February 14, 2011


Sarah Norman

God, I can't even imagine having so many books! I read a lot, but curiously, I dont' really like owning books - I find it oppressive for some reason. But I do envy you the chance to just run your idea down a shelf - sounds fabulous. I find my blog is kind of like my bookshelf for that reason nowadays


TEV, a book you ought read (I know, I know, coals to Newcastle) is Susan Hill's "Howards End is on the Landing". She deals with the "problem" you describe in an enchanting way.


The Kindle is really changing how I think of my library. I'm like you - with a huge physical library I've lugged around my whole life. And I'm glad I have. But I'm wondering if in the future my library will fit on a single device...I wonder what Walter Benjamin would say about that?


I love the title, Gary - just ordered the book. Thanks!

Niall - Or Borges, for that matter?


I can relate, though I'm sure I don't have one tenth the books you have. I'm in Europe going to University and I've brought quite a few of my books with me (collected a few more while I'm here, too) but even more are in boxes in storage back in the States... my parents moved in my absence and now they're even more beyond my reach...

It's a sad state of affairs, to be sure.


Sorry, missed Niall's comment originally but couldn't refrain from posting again:

My father and I joke about SD cards one day being able to hold the entire Library of Congress... and how easy it would be to lose! Set it down for a second on your desk, put it in a pocket with a hole...


Niall/TEV - Or Kluge? I can see the short story now: "The Pocket-Sized Library".


I find I use the Kindle mainly for non-fiction. I still somehow can't see myself reading literature on it. Though I'm tempted to download "2666", if only because in book form it's so damn unwieldly.


Not sure though, Gary, given Mark's appreciation of Carey and Coetzee, both of whom we claim as Australian authors, that he would appreciate Susan Hill's rather glib dismissal of Australian literature on p. 70.


P.S. I bought it for the title too!

Susan Messer

I wonder what happened to your father's collection. That's the thing about collections . . . what is to become of them. They take up so much space, collect dust, need to be packed and unpacked when/if one moves or dies.

Lauren Cerand

My friend A. invited me out to the Hamptons to a thing JS is doing in April at the Parrish Art Museum: http://www.parrishart.org/upcoming.asp?id=378 So I'll likely skip the Paris Review do, as now it looks as though it'll be far less scenic than my current option. Wish you could come! Do I ever.


Melboumegirl, I often disagreed with Susan Hill (can't appreciated Jane Austen? Heresy!). I loved the book nonetheless. I thought it one of the most charming books I've read in years.

Ali Palmer

Your Banville collection is making me salivate!

Alysson Oliveira

I love pictures of bookshelves. Yours (pictures and shelves) are very nice!:)

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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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