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April 28, 2006

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» I See Book People from Cosmic Variance
Well, Im recovering from an excellent hike up Mount Wilson with the USC Neurobiologists earlier today, so while I do that, Ill tell you about last night. Recall that the LA Times Book Festival is happening this weekend. I came closer t... [Read More]

Comments

Cheryl Morgan

So, they’ve got one of these women in a sexy black dress meeting the winners, and I just have to wonder why is there always a hot babe? You never see a handsome, tuxedoed square jawed type.

Never been to a Hugo ceremony, have you. Now I have to admit that our stud muffins are not always the lean and athletic specimens of manhood that a girl might want escorting her - we are, after all, rely on volunteers rather than hiring people from modeling agencies - but we do generally try to be enlightened and egalitarian.

Denise Hamilton

I too found the award presenter babe in the clingy black dress extremely bizarre. And her biceps scared me, frankly. I do think that a good book can be be sexy and hot, the intellectual and literary equivalent of the sexy black dress, but somehow this gal just seemed very out of place, like she stumbled mistakenly off the set a Wheel of Fortune taping or an infomercial for plastic surgery. Makes you long for Vanna White.

The woman who accepted the award for Robert Littell in Mystery by the way, is Norma Barzman, who is in her 80s. She was a blacklisted screenwriter who fled with her husband to Paris in 1949 to avoid being subpoena'd by the McCarthy redbaiters. Her breezy yet serious memoir, The Red and the Blacklist, published by Nation Books, is a fascinating read.

- Denise

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TEV DEFINED


  • The Elegant Variation is "Fowler’s (1926, 1965) term for the inept writer’s overstrained efforts at freshness or vividness of expression. Prose guilty of elegant variation calls attention to itself and doesn’t permit its ideas to seem naturally clear. It typically seeks fancy new words for familiar things, and it scrambles for synonyms in order to avoid at all costs repeating a word, even though repetition might be the natural, normal thing to do: The audience had a certain bovine placidity, instead of The audience was as placid as cows. Elegant variation is often the rock, and a stereotype, a cliché, or a tired metaphor the hard place between which inexperienced or foolish writers come to grief. The familiar middle ground in treating these homely topics is almost always the safest. In untrained or unrestrained hands, a thesaurus can be dangerous."

SECOND LOOK

  • The Bookshop by Penelope Fitzgerald

    Bs

    Penelope Fitzgerald's second novel is the tale of Florence Green, a widow who seeks, in the late 1950s, to bring a bookstore to an isolated British town, encountering all manner of obstacles, including incompetent builders, vindictive gentry, small minded bankers, an irritable poltergeist, but, above all, a town that might not, in fact, want a bookshop. Fitzgerald's prose is spare but evocative – there's no wasted effort and her work reminds one of Hemingway's dictum that every word should fight for its right to be on the page. Florence is an engaging creation, stubbornly committed to her plan even as uncertainty regarding the wisdom of the enterprise gnaws at her. But The Bookshop concerns itself, finally, with the astonishing vindictiveness of which provincials are capable, and, as so much English fiction must, it grapples with the inevitabilities of class. It's a dense marvel at 123 pages, a book you won't want to – or be able to – rush through.
  • The Rider by Tim Krabbe

    Rider_4

    Tim Krabbé's superb 1978 memoir-cum-novel is the single best book we've read about cycling, a book that will come closer to bringing you inside a grueling road race than anything else out there. A kilometer-by-kilometer look at just what is required to endure some of the most grueling terrain in the world, Krabbé explains the tactics, the choices and – above all – the grinding, endless, excruciating pain that every cyclist faces and makes it heart-pounding rather than expository or tedious. No writer has better captured both the agony and the determination to ride through the agony. He's an elegant stylist (ably served by Sam Garrett's fine translation) and The Rider manages to be that rarest hybrid – an authentic, accurate book about cycling that's a pleasure to read. "Non-racers," he writes. "The emptiness of those lives shocks me."