February 23, 2009



I just finished reading "Life of Pi" and am incredibly interested in how they're going to film it. I heard the book was tossed around from director to director. I think Lee will do a good job - if nothing else, he loves shooting scenery.

Stephen Balbach

The Daniyal Mueenuddin link has an extra "h" in "hhttp" which breaks it.


Thanks for your recent heads-up on the Rob Riemen book. It made a powerful argument, which mostly I agree with wholeheartedly. It has also pushed Magic Mountain up my to-be-read list.

Diane Evans

She despised them for living so much in the past, for retelling the stories of their grandparents’ land and money, and yet at the same time she felt entitled to rejoin
I was beginning to glaze over some of Daniyal's writing, until this leaped out:

"She had spoiled herself with daydreams, until her parents were afraid of her moods. She despised them for living so much in the past, for retelling the stories of their grandparents’ land and money, and yet at the same time she felt entitled to rejoin that world and nursed a grievance at being excluded from it, except as a paid companion to an old woman. Taking service in an ambiguous position with Begum Harouni was the greatest concession she had ever made to her mediocre prospects, and making this concession had only increased her determination to rise, although she had no idea how to go about it."

rowan somervville

I found out about the Commonwealth nomination from TEV -many thanks !

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."