“I felt what we always feel when someone dies—the sad awareness, now futile, of how little it would have cost us to have been more loving. One forgets that one is a dead man conversing with dead men.”—Jorge Luis Borges, “There Are More Things”
“People silently struggle from all kinds of terrible things. They suffer from depression, ambition, substance abuse, and pretension. They suffer from family tragedy, Ivy-League educations, and self-loathing. They suffer from failing marriages, physical pain, and publishing.”—A great part of a great article by Paul Ford, “How to Be Polite”
“Keats was unimpressed by the food on their trip. He wrote in a letter: “We dined yesterday on dirty bacon dirtier eggs and dirtiest Potatoes with a slice of Salmon.” In Scotland they subsisted almost entirely on oatcakes and whiskey — Keats hated the oatcakes but enjoyed the whiskey.”—A delightful report on the walking tours of John Keats, in today’s Writer’s Alamanac.
This is simultaneously the most David Sedaris and most small English town thing to happen ever.
The picture is pretty great as well:
The history of authors and dump trucks is a long and illustrious one. When I worked at Sterling Publishing, I briefly worked on a campaign that included a rented and wrapped garbage truck. Here’s what it looked like:
Unfortunately, I do not believe that Little Brown UK was involved in the maiden voyage of the Pig Pen Sedaris.
In the early afternoon my mother was doing the dishes. I climbed onto the kitchen table, I suppose to play, and fell asleep there. I was drowsy and awake, though, as she lifted me up, carried me on her arms into the living room, and placed me on the davenport, but I pretended to be asleep the whole time, enjoying the luxury— was too big for such a privilege and just old enough to form my only memory of her carrying me. She’s still moving me to a softer place.
“He was too drunk to be interviewed," police told the local Sydsvenskan newspaper . "When he was arrested, he not only had comments about the author’s qualities, but also about the establishment in general, to say the very least.”—Serious literary criticism alive and well, “Man Seized For Setting Fire to Knausgård Book”
This excellent article misses a real opportunity midway through, when Green states that ”[Lambert is] instructing educators on how to train teachers” when she could have said “She’s a teacher who teaches teachers to teach teachers”
“It’s the birthday of editor Ernest Percival Rhys, born in London (1859). He worked as a mining engineer, and he set up a makeshift library with his own books and led book discussions for the coal miners. Then a publisher got him confused with a scholar named John Rhys and approached him about editing a series of books called Camelot Classics. Ernest Rhys turned out to be a good editor, and he moved on from Camelot Classics to work for the publishing house J.M. Dent and Company. Dent and Rhys conceived of a series of inexpensive works of classic literature, 1,000 titles in all. Rhys came up with the name: “Everyman’s Library,” from the medieval morality play Everyman. In the play, the character Knowledge says to Everyman: “Everyman, I will go with thee / and be thy guide, / In thy most need to go / by thy side.” When Rhys died in 1946, 952 volumes of the Everyman’s Library had been published.”—from the Publishing, You Can Do It Too! files, in today’s Writers Almanac, which also has a great Charles Simic poem.
Well this is interesting: The Center for Fiction has posted their Fall reading groups, and one of them is an opportunity to discuss the late great García Márquez with his finest translator, Edith Grossman.
The Center for Fiction, by the bye, is a* literary nonprofit dedicated to celebrating fiction. If you’re not a member, you can still receive their newsletter missives here. They’re short, non-intrusive, and can make you feel better about all the bookish goings on about town that you’re not attending, but could, if you were that sort of person.
Glory be to God for dappled things— For skies of cople-colour as a brindled cow; For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim; Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings; Landsape plotted and pieced—fold, fallow, and plough; And all trades, their gear and tackle and trim. All things counter, original, spare, strange; Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?) With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim; He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change: Praise him.
I’ve spent much of the last week reading Karl Ove Knausgaard’s first two books in his “My Struggle” series, otherwise known in Norwegian as Min Kamp, a title very close to Hitler’s Mein Kamp. Apparently the latter caused a lot of controversy when the book was first released in Norway, where in a country of 5 million people, it sold 450,000 copies.
Here’s a great review of My Struggle by Brienne Walsh, who can spell Dostoevsky without having to Google it first, which I certainly can’t do and you probably can’t either, if you’re being really honest with yourself.
Hey y’all, some dedicated and lovely book folks need your help.
2012’s Moby-Dick marathon reading in New York cost quite a lot, considering all the paper, printing, and booze. For this year’s voyage, Amanda, Polly, and Molly need assistance defraying the cost of making New York the nicest little literary capital in the country.
Their Kickstarter just went live this morning. There are lots of rewards, including posters, postcards, art, and (of course: this is a book event) tote bags.
“A great deal of dullness. Then some dirt. Then more dullness. Then a great deal more dirt and a great deal more dullness. That is my impression of most of Ulysses.”—Tennessee Williams, on Ulysses, in Yes I Said Yes I Will Yes.
“But what are bodies? He can take our goods, but God will prosper us. He can close the booksellers, but still there will be books. They have their old bones, their glass saints in windows, their candles and shrines, but God has given us the printing press.”—Wolf Hall is so good.
“Watching St. Aubyn walk up the steps to his front door, wearing a long coat from another era, into a nine- or ten-million-dollar house of regret and economic retrenchment, I found it easy to imagine him in the company of one of his relatives, such as his Scottish grandfather, who spent much of the Second World War in Nassau with his friend the Duke of Windsor—the former King Edward VIII—and who drank himself to death in Monte Carlo; or his great-uncle, Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovich, a first cousin of Tsar Nicholas II, who helped to murder Rasputin, survived the revolution, and later worked as a champagne salesman in Paris. Or his father, a musically gifted sadist who died in New York. We went inside, and St. Aubyn called a technician about a scanner that he couldn’t figure out how to work.”—Sick burn Ian Parker.