November 12, 2010



הנה מה טוב ומה נעים

R. S. Gartman

Love the "cover".
Also love Graham Greene. He is a force! Ever since seeing Alec Guinness in "Our Man in Havana" I cannot read a Greene novel without picturing AG in the leading role. A handicap it would seem but no more so than reading with a British accent...

I would love to take your course but I am on the East coast, trapped in the purgatory of construction unemployment and forced to write without the benefit of intelligent direction.


M. Gartman raised an interesting point, TEV. You should do a podcast or something on novel writing. I'd subscribe.


As a writer, I have to stand in awe of Graham Greene. It's so hard in literature to touch on the "spiritual" (even that word seems crass in relation to Greene) dimension of life and not be foolish or simplistic.

Yet he does it.


Shelley: The "spiritual" side of Greene's work was the weakest aspect of his achievement. I groan every time I encounter it in his novels.


I believe the title in Hebrew translates back into English as "When Harry Met Harry".
That sounds like it could be a joke on the movie, "When Harry Met Sally". Did anybody ask you about this?


hi...I'm a big fan of the blog and just saw a nice stack of copies at the local bookstore here in Tel Aviv...looks great, congrats!

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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."