November 27, 2006



Nice to see JL offer some props to Charyn, who seems to be continually ignored by both literary and mystery crowds alike, and to add his stamp of approval to "We Have Always Lived in the Castle", which is one of the most perfect little short novels I've read, right up there with Pop 1280--but maybe I lump those two together because I discovered them both at the same time.

C.P.L. Henshaw

I have some letters in my storage room that Daniel Fuchs wrote me '88-'90 - good man, possibly a great writer. As I wrote someplace (though can't recall if it was published) his last novel West Of The Rockies is somewhat akin to Blanchot on a visit to Palm Springs. And Low Company throws down, to use skate-speak of old. And Don Carpenter - a friend of Brautigan, if I ain't mistaken - deserves a second look too.


Holy shit: Don Carpenter. I haven't thought of him in 30 years. Nor has anyone else, apparently. But he was great, true enough. A little bio:


You're right, CPL - he was a friend of Brautigan's:


On the same site, there's a great review by Carpenter of Brautigan's Trout Fishing in America from 1967

I happened across Carpenter in the late 70s, when I noticed that Brautigan's short story collection, Revenge of the Lawn, was dedicated to him.

BTW Mark, apparently you broke some news with this little interview (which was terrific, btw):


The comments to this entry are closed.


  • 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."


  • The Bookshop by Penelope Fitzgerald


    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


    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."