January February 2006
Sunday, February 26, 2006
MPH weighs in on my disparagement of Stephen King's prosaic prowess:
Stephen King = dreck? I must protest. While he's written his share of junk, I like ol' Steve. I find him refreshing after plowing
through more difficult writers like José Saramago or Virginia ("My God, This Sentence Does Go On Forever, Doesn't It Love,
But I Bought Flowers Today, And They Smelled Good, Like My Mother's Perfume On The Morning She Wed, That Wet,
Dripping Morning When The Horses Ran Out Of Hay, Yes!, And Father Forgot His Raincoat") Woolf (both of whom I love).
King is a workhorse writer who knows his limitations (artistically) and so focuses on STORY. When he gets it right, I'm up all
night. (Hey, I rhymed.)
Genre writers often get a bad name - although I wish I was a genre writer. Dennis Lehane is pretty good too (mystery genre),
and Clive Barker's books can be quite scary. How those fantasy writers churn out massive chunks of novels every year, I'll
never know. Yeah, yeah: quantity versus quality, but hell, Joyce Carol Oates drops a volume a year at least. (She could be a
considered a genre writer too - gothic, perhaps - but she's too adored by the self-appointed bastions of literary good taste to
give King a run for the real dough.)
Michael, I love genre fiction. I've been plowing through the crime fiction of Ken Bruen lately. But he's a great writer. I'd
match his prose with the high-brow crowd anytime. I also like Robert E. Howard whose writing isn't great, sometimes it's just
plain bad, but I still like him. I don't feel the need to apologize (or defend) bad writing. If it's not good, but enjoyable, then just
admit it. I've never read any King that wasn't bad. But his storytelling also hasn't drawn me in. His style is so wooden.
Michener writes more exciting prose than King. Your argument for him being refreshing sounds like he's easy, unchallenging.
Is that the only attraction he can muster? Yes, dreck.
Saturday, February 25, 2006
The Joyful Alternative responds to Wednesday's post about those peculiar reviews of the common (small c) reader with this link
to Jon Swift's very funny Amazon reviews of books he has not actually read.
Thanks, Joyful. I like these.
And Dan responded to the reviews, as well:
Great reviews! How fun. I always read them on Amazon to see what people have said about my favorites. Of course now, I
have no need to read many of the classics because I can go to book a minute and just read a few lines instead.
My favorites are:
I was a bad boy. Damn, was I a bad boy. Not anymore, though.
Some woman puts Dante through Hell.
Bartleby, do what I tell you.
I would prefer not to.
(Humanity is DOOMED.)
The Collected works of Stephen King
It was a nice day...........................AND THEN EVIL CAME!
Dan, thanks. One line abridgements of Stephen King are always useful. Saves people a lot of time reading his dreck.
Wednesday, February 22, 2006
In which Dan does not resist my Sunday link to Ray Davies (and Ian McShane as Marlowe):
Ed, You know I'm not gonna sit this one out. I have Mr. Davies new solo disc on order and to be shipped to my remote
location. I will certainly send our readers the review when I have had a chance to soak it in. But for now I'll give you my review
so far of Mr. Davies and the work he and his brother have done over the last 40 some odd years. The Kinks are the greatest
band and most under-rated band of all time. Ray is the greatest songwriter of the last two generations. 'Nuff said. Even our
friend Lovejoy would have to agree. Man...and how great was Lovejoy!?!?
Dan, 'Nuff said.
Tuesday, February 14, 2006
John Overholt responded to my link on Sunday to his Samuel Johnson Catablog:
Ed-- Thanks for the very nice mention of the Hyde Catablog on your site. I like to think that hard work did play some role in
getting the job, but you're right that I'm very lucky to have it; it's a spectacular collection. Stop by in 2009 (if not sooner); we're
hoping to do an exhibit for Johnson's 300th birthday. And just so you know, I'm going to try to pick up the pace on the
postings. I started the blog as something of an experiment, but response has been very positive, so I'm going to try to spend
more time on it.
John, I am overjoyed that you will try to post more often, but be careful. Blogs have a way of taking over your life.
Incidentally, I noticed that among the books and manuscripts of the Hyde Johnson collection is also Johnson's silver teapot. I
have a copy of the sale catalogue of the collection of A. Edward Newton, a rare book collector and writer (and Philadelphian).
Newton's bookplate features a scene from Boswell's Life of Johnson. Page 18 of the auction catalogue lists:
The great lexicographer's "Dictionary" (1755) in original boards.
And his silver teapot.
George III silver teapot by Parker and Wakelm, ca. 1765. By repute, it belonged to Dr. Johnson.
Photograph courtesy of the Houghton Library, Harvard College Library;
©President and Fellows of Harvard College
I'm pretty sure Newton wrote about his acquisition of the teapot in one of his wonderful books on book collecting. I wonder if
the Hydes bought it at the Newton auction? I also wonder how many owners this teapot has had? I found a couple articles on
the Newton auction