July 28, 2009


Dave Lull

Booker winner Stanley Middleton died on July 25:


ed, reluctantly

All of these writers are cowards. None of these books is as successful in parsing the human condition as my own novel, which hasn't been published because I haven't been able to finish it as I have been far too busy making esoteric short films about New York, parsing the nomenclature of hate that spawned the fetid seed that is Verizon and forced into torturing publicists who know not of my genius and thus treat me like some common wage slave. One day these Booker writers will know my power, too. Per chance, writers, ask how I have crushed the likes of John Freeman (I should be editor of Granta!) and the NBCC (I should be President of the NBCC!)and every newspaper that has decided working with me is akin to working with a rabid penguin (I have pissed off every editor in America that used to publish me! Cowards!). My talent is the cross they all carry, a cross they cannot carry, my weight so thick and their cowardice so puerile. In only a few days I will once again announce a pledge drive to keep my site afloat, a pledge drive to keep literacy afloat, a pledge drive to fund my fight against every writer who has managed to publish something other than his own childish rantings at writers who are far more successful and far more interesting than I. And then, the next day, after the pledge drive has completed, I shall retire from blogging forever. Or I will announce that my blog is now a magazine with many contributers who don't seem to contribute. And then the Booker shall know my wrath! Cowards!

Lawrence Tate

Ah, ed, you're Tom McGonigle (aka abcofreading.blogspot) with a sense of humor.


Great Man Booker list. Especially pleased to see 'Me Cheeta' on there. Wbqonline.com has recent interviews with and features by or about 4 or the nominated authors. Worth a read if the you find the list interesting

Nigel Beale

Interesting: coetzee's book isn't even for sale to the public yet...September 3 in England...who knows when over here.


Coetzee's Summertime = 12/24/09.

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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."