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Thursday, March 30, 2006
Scott J comments on my American book list:
I agree Moby Dick is wishful thinking, but only because no one has read it. The story is a kind of highbrow sound byte, and I
admit that's not enough. However, if the other two books don't belong, then why study literature at all? The Book of Mormon
is a great pick, but surely Huck Finn is more widely read. Does poetry make nothing happen?
Scott, my list isn't just a bestseller list. Huck Finn is widely read, but I can't document its influence on American culture. The
same with Moby Dick and Leaves of Grass. I think all three of those can be used to define the character of America (if such
a thing exists), but I don't think any of these works has had a profound impact on the culture as a whole (Moby Dick is more
than a soundbyte). I think I can make that case for the other choices. So, they belong on a list of books to read if you want to
know about America (and the human condition and whaling), but I don't think these books have made anything "happen." And
yes, in America, poetry makes nothing happen.
MPH comments on the Juliet post of yesterday:
Here's a link to a 1993 Elvis Costello album called The Juliet Letters - inspired by the professor who answered the letters
addressed to Juliet.
Michael, Thanks. I had not heard of this one. Should I give it a listen?
Friday, March 17, 2006
Greg Kindall of Seven Roads responds to yesterday's sausage post:
Hi Ed -- Xtin at Xtinpore recently reported on an email conversation in re: saucisson lyonnaise -- A number of culinary
philosophers are mentioned.
Thanks, Greg. And I wholeheartedly agree with Escoffier, "The appearance of a hot sausage with its salad of potatoes in oil
can leave nobody indifferent ... it is pure, it precludes all sentimentality, it is the Truth."
and our friend Dan responds also comments on yesterday's post:
Ed, Another post that hits the mark. I knew there was something I liked about you. Where to start? Well, I told you already
how much I enjoyed The Wheelman, so I won't repeat it again. I read the Swierczynski interview and I got to tell you, that
bastard got me! He answered a question about The Wheelman:
To be perfectly honest, if THE WHEELMAN has any kind of appeal, it's because it's a bit relentless. The mini-chapters are short by
design, meant to be consumed like potato chips. I hate when I'm up late, digging a novel, but see that the current chapter goes on for
30 more pages. It's like.... fuuuuuck. So I made everything really short, hoping to trick a reader into thinking: okay, just another page.
Okay, another. Okay, just one more... And then it's 4 a.m.
Talk about hitting the nail on the head! Man, those short chapters reeled me in page after page. The worst part was that the
book had to end. If I could write a novel, I would use that same technique. Of course if I were to write a novel, I would have
to use that technique due to my lack of attention span. Anyway...great interview: enough to get me to buy his other books.
On to Matthew Pearl. Another great writer. I loved The Dante Club. It's one of the books that got me onto my historical
fiction kick (then...it was a Dante historical fiction kick...along with Nick Tosches' In the Hand of Dante, an all time great).
Even though I am not a Poe fan, I am certainly anticipating his new book.
Last, a comment on America's favorite poem: What!?!? The list of choices is a little bit lacking. I had to vote for Eliot, thought
Whitman was a close second. Frost seems like the kind of writer that would be America's favorite poet though, but I guess that
wasn't the question.
Dan, I had the same experience with Wheelman and I wrote to Duane to complain about keeping me up all night.
I still haven't gotten around to reading Tosches' book. One of these days.
And have you seen the results of the poetry voting. "Prufrock" is in the lead. I love the idea of that being America's favorite
Wednesday, March 15, 2006
Ed, I'm looking forward to V for Vendetta. I know it deviates from the plot and to be honest, it will bother me a bit. Usually I
can get over things like that though. League was a horrible movie and for exactly the reasons you mention. Go ahead and
change things. That's the beauty of adaptation. I've read the book, now give me someone else's perspective.
As big of a comic fan that I am, I never really understand how people can have such a cow about these things. They claim to
be purists, but, we're talking about fiction. I'm sorry, but there is no Batman, Spiderman or Daredevil. There is no "real" story.
Comics are done in cycles to attract the attention of new