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Niagara on the Lake, Ontario, Canada
My virtue is that I say what I think, my vice that what I think doesn't amount to much.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

The Mower

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The Mower

The mower stalled, twice; kneeling, I found
A hedgehog jammed up against the blades,
Killed. It had been in the long grass.

I had seen it before, and even fed it, once.
Now I had mauled its unobtrusive world
Unmendably. Burial was no help:

Next morning I got up and it did not.
The first day after a death, the new absence
Is always the same; we should be careful

Of each other, we should be kind
While there is still time.

- Philip Larkin

Best Thrillers of the Last 100 Years

Signature picks 16 thrillers guaranteed to keep readers on the edge of their seats and glued to the page.

Gene Smith's Sink

"In 1977, on the sidewalk outside his loft on 23rd Street in Manhattan, the 58-year-old W. Eugene Smith watched from a wheelchair as some two dozen volunteers—mostly young photography students paying homage—loaded his life’s work into two shipping trucks. Twenty-two tons of materials were packed and driven across the country to a new photography archive called the Center for Creative Photography at the University of Arizona."
From Gene Smith’s Sink: A Wide-Angle View. Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Copyright  2017 by Sam Stephenson.

Read more: Literary Hub

Turtles All the Way Down

A 1988 review of Stephen Hawking's A Brief History of Time:
Stephen Hawking opens his new book with a marvelous old anecdote. A famous astronomer, after a lecture, was told by an elderly lady, who was perhaps under the influence of Hinduism, that his cosmology was all wrong. The world, she said, rests on the back of a giant tortoise. When the astronomer asked what the tortoise stands on, she replied: ‘You’re very clever, young man, very clever. But it’s turtles all the way down.’
Read more 

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Are We All Just a Little Bit Kinsey Millhone?

One very terrible summer, I was jobless, in the wake of a breakup, and looking at the wrong side of thirty-five. “I don’t know what to do with myself,” I told a librarian friend. “Read the Kinsey Millhone mysteries,” she said. “They’re bestsellers for a reason and there’s a ton of them.”
Read more here 

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Little Pig's Ramble From Home

Jack Pig dresses up to go to town but receives his comeuppance when he discovers how pigs are "dressed" at the butcher's.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Eclipses, Comets, and Dragons in a 16th-Century Chinese Text

A manuscript compendium from China, currently available for purchase from Jonathan A. Hill, Bookseller, records prognostications related to astronomic phenomena, including the possible meanings of eclipses.

More here

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Writers React To Trump's Defense Of White Supremacists

Writers have been tweeting their feelings about President Trump's remarks on the violence in Charlottesville in which he defended the "Unite the Right" protesters.

J.K. Rowling described the speech as an "abomination."

Stephen King said Trump "must be removed" and called him an "obscene man."

Joyce Carol Oates shared a photo of a poster comparing Trump to Adolf Hitler.
More here 

Monday, August 14, 2017

How We Got to Here

reading list of features from the past two years that trace the disturbing path of how we got to Charlottesville.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

This Map Lets You Read Literature From Every Country on Earth

The Global Anthology interactive map highlights a work of prose from every country on Earth. Simply click on a book icon to read a story from the relevant region.


Friday, August 11, 2017

Playing Soviet

Playing Soviet is an online interactive database created by Princeton of children’s books from the Soviet Union.

More here

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Good As Gone

I read this domestic suspense novel by Amy Gentry a while back and neglected to post it here. It's the story of the kidnapping of thirteen-year-old Julie Whitaker from her family home, witnessed only by her little sister. Her family still bears the scars of the traumatic loss and has all but given up hope that she might return. Eight years later a woman shows up at their door claiming to be Julie but as inconsistencies in her story emerge her mother, Anna, begins to have doubts which she sets about resolving by hiring a private investigator.
The story unfolds in alternating first person accounts by Julie and Anna. The reader knows early on that there is something off about Julie's initial story of being imprisoned by the leader of a drug cartel. But what exactly? Is this strange girl Julie Whittaker? What is identity? 
It was a good enough story but did not keep me on the edge of my seat although its sub-title is "A Novel Of Suspense". If you're looking for a thriller this isn't it but Good As Gone does provoke interesting thoughts about loss and hope. 

Joe Orton, His Lover, and 72 Stolen Library Books

Joe Orton at home in Islington, London, 1966.

Police came to the door of Joe Orton, the man who would one day be one of the most famous playwrights in the United Kingdom, and his partner Kenneth Halliwell’s one-bedroom apartment at 9 a.m. on 28 April, 1962. It was a Saturday, the cooling end of the first warm week of the year, and the men had been up for hours, customarily getting up with the sunrise.
“We are police officers,” one said, “and I have a warrant to search your flat as I have reason to believe you have a number of stolen library books.” Orton replied: “Oh dear.”

Read more: Atlas Obscura

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Jean-Paul Sartre vs. Surfing, Illustrated

In his new book, Surfing with Sartre, philosophy professor and surfer Aaron James  makes the case that one does have to choose to get out of bed every morning by pitting the deductions of philosophers against the lessons he’s learned surfing.

Surfing With Sartre-inspired illustrations © Nathan Gelgud

More here