July 21, 2008


John Shannon

If the Times had a trade union--the Newspaper Guild, in fact, my once union--the remaining few journalists could perhaps strike right now and maybe--just maybe--bring Zell to his knees. But they don't have one, and there is no other countervailing force under capitalism to this kind of rapaciousness. Get used to the death spiral. Zell is an idiot who is not going to yield an inch. And this is all going on in order to pay his $1 billion a year INTEREST on his leveraged buyout. It's a sickness, and it will destroy our culture.

Colin Marshall

On the plus side, this is a chance for some smart entrepreneur to found a Los Angeles Review of Books.


Mr Shannon: I'll say it already has destroyed a culture, but the news from the front says they're building a new one too. This loss is deplorable, but certainly not surprising since i've got oodles of more content than i even need right now. It's really a comment on class, which serves to leave out those people unable to consume their infotainment online. Those that have the leisure such as i do to read on the 'net are finding plenty of reviews. The model of cellulose is unsupportable during this "economic readjustment."

I really like my newspaper, and i miss what they used to be but i am trying to face facts. Where do all the little nicks and cuts lead to--complete exsanguination?

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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.
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