June 29, 2004


Jimmy Beck

I loved U&I and The Fermata. Went to hear NB read a couple months ago from "A Box of Matches" and found even 20 minutes of that to be "eye-crossingly dull," to quote a favorite critic. Maybe this book will be the return to form, though I am deeply skeptical.


Mark: Add me to Beck's partisanship. And why does no one mention the extraordinary "Double Fold" when talking about Baker? Haven't read "Matches" yet, but I can only imagine the details Baker will dwell upon with this book.


Nicholson Baker
Dear Sir:
I speak English-Chinese-Japanese and Spanish.
From the incident below, I will provide information for the new movie called
Juliet must die – Taiwan’s Miracle
Juliet indicates our female vice-president. She presently is the only person in the ruling party who insists in set up a special investigation committee to find the truth because she knew that she WAS the primary target in that 03/19 shooting. Without finding out eh truth, the shooting will happen again on her…

I have the complete story for the novel or movie. We may find the same people who look like the main roles from China. What do you think my idea?

Leo Ma
[email protected]

More than 60,000 protest Chen Shui-bian in Taipei
More than 60,000 supporters of Taiwan's opposition party protested Saturday to demand an independent inquiry into an election-eve assassination attempt on Chen Shui-bian that they say swung the poll.

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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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