Tuesday, May 25, 2004


The New Republic is just a little bit behind the times: they [re]address the Heidi Julavits manifesto on snark that The Believer magazine ran in their inaugural issue more than a year ago. Besides re-hashing some of the major points that Julavits raises in said "manifesto", Ruth Franklin opts for a generous helping of snark herself, in her assessment of the McSweeney's offshoot publication, getting all adjectival on us with words like asinine, masturbatory, annoying... And then there's this perplexing statement:

"What The Believer offers is essentially a book club, and no one goes to a book club to talk seriously about books. It's a gathering for fans, and while there's nothing edifying about fandom, there are worse things than books to be a fan of."

Don't even get me started on the fact that she ends a sentence with "of" [akin to what I've just done myself].

And there are worse things than books to be a fan of: bad books [i.e. the kind that are reviewed in TNR's charmingly quirky online feature called PULPS [tagline: a review of what America is really reading.]]. Also absolutely nothing edifying about this either. Might it have anything to do with the fact that the reviewer of this particular offering of "pulp" is also an editor at Reader's Digest? Enough said? One would expect that a TNR reviewer might find the hallowed middle ground between snark and puff, but instead, all we get is this:

"I love the fact that one of the patients who is killed--the primary murder--experienced a massive head injury... I love the fact that this patient, Gavin, is the catalyst of our story. I love..."

Egads, could this review be any more dreadful? Perhaps I shouldn't analyze it too rigorously, and just accept that it might be the Reader's Digest editor's intention to be banal. But it could be livened up with a few more exclamation marks. Then I might actually believe that it's "a genuinely engaging tale!"

Give it up, TNR, and please stick to your own patented brand of snark in the Peckish and Woodsian tradition.

NB: Better hurry on the above TNR links: their precious online content doesn't remain freely available for long!

Monday, May 24, 2004


Rummy's getting all meta on us again, which seems to be his m.o. whenever he has no answers to explain the latest unknown unknowns [i.e. all the bloody time]. Rather than banning digital imaging devices, how about admitting to guilt and wrongdoing instead of trying to sweep it all under the carpet? According to Susan Sontag, that's not such an easy thing... indeed, the onslaught of dirt will be unstoppable. [link first seen at maud]


Speaking of m.o.'s, I think cryptomnesia might be mine [link first seen at maud]. There's not an original thought in my head, and I freely admit to exploiting the ideas of others, hence my reluctance to pursue any manner of a lengthy writing endeavour: I fear it might be some twisted hybrid of prose that attempts, then fails, to emulate the stylistics of Amis, Gray, Self, Sebald, and Kafka all at once. Now that would be a waking nightmare.


Lucrezia de Domizio Durini is passionate about the life and art and vision of Joseph Beuys. That is more than evident in her biography of the late German artist. But it is also evident through her actions: the money procured from the gallery sale of $7M worth of personally owned Beuysian art, photography, and ephemera will be put towards the construction of the Difesa della Natura [Defense of Nature] gallery in Italy, one of many projects that Beuys initiated during his lifetime.

*taken from German poet Justinus Kerner, and incorporated into the Beuysian action, Eurasia.

Saturday, May 15, 2004


The Literary Saloon observes that The Guardian Review is the last remaining source of solid literary coverage, and I have to agree. Especially after the quickest perusal ever of this week's NYT Sunday Book Review, whose coverage is at once paltry and lacklustre [and seems to becoming more so as each week passes]. Reading it used to be one of my favourite Saturday morning activities. Might as well remove that link from my sidebar. Well, maybe not quite yet. I'll give it one more chance to redeem itself. Maybe even two.

Everything, including the kitchen sink, plus doughnuts: more Vonnegut, who is living proof of the adage, with age comes wisdom. He knows he's old, he knows he's wise, but it is evident that he wants to be neither, completely vexed that he must witness all the madness in his twilight years when he'd much rather be laughing at all the hijinks from wherever it is that one goes after one expires.

Speaking of death, the William H. Gass review of Stanley Elkin's The Living End in the May issue of Harper's has inspired me to search for a few relevant Gass and Elkin links on the interweb:

Gass: Centre for Book Culture; The Scriptorium at The Modern Word; NYRB

Elkin: Centre for Book Culture; Reading Stanley Elkin by Rick Moody.

Saturday, May 08, 2004


Yesterday, as I was immobilized in gridlock, I was livid that I was being inconvenienced in such a grievous manner. Today, it occurred to me that there are a million such moments to be endured, but they are all of a fleeting nature, and nobody but one's lonely self knows about them. Are these moments inconsequential, or do they all compound to form some sort of mental and/or emotional version of an atherosclerotic plaque? Do they make us miserable for all our days to come, or do they just pass so that we can laugh at our silly selves later for being so impatient, so petty, so whatever...

Has anyone written about this topic? Is this even a topic, or is it just a mundane meandering of the mind, as mundane as the moments that constitute the daily grind of no one in particular and everyone all at the same time?

Friday, May 07, 2004


The end of nine straight days of work can mean only one thing [surprisingly, it's not the alcohol that manages to dumb me down, it's the work: hence, the lack of posts].

Not sure why, but this little Vonnegutian gem popped into my head despite it being as old as the hills. So funny.

Again, not sure why [see what I mean about dumbing down], but I have a hankering to read something good and incomprehensible... something heavy, physically and otherwise. At first I was leaning toward trying Mann's Doktor Faustus again, but then decided that this would be the more likely candidate. Now all I have to do is get me down to Robarts Library. Hopefully, it will fix some of the mental damage incurred during the last couple of weeks. Alas, my plan to read Ulysses before Bloomsday now seems like an impossible task...

And here I thought that former Librarian of Congress Archibald MacLeish was a character in an Alasdair Gray book [via wood s lot]. What's even more absurd is that I thought his nickname was Jock.

I wonder if this can be translated into CB slang?

For anyone with an interest in applying for tickets to attend the 2006 COC performance of The Ring Cycle can find the application here. You need to bring a résumé outlining your Wagnerian opera experience to the interview. There is also a written exam component on which you must score at least seventy percent to be considered as a potential candidate.


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