July 01, 2008



The book is a beautiful thing - I have one myself - a fine example of how these things should be done. So is your post, with information, photographs and that seasoning of fandom that makes for a top-class piece of litblogging.
Incidentally, the price from Gallery is 100 euro rather than 100 pounds, making it even more of a bargain. Spend the savings on Gallery's 'Complete Poems' of Derek Mahon. You won't regret it.


Good stuff, Mark! I hadn't known that Banville did an adaptation of Loving - what a shame it isn't online!

Steven Augustine

"How could such a culture end in such catastrophe? I'm still reading, still trying to find out."

Take it from me that reading won't answer those questions, but live here for more than five years and you're less likely to feel that you're faced with a paradox in contemplating them.

rodney p

John Banville is right -- Ackland is a wonderful actor... so it's only proper to get his name right: Joss, not Josh. I agree with him about Felstiner, but I wouldn't want to forget Michael Hamburger's translations, either.


Oh, much as I'd love to own it, 100 euro is a touch steep for me right now. Does anyone know if Gallery Press has any intentions to put out an edition similar to its Long Lankin, Birchwood, etc. editions?

Bill Bales

I invite you to read my recently posted blog "The 'Leap'" at http://beyondheidegger.blogspot.com. It might clear a few things up for you, add to any confusion you may have, or you may not have any time to read it. Read it anyway, I think you will enjoy it.

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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."