April 27, 2009


Colin Marshall

Saw you around from a distance a few times and meant to say hello, but you looked to be otherwise engaged. (I always hate to be That Guy who barges in on a conversation already in progress.) It's just as well; I'd only have bugged you about when you'll next have a book out that I can interview you about!


Wow! I have been surfing the Web for video/audio feed from the panels. Will you post once you have a link? Thanks.

Emerson Zora Hamsa


I would really like to see Michael Silverblatt attend the Miami book fair in 2010.


I was able to escape Equator with a volume of Virginia Wolfe's letters, $15.

Kit Stolz

Speaking of inept moderators...Elizabeth Taylor at the "Going Long" (forget the subtitle, but the idea was that a lot of reporting these days is being done in book-length form, by panelists such as Dan Baum, on New Orleans, Barry Siegel, formerly the long story guy for the LA Times, etc.).

Taylor not only utterly failed to focus the conversation, but even forgot to mention the books recently published by a couple of panelists. Fortunately the panelists, esp Baum, were able to rise above the mediocrity.

Sorry to sound harsh, but I was far from the only person in the audience to complain about this moderator. The panelists themselves appeared to wince more than once at her pointless meandering.


Thank you for revisiting my request for video links (on your post of the 22nd). Why is it that they are not available? I think you ought to approach them with our requests and emphasise the economic benefits as per your semi-ironic "Target" idea. Or you could simply send them a clip from Youtube of a certain classic featuring an old timer proclaiming "There's gold in them hills!" Simple, but effective.


Does anyone have the audio/video link to this?!?

Simple responses only - please no witty comments until we have the link.


I was at the panel with Michael Silverblatt and Katherine Dunn (forgive me for having tunnel vision), and I too thought it was fantastic. One of the best panels at the festival in my opinion.

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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."


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    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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