I bow to no-one in terms of my respect for books as both objects in themselves and as a brilliant technology for storing and disseminating knowledge.
Which is why I was bit surprised to find myself, about a year ago, boxing up several hundred of my carefully maintained collection - tomes that had travelled with me from house to house, including two stints overseas - and giving them away to charity.
Something had broken the magic spell, and I suddenly found myself willing to part with what I had previously considered precious heirlooms.
And it didn’t stop there. We are in the process of moving house at the moment - so packing - and I can’t shake the feeling that there is something grotesque about having this many books, about spending this much time and money on these objects, moving them from one house to the next with all the associated costs of transport and storage involved.
Finally, will your local library lend e-books? (or can they?) A story on e-loans finally makes it to ReadWriteWeb.
Nothing in this novel sounds contrived: everything is real, everything is an illusion. The dream in which Demetrio Rota, the Buenos Aires trash collector, moves like a sleepwalker, is the dream of great literature, and its author serves it up in precise words and scenes.
When I come across these young writers it makes me want to cry. I don’t know what the future holds for them. I don’t know whether a drunk driver will run them down some night or whether all of a sudden they’ll stop writing.
If nothing like that happens, the literature of the twenty-first century will belong to Neuman and a few of his blood brothers.
"Winners are grinners while losers must hope for the Patrick White Award." He also laments the decline of the "Anglo-Australian pastoral ascendancy", of which White was representative. "The sad fact is, literature does best in aristocracy or theocracy," he says. "Democracy is the enemy of art."
From The Australian. Thanks to Kerryn G for the link.
“In fact, music is never so powerful as when it breaks down the self’s defenses. John Cage once defined it as the art of listening to other people, and it’s an idea worth living by. From time to time, subject yourself to a sound that seems to lie outside your sympathy or understanding. Investigate a genre that you think you hate. Go to a concert where you recognize the names of none of the composers. Attend an evening of traditional melodies from a country you can’t easily find on a map. If you don’t get it, read something on the Internet, wait a day or a year, and listen again. From time to time, the alien will suddenly become second nature, and you will feel a shade more free.”—
“I am not qualified to praise the food itself, although the intensity of the tastes is still here now, of ceps, nuts, berries and smoke from an Autumn menu which seemed uniquely ( to me) worthy of the seasonal name. What I can report more confidently was the Ariel performance of the man who told us what we were eating - so delicately that we hardly knew he was there except in the puff of his words. He even told us how we should eat -, how deep the spoon should dip in to the eggshell of forest things.”—Peter Stothard copes better with specials if the waiter is special-TLS blog
Via Andrew, at Hi Spirits - this issue has poetry from Lisa Gorton, Kevin Brophy, Chris Wallace-Crabbe and Maria Takolander, among others.
The cover is a painting by A. Frances Johnson, with whom I shared friends at uni without often colliding. We have remedied that situation in recent times. She has three poems also, I note, in this issue. Brava!!
“For some reason, these days, the Darling and the region beyond is captivating country to me, in a different sense than the enchantment that possessed Plorn. Even the harshness in drought is exciting – the land seems occupied by pre-European presences and its absolute colours of sky and red soil and saltbush take on endless subtleties according to the light. But then I can just relish it and travel by. Unlike the Dickens boys, I have not been required to invest my blood in it.”—Travel: Dickens down under | Travel | The Observer Tom Keneally writing in The Observer. The story of Plorn Dickens is affecting.
“Thomas’s solidarity with the Dannys of this world sometimes drove him to an infuriating, if patently authentic, modesty towards his own work. Asked once to describe it, his reply was at once bang-on-the-money and reductive: “Chekhov with chips”. Perhaps as a result of this downplaying, critics of Thomas tend to be swayed by the chips side of the equation, forgetting his careful and accurate self-identification with the Russian master of obliquity.”—
By Sarah Bakewell. I received this from PR on Twitter, and have already retweeted. A much kinder take on the matter than we are used to down here, where Montaigne and bloggers are nevr mentioned in the same article, let alone the same sentence.
“I am not sure whether the novel is written for our convenience, but it is probably written for our satisfaction. That is what readers complain about with short stories, that they are not “satisfying”. They are the cats of literary form; beautiful, but a little too self-contained for some readers’ taste. Short stories are, however, satisfying to write, because they are such achieved things. They become themselves even as you write them: they end once they have attained their natural state.”—Anne Enright on the Irish short story in The Guardian
it's not called the green-eyed monster for nothing
I’m grateful to Daniel Wood who has posted a link to William Dalrymple’s Times review of the letters of Chatwin which is far less vitriolic than Rothwell’s nasty little piece in the Oz. You can read all about them both here, as Daniel weighs it all up. I just read the Dalrymple and cried a bit, then wondered again why Rothwell believes he can speak of Chatwin’s literary gifts as ‘gossamer thin’. RUDE.