May 20, 2008



That's so sad!!! Now we'll just have to go see 'Indy' again... I hope you feel better and get to come visit us soon.


Feel better.

Here, among others, is Banville on his favorite obscure book:



Thanks, Plonk. Appreciate the stand-in ...

D, I only add books that I really LOVE to that list, so it does get updated ... rarely ... but the advantage is that chosen books do stay up there for a long time and seem to imprint themselves a bit on my regular readers. That said, I'm planning an addition, Cynthia Ozick's Dictation, when I'm all better ...


I was so disappointed when I got the email from Olsson's today! I hope you feel better soon -- and that you make it up to DC one of these days.


Honestly, canceling was one of the hardest things I've ever done, and it broke my heart to do so - waited til the last minute to see if I might recover enough but no dice. I will definitely get myself out to DC, perhaps for the paperback release ... Thanks, Kelly.


Perhaps in your convalescence you can enjoy the rollicking television show Farmer Wants a Wife!


Aha, the classic symptoms of a man working himself into sickness. No guilt for you, sir! You rest up!

daniel olivas

Mark, I have two words for you: chicken soup. Feel better!


So sorry to hear you are sick, Mark, and I hope you get to make it out to Portsmouth sometime in the future.


So sorry to hear this-- rest up and feel better soon.

The comments to this entry are closed.


  • 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."