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July 17, 2014


I just bought this ebook:

After hearing the interview:

And reading the newsweek story:

It's a horrible story, but this is some of the deepest reporting about Boko Haram. I feel a lot of the mainstream reporting on the issue has been flawed, and I learned a lot.

A grammar textbook on Medieval Latin
A book on pre-code Hollywood
Tolkien's Finn and Hengest
I have yet to read the morning papers despite it being evening around here already
This thread on Obsidian Wings naturally...

lj, I thought of you, chastising me, when I heard this. It made me smile.


Thanks for the article link. Good stuff.

Right now reading

Lynching in the West 1850-1935
The White Devil
Neptune's Brood
Masterly Batting - 100 Great Test Centuries

...along with a stack of as yet unstarted books.

Just finished Shira Robinson's "Citizen Strangers"


Also finished Max Blumenthal's book "Goliath". (also on Israel/Palestine)

Am trying once again to read the Piketty book on inequality. And for no particular reason I purchased a book on the Marxist transformation problem by Kliman "Reclaiming Marx's Capital". Not sure if I'll read it. Kindle makes it too easy to buy books sometimes.

Then I started to read Plantinga's "Where the Conflict Really Lies", which is about science and religion, but am finding it disappointing. He takes Behe's arguments seriously and thinks it's enough to quote what some other biochemist wrote supporting Behe's point in 1996.

There's this fantasy writer I just found out about--Jeff Vandermeer. Am trying to decide if I want to read his Southern Reach trilogy, but it looks interesting.

Actually, the last book in the Southern Reach trilogy hasn't been written yet, but is expected out soon.

Ha! Though I'm a baritone, I don't have anywhere near Weird Al's range...

I'm reading Piketty; at least, I'm 50 pages in and not slowed yet.

I tried to read Wolfgang Jeschke's The Cusanus Game but a bit too much pomposity not enough honest sci-fi so I gave up.

Alternating with Piketty in the heavy-ass book competition is A Prince of our Disorder, John Mack's psychoanalytical biography of T.E. Lawrence.

Literary candy right now are the Brother Cadfael mysteries, which I started reading because of our own Doctor Science's mention of them in the Hugo novelette thread.

vanDerMeer is one of my favorites. i really like City Of Saints And Madmen, and everything that sprung from it. his many short story collections are great, too.

the Southern Reach trilogy is good, so far. but i think his earlier stuff was a notch more interesting.

Great link, lj. Before I reached the footnotes, I thought, wait, did this guy just crib the lyrics from Brian Wilson's song "Til I Die", or what?

Also loved the quote from Walker Percy's "The Moviegoer", which now I must go back and read for the tenth time.

In the quote, Binx Bolling mentions that he met a lonely girl in Central Park, which Percy fans will recognize as exactly the opening plot gambit of his second book "The Last Gentleman" and carried through in a sequel years later, "The Second Coming".

The main character in those books is named Will Barrett,

I maintain that Percy's body of work, the six novels and the philosophical essays, are the best and strangest expressions of ineffable human physical and spiritual longing in American literature.

Percy's is on to something (a phrase he uses often) about the utter strangeness of human existence, our facility for language, despair, and death, especially suicide (his father and maybe his mother both checked out early) and its avoidance.

oops, that's VanderMeer not vanDerMeer.

wacky Dutch!

In JakeB's category of extreme heaviosity, I'm still slogging through Tony Judt's "Postwar", a history of Europe following WWII.

The library fines are mounting.

A great read, but I'm coming off reading "Bloodlands", which reads like an autopsy report of the corpse of Europe dismembered by Hitler and Stalin, which book fried a few of my synapses.

So, finding out in the first 200 pages of "Postwar" the details of even more killing and mistreatment of many of the survivors doled out after the slaughter of the War, apparently for good, vengeful measure, makes a guy appreciate the subtle, high-toned ethics of the Comanche.

Been rereading John Cheever's stories, too. Exquisite, perfect sentences for which there can be no admiration short of outright plagiarism.

Like Percy, Cheever's stories are jewel-like portrayals of human longing and despair and their inevitable, sad outlets in the suburbs, where the very lawns are watered with gin and extramarital sex.

In fact, Cheever himself could be a character in a Percy novel, and now that I think about it, I have a vague memory of Percy mentioning Cheever unfavorably somewhere along the way.

Discovered W.G. Sebald recently "The Emigrants", and will read the rest of him.

Again, all of the words, the sentences, and the paragraphs are perfect.

It makes me want to give up writing and talking altogether.

For prose pyrotechnics, just finished Martin Amis' "Time's Arrow".

That takes care of the books in the bedroom and the living room.

In the bathroom, and various waiting rooms, I satisfied my Beatles jones by reading the first volume (800 pages) of Mark Lewisohn's (the best Beatles biographer and second-best chronicler of the recording sessions) biography (two volumes yet to come) of the Fab Four.

IMHO, the most stunning success story of the 20th Century, in any category. Those four talents and personalities, who early on before Hamburg, compared to just the other Liverpool bands at the time, could hardly play their instruments, and whose instruments were so crappy that they could hardly be played, KNOWING, each of them, what they wanted and then finding their way, or being found, miraculously by Brian Epstein and George Martin to make those pure joyous, joyful chord progressions and harmonies (For those interested, the bootlegs, called Beatouts, of their recording sessions, especially the multiple takes of the early songs with John singing lead and Paul on top (two greatest singers in rock and roll; your mileage may vary, but why?), and maybe George doing the difficult middle harmonies are a revelation. On each take, they make the right choice, whatever it is, in every song).

Overlay the sheer force of nature of John Lennon's early leadership, combined with his massive, debilitating insecurities (all put into the music) and cynicism, despite the one loaf of bread he baked during his I may be Jesus, stay-at-home Dad, post-Beatles period (as his first abandoned son, Julian, said, my Dad tells everyone else to love one another and give peace a chance, but he sure doesn't seem to love me) matched up with the personality and talent of Paul McCartney and I don't know what.

To close the circle regarding lj's link to the article about copyright and plagiarism, Paul McCartney noted about the Beatles' musical inspirations: "When in doubt, steal."

Well, you asked.

I have a vague memory of Percy mentioning Cheever unfavorably somewhere along the way.

In Lost in the Cosmos, Percy cites Cheever about the rich Northeastern American's primary emotion is disappointment. He also often cites Cheever, along with Updike and Barth as writers he likes, though he often complained that they were never called Northeastern writers, but he was always a Southern writer.

Thanks for the VanderMeer rec: 'City of Saints...' is now in the mail.

More cricket books also on the way...
Who could resist 'On Warne' (about the great Australian spin bowler), compared to stuffy old von Clausewitz ?
And as for 'Field of Shadows: The English Cricket Tour of Nazi Germany 1937', the title in itself is an improbable fiction, demanding to be read.

Thanks, lj.

I just read this:


Apparently the "poor door" doesn't lead to ANY dwellings in the building, but rather to a chute that whisks the less privileged to a mud flat on the East River down by the Bowery.

They aren't permitted to use the elevators either, but rather must take the stairs, which at the flip of a switch from an ever watchful rich matron on the 17th floor can be converted into slides that deliver the lesser lessees to a warm manhole cover in the street.

The developer is considering allowing the proles to take the elevator, but they will have to dangle from the bottom of the elevator car like disaster movie survivors and swing themselves precariously through the closing elevator doors as their floor passes.

Also, there is nowhere to sit in the dwellings the lessers are paying mortgages on, no chairs, beds, or window seats, like most public spaces now in urban areas, which are designed to cause acute spinal problems for the poor taking a momentary load off.

Heated floors, yes, but they can hit 500 degrees for the least of the lessees.

The poorer inhabitants must pace the night awaiting the sound a buzzer, at which time they must fallout in the lobby to be examined by Erick Erickson for signs of still possessing the characteristics of fertilized eggs. If they are determined to be at the fetal stage, they are taken directly to the penthouse for drinks and canapes (Oh, can of peas!) while all post-fetal humans get a subway ride to outer Queens after a vigorous tongue lashing by smug crackers in jodhpurs.

And to think we couldn't stomach the King of England.

In my apartment building, I'm so sick of riding the elevators with those beneath me and their little dogs too that I've been sleeping in an abandoned car across the street.

Count: They aren't permitted to use the elevators either, but rather must take the stairs, which at the flip of a switch from an ever watchful rich matron on the 17th floor can be converted into slides that deliver the lesser lessees to a warm manhole cover in the street.

For a visual demonstration, see this at about the 30 second mark.

Also, the fire escapes for the subsidized are constructed of hay and flammable glue.

The fire escapes noted above only descend to the third floor and after that you're on your own unless your mortgage brokers show up to remove a bounce mat just before you hit the pavement (that's gotta hurt), at which point Ayn Rand shows up to shout her disapproval of balconies for the poor through a bullhorn as your spleen bleeds into the underfunded infrastructure of leaking sewer systems.

Don't encourage me.

Every other 9/11, or the first Tuesday of every month, whichever Donald Rumsfeld deems the day we go to war with, not the day we stop and think how f*cking stupid he is, two jetliners hit the floors the subsidized live on just to encourage their relatives to support the draft and tax cuts for the developers of the building.

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