June 19, 2006



She apparently forgot to add "Oh, and there will be no RSS feeds."


I simply have to state that I love the wordplay on "lesser." Her blog certainly seems richer than most.


What Pete said. These look to be hand-coded pages rather than a blog. So I don't think this quite counts. Still, just about any Lesser is good Lesser.


I've been reading some of the posts around on this and I've got to say that the normally expansive/inclusive blogosphere has taken a surprisingly strait-laced view of What A Blog Must Be. I had no idea the rules had so set into stone ...

Wendy Lesser

Actually, I took down the paragraph with all those silly rules (or nonrules) after some kind member of the blogging community wrote to me and explained that I really didn't know what I was talking about. So the rest of The Lesser Blog stands, but the part that has everyone in a tizzy has now disappeared from its original location and only exists in quoted form on this and other sites. Ah, well, I guess that is the nature of the blogosphere...

all best,


Wendy, thanks for responding here and at my place. But I'm still extremely curious why you wrote those words in the first place. I've been methodically asking various print media types about why they feel so belligerent about the blogosphere (most recently, Victor Navasky) and they point the finger to us. Can we broker a detente here instead of pointing fingers and getting into a pissing match over who has the more authoritative voice? Seems to me that there's pros and cons to both forms.

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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.
  • 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."