April 13, 2006


Steven Augustine

Pretty funny! I must admit I laughed.

Jim Ruland

In the summer of '92 I saw Waiting for Godot performed in Irish by a company from Belfast in Galway. Estragon wore Doc Martens (of course); Vladimir resembled a tinker; Lucky was Christlike; and Pozzo wore a bowler, a sawed-off leather motorcycle jacket, and a priest's collar. I'd never read the play and didn't "understand" a word of it but it remains one of the most thrilling performances I've ever seen.

tod goldberg

A couple of years ago what is now WordTheatre did a staged reading where they read a story of mine (by Andrew McCarthy), some very old children's story (read by a rather snotty Minnie Driver) and some unpublished Samuel Beckett story (read by a very old man). Here's what I recall of the Beckett story:

"The words, the words, the words, the words..."

That was repeated about 8 dozen times during the course of the story and I swore, from that night forward, that I'd never read Beckett again unless I also had the chance to look down Minnie Driver's top as well (which is what made that reading of more interest than most)

Jim Ruland

Tod, after you die (hopefully no time soon), I'll have a washed up actor read one of your unpublished stories and we'all nod our heads together and say, "What a wanker." I guess my point is that some "tributes" do more harm than good. Go Dodgers.


Samuel Beckett is an amazing writer who lived a fascinating life. I live in Dublin and go to the college where he studied. His centenary celebrations are currently taking place in Dublin and it's really an event, so much is going on in homage to him.


Mark, that IMDB page is quite interesting. What about this doco, Rockaby, co-directed by D.A. Pennebaker, no less:

Also I rather liked the listings of Beckett as 'miscellaneous crew'. Hehe.

Thomas Taylor

No sooner there than there always --
Has this poem been published, or is it only in the hands of Beckett's biographer?

Claire Mc Manus

I am working on a documentary of the Beckett play Waiting for Godot. I came across a photo of Beckett on your blog http://marksarvas.blogs.com/elegvar/2006/04/like_much_of_th.html
and I would like to use it in the documentary we are making. Can you tell me where you sourced it from or who ownes the copyright?
Kind regards,

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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."


  • 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.
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    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."