LRB: Andrew O’Hagan · Short Cuts.
“Atticus doesn’t just stand up for a black man in the novel: he comes to see how the white supremacist mentality operates against a man on the basis of the man’s colour. And such a lawyer, after such an experience, would not be able to say the crude things we must now imagine him saying twenty years later.” My italics. Good point: though identically named, these are not the same protagonists. One could not morph into the other. So the works must be judged separately, and Watchman must ever live in the shadow of Mockingbird, the dark and twisted relation.
NY Times: Santa Fe Opera Adds Performance of ‘Cold Mountain’.
Of note to locals and visitors.
The Rumpus: Is Writing Useless?
Sure to inspire some interesting commentary. If writing is masturbatory, what of blogging? And, I must ask, does it make for a healthy prostate?
The New York Review of Books: The Key to Rereading by Tim Parks.
“But when a key—for example, a new poem, or a new species of animal—is first met, there is no lock yet ready for such a key. Or to be precise, the key is not even a key since it does not open anything yet. It is a potential key. However, the encounter between the brain and this potential key triggers the making of a lock. The next time we meet or perceive the object/key it will open the lock prepared for it in the brain.” Oh, that’s a lovely way of thinking about it. Certain books meant nothing in high school - one had to have life experience before appreciation allowed the key-turn.
The American Scholar: Resisting Atticus’s Allure.
Is this the season to attack ‘heritage’ in all forms? We remember a different reality than those not born into that era. Were there ‘right thinking white folk’? Indeed there were. Were there racists? Indeed there were. Yet “Mockingbird” was written from a child’s perspective - a 60’s child’s perspective that is totally familiar to me.
I think that’s the most stunning thing about growing older. You come to eventually realize that we as a populace understand nothing about our collective past; the current generation (whatever that is) judges the past, generalizes it ... and moves on; listening to, but ultimately ignoring elders’ stories. Then they act stunned when details come out that challenge their generalizations.
The New York Review of Books: Two Cheers for the Middle Ages!
Three books reviewed. Read the entire review before choosing any.
Bloomberg: What Does Harper Lee Want?.
NPR: Patricia Marx, Author Of ‘Let’s Be Less Stupid’.
“I took the test and I thought well, I’m pretty smart! My mother’s right, I really am pretty smart. These aren’t very hard. And then I get the results and it’s 74. 74! That’s, like, you’d have to be trained on how to scratch your arm if you have an IQ of 74. You have to get assistance to tie your shoes.”
Telegraph.UK: Would it have been kinder not to publish Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman?
“Amidst all the speculation, and high anticipation, attending the publication of Harper Lee’s ‘lost’ novel, Go Set a Watchman, there is one thing worth bearing in mind: there is a reason it was not published in the first place.” I sort of expected this, which is why I haven’t been blogging the hype.
Later: Ah, a story that was rewritten at the behest of editors to become the famous bestseller. Interesting, but will taint the original for many. I’ll pass. I enjoyed reading Jean Giono’s early renderings of Angelo Pardi in print, but the fully-formed character in Le hussard sur le toit was the greatest. Seeing a character through a multifaceted crystal of different periods, different author circumstances, ends up being confusing to most, informative only to other writers, really. At some point, someone will translate Mort d’un personnage so I can find out the end of the story.
TechCrunch: Writers Are Going Cuckoo For Kindle Unlimited.
Slate: The Festival of Insignificance by Milan Kundera, reviewed.
“In Insignificance, Kundera casts his eye on the fact that the city of Konigsberg, the home of the great German philosopher Immanuel Kant, is now Kaliningrad, named for a Soviet mediocrity with bladder problems.” Always worth reading. On my list.
The Fully Intended: The Writer’s Dream.
For one so young, Mollie writes like the best of the old-school. With modern sensibility.
Bookseller: Publishers Association ‘busts myths’ on copyright.
“It is time to debunk the long-pedalled myth that copyright is an obstacle to growth in the digital economy. When you look at the success of publishing and other creative industries in developing online products and services it is palpably untrue – copyright is the means by which the digital economy functions, allowing works to be made available to consumers and rewarding creators and the companies which invest in them.”
PS Mag: The American Diner at Age 143.
“The diners (the real ones, at least) stand as a testament to a past that is in so many ways impossible to find. Go to rural America and you’re more likely to find a Target than a stationary train car serving eggs. You can’t find whatever’s lost in America; that America, too, has been lost.” If you’ve never had the pleasure, please read Blue Highways by William Least Heat Moon. Don’t ask, just run and buy it. Or grab it from the library (you’ll feel guilty you didn’t buy it, though). And make sure to have a nice hammock to read it in. Everything we miss, in one volume.
Aeon: The allure of ISIS resembles that of Tolkien.
“... many readers, it seems, thrill to the notion of finding a king to whom they can pledge their swords without scruple or hesitation. Indeed, it is sometimes claimed that the patently adolescent politics of Tolkien’s Middle Earth represent a true and valid model for real-world humans.” Bound to ruffle some feathers.
OpenCulture: New Archive Offers Access to 22k Literary Docs From British & American Writers.
If you’re a writer yourself, you’ll find it makes you feel better.
PRI: Two psychologists say they’ve identified a long-lost (and misattributed) work of Shakespeare’s.
I’ll wait for other corroboration.
FiveThirtyEight: We Tried — And Failed — To Identify The Most Banned Book In America.
NY Review of Books: Shakespeare’s Unfilmable Dream.
It allows endless opportunity, IMHO. The first time I saw it performed, the cast had but a platform and costumes. And it was wonderful. I suppose one has to have an imagination, something that may be endangered in the days of Pixar and CGI ...
MeFi: Titty, Cock, Intercourse and Ejaculation.
Electric Lit: Sunset and Sunrise on Bleak Horizons - The State of the Revisionist Western
EL calls this “evocative and deeply aware”: “Bleak horizon under a glazed sky, flat desert, clumps of sage, scrub, distant butte, lone rider. This is a land of sand, dry rocks, and dead things. Buzzard country. And he is migrating through it.”
Compare and contrast, Zane Grey, Wildfire: “Hers always then the mutable and immutable desert, the leagues and leagues of slope and sage and rolling ridge, the great canyons and the giant cliffs, the dark river with its mystic thunder of waters, the pine-fringed plateaus, the endless stretch of horizon, with its lofty, isolated, noble monuments, and the bold ramparts with their beckoning beyond! Hers always the desert seasons: the shrill, icy blast, the intense cold, the steely skies, the fading snows; the gray old sage and the bleached grass under the pall of the spring sand-storms; the hot furnace breath of summer, with its magnificent cloud pageants in the sky, with the black tempests hanging here and there over the peaks, dark veils floating down and rainbows everywhere, and the lacy waterfalls upon the glistening cliffs and the thunder of the red floods; and the glorious golden autumn when it was always afternoon and time stood still! Hers always the rides in the open, with the sun at her back and the wind in her face! And hers surely, sooner or later, the nameless adventure which had its inception in the strange yearning of her heart and presaged its fulfilment somewhere down that trailless sage-slope she loved so well!”
I live in Zane’s landscape. Sorry, but you lose, revisionists.
History Today: Mysticism and Machines.
“In everything from the Biblical teraphim (mummified oracular heads) and Haephestos’s handmaidens, endowed with speech and sentience, to the Chinese practitioners of khwai shuh, who sought to bring images and statues to life to serve as slaves, Cohen’s focus is on the mystical origins behind the search for perfect human imitation.” Sounds like fun.
Literary Hub: The Joy of Throwing Away An Entire Novel.
“Was I sure there was nothing salvageable there? Was I giving up?” Every writer or blogger will know this feeling. I myself often fantasize about chucking this whole thing, wondering what phoenix would rise. Would I be happier? Freer? I chafe against the restrictions of the blog, locked in the same form-factor for a decade. Our blogs are becoming prisons, the dimensions dictated by the walled gardens elsewhere. Cam gave me hope with his new blog, and how it bodily and boldly breaks barriers. These functions should have been baked into blog software, years ago.
HarperCollins: At long last, Audrey at Home ...
Audrey Hepburn’s son publishes a memoir of his mother, via their family kitchen. Sounds delightful.