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March 03, 2012


Rob Schackne

Ah Mark...but for influence wielded upon the popular imagination, a squabble with the mean-spirited TP would be as far beneath you as the Jainian microbes. (Still, a man has got to defend himself against scurrilousness.) Perhaps better is a good timely swoosh of a broad Taoist horsehair whisk, clearing the path ahead of meaningless illusion, the air before us of unseen delusions? Cheers. Keep up the great work. Rob Schackne

Raymond Cothern

Yeah. What Rob said.


First I've heard about Slate using TV reviewers for books.

That's apples and oranges. That's too bad.


It's not a bad thing to have a long memory.


Nice blog! i have another one where i speak about spanish literature, culture and places, in english. The name of my blog is In a village of La Mancha (villagemancha.blogspot.com)

Kathy U

Attacked hot fudge sundae, =) made me laugh..

Francesco Sinibaldi

Softly your memory...

Like a
luminous flower
your delicate
sadness returns
near a white

Francesco Sinibaldi


So basically novels are too trivial to get upset about. Talk about a left-handed compliment!

Francesco Sinibaldi

The first singing.

the soft wind
becomes an
that calls
the desire of
an inner

Francesco Sinibaldi


I absolutely agree with Niall.

Susan Malter

You made me smile. I am going to try to pick up a copy of Harry today.

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  • 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."


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    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.
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