December 19, 2007



I'd add the Scientifc Anglian to a list of must-see bookshops, but sadly it's closed. It had a tree growing out of the front of it and a pigeon nesting in the window.



Good round up. I went to Paris when I was 16 and I most remember the ice cream (?!). They had great ice cream in France!

Per the Guardian article:
The main reason for the death of criticism is how unappreciative it is of the work it describes. When criticism no longer illuminates great art, both art and criticism suffer. Dispassionate theorizing is valued. My facorite critic, Hyatt Waggoner, (American lit critic from the old days) refered to himself as "an advocate" and "one who is moved" by the Hawthorne's work. Such admissions would have no place in today's criticism, and that is too bad.


Dave Clapper

Thanks for the promo for the latest issue of SLQ. The stories in this issue really push the form of flash beautifully, I think. Jim did a terrific job.

Terry Weadock

That looks like my kind of bookstore! LOL



There's a very nice, but considerably less crammed bookshop here in Los Angeles, also called Alias. The best thing about the shop is the owner, Brian, who is a wonderful resource and a great reader.

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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."