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June 16, 2010

Comments

Ward

I didn't particularly like it either, although it did have a grim fascination that pulled me along, waiting to see what poor Kathy and her Hailsham classmates would have plucked from their young bodies. A genre leap to creepy thrillerdom for Ishiguro, whose Remains of the Day remains, because of its English butler, among the saddest, most human of novels. His, a deeper, more permanent wound near the end of the story than those cuts of body parts.

Paul Lamb

Tranes?

TEV

Wow, that's pretty funny. Am a HUGE Coltrane fan, was listening to Naima while typing. Thus "Tranes" ... Sorta tempted to leave it as is.

tod goldberg

Love Harley Jane. One of the best humans ever.

Niall

I agree completely about the novel. It was well told, but also very obvious. A problem when lit writers dip into genre. THey often don't know they're ploughing no new ground.

Oh, and welcome back. How did the teaching go?

Lawrence Tate

OK. For once and for all, as the man from Eltingville would say, I demand to know: is Harley Jane any kin to Roman Kozak, the Billboard staffer who wrote a book about CBGB and died young in '88? (She's not mentioned in his NY Times obit, but is she a cousin or somethin'?)

esaúl

Saramago died.

Drew

^ What?

Ward

Saramago, despite his age, wrote with amazing energy and passion, an inspiration for those of us still trying.

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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."