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Showing posts from 2010

Reflecting on "Auld Lang Syne"

Reflecting on "Auld Lang Syne" via Books Inq.

World's Worst Invasive Mammals

World's worst invasive mammals Oddly, I often don't think of mammals in this category.  On the other hand, the whole list seems undoubtedly true and pervasive. via Books Inq.

Greeting the New Year in Poetry

Let's start with an epitome: Kobyashi Issa New Year's Day New Year's Day-- everything is in blossom! I feel about average. Tr. Robert Haas  Then we have the inimitably cheerful Thomas Hardy At the Entering of the New Year   and, of course, what would a change of year be without The Darkling Thrush For those making resolutions we have Rainer Maria Rilke's Archaic Torso of Apollo My own haiku: The new year comes in the old goes out; nothing stops the baby's crying. (I claim it for my own--but I will readily say that it is so engrained in memory that I may have stolen it from some great writer of haiku and forgotten.  If anyone reads this and recognizes the real author (if, indeed, I am not he), please let me know.) Then we have Robert Herrick sending A New Year's Gift to Sir Simon Steward And we can depart the subject where we entered--with Issa's quiet wisdom New Year's Morning Kobiyashi Issa  New Year's morning: the du

Happy Belated 100th

Paul Bowles--Born 30 December 1911, with a video of Paul Bowles reading. And another remembrance

Beginning a New Year of Reading

Suggestions for those casting about for a new year of reading I'm fortunate--I have a list as long as my arm of things to read now and in the coming months.  Right now I am reading and hope to finish today (because it is quite short) Andrew Holleran's Grief .  And immediately on its heels Scott Westerfeld's Leviathan , and perhaps I'll be able to force my way through Ms. Egan's A Visit from the Goon Squad , although, I must admit, I don't hold out much hope on that one. Other posted Reading Plans

Next--James Hynes

Oh, this was not the book to end a year on. And with that inauspicious beginning, I'll back up to recommend this book highly to everyone.  It has been a sleeper and so there hasn't been enough written about it to prepare me for its high-powered impact.  And I will say no more about that because I want you all to endure and enjoy the surprise the probably shouldn't have been such a surprise. Kevin, from Ann Arbor, has gone to Austin to interview for a job there.  On the way he meets a young lady who entrances him and whom he stalks through Austin.  (She must be the most completely oblivious person in the world because they have several near encounters along the way, but she never seems to recognize or note him.)  After an accident ends his stalking (not in a really predatory sense), he chances upon another woman who helps to repair the damage and has lunch with him.  Woven throughout this seeming nothing of a story line is the history of Kevin's relationships with ot

Chillingly True and Relevent

"Our Masters"  an excerpt from G. K. Chesterton

An Appreciation of the KJV

400 Years of the KJV via Books Inq. When I want to be lost in the sheer majesty of language, in the deep history of our literature, in mastery and beauty--there are few places to find it better than in the KJV.  Admittedly, if one wishes to study, analyze, and otherwise participate in scholarly Biblical research, it may not be the best.  But it certainly is more ear-considerate than many of the thundering, thudding, thunking modern translations.

Hemingway on Pound

Hemingway writing Archibald MacLeish on Ezra Pound

MA Visits the Year in Books

Mark Athitakis notes the year in books And I would have made a point of this one even if Yiyun Li were not at the top of the list.

Pursuing the Peloponnesian Wars

With Thucydides, pursuing the Peloponnesian Wars

Stanley Fish on the Grace of God in True Grit

Stanley Fish comments on True Grit And if Stanley Fish commenting on the grace of God isn't an odd enough combo for you, then you are truly in Yves Tanguy land.

The Year in Short Stories

Collections of Short Stories Of course Yiyun Li is mentioned and lauded, otherwise, why bother?

Night Elie Wiesel

Inspired by a review I looked at yesterday, I took this book up (again?--I honestly can't recall if I've read it before, though I'm certain I've held it in my hands and nearly certain I've read it--but upon rereading remember almost nothing of it) and swiftly finished.  It is a short book.  Very short.  And like Frankl's but in some sense a mirror image of it, a powerful book.  Elie Wiesel was a 14 year old boy living in Hungary when the Hungarian Holocaust occurred.  Now, I don't think it would be an exaggeration to say that for the majority of the war, the Hungarian Jews had a measure of protection from the Holocaust.  The ruler of Hungary refused to go along with the German plan with regard to the Jews.  That isn't to say that life was easy or without hardships or prejudice, but until 1944, the Hungarian Jews knew little or nothing of the holocaust.  That all stopped suddenly, dramatically, in 1944 when a new government, a more cooperative governmen

Leads to Interesting Places

"Declaration on the Notion of 'The Future'" And the complete manifesto from the International Necronautical Association  Two Excerpts of interest 6. To phrase it in more directly political terms: the INS rejects the idea of the future, which is always the ultimate trump card of dominant socioeconomic narratives of progress. As our Chief Philosopher Simon Critchley has recently argued, the neoliberal versions of capitalism and democracy present themselves as an inevitability, a destiny to whom the future belongs. We resist this ideology of the future, in the name of the sheer radical potentiality of the past, and of the way the past can shape the creative impulses and imaginative landscape of the present. The future of thinking is its past, a thinking which turns its back on the future. . . . . 25. A footnote on Ballard: When, in 2006, a range of writers, scientists, artists, architects, and misc. were asked to contribute a sentence each to Hans

Reading Woolf Night and Day

Night and Day , an early novel, considered

Old News, But New to Me--On Not Getting an African Nobelist

"The Laureate's Curse"

Thomas Bernhard in Translation

Considering Thomas Bernhard

Three Percent Looks at HMH in Translation

A nice analysis of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt offerings in translation And the HMH Lit in translation blog

A Revolutionary Resolution

Resolving for New Year's?  You couldn't do much better than this.

Chesterton on Film

Alec Guinness Playing Father Brown and Chesterton Himself. GKC's voice comes as something of a surprise to me.

Considering Pym?

Barbara Pym considered If you haven't read her, you may want to pick up a novel and give it a whirl.  You might be pleasantly surprised.

Poetry is Politics

Poetry Out Loud examined. via Books Inq. The best multicultural education one can get is a grounding in the classics of one's own culture--the ability to understand how literature works at a base level in a vernacular that is comprehensible to the individual.  This was my training--and though I am occasionally mystified by my forays into other cultures, I can claim that I'm occasionally mystified by my forays into my own--it is all equal.  While much should be done to redress the historic discrimination that has kept out of our hands works of quality by women and minorities--it seems a shame to make that one of the overriding criteria for a selection of work.

Black Swan

A review of Black Swan via Books Inq. Sounds interesting, when I first read about it, I thought All About Eve in Ballet or, to cite one of my very favorite all time terrible, horrible, big bad movies Showgirls Goes Classical .  Apparently more than that (as what could not be?) and intriguing--but not one I'm going to race out to see.

Requiring Some Time--Life and Meaning I and II

Life and Meaning Redux Via Books Inq. Caveat Lector--good stuff but not necessarily easy going.

Vincent Buckley on the Personality of Christ

The Strange Personality of Christ Interesting and intriguing observations.  Read it!  Read them!

"Gods Must Die to Live"

C. S. Lewis on Pagan Gods and otherwise via Books Inq.

Shakespeare's Sonnets

Reading Shakespeare's Sonnets One that I must have--but know I sha'n't find in my library--any generous spirits want to send it to me? Ha!  Thought not.

Rome v. Bilbilis

Martial's Latin with multiple English renditions.  

Dickens's Great Book

Great Expectations in all the myriad forms

In Memoriam: Denis Dutton

Dennis Dutton One Dennis Dutton Two--A TED Talk

Forcing Oneself to Face the Blank Page

Writing Naked, Superglue, and the programmed Freedom for eight hours of sanity.

Twelve Books of 2010

Twelve Books of 2010 Agreement on A Fine Balance, East of Eden, and The Imperfectionists, partial agreement with caveat on Insignificant Others.   Agreement on the merits, but not necessarily on all aspects of the analysis (a notable demurral on the interpretation of The Imperfectionists --but then, a book well-written admits of many possible views.)

"And Now for Something Completely Different. . . "

The Mummies perform Justine live From what little one can make out of melody and lyrics, one assumes that this is Durrell's Justine not DeSade's--although from the assault on the ears, one could easily infer the latter as well.

Why Books Still Matter

The Lost Art of Reading --Why Books Still Matter Sometimes, it seems, we go out of our way to try to show that something we enjoy or appreciate still matters, and yet the attempt in itself almost makes itself redundant.  Of course it matters, but we're preaching to the choir, for the only person likely to read a book about why books and reading matter is a person who is already convinced that they do.  Such a manifesto is unlikely to persuade the nonreader, because said person won't pick it up.  So, it is interesting.  But whatever adds dignity, vision, peace, and harmony to human life matters--and certainly reading CAN do that, even if it does not always.

The Fallen Angels Do Not Weep

"Just Like the Rain, I'll Always Be Falling. . . " A delightful couple of lines: "I holp no palmers whon thot thay bay seck; No elvysh poppets twang may turvy rhyme; Their ferney hawls I longen for to wreck" I don't want to call them mock-medieval because the person composing them certainly has the credentials to produce a rounded medieval rhyme.  Nevertheless, the ringing Chaucerian laughter of the last line, which echoes that "thanne longen folkes to goon on pilgrimage// and palmeres for to seken straugne strondes"  from the Prologue to the Canterbury Tales certainly marks an allusiveness worth examining.

One of the Great and Neglected Golden Age Mystery Authors

Shelf Love discovers Michael Innes Highlights of his work (for me) consist of Hamlet, Revenge!, Lament for a Maker, Hare Sitting Up , and Silence Observed --although all of them are quite good in a quiet, English, golden-age way.

"All Our Joy Is Enough"

Geoffrey Scott--"All Our Joy is Enough"  Lovely.

A Novel Around Tristan and Isolde

The Metropolitan Case a novel with Tristan and Isolde at the center. As one who learned to love Wagner early on in life, this sounds fascinating.  I'm given to understand that Wagner, like Lovecraft, Poe, and some others (perhaps even Mozart) is a taste acquired early on, and after a certain age, while appreciation may set in, true love is lost to one who hasn't already fallen.

Magazines Less Digital?

Magazines less digital?  I don't think so, but here's one who does.

Another Review of Bound to Last

Another review of Bound to Last. See my own, here.

Picture Perfect Paris

Picture Perfect Paris--looks wonderful

Greg Schultz on Craft in Fiction

Craft in Fiction via Brandywine Books

Beginning our Farewells to the Year

John Clare's "The Old Year"

Hessel v. Houellebecq

And the winner is French Resistance Author Stéphane Hessel

Kindle Dethrones Potter

Amazon's best-selling item EVER?  The Kindle

Literary Themed New Year's Eve Dinner Menus

Yep--literary themed menus redux

Beautiful and (for those not caught in it) Amusing

Time-Lapse Snowstorm

How to Lose a Fond Memory

Losing a fond memory revisiting childhood reading.

Naguib Mahfouz considered

The Palace Walk reviewed

"I'm gonna send them two-by-two"

Review of the year in lists of two

For the Snow-Bound

John Greenleaf Whittier's "Snow-Bound" for the snow-bound.

Gratitude redux

Life itself is the gift. . . gratitude in focus Later, via Books Inq. Living Gratefully

Another View of Less-Than-Perfect

The Imperfectionists reviewed My own review is here.

A Sound-Byte from Gaddis

No matter how little, it is always worth hearing from Franzen's bête noire --William Gaddis

The Rosetta Stone

Try to ignore the "Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade" feeling of some of the narration.

Orson Welles Twice

Freedom River Les Miserables

Facing Night

Elie Wiesel's Night examined A powerful novel--spare, taut, uncompromising.  Truly one of the essentials--perhaps best balanced by a does of Victor Frankl's Man's Search for Meaning or perhaps Imre Kertesz's Fatelessness (if you're made of sterner stuff than am I).

Five E-Book Trends

Summarized Five E-Book Trends the full monty

More on Full Dark, No Stars

I have been thinking over a couple of ideas that cropped up while reading the book.  I propose to discuss two here: why, exactly, I found "Fair Extension" as disturbing as I did and Stephen King's disingenuous distinctions. Let's start with disingenuous distinctions.  Mr. King states in the afterward something to the effect that literary fiction is ultimately about extraordinary people in ordinary events and that he has ever fashioned his fiction from ordinary people facing extraordinary events.  Neither half of this generalization is true although one understands the underlying distinction he is trying to make.  Let's start with the first half--extraordinary people in ordinary times.  In the course of a blog entry, it isn't possible to consider every case of literary fiction; however, let's just take a few.  Let us consider for a moment Leopold Bloom.  In what way can we say that Mr. Bloom is an extraordinary person--what attributes does he have that ma

Martian Sunset and Phobos in Transit

Martian Sunset and Phobos in Transit Eclipse, while probably technically correct, seems strong for a body that would never fully block even the tiny Martian sun.  But interesting watching nevertheless.

Poem of the Week--Grevel Lindop

"My Grandmother's Opal"

Gratitude as a Way of Life

Gratitude as a Way of Life One of the key components to happiness in life is the ability to be grateful for what we have--not in comparison to others, not with respect to some place we would like to be--but here and now being thankful for what is in our lives.  It is, at times, very difficult because our thoughts are clouded by disordered desires.  But gratitude helps to align those desires, put them in perspective, and order our living accordingly. And another via Books Inq.

A Conversation with Father James Schall S. J.

Advent Conversation via Books Inq. Fr. Schall is well-known for his writing about literature (particularly G. K. Chesterton and other such) as well as other Catholic Matters--he's a favorite of mine for many things.

"Sky for Roof, Mountains for Walls"

A lovely poem by Andrew Young

Confused by Bolano? Join the Club.

The Savage Detectives reviewed

LoA Story of the Week--"Horsefeathers Swathed in Mink"

"Horsefeathers Swathed in Mink"

Elegantly Old School

"Elegantly Old School" Or how to revive common courtesy and knit society back together again.  What was once common courtesy is now a rare and somewhat precious (in both senses of the word) thing.  I think about the rules we were taught for writing letters--and then I see how we commonly do e-mails.  The address line is determined to be salutation enough.  If we leave comments, we rarely trouble ourselves to acknowledge the individual behind them.  I know the electronic is metaphor for the new conversation in which we commonly do not acknowledge the speaker--but then, because we are present and evidently attentive, there is little cause to. Courtesy, acknowledging the presence of one another, saluting the spark of the divine that travels within each one of us, is the stuff of which civil society is made--and it isn't a set of elaborate rules about whether or not one is required to wear elbow-length gloves or use the fish fork before the ice-cream knife (although tho

How True Grit Made the Best Seller Lists

How True Grit hit the big time (first time around) I read this book a long, long time ago and remember really loving it--not being able to read it fast enough.  I guess it was one of the first generation of YA fiction.  I'm not certain I would find it so compellingly readable now--but I'm told the new film clings more closely to the contours of the book, and that comes as welcome news.

Harry Potter Actress Threatened with Honor Killing

Harry Potter Actress Threatened with Honor Killing via North Face What is a shame is that a small number of practitioners of a faith, any faith, should so color our perception of the faith as a whole.  I know that as a Christian, I'm not particularly fond of abortion clinic bombers, cults in the style of David Koresh, or even (in a much different vein) a great many televangelists--all of these detract from the dignity of a truly noble and humanizing faith.  So, too, with these stories as they emerge.  I'm glad they emerge to cast light on what should not be left in darkness and so exemplify and spotlight what ought to change; however, it saddens me to think that as a result a great many will have reinforced conceptions, misconceptions, and prejudices about a system of belief. 

Full Dark, No Stars--Stephen King

I received Mr. King's latest opus as a Christmas gift and finished it this morning. The book lives up to the title, and one can only hope that it serves as a form of therapy or hope for Mr. King, for if not, the darkness is very dark indeed. For the most part, it is fairly standard King fare, rats (hearkening back to very early work in his first short story collection, which in turn hearkens back to H. P. Lovecraft's "The Rats in the Walls"), a tale of rape, near-murder and revenge, a story about a marriage--with secrets, and a Needful Things extension, which is, perhaps the ugliest and most deeply disturbing story in the book. Indeed, it was this tale that actually caused a gut-churning nausea--not because of the details--which, in fact, were mild in the realm of Kingian detail, but the very concept of the story was deeply disturbing to me.  It truly exemplified Roethke's famous line, "Dark, dark my light and darker my desire." All  of the storie

Long List of Jewish Books of the Year

Long list of best Jewish Books of the year. And a comment on the list

Advent Ghost Stories

"The Night After Christmas"   There are several that you may want to take in after you read this one.

One of My Heroes: Francis Collins

Francis Collins Interviewed via Books Inq.

A Christmas Poem

The Burning Babe St. Robert Southwell As I in hoary winter's night stood shivering in the snow, Surprised I was with sudden heat which made my heart to glow ; And lifting up a fearful eye to view what fire was near, A pretty babe all burning bright did in the air appear ; Who, scorchëd with excessive heat, such floods of tears did shed As though his floods should quench his flames which with his tears were fed. Alas, quoth he, but newly born in fiery heats I fry, Yet none approach to warm their hearts or feel my fire but I ! My faultless breast the furnace is, the fuel wounding thorns, Love is the fire, and sighs the smoke, the ashes shame and scorns ; The fuel justice layeth on, and mercy blows the coals, The metal in this furnace wrought are men's defilëd souls, For which, as now on fire I am to work them to their good, So will I melt into a bath to wash them in my blood. With this he vanished out of sight and swiftly shrunk away, And straight I callëd unto

The Scorch Trials--James Dashner

The Scorch Trials is a young adult novel, follow-up to The Maze Runner .  While the puzzle and quest are neither as intricate nor as interesting as in the first book, the systematic and unremitting cruelty of WICKED continues. The teens from The Maze Runner are forced out into the Scorch to cross one hundred miles of desert in two weeks.  The stretch leads past a city of abandoned people--quarantined victims of The Flare, called Cranks, in various states of psychological and physical collapse.  And of course, if that were not enough, other elements are stacked up against the success of the trial. The story is high energy and charges along at a good pace, though there are elements about it that would cause me not to recommend it for most young people.  They'll find it themselves, surely, and they don't need my advice about what is good for them.  However, as an adult gift-giver, these would not be in my long list of literature for young adults--this set in particular because

Christmas Greetings to All!

A day early, but as I don't plan to be on tomorrow to extend these seasonal greetings--a favorite carol: Noel nouvelet, Noel chantons ici, Devotes gens, crions a Dieu merci! Chantons Noel pour le Roi nouvelet, Noel! Chantons Noel pour le Roi nouvelet, Noel nouvelet, Noel chantons ici! L'ange disait! pasteurs partez d'ici! En Bethleem trouverez l'angelet. Chantons Noel pour le Roi nouvelet, Noel! Chantons Noel pour le Roi nouvelet, Noel nouvelet, Noel chantons ici! En Bethleem, etant tous reunis, Trouverent l'enfant, Joseph, Marie aussi. Chantons Noel pour le Roi nouvelet, Noel! Chantons Noel pour le Roi nouvelet, Noel nouvelet, Noel chantons ici! Bientot, les Rois, par l'etoile eclaircis, A Bethleem vinrent un matinee. Chantons Noel pour le Roi nouvelet, Noel! Chantons Noel pour le Roi nouvelet, Noel nouvelet, Noel chantons ici! L'un partait l'or; l'autre l'encens bem; L'etable alors au Paradis semblait. Chantons N

For the Catholic Taoist

For the Catholic Taoist--and I thought I was the only one.

Larkin on Snow

"Your Life Walking into Mine"

The PoMo Drops Off the Deep End Again

Or so it sounds from this review of Stanley Fish's How to Write a Sentence

Year's Best American Novel

Year's Best American Novel

A Considerable List of Notables

via A Commonplace Blog, a considerable list of the year's notable books

Some Religion for Christmas

Some Religion for Christmas via Books Inq.

Ted Chiang

Ted Chiang interviewed

Favorite Books of the Year

Another list, and one with some interesting entries-- Favorite books of the year. via Books Inq.

Seamus Heaney Considered

Seamus Heaney Reviewed by Joseph Bottum via Books Inq.

Personal, but Really, Really Lovely

A personal thanks to the blogger at Zen Leaf for sharing her "Anniversary."

Triffids reconsidered

John Wyndham's unread best seller "I really got hot when Janette Scott fought a triffid that shoots poison and kills. . . "

Season's Readings

"I Sing of a Maiden" Little Women

Literary Encounters a L'Australia

Literary Encounters a L'Australia

Book Munch Book of the Year

A somewhat disappointing list and a very disappointing winner. If that's the best of the year, I would have to mourn for the state of literature that should have this at the apex.

Winter Solstice Lunar Eclipse

Winter Solstice Lunar Eclipse video Flying home last evening, I was privileged to see the ochre full moon reflecting off of the water on Florida's east coast.  It was glorious, gorgeous, wonderful, and mysterious.  So, beautiful.  I missed this eclipse, not realizing that it was to happen--so this video is a wonderful "catch-up."

Amy Hempel Interviewed

Hempel on Lish and Hannah

More Solstice Celebration

With haiku, poetry, and aphorism

Net Neutrality Not Neutrality

On Net Neutrality

Wallace Stevens Plays in the Snow

"The Snowman"

Achebe's Achievement

Things Fall Apart considered Along with Nectar in a Seive, Things Fall Apart was one of the few "multicultural books" to which I was exposed in my early formal education. It is my contention that a thorough grounding in the pale patriarchy's canon made possible for me to access multicultural reading (take a look at the sidebar).  All of that said, this is one of those titles that deserve again and again a place within the canon of great works.

More from Moore

Brian Moore: Lies of Silence

"Solstice Song"

"Solstice Song" Celebrating that shortest of days--the "beginning of winter"  though many have had it well-begun for some weeks now.

Critique of Criminal Reason--Michael Gregorio

NOTE:  R/T, Bea, Ron, you may not want to read what follows the break if you plan to read the book.  While I will try to be discrete, it may prove impossible to discuss the book without giving away some sense of it. I saw that Fred had recommended this to R/T, and being something of a reader of mysteries, I thought I would take it up myself.  Let me start unabashedly.  Despite some problems I had with the book, which I'll detail below, overall, I enjoyed it tremendously. The story:  A young magistrate from Nowhere, Germany is summoned by the king to Königsberg to investigate a series of murders that has the town terrorized.  On the even of possible Napoleonic invasion, many officials are convinced that these are the work of terrorists, designed to undermine the morale of the town and make it easy pickings for Napoleon's forces.  As our intrepid investigator looks deeper into the crimes, they begin to proliferate and he finds. . . well, let's not go there. Possibly one

Not Your Mother's Narnia

Sarah Palin is reading C. S. Lewis, and, predictably being attacked for it This WSJ article speaks of one of the main themes of Dawn Treader--the importance of reading the right books, including fiction. Posted from my iPad while waiting for a commuter flight to Miami--don't know how much more I'll be able to get to today.

An Atheist Looks at the Good of Faith

An Atheist Looks at the Good of Faith via Books Inq.

Brief Biographies

Brief Biographies of those who left too soon. Including my second favorite composer: Felix Mendelssohn.  (My favorite in the realm--Claude Debussy).

A Professor to HIs Students: On Creative Writing

On Creative Writing What more recommendation can you have than this beginning: TO: My ungrateful students RE: An inspirational letter Oh, read it anyway. You may not need this postscript as much as I need to give it to you.

Treasures from the Vatican Library

Treasures from the Vatican Library--a slideshow

"Like A Bad Lobster in a Dark Cellar"

Reviewing Dickens's Christmas Tales

Poem of the Week: Thomas Traherne

"Shadows in the Water" Thomas Traherne gave us the Centuries of Meditations, which were, by my recollection one of those "lost" and refound collections.  Worth your attention and careful reading.

Another Seasonal Read

Secunda Pastorum This one sounds utterly fascinating.

Countee Cullen on the Nativity

Christus natus est One of the great crimes of the twentieth century is the virtual disappearance of Countee Cullen from the record of its poetry.  The power, integrity, and beauty of his opus is worth looking for and looking into.  A few years back a Collected Poems was published--I think it is out of print, but it's worth picking up if you should find a copy.

30 Dumb Inventions

30 Dumb Inventions of the Twentieth Century via Books Inq.  and Paul Davis on Crime

Why Euphemism?

Euphemania reviewed This sounds like one of those really interesting books I would never pick up if not recommended by so redoubtable a source as Biblioklept, with whom I do not agree on everything, but whose wide-ranging and eclectic interests never fail to intrigue--I have found many, many good things to read and see through the blog.

Barbara Pym: Because It's in My Reading Stack

Excellent Women reviewed I hope we see a reevaluation and reemergence of Ms. Pym whose works I have long admired from afar and have only recently begun to explore close-up.

An Update on Mistry's Masterpiece

Underbelly provides us with an interesting look into the world that Mistry so superbly chronicled in his (to date) masterpiece A Fine Balance . Do yourself and the world a favor--if you have not yet read it, pick up Mistry's powerful, humane, beautiful, and terrible masterpiece and read it.  Internalize it, and then act upon it.  This is the way the world is, despite Ms. Greer's denial of it.

A Tribute to Captain Beefheart

Captain Beefheart (RIP) , whose magnum opus Trout Mask Replica , occupied many (far too many) of my college hours seeking first to understand, then to decide whether or not I liked it, then to figure out how it had ever made it out into the world of music at all given the less that liberal allowances of the recording industry even at that time. Later: F rank at Books Inq.  has rounded up a number of tributes

On the Problem of Evil

Evil as It Appears to Atheists and Theists from which I derive the quotation du jour: " Metaphysics is the finding of bad reasons for what we believe upon instinct, but to find these reasons is no less an instinct. "  F. H. Bradley

Consider then the Rubaiyat. . .

Fred looks, in some detail, at Quatrain XXXV--very much worth a peek.

Traveling with Edith Wharton

In Morocco reviewed I note this book with particular delight because, until today, I was in complete ignorance of it.  Now I can delight in looking forward to an Edith Wharton of which I had been unaware.

LoA--Story of the Week--Mark Twain

The Christmas Fireside (for Good Little Boys and Girls) Knowing as I do Mr. Twain, I doubt I shall read this until well after the Christmas season--but for those for whom the Twainian brand of cynicism comes as a restorative, I offer LoA's seasonal offering.

Bound to Last Sean Manning (ed.)

The wonderful folks at Da Capo books offered me a review copy of one of their most recent, and, after all, who am I to turn down a free book--I took them up on the offer and I'm pleased that I did. Bound to Last: 30 Writers on Their Most Cherished Book is an unusual volume.  It's comprised of a series of thirty essays about, predictably books.  But this is really about books, not content, not story, not literature.  And as a result some unusual volumes find their way into the collection.  For example, Rabih Alameddine highlights as his most cherished book a battered paperback edition of Harold Robbins's The Carpetbaggers . Shahrihar Mandanipour looks to a Farsi translation of Das Kapital . Victoria Patterson, not surprisingly, considering the power of her own work, looks to William Trevor: The Collected Stories .  Perhaps the most touching of all of these is Karen Green's tribute to her late husband via The Collected Stories of Amy Hempl , and perhaps it is touching be

Wow! Kevin Gave Me an Early Christmas Gift

Mr. Interpolations (with whom, I promise, I will eventually talk about Flannery O'Connor) politely requested a gift from a number of bloggers, most of whom were already on my list.  but one who was not turned out to be a real gift.  Check out Carvana de Recuerdos . Kevin from Canada Nonsuch Books Thanks Kevin, hope you like your gift when you open it.  If not, the exchange counter is open and I'm more than happy to offer something more slimming or entallating or embulking--whatever.

The Other Wilkie Collins

Wilkie Collins wrote a number of worthwhile the most famous of which are The Moonstone and The Woman in White , reviewed here. Both are worthy of the attention of anyone who appreciates Victoriana or the classic mystery.

More on Lewis

Consider then, The Last Battle

The Murse Dilemma

How to carry your iPad/minicomp Thanks TSO! Personally, I carry it is in shoulder bag that I originally bought at the Smithsonian or AMNH.  I bought it with the thought that Son might use it, but he had no interest.  But it's a great little rugged green canvas field bag with lots of places for writing implements, bottles of vinegar, chisels, (tools of the geology trade) and an ample compartment of specimen bags, tags, and or/journals, iPad, present reads.  I've used it for some time now and have occasionally given thought to the spectacle I present when I lug this thing into Church (I have the Liturgy of the Hours on the iPad).  But you know what--what other people think about you is none of your business anyway--so I lug away.

Why Narnia is NOT an Allegory

What is and why Narnia isn't

The Last Book I Loved

Andrew Holleran's Grief observed. via Mark Athitakis

Haiku of the Japanese Masters

Haiku of the Japanese Masters

Joyce Carol Oates on her collection

Joyce Carol Oates on Sourland

The Fullness of Time is Upon Us

Praying the O Antiphons You will recognize most of these if you are familiar with "O Come, O Come Emmanuel." (via Dark Speech upon the Harp)

Nabokov's Bent

A look at Bend Sinister   Warning--some spoilers.

13 Underrated Books of 2010

13 Underrated Books I haven't read many of these--but James Hynes is on my list, if only for his absurd success with The Lecturer's Tale .  However, I would put a little asterisk next to Ms. Orringer's opus and note that while I found the writing and language engaging, one member of my bookgroup (rightfully, I think) appiled Ayelet Waldman's epithet of bore-geous writing to it.  For me there was a sense of displacement in time--too much modern sensibility seemed to pervade the thoughts and actions of people in the 1930s.  It could be that the story derives from real life, there seem to be adapted elements--but even if so, it is real life that has been interpreted in the light of a completely changed culture and as a result, I never felt fully engaged because I was constantly pulled away by the tension between the story being told and the sensibility of the telling.

Two Lovely Chinese Snow Poems