Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Other people's unrequired reading

At Slate. Chris Hitchens and Neal Pollack both cite George Eliot as college faves - who knew?

Monday, November 14, 2005

No, seriously: Thomas Pynchon, call your office

As a rubbernecking spectator of l'affaire Deignan, I keep thinking this: Dude, this has got to be fodder for the 21st-century rewrite of The Crying of Lot 49. Angry academic bloggers could interpret comment boxes instead of Jacobean revenge plays, and who needs obscure stamps when one can trace down IP addresses instead?

Alexander Pope.*

* I mean the second line, not the first!

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Snippet: On poetry

David Orr, in today's NYT Book Review, reviewing an anthology by Garrison Keillor (generally favorably):
The most obvious problem with "Good Poems for Hard Times" is that it proposes that "the meaning of poetry is to give courage." That is not the meaning of poetry; that is the meaning of Scotch. The meaning of poetry is poetry.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Talk about burying the lede

In Wednesday's NYT, a story about the organ at St. Ann's and the Holy Trinity church had this amazing nugget buried deep down:
Time was unkind to Mr. Skinner [the organ's designer], who lived to see much of his work destroyed as orchestral organ music fell from fashion. Holy Trinity Church was closed in 1957 after accusations of Communist plotting in the rectory. (The case went to the United States Supreme Court, but the real climax was the spectacle of two ministers shouting dueling services one Sunday morning.) The building fell into disuse.
Commies on Montague Street, one block away from the current sites of a Chipotle, Garden of Eden, and MAC Cosmetics store? Now that's a Metro story I'd like to read.

Unrequired reading

I'm going to edit this as I go along; I won't be noting additions, but I will let you know if there are any significant deletions.

W. H. Auden, Selected Poems (especially "At the Grave of Henry James" and "In Sickness and in Health")
Malcolm Bradbury, Rates of Exchange
A. S. Byatt, "The Chinese Lobster" (in The Matisse Stories)
Peter Carey, Oscar and Lucinda
Helen DeWitt, The Last Samurai (nothing to do with Tom Cruise!)
Patrick Leigh Fermor, A Time of Gifts and Between the Woods and the Water
Jack Gilbert, Monolithos (especially "The Abnormal is Not Courage")
Vaclav Havel, Letters to Olga
Gustav Herling, Volcano and Miracle
Henry James, The Ambassadors
John Keats, Letters
Milan Kundera, Life is Elsewhere
Giuseppe di Lampedusa, The Leopard
Anthony Lane, Nobody's Perfect
Thomas Mann, The Magic Mountain
Peter Matthiessen, The Snow Leopard
Gita Mehta, A River Sutra
Czeslaw Milosz, The Captive Mind
Nancy Mitford, The Pursuit of Love
Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita and Speak, Memory
Flannery O'Connor, The Habit of Being
Thomas Pynchon, The Crying of Lot 49 (and maybe V.)
J. D. Salinger, Franny and Zooey
Henry David Thoreau, Walden
W. B. Yeats, any anthology that includes "A Dialogue of Self and Soul," "Meru," and "In Memory of Major Robert Gregory"