…

Signs of Collector's Fever

It is horrifying to admit to any duplicate books in a collection other than study copies and pristine copies, or personal copies and loaner copies.  However, I have discovered the following duplicates in my library and it does say something about me and the library I keep:

Daisy Miller, Washington Square, Portrait of a Lady, Mrs. Dalloway's Party, Kew Gardens, (oh, here's a mortifying one) Flush, The Sea and Poison, Kokoro, Some Prefer Nettles (this is explained by the fact that my original is falling to pieces).

And that's only the start, I'm afraid.  I think I shall leave off plowing through the newly opened room for the evening to give myself respite and breathing space to recover from a surfeit of nearly everything.

Elizabeth Bowen on Orlando

Happening upon a comment elsewhere regarding the book noted above, a comment I heartily endorse and agree with, I also found this while sorting through my many books:

from "Orlando"
in The Mulberry Tree
Elizabeth Bowen

Virginia Woolf's Orlando was first published in London in October of 1928. I remember, the book was regarded with some mistrust by one generation--my own, at that time 'the younger'. We, in our twenties during the '20s, were not only the author's most zealous readers, but, in the matter of reputation, most jealous guardians. Her aesthetic became a faith; we were believers. We more than admired, we felt involved in each of her experimental, dazzling advances. Few of us (then) knew the still-conservative novels of her first period; a minority had informed itself of The Mark on the Wall and Kew Gardens, hand-printed and issued in 1919 by the original Hogarth Press. She broke full upon us, it would be correct to say, with Jacob's Room, 1922, o…

Apropos Pun of the Day

Contemplated while sorting through my shelves

Torgny Lindgren is not all Sweetness and Light.

Those who have a passing acquaintance will know what I mean.