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December 20, 2007



Ah - I highly recommend Dawn Powell to anyone who will listen, but so few do! I, too, have set aside Revolutionary Road for my holiday reading. It is high time I'm able to have a real discussion about it instead of speaking in broad outlines at parties. :-)

Have a wonderful holiday. Please say hello to Monmartre for me. Our planned trip this Spring will likely be canceled so it will be a year before we can get back to our little perch above the city.

tod goldberg

I set aside Revolutionary Road for about fifteen years and when i finally read it, this year, I thought: Well, fuck, I should have read this 15 years ago! It's an incredible novel and one I think you'll find inspiring in light of the fiction of yours I've read.


I second the love for Dawn Powell happening here in the comments, and Turn, Magic Wheel is my favorite of hers.

I have Brothers Karamazov to read over the holiday vacation thanks to your and Maud's recent postings.


I say bring the Carey but mainly because I want an early review of it.


I just flew into NYC today for my winter break and had the same feeling after shelling out an additional $50 for the weight that was added by the 20 books I had to bring home for my thesis on Blogs just like this one.

In regards to your list it sounds amazing but I have to say that for myself the last time I was in Paris I could not finish a single book, between museums, parks, and quartiers I got lost in that beautiful city. For me say hi to the Shakespeare and Co store, it’s a gem across from Notre Dame.



The bookshop in Paris that you posted a photo of the other day, Alias looks lovely. I bet you'll find some additional books there that you may want to squeeze in the carry-on.

This recent post explores a different strategy for traveling with books:



Man, I love Revolutionary Road. Easter Parade is also very very good. As is Liars in Love. Yates is so good on life-not-quite-working-out-as-planned. It's hard not to relate.... ; )


I think you will LOVE Night Train to Lisbon. Have a great trip!



Night Train to Lisbon is a must.


I also tend to pack half a library when I travel, and that habit is the one thing that made Amazon's Kindle reader somewhat appealing to me. However unpalatable the interface, the reduction it would afford me in bulk and weight might make it worth it if the price points come down. (I 'm a 104-pound weakling and hauling a ton of books around during travel--or 2-3 on a daily basis, in my spine-destroying messenger bag--is a giant pain. Literally.)


The biggest mistake on a trip to California a year back was to take a cold book by Graham Greene(The Heart Of The Matter) about exhaustion of man, alienation,etc. which is not smart when you are taking a trip of a lifetime,dying for new experiences.


I envy you reading Revolutionary Road for the first time. A classic. Happy holidays, and enjoy Paris. (The Floyd story is amazing -- thanks for that.)

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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."