About

Main

Contact

SEARCH

Archives

PATRICK'S PICKS
Books

Movies

CD's


KATHRYN'S PICKS

Books

Movies


RECENT POSTS:
Kathryn:

Patrick:


KATHRYN'S ORPHANS


Ada Monroe and Inman  (Cold Mountain)

Anne Shirley (Anne of Green Gables)

Babe (Babe)

Bambi

Bathsheba Everdene (Far from the Madding Crowd)

Batman

Beatrice (Much Ado about Nothing)

Becky Sharp (Vanity Fair)

Cecily Cardew (Importance of Being Earnest)

Champion (Les Triplettes de Belleville)

Cinderella

Collin Fenwick (The Grass Harp)

Dorothea Brooke (Middlemarch)

Dorothy Gale (The Wizard of Oz)

Edward Scissorhands

Eleanor Roosevelt

Elizabeth (Frankenstein)

Ellen Foster (Ellen Foster)

Ellie Arroway (Contact)

Eppie (Silas Marner)

Estella (Great Expectations)

Esther Summerson (Bleak House)

Eustacia Vye (Return of the Native)

Evelina

Flora Poste (Cold Comfort Farm)

Francis Marion Tarwater (The Violent Bear It Away)

Frodo Baggins (The Lord of the Rings)

Gou Wa “Doggie” (King of Masks)

Hadji (Johnny Quest)

Harriet Smith (Emma)

Harry Potter

Harvey Cheyne, Jr. (Captains Courageous)

Hawkeye (Last of the Mohicans)

Heathcliff (Wuthering Heights)

Heidi

Helena (All’s Well That Ends Well)

Homer Wells (Cider House Rules)

Huckleberry Finn

Hyacinth Robinson (The Princess Casimassima)

Irwin (Northfork)

Isabelle Archer (The Portrait of a Lady)

Jack Dawson (Titanic)

Jack Redburn (Master Humphrey's Clock)

Jake and Elwood Blues (The Blues Brothers)

James Henry Trotter (James & the Giant Peach)

Jane Eyre

Jane Fairfax (Emma)

Jen and Kira (The Dark Crystal)

Jo (Bleak House)

Joe Christmas (Light in August)

Jude Fawley (Jude the Obscure)

Kim (Kim)

Leo Tolstoy

Lilo (Lilo and Stitch)

Lillian (The Chimes)

Lily Bart (The Age of Innocence)

Lily Owen (The Secret Life of Bees)

Little Foot (The Land Before Time)

Little Nell (The Old Curiosity Shop)

Little Orphan Annie

Lucinda Leplastrier (Oscar and Lucinda)

*Lucy Manette (Tale of Two Cities)

Luke Skywalker (Star Wars)

Margaret, Helen, and Tibby Schlegel (Howard's End)

Marilyn Monroe

Mary Lennox (The Secret Garden)

Mary McCarthy

Mathilde and Manech (A Very Long Engagement)

Mattie Silver (Ethan Frome)

Miette (City of Lost Children)

Millie Theale (The Wings of a Dove)

Miriam Chadwick (Oscar and Lucinda)

Mowgli (The Jungle Book)

Nameless (Hero)

*Neo (The Matrix)

Oliver Twist

Orphan Girl (Gillian Welch)

Oscar Hopkins (Oscar and Lucinda)

Our Johnny (Our Mutual Friend)

Pai (Whale Rider)

Patrick Dennis (Auntie Mame)

Peter Pan and the Lost Boys

Philip Carey (Of Human Bondage)

Pip (Great Expectations)

Pollyanna

Posthumus (Cymbeline)

Princess Mononoke

Queen Elizabeth I

Rickie Elliot (The Longest Journey)

Rosa (Edwin Drood)

Salvatore “Toto” (Cinema Paradiso)

Sara Crewe (The Little Princess)

Seymour Krelborn (Little Shop of Horrors)

Smike (Nicholas Nickleby)

Solomon Perel (Europa Europa)

Sophie Neveu (The DaVinci Code)

Sophy Viner (The Reef)

Spiderman

Stuart Little
Sue Bridehead (Jude the Obscure)

Tarzan

Tanya Chernova (Enemy at the Gates)

Tertius Lydgate (Middlemarch)

Tom (Water Babies)

Tom Jones

Tom Sawyer

Trilby

Trinity (The Matrix)

Will Ladislaw (Middlemarch)

Will Turner (Pirates of the Caribbean)

W. Somerset Maugham

 

 

 

* = new or recent addition

 


AMNESIACS


[no name] (The Man Without a Past)

Dory (Finding Nemo)

Eleanor Mannering (Garden of Lies)

Giambattista "Yambo" Bodini (The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana)

Jason Bourne (The Bourne Identity)

Joel Barish and Clementine Kruczynski (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind)

Leonard Shelby (Memento)

*Manech (A Very Long Engagement)

Nick Petrov (Oblivion)

Peter Appleton (The Majestic)

Rita (Mulholland Drive)

Ryder (The Unconsoled)

Samson Greene (Man Walks into a Room)

Will Barrett (The Last Gentleman)

 

September  15,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

By the fall of 1923, Hitler was openly calling for a revolt against the government.  Inflation had turned into hyperinflation, and Putzi recalled that when he pushed his way into the Bürgerbräukeller on November 8, the night of what would go down in history as the beginning of the Beer Hall Putsch, the price for the three beers he ordered was 3 billion marks.

--Hitlerland by Andrew Nagorski

September  14,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

[Putzi] Hanfstaengl also introduced Hitler to Harvard marching songs, explaining how the music and the cheerleaders were used to whip up the crowds to the point of "hysterical enthusiasm."  He played Sousa marches, and then some of his own improvisations that added the marching beat of American tunes to German ones.  "That is it, Hanfstaengl, that is what we need for the movement, marvelous," Hitler exclaimed, prancing about the room like a drum majorette.  Putzi would later write several marches that were used by the Brownshirts, including the one they played when they marched through the Brandenburg Gate on the day Hitler took power in 1933.  "Rah, rah, rah! became Sieg Heil, Sieg Heil! but that is the origin of it and I suppose I must take my share of the blame," Putzi wrote in his autobiography.

--Hitlerland by Andrew Nagorski

September  13,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

The first time Putzi played, he tried out a Bach fugue, but Hitler didn't show any interest.  Then, he launched into the prelude of Richard Wagner's Meistersinger and he suddenly had Hitler's full attention.  "He knew the thing absolutely by heart and could whistle every note of it in a curious penetrating vibrato, but completely in tune,"Putzi recalled.  Hitler started marching up and down, waving his arms as if he were conducting.  "This music affected him physically and by the time I had crashed through the finale he was in splendid spirits, all his worries gone, and raring to get to grips with the public prosecutor."

--Hitlerland by Andrew Nagorski

[N.B.:  Music not only soothes the savage breast but provokes it as well.]

September  12,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

Helen was fascinated by Hitler's inclination "to talk and talk and talk," as she put it.  "Nobody else had the chance to say anything.  I remember, too, that he couldn't stand anyone who wanted to talk.  He was the one who talked; the others listened.  That was why he couldn't stand some people: because he talked too much."  Whether it was in her home or at rallies in this early period, she continued, "his voice had an unusually vibrant, expressive quality, which it later lost, probably through over-exertion . . . It has often been said that his voice had a mesmeric quality, and this I can verify, from my own observation."

--Hitlerland by Andrew Nagorski

September  11,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

[Helen Hanfstaengls] maintained that she was able to see Hitler from an "absolutely different" side than others would in later years.  "He was a warm person," she insisted in an interview in 1971.  "One thing was really quite touching: he evidently liked children or he made a good act of it.  He was wonderful with Egon."  One afternoon as the little boy ran to meet Hitler, he slipped and bumped his head against a chair.  With a dramatic gesture, Hitler then beat the chair, berating it for hurting "good little Egon."  Helen remembered this as "a surprise and a delight," which prompted the boy to ask the visitor to go through the same act each time he came over.  "Please, Uncle Dolf, spank the naughty chair," Egon would plead.

--Hitlerland by Andrew Nagorski

[N.B.:  One must never forget that Hitler was something much worse than a monster--a human.]

September  10,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

Putzi saw that the audience was enjoying his speech immensely--"especially the ladies."  As Hitler talked about everyday life, Putzi observed a young woman who could not tear her eyes away from the speaker.  "Transfixed as if in some devotional ecstasy, she had ceased to be herself and was completely under the spell of Hitler's despotic faith in Germany's future greatness."

--Hitlerland by Andrew Nagorski

[N.B.:  Too bad Hitler had Mussolini and not Elvis as a mentor.]

September  9,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

A REAL book is one whose words grow ever more luminous as one's own experience increases or as one is led or edged over into considering them with greater attention.

--Guide to Kulchur by Ezra Pound

September  8,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

I don't think my coincidences of view are due to unconscious memory, two men at different times may observe that poodle dogs have curly hair without needing to refer to, or derive from, a preceding "authority."

--Guide to Kulchur by Ezra Pound

September  7,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

Certain books do no evil, I do not mean weak books but books of the strongest kind.  The just critic must discriminate them from books where we find as it wee poison mixed in sweet cake, which a strong stomach can digest, or an alert mind read with nothing more damaging than irritation.  But these latter are not for curricula.

--Guide to Kulchur by Ezra Pound

[N.B.: Walter Pater's The Renaissance is a good example of the latter.]

September  6,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

We believed and disbelieved "everything," or to put it another way we believed in the individual case.

The best of us accepted every conceivable "dogma" as a truth for a situation, as the truth for a particular crux, crisis or temperament.

--Guide to Kulchur by Ezra Pound

September  5,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

[T]he corruption . . . by the profit impulse, and the concentration of the power to endow institutions in the hands of vulgarians and incult bellies (e.g. the paralysis of scholarship at Y . . . by men who donate money for buildings without donating money for their upkeep, thereby incurring an expenditure on masonry and repairs to the detriment of learning).

--Guide to Kulchur by Ezra Pound

[N.B.:  "Y..."  is, I suppose, Yale--and the disease of which Pound speaks has only accelerated since Pound wrote this in 1938.]

September  4,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

As in English there is the god awful slump into boiled cabbage and badly cooked vegetables after, say, Rochester, who is already on the way down, so in German after, say, Hans Sachs.  And you do NOT get out of such slumps by a Tennyson or a Rilke.

Without a rigorous technique, NO renaissance.  I don't say technique is enough, or that a Bartok's struggles to renew a technique are enough, but without rigorous overhauling of technique and rigorous demands laid on technique, no renaissance.

--Guide to Kulchur by Ezra Pound

September  3,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

The iconoclast, the mob that destroys a work of art is mob because it fails to dissociate the work from a separable significance.

--Guide to Kulchur by Ezra Pound

September  2,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

The setting of the museum above the temple is a perversion.  Setting preservation of dead art above the living creation is a perversion.

--Guide to Kulchur by Ezra Pound

September  1,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

The stink of non-conformist sects has been in their losing the sense of all obscenity save that related to sex.

A stupidity which effaces the scale and grade of evil can give nothing to civilization.

You can perhaps define fanaticism as loss of the sense of gradations.  Protestant sects are largely without a scale of values.

--Guide to Kulchur by Ezra Pound

August  31,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

The puritan is a pervert, the whole of his sense of mental corruption is squirted down a single groove of sex.  The scale and proportion of evil, as delimited in Dante's hell (or the catholic hell) was obliterated by the Calvinist and Lutheran churches.  I don't mean to say that these heretics cut off their ideas of damnation all at once, suddenly or consciously, I mean that the effect of Protestantism has been . . . to obliterate values, to efface grades and graduations.

--Guide to Kulchur by Ezra Pound

August  30,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

[T]he "often thought yet ne'er so well express't" angle very often means that the idea is NOT thought at all by the expressor during or preceding the moment of expression.  It is picked up and varnished, or, at best, picked up and rubbed, polished etc.

Hence ultimately a greater trust in rough speech than in eloquence.

--Guide to Kulchur by Ezra Pound

August  29,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

Consult a small man or a fussy man or an idle man, if collaborating perforce with such.  With a large man or a busy man, consult as little as possible.  Present the fait accompli.  He will prefer an error on your part to a waste of his own time, or a sign that you cannot make a decision.

--Guide to Kulchur by Ezra Pound

August  28,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

I can not over-emphasize the assertion that the Catholic Church rotted when its hierarchy ceased to believe its own dogma.  Cavour was the best XIXth century friend of the Church.  The Church rises with the rise of civilization around it.  There is an infinite gulf between the Italian church in our time and what was in Cardinal Antonelli's.  Shaw made at least one valid assertion in saying: conversion of savage to Xtianity = conversion of Xtianity to the savage.

--Guide to Kulchur by Ezra Pound

[N.B.:  At least Pound is an equal-institution offender.  The point, by the bye, that Pound is trying to make in his sketchy way is that the Church is better off with a civilized, unified Italy as championed by Cavour then a mess of feuding, uncivilized principalities as sought by Cardinal Antonelli (sometimes referred to as the "Italian Richelieu.")]

August  27,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

When a code ceases to be regarded as an approximate expression of principles, or of a principle, and is exalted to the rank of something holy in itself, perversion ineluctably sets in.  The attempt to square nature with the code, leads perforce to perverted thinking.  The Mohammedans killed off their own civilization, or at least truncated and maimed it out of 90% of its vitality.  All through an exaltation of conformity and orthodoxy.

Code-worship appertains properly to tribes arrested at nomad level.

--Guide to Kulchur by Ezra Pound

[N.B.:  Pound wrote these words in 1938--I wonder if he would dare write them today.  Then again, he was a crazy crank, so . . . yep.]

August  26,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

The supreme crime in a critic is dullness.  The supreme evil committable by a critic is to turn men away from the bright and the living.  The ignominious failure of ANY critic (however low) is to fail to find something to arouse the appetite of his audience, to read, to see, to experience.

It is the critic's BUSINESS adescare to lure the reader.  Caviar, vodka, any hodge-podge of oddities that arouse hunger or thirst is pardonable to the critic.

He is not there to satiate.  A desire on his part to point out his own superiority over Homer, Dante, Catullus and Velasquez, is simple proof that he has missed his vocation.  any ass knows that Dante was not a better racing driver than Barney Oldfield, and that he knew less of gramophones than the late Mr Edison.

--Guide to Kulchur by Ezra Pound

August  25,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

I mean to say that one measure of a civilization, either of an age or of a single individual, is what that age or person really wishes to do.  A man's hope measures his civilization.  The attainability of the hope measures, or may measure, the civilization of his nation and time.

--Guide to Kulchur by Ezra Pound

[N.B.:  Fortunately we have the internet so we never have to ask this question but instead can constantly update our Facebook status.]

August  24,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

When they were bound to the stake, Ridley said, in order to console Latimer (think the contemporary anonymous writer): "It will not be long before we are together in the same place."  Then fire was set to the faggots.  The wind blew the fire and smoke towards Latimer, thereby exploding the bags of gunpowder tied to him, so that--calling on the Heavenly Father--he died.  But on account of this same wind Ridley was only touched by the summit of the flames and cried out miserably in the fire.  His brother, pitying him, piled up the faggots, which only damped the fire; but at last it reached him and the powder, and he too suddenly fell.  The crowd said: "would that they had been burnt earlier, for then we should have had better crops."

--Cranmer by Hilaire Belloc

August  23,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

We know it now, and from at least the middle of the seventeenth century, the restoration of the Stuarts, that is for nearly three hundred years or even longer, men have realized what a treasure of prose they possessed in the English Prayer Book.

It is by that quality that Cranmer has impressed himself upon history.  Thereby, through the Litany which is from his hand, through the collects, through the prefaces, through the admirable music of the special prayers, mainly due to his invention, he gave a strenth to the newly established religion which it could never have drawn from any other source.  He provided a substitute for the noble Latin rhythms on which the soul of Europe had been formed for more than a thousand years, and he gave to the Church of England a treasure by the aesthetic effect of which more than by anything else her spirit has remained alive and she has attached to herself the hearts of men.

--Cranmer by Hilaire Belloc

[N.B.:  Belloc wrote this book in 1931, just three short years after a revision of The book of Common Prayer was brought forth that could be adopted as an alternative.  This turned out to be an unsatisfactory compromise and no further attempts were made to revise Cranmer's book but rather alternative books were introduced pell-mell from the 1950s through the 2000s.  And the result?]

August  22,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

Now, in this new vernacular service, he not only omitted whatever would emphasize the Real Presence but also the Sacrificial quality of the Mass.  This was called, in the English of the day, its "satisfactory" character--by which word was meant the doctrine that the Mass was offered up to God in satisfaction, a perpetually renewed sacrifice of Calvary, having effect for the living and the dead.  For the Mass was and is in the eyes of Catholics that by which the Crucifixion is extended throughout time, and the consecration n the Mass is also the vehicle whereby Jesus Christ remains perpetually and corporally present among men, not through their imagination and opinions but in the Sacrament Itself, whether men be present to worship It or not.

--Cranmer by Hilaire Belloc

August  21,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

Latin not only represented a mysterious sanctity but it stood for the universality of the Mass, common everywhere throughout the West.  And though not one word of the whole Sacrifice were uttered, though it had all been in dumb show, no more than a series of acts, it would still have been for the bulk of Englishmen the central religious mystery which they had attended all their lives and their fathers before them from generation to generation, from what may be called the beginning of English time; for the Mass is not a set of prayers: it is a drama.

But, for those who were intent upon the political and religious revolution they had taken in hand, the use of the vernacular was essential.  It helped to destroy the sense of mystery and by it the power of the clergy; it made the new religion national; it broke down that general unity of religion throughout the West on which was founded the hieratic authority of the universal Church with the Pope at its head, and to destroy that unity the destruction of the Mass was essential.

--Cranmer by Hilaire Belloc

August  20,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

Though the word "King" be no longer used, though the word "Divine" has fallen out of fashion, the strength of the thing is as vigorous as ever.  The lay state is sovereign; it claims undivided allegiance; it has full power over the bodies and souls of Christian men; it admits n superior authority to represent the universality of Christendom or the Christian moral law; it stands equal and independent with other states, its like, round about it.  The Christian Commonwealth of which each Christian state had been but a province and a part is wholly denied: for the Divine right has passed from the religion by which Europe once lived to governments which are but the heirs of the Kings.  That Divine Right still rules.  and against it the citizen has to-day no power at all.

--Cranmer by Hilaire Belloc

[N.B.:  What is remarkable about the United States is that it was the first attempt to abolish this Divine Right of Government in favor of the People, but, of course that has proven a failure--and an early one too.  The adoption of the Doctrine of Sovereign Immunity occurred near the beginning of its history.]

August  19,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

The chief historical thing was the new pronouncement which Cranmer made.  For the congregation saw advancing down the Choir the Archbishop, with his heavy face and weak eyes, who, lifting his hand, gave them no homily but such a declaration of doctrine as Europe had not yet heard.  It was not addressed to the Peers, or the people, or the Churchmen, but to the little frail figure in the dalmatic and the robes upon the throne.  And this was what he said:

That no matter what promise the boy might have made, no matter what engagements made or oaths taken, his right to rule the English was from God and God alone.  None could constrain him, none cold question him, least of all the Church--or him whom men had held from immemorial time to be the spokesman and ruler of the Church, the Pope.  No action of Edward's own or of another could separate him from that Crown which he now wore, nor could any deprive him of it.  The little chap was God's Vice-Regent upon earth and Christ's Vicar.

For the first time men had heard in England--loudly proclaimed--and in the seat of the English Kings, in Westminster Abbey--that strange new doctrine which was to be of such prodigious effect throughout the world, the DIVINE RIGHT OF KINGS: the new Protestant doctrine, fruitful of many things.

--Cranmer by Hilaire Belloc

August  18,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

Cranmer's motive was quite other.  He was not ambitious for power, he was not greedy for wealth, but in all his weakness and vacillations and servile attendance upon power, the solid inward kernel of his thought was still the passion to destroy that which he, with so many more outspoken, much more determined, men--careless as he could never be of consequence--now hated, the ancient ecclesiastical structure of Christendom.  To replace it by what he and his called "The Gospel," to erect in its place what ultimately was erected--a personal religion based upon private emotion, and, when it sought authority, clinging to private interpretation of Scripture as the alternative to the external authority of the Church--this was Cranmer's inner motive.  He desire what he could not then enjoy but what he looked for in the long run, a day in which that detestable mummery of the Mass which he himself was constrained to celebrate continually in such pomp would be done away with, and when the Sacrament of the Altar, as Papists called it, should be shown for the base thing it was--no more than bread.

--Cranmer by Hilaire Belloc

August  17,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

Julian said with a responsible air, "Bradley, I'm very sorry I got that all wrong."

"Nobody could have got it right.  Real misery cuts off all paths to itself." 

--The Black Prince by Iris Murdoch

August  16,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

She looked raffish, but had put on a self-consciously humble young person's expression, the kind of expression which says: I know I'm the youngest person present and very inexperienced and unimportant but I shall do my best to be helpful and it is very kind of you to pay any attention to me at all.  This attitude is of course a special kind of vanity.  The young are self-satisfied really and utterly ruthless. 

--The Black Prince by Iris Murdoch

August  15,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

Some clever writer (probably a Frenchman) has said: It is not enough to succeed; others must fail. 

--The Black Prince by Iris Murdoch

[N.B.:  There was also this once semi-popular author, at least among a certain class of people who thought that intellectual superiority and "edginess" could be found in the pages of the New Yorker, named, of all things, Gore Vidal (a wonderfully Dickinson name--all that needed to be added was some gross personal tic such as picking at the carbuncles of one's face) who also favored this quotation.]

August  14,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

When one has a secret source of satisfaction it is pleasing to talk of everything in the world but that.

--The Black Prince by Iris Murdoch

August  13,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

There are no spare unrecorded incapsulated moments in which we can behave "anyhow" and then expect to resume life where we left off.  The wicked regard time as discontinuous, the wicked dull their sense of natural causality.  The good feel being as a total dense mesh of tiny interconnections.  My lightest whim can affect the whole future.  Because I smoke a cigarette and smile over an unworthy thought another man may die in torment. 

--The Black Prince by Iris Murdoch

August  12,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

As it was, I was humiliated and defeated in her humiliation and defeat.  I tasted injustice and the special horror of seeing its perpetrators flourish.  How frequent and how bitter is this aspect of human wretchedness.  The wicked prosper in front of our eyes and go on and on and on prospering.  What a blessing it must have been once to be able to believe in hell.  A great and deep human consolation was lost to us when that ancient and respectable belief faded from our minds.  Yet there was more offence even than that, something profoundly ugly and repulsive to me: that vision of Roger with his grey hair and his genial pseudo-distinguished air of an ageing worldly man, holding a girl who could be his daughter, a girl unused, unmarked and fresh.  That particular juxtaposition of youth and age offends, and, I felt, offends rightly.

--The Black Prince by Iris Murdoch

August  11,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

They were shooting pigeons.  What an image of our condition, the loud report, the poor flopping bundle upon the ground, trying helplessly, desperately, vainly to rise again.  Through tears I saw the stricken birds tumbling over and over down the sloping roofs of warehouse.  I saw and heard their sudden weight, their pitiful surrender to gravity.  How hardening to the heart it must be to do this thing: to change an innocent soaring being into a bundle of struggling rags and pain.  I was looking at a ship's funnel and it was yellow and black against a sky of tingling lucid green.  Life is horrible, horrible, horrible, said the philosopher.

--The Black Prince by Iris Murdoch

August  10,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

When the believer, fortunate man, asks God to forgive not only the sins he can remember, but also the sins he cannot remember, and, more touching still, the sins he cannot even recognize, so benighted is he, as sins at all, the sense of liberation and subsequent calm must be tremendous.

--The Black Prince by Iris Murdoch

August  9,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

Almost any tale of our doings is comic.  We are bottomlessly comic to each other.  Even the most adored and beloved person is comic to his lover.  The novel is a comic form. Language is a comic form, and makes jokes in its sleep.  God, if He existed, would laugh at His creation.  Yet it is also the case that life is horrible, without metaphysical sense, wrecked by chance, pain and the close prospect of death.  Out of this is born irony, our dangerous and necessary tool.

--The Black Prince by Iris Murdoch

August  8,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

Art (as I observed to young Julian) is the telling of truth, and is the only available method for the telling of certain truths.  Yet how almost impossibly difficult it is not to let the marvels of the instrument itself interfere with the task to which it is dedicated.  There are those who will only praise an absolute simplicity, and for whom the song-bird utterance of the so-called primitive is the measure of all, as if truth ceases to be when it is not stammered.  And there are of course divinely cunning simplicities in the works of those whom I hardly dare to name, since they are so near to gods.  (Gods one does not name.)  But though it may always be well to attempt simplification, it is not always possible to avoid at least an elegant complexity.  And then one asks, How can this also be "true"?  Is the real like this, is it this?  Of course, we may attempt to attain truth through irony.  (An angel might make of this a concise definition of the limits of human understanding.)

--The Black Prince by Iris Murdoch

August  7,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

When I had finished writing this letter I was not only sweating, I was trembling and panting and my heart was beating viciously.  what emotion had so invaded me?  Fear?  It is sometimes curiously difficult to name the emotion from which one suffers.  The naming of it is sometimes unimportant, sometimes crucial.  hatred?

--The Black Prince by Iris Murdoch

August  6,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

Art is concerned not just primarily but absolutely with truth.  It is another name for truth.  The artist is learning a special language in which to reveal truth.  If you write, write from the heart, yet carefully, objectively.  Never pose.  Write little things which you think are true.  Then you may sometimes find that they are beautiful as well.

--The Black Prince by Iris Murdoch

August  5,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

The most important thing a writer must learn to do is to tear up what he has written.

--The Black Prince by Iris Murdoch

August  4,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

What is ugly and undignified is hardest of all, harder than wickedness, to soften into a mutually acceptable past.  We forgive those who have seen us vile sooner than those who have seen us humiliated.

--The Black Prince by Iris Murdoch

August  3,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

"And you don't mind poetry, prose--?"

"On no, not poetry.  I can't read poetry very well.  I'm keeping poetry for later on."

"The Iliad and the Divine Comedy are poems."

"Well, yes, of course they are, but I'd be reading them in a prose translation."

"So that disposes of that difficulty." 

--The Black Prince by Iris Murdoch

August  2,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

"Well, all right, I might think about some books for you.  But I'm no creative-writing guru, I can't give time to-- What sort of books do you mean, anyway?  Like the Iliad, the Divine Comedy, or like Sons and Lovers, Mrs. Dalloway--?"

"Oh Iliad, Divine Comedy, please.  That's marvellous!  That's just it!  The big stuff!"

--The Black Prince by Iris Murdoch

[N.B.:  More blasphemy!  Some great works are actually greater than others?  Why that suggests that any of such so-called "great" works are better than the latest edition of Batman.  No wonder Murdoch has fallen out of favor.]

August  1,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

"I know I'm not educated and I know I'm immature.  And this teachers' training place is hopeless.  I want you to give me a reading list.  All the great books I ought to read, but only the great ones and the hard ones.  I don't want to waste my time with small stuff.  I haven't got much time left now.  And I'll read the books and we could discuss them.  You could give me sort of tutorials on them.  And then, the second thing, I'd like to write things for you, short stories perhaps, or anything you felt I should write, and you'd criticize what I'd written.  You see, I want to be really taken in hand.  I think one should pay so much attention to technique, don't you?  Like learning to draw before you paint. 

--The Black Prince by Iris Murdoch

[N.B.:  Blasphemy!  What heretic would suggest one should actually read the best ever written before embarking on the more intrinsically interesting journey of forging from the coffee grinder of one's soul the limerick of one's race.]

July  31,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

"That's just it.  Daddy writes too much, don't you think?  He hardly ever revises.  he writes something, then he 'gets rid of it' by publishing it, I've heard him actually say that, and then he writes something else.  He's always in such a hurry, it's neurotic.  I see no point in being an artist unless you try all the time to be perfect." 

--The Black Prince by Iris Murdoch

July  30,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

Zbigniew was no believer, not in anything; but he found himself believing, for the first time, in death.  Death was not just an idea, or something that happened to other people.  He would die one day, just as this woman was dying, and he would die, as she did, alone.  Even if there were people who loved him all around, he would die alone. 

--Capital by John Lanchester

July  29,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

From his dealings with his mother, Smitty had learned the following truth: the person doing the worrying experiences it as a form of love; the person being worried about experiences it as a form of control.

--Capital by John Lanchester

July  28,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

In Max's case, the glasses were a form of defence mechanism or camouflage.  They helped hide his face.  At the same time they tried to look cool: but this was an each-way bet and as so often with each-way bets, it didn't come off.  Max's specs had narrow wire frames and were technocratic in a way that tried to express personality but did not.

--Capital by John Lanchester

July  27,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

Max was one of those men who were summed up by their glasses.  As contact lenses and corrective eye surgery became increasingly ubiquitous, glasses were turning into a deliberate statement - not just the type of glasses but the whole fact of wearing them.  They were a way of being above vanity (popular with nerds and certain kinds of actor or musician), or of trying to look more intelligent (popular with off-duty models), or of expressing intellectual disdain for disguise in a form-follows-function way (architects, designers), or of being too poor of too not-bothered.

--Capital by John Lanchester

[N.B.:  Hmmm, now where might Texas Governor Rick Perry fit in here?]

July  26,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

If you have seven children, Shahid wondered, does that mean you're keen on sex, keen on your wife, or keen on children?  Or just sh*t at contraception?  Or all four of those things?

--Capital by John Lanchester

July  25,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

You heard people say forty was the new thirty and fifty was the new forty and sixty was the  new forty-five, but you never heard anybody say eighty was the new anything.  Eighty was just eighty.

--Capital by John Lanchester

July  24,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

There would be girls there; he had met his last girlfriend in a place called Shooters during happy hour.  She eventually broke up with him after complaining that he never wanted to go anywhere and never wanted to do anything.  That, Zbigniew still felt, was not fair.  He had never wanted to go anywhere and never wanted to do anything that cost money - an important difference.

--Capital by John Lanchester

July  23,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

Arabella had a habit of overstating things, one that she had so much internalised that it was not always easy for she herself to tell when she was mildly pleased about something and when she was genuinely delighted.  Gresham's Law was at work: the cheap money of overstatement was gradually driving out the good money of true feeling.

--Capital by John Lanchester

July  22,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

The idea of luxury, even the word 'luxury', was important to Arabella.  Luxury meant something that was by definition overpriced, but was so nice, so lovely, in itself that you did not mind, in fact was so lovely that the expensiveness became part of the point, part of the distinction between the people who could not afford a thing and the select few who not only could, but also understood the desirability of paying so much for it.  Arabella knew that there were thoughtlessly rich people who could afford everything; she didn't see herself as one of them but instead as one of an elite who both knew what money meant and could afford the things they wanted; and the knowledge of what money meant gave the drama of high prices a special piquancy.  She loved expensive things because she knew what their expensiveness meant.  She had a complete understanding of the signifiers.

--Capital by John Lanchester

July  21,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

Zbigniew was a sharp student of his British customers and knew that in this country builders had a reputation for specific things: they were expensive and lazy; they were never available when you wanted them; they took over your house and behaved as if it were theirs during the work; and they left things half-finished and went off to another job so that the last phase of the work dragged on for months.  He set out always to be the opposite of all those things and to stick to this policy at all times.

--Capital by John Lanchester

July  20,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

If you want to keep servants you must treat them badly.  The same, I find, applies to lovers.

--The Life and Loves of a She-Devil by Fay Weldon

July  19,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

Mr. Ghengis enjoyed his work.  It seemed to him that it was one of the few occupations in the world that could not be faulted.  Social work could be seen as system-bolstering; ordinary doctoring as fostering the interest of the pharmaceutical companies; teaching as the enslavement of the young mind; the arts as idle elitism; business of any kind as grinding the world's poor beneath the capitalist heel; and so forth: but cosmetic surgery was pure.  It made the ugly beautiful.  To transform the human body, the shell of the soul, was, Mr. Ghengis felt, the nearest a man could get to motherhood: molding, shaping, bringing forth in pain and anguish.  True, the pain and anguish were not strictly his but his patients'.  Nevertheless, he felt it.  Nothing was for nothing.

--The Life and Loves of a She-Devil by Fay Weldon

July  18,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

Another man soon moved into the space left by Paul's father--nature abhors an empty bed--and stayed for three months, before moving on to a less child-encumbered woman; leaving Vickie pregnant.

--The Life and Loves of a She-Devil by Fay Weldon

July  17,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

Vickie wriggled and protested and insulted and derided the state, her provider, in much the same way that wives will insult and deride the husbands who provide for them, care for them, love them.  Vickie's second baby, Paul, was born to a father recognizably his, who stayed for six months after the birth, only to go out one evening to buy a packet of cigarettes, never to reappear.

--The Life and Loves of a She-Devil by Fay Weldon

July  16,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

At the age of eighteen Vickie had felt quite sorry for herself and thought that to give her life a purpose and a meaning she should have babies, and set about achieving this ambition.  It is always important to have someone to love, as well as something to do.  Once she had a baby, the Welfare Department paid her rent and gave her vouchers for electricity and food, and if she argued enough, War on Want would pay her gas bill and her television rental and keep her washing machine in order.  But it was hard work getting around from department to department, encumbered as she was by her two small children.  One way and another, she would have enough for the children's breakfast, but not for their supper, and so forth.  In return, the state demanded respect and gratitude and not--as any Bradwell Park husband would--merely payment in kind, of the flesh.  Sex in Bradwell Park was regarded as a bargaining ploy, rarely seen as a source of mutual pleasure or spiritual refreshment, and the notion of partnership between man and wife was generally abhorrent to both sexes.

--The Life and Loves of a She-Devil by Fay Weldon

[N.B.:  Remember, this is a book by a British author about the British published in 1983.]

July  15,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

"Never trust a woman," observed Polly Patch, and the judge was glad she was unfashionable enough to indulge in the kind of sexist remarks that had once kept conversations so lively, and animation flashing between the sexes.

--The Life and Loves of a She-Devil by Fay Weldon

July  14,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

There is always a living to be earned doing the work that others prefer not to do.  Employment can generally be found looking after other people's children, caring for the insane, or guarding imprisoned criminals, cleaning public rest rooms, laying out the dead, or making beds in cheap hotels.  Payment is usually small, but enough to keep the recipient alive and strong enough to get to work the next day.  There is always, as governments are fond of saying, work for those who want it.

--The Life and Loves of a She-Devil by Fay Weldon

July  13,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

"I'm sick," hiccuped Andy, and was, over everything.

--The Life and Loves of a She-Devil by Fay Weldon

July  12,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

Lust corrodes as love does not.  Lust is all hard hammer blows, cracking and splitting.  Love is a slippery, velvety cloak to hide in.  Lust is real and love is the stuff of dreams, and dreams are what we are made of.  A million million women couldn't be wrong.  Could they?

--The Life and Loves of a She-Devil by Fay Weldon

July  11,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

As Mary Fisher kept saying, "I am only as good as my last novel."  And Bobbo knew that her novels were not "good" at all, but merely salable, a distinction she was afraid to make, for what is salable today is unsalable tomorrow.

--The Life and Loves of a She-Devil by Fay Weldon

July  10,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

Brenda and Angus left.  They walked away down the path, side by side but not touching.  Domestic strife is catching.  Happy couples do well to avoid the company of the unhappy.

--The Life and Loves of a She-Devil by Fay Weldon

July  9,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

And how, especially, do ugly women survive, those whom the world pities?  The dogs, as they call us.  I'll tell you; they live as I do, outfacing truth, hardening the skin against perpetual humiliation, until it's as tough and cold as a crocodile's.  And we wait for old age to equalize all things.  We make good old women.

--The Life and Loves of a She-Devil by Fay Weldon

July  8,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

A critic he took more seriously was a distant cousin from Boston, Alice Gould, who had moved to Spain to complete groundbreaking scholarship on a life of Christopher Columbus.  Harry had met her in Seville, and had been struck by her independent spirit and formidable erudition.  She examined the character of his sonnets at length, and he copied her remarks verbatim into his working notebook. . . . She then tickles him with faint praise:

You seem to me to use the sonnet line naturally--to think in phrases of that length and structure, so that one never gets the felling of an artificial form with arbitrary rules--a feeling given by very many writers, whom one wants to ticket with "Just see me write a sonnet."  But while your phrases are sonnet-phrases, I do not think your ideas are sonnet ideas.  I do not feel any tossing to and fro of an idea and finally reaching a conclusion--nor yet the other sonnet-fitting development of a parallel, a simile, a likeness in unlikeness between the two parts--I think that even the subjects on which you offer your ideas are not sonnet subjects.  A picture in words is not to my thinking a sonnet-subject, nor yet is a statement or a single reflection. . . . [The sonnet] must either stray forward by successive steps, considering each step, or march like Milton to a beating organ-time and bring up with a bang. . . .

--Black Sun: The Brief Transit and Violent Eclipse of Harry Crosby by Geoffrey Wolff

July  7,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

When Harry was with Hemingway, he usually drank too much, and after one particularly savage bout with him woke in disgust to notice that whenever he got drunk his hands got dirty.  Hemingway introduced Harry to Goya's Disasters of War, and otherwise satisfied his appetite for the macabre by giving him a photograph of a man's arm that had been removed from the belly of a shark off Key West.

--Black Sun: The Brief Transit and Violent Eclipse of Harry Crosby by Geoffrey Wolff

July  6,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

Reading and writing were for Harry--as for Kafka--a form of prayer.  And perhaps because he was as literal as he was literary, he began to dwell on books as sacred artifacts as well as sacred processes.  He noted in his journal that "books should be real things--they were so once when a man would give a fat field in exchange for a small manuscript."  He was both intimidated and exhilarated by his realization that every age throws up only a few books able to stick to the ribs of the future, only a few works of literature--"news that stays news," in Pound's formulation.  He never gave voice to his ambition to produce even one such enduring work, but it was his entire purpose, why he worked so hard to learn the trick of genius, why he transformed himself into what he perceived to be an artistic character.

--Black Sun: The Brief Transit and Violent Eclipse of Harry Crosby by Geoffrey Wolff

[N.B.:  There are but a few ways to live forever and almost all of them lack the ability of the immortalized to put the stamp on the future interpretation of what made them immortal.  Great statesmen--and great brutes--must rely on the kind offices of future historians.  Artists must allow theie mute works stand in fquiet glory for their thoughts.  Classical composers have the opposite problem and instead leave behind works of great sound but which speak in a language of music, not men (and let us pass in silence, as will eternity, over our songwriting troubadours who compose mawkish ditties about loves lost and found amongst the hay--diddle-diddle).  Only writers get to pass their composed thoughts on to future generations in a form that requires an immersion in the work for more than an inarticulate moment.  And that's why more people want to write than to paint or to compose.]

July  5,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

"Frans and Mai were with us and Croucher and Gretchen.  At about one o'clock it was WILD men and women stark naked dancing people rushing to and fro. . . . From our loge I opened the sack and down dropped the ten serpents.  Screams and shouts.  Yet later in the evening I sat next to a plump girl who was suckling one of the serpents!  Dear me!  Somewhere about two o'clock came the costume contest and the Beauty Prize lovely nude models ivory-white against a black velvet curtain standing upon a dais.  Deafening applause."

--Black Sun: The Brief Transit and Violent Eclipse of Harry Crosby by Geoffrey Wolff

July  4,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

The following year Stephen Crosby was in approving attendance, caparisoned in an extraordinary Cambodian getup, with a toothbrush attached to his hat.  Before the ball Harry, Caresse and Mai de Geetere enjoyed a bath together, then painted themselves green, together with Lymington and a girl for whom he and Harry shared an affection.  That year Harry wore seven pigeons and carried ten live snakes in a sack--more and more was the only measure he valued--and he and Caresse gave a better party than last year's, for more people.  The students clamored for GIN GIN GIN when the champagne punch ran out, and mobbed the Crosbys' maid--it was difficult to know which exactly of several things they wanted from her--and for an ugly moment Harry was afraid it had all gone too far.  But he got the party under way to the ball at about ten o'clock, and as he wrote his mother two days later, by the standards of pandemonium it was a great success.

--Black Sun: The Brief Transit and Violent Eclipse of Harry Crosby by Geoffrey Wolff

July  3,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

So far he had been dabbling, but at the 1926 ball, Lymington's first, Harry set the tone of the following three full-throttle orgies.  The motif was Incan, and he rubbed himself down with red ocher and wore a red loincloth and a necklace of three dead pigeons.  But before the ball there was a supper party--if a champagne punch made from forty bottles of brut, and five each of whiskey, cointreau and gin, may be called supper--given in the library of 19 rue de Lille for eighty students and their girls.  . . .  Caresse wore bare breasts and a turquoise wig, and at the ball won a prize of twenty-five bottles of champagne for the Crosbys' group by riding around the ballroom in the jaws of a papier-mâché dragon propelled through the Salle Wagram by a couple of dozen drunk students.  Harry passed out and woke up next morning stinking of dead pigeons and sticky with paint, in bed with Lymington, Caresse, Lymington's girl (who was angry that he had not troubled to make love to her) and several others, newly met.

--Black Sun: The Brief Transit and Violent Eclipse of Harry Crosby by Geoffrey Wolff

July  2,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

The Four Arts Ball marked the closing of the art academies for the summer and the climax of a year of study.  Weeks before the orgy a masquerade motif was announced, though costumes consisted of not much more than body paint, a loincloth and an elaborate headdress.  (Dress designers invariably smuggled in their scouts to steal ideas from the bizarre inventions.).

--Black Sun: The Brief Transit and Violent Eclipse of Harry Crosby by Geoffrey Wolff

July  1,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

But for mischief, bad intentions and inventive self-indulgence no private party could equal the institution of the Four Arts Ball, a costume extravaganza staged every June by students of the arts in Paris, notorious for spectacular drunkenness and public fornication between stranger and stranger.  The dances were restricted to male art students and as many women as wished to attend, but Harry and Caresse nevertheless went every year from 1923 till 1929, and brought along the Powels, the de Geeteres and Lymington.

--Black Sun: The Brief Transit and Violent Eclipse of Harry Crosby by Geoffrey Wolff

June  30,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

'After a while, getting what you want all the time is very close to not getting what you want all the time.'

--A History of the World in 10 1/2 Chapters by Julian Barnes

June  29,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

History isn't what happened.  History is just what historians tell us.  There was a pattern, a plan, a movement, expansion, the march of democracy; it is a tapestry, a flow of events, a complex narrative, connected, explicable.  One good story leads to another.  First it was kings and archbishops with some offstage divine tinkering, then it was the march of ideas and the movements of masses, then little local events which mean something bigger, but all the time it's connections, progress, meaning, this led to his, this happened because of this.  And we, the readers of history, the sufferers from history, we scan the pattern for hopeful conclusions, for the way ahead.  And we cling to history as a series of salon pictures, conversation pieces whose participants we can easily reimagine back into life, when all the time it's more like a multi-media collage, with paint applied by decorator's roller rather than camel-hair brush.

--A History of the World in 10 1/2 Chapters by Julian Barnes

June  28,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

And does history repeat itself, the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce?  No, that's too grand, too considered a process.  History just burps, and we taste again that raw-onion sandwich it swallowed centuries ago.

--A History of the World in 10 1/2 Chapters by Julian Barnes

June  27,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

I can't tell you who to love, or how to love: those school courses would be how-not-not-to as much as how-to classes (it's like creative writing - you can't teach them how to write or what to write, only usefully point out where they're going wrong and save them time).

--A History of the World in 10 1/2 Chapters by Julian Barnes

June  26,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

Of course, it is a relatively modern American import, the notion that we must 'have these things out,' while the old, English traditions of letting sleeping dogs lie, and brushing things under the carpet, have been spurned.  But who gains from this constant picking at the scabs of life?  'We have to talk,' says at least one character in almost every television drama these days, until one longs to scream at the screen, 'Why? just let it go!'

--Past Imperfect by Julian Fellowes

June  25,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

They cannot admire anyone who is more successful than they are.  They cannot enjoy the friends of their partner because these strangers may not agree to accept them for the superior being they are.  But since they have no friends themselves, it means they must regard any human gathering with suspicion.  They cannot praise, because praise affirms the worth of the person to whom it is given and the process of controlling is built on the suppression of any self-worth in whomever they are with.  They cannot learn, because learning first demands an acknowledgement that the teacher knows more than they, which they cannot give on any subject.  Above all, they are boring.  Boring beyond imagining.  Boring to the point of madness.

--Past Imperfect by Julian Fellowes

June  24,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

Genuine controllers are anti-life, killers of energy, living fire blankets that smother all endeavour.  For a start, they are always unhappy on anyone's territory but their own.  They cannot enjoy any party they are not giving.  They cannot relax as guests in a public place, because that would involve gratitude and gratitude is, to them, a sign of weakness.  But they are intolerable as hosts, especially in restaurants, where their manner to waiters and fellow diners alike poisons the atmosphere.

--Past Imperfect by Julian Fellowes

June  23,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

The reason this is completely bewildering for the upper middle and upper classes is simply because for them the dinner is the pleasure.  It is the apex, the core, the point.  If the whole business of feeding is over by half past seven, what on earth is one to do until bed?  These people don't go to self-help groups, or engage in amateur acting, nor do they study art of quilting, or drop into a bar.  This is why any role in local government is so difficult for them.  It takes place just when they prefer to be sitting at a table for a very different purpose.  For those who cross the great social divide, there can be few habits harder to adjust to, whichever direction they have travelled.

--Past Imperfect by Julian Fellowes

Patrick: Lagniappe

To me, early eating can only be explained if food is considered essentially as fuel to strengthen one for the adventures yet to come.  So, people will dine at six or six thirty in order to be fuelled by seven, in time to fill the next few hours with fun.  This time may be spent in a club or in a pub or keeping fit or studying macramé or learning Mandarin or line dancing of simply watching television while sitting on a sofa.  The evening is your oyster and, by eating early, you are free to enjoy every pleasure while it lasts.

--Past Imperfect by Julian Fellowes

June  21,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

Not belonging to this team, I find it hard to penetrate their thinking.  Do they imagine that by being demanding and edgy and cross, they will force you to work harder to make things better?  If so, they are, of course, completely wrong.  This kind of talk just gives one permission to go.  The more dissatisfied they are, the more their gloom will become a self-fulfilling prophecy.  In fact, the first time you hear that put-upon sigh, 'I suppose I'm expected to clean this up,' you know it is simply a matter of time.  The irony being that the ones who are truly hard to leave are those who are always happy.  To desert a happy lover, to make them unhappy when they were not unhappy before, is hard and mean, and involves guilt of a major kind.  To leave a miserable whinger just seems logical.

--Past Imperfect by Julian Fellowes

June  20,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

I was struck, not for the first time, by the tremendous mistake that about half the human race usually finds itself making when it comes to wobbly relationships.  The division is not be sex or class or nationality or race or even age, since almost every type is found on both sides of the divide.  The mistake is this: When they are in a partnership that is not going well, they attempt to inject a kind of drama into by becoming moody and critical and permanently not quite-satisfied.  "Why do you always do that?' they say.  'Now, are you listening because you never get this right?'  Or, 'Don't tell me you've forgotten again!'

--Past Imperfect by Julian Fellowes

June  19,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

Very few Englishmen ever ask women anything about themselves.  They choose instead to lecture their dinner neighbours on a new and better route to the M5, or to praise their own professional achievements.  So if a man does express any curiosity about the woman sitting next to him, about her feelings, about the life she is leading, she will generally tell him anything he cares to know.

--Past Imperfect by Julian Fellowes

June  18,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

'I knew he'd do well.  That was what I loved about him.  He was part of the world that was coming.'  She glanced at me.  'Not the world we thought was coming, all that peace and love and flowers-in-your-hair.  Not that.  The real world that crept secretly towards us through the seventies and arrived with a bang in the eighties.  The ambition, the rapacity, I knew that another rich oligarchy would be back in place before I died and I was sure Damian would belong to it.'

--Past Imperfect by Julian Fellowes

June  17,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

It was not unlike Mr Blair's attempt to rebrand the country Cool Britannia.  There was a period when everyone thought it might work, then a second chapter when the media would insist the experiment was working even though we all knew it wasn't and finally a universal acknowledgement, from Left and Right, that it had been a ridiculous and colossal failure.

--Past Imperfect by Julian Fellowes

[N.B.:  No, no, no--this has nothing to do with current affairs.  After all, the book was published in 2009.]

June  16,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

'Who's that one?'  A tall and handsome young man flashed her a smile as he passed.

'Don't bother.  No money.  No prospects.'  Lucy clearly understood her companion's priorities.  'Of course, he's clever and he's headed for the City.  He may make something of himself.'

But Terry shook her head.  'That takes twenty years and by the time they've got there they're ready to trade you in for a younger model.  No.  I want some money from the outset.'

--Past Imperfect by Julian Fellowes

June  15,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

'Actually,' said Alex, leaning forward, 'I've got a question for you, Luke.'

'Shoot.'

'You're watching television.  Suddenly you realize there's a wasp crawling along your arm.'

'I'd kill it.'

'You go into a restaurant, the entrée is boiled dog . . .'

Luke said nothing.  His eyes met Alex's in t rearview mirror.

'Tell me,' said Luke, 'have you ever taken this test yourself?'

'Within five seconds,' said Sahra, 'Alex will be doing his Rutger Hauer.  I guarantee it.'

'I've seen things you people wouldn't believe,' said Alex.  'Attack ships on fire off the shores of Orion . . . '

Luke joined in and they did the last lines together, perfectly synchronised: 'All of those moments will be lost . . . in time, like tears . . . in rain.'

Nicole and Sahra did a perfectly synchronised yawn.

--Paris Trance by Geoff Dyer

June  14,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

'The point is that everything can always be improved.'

'How can you ever be happy if you think that?'

'How can you ever be happy if you don't?'

'What does that mean?'

'It means everything can always be improved by drugs.  It's just a question of fitting the substance to the activity in question.  Or finding the right activity for the substance.  You admit that listening to music is much better if you're stoned, right?  And dancing is much better if you take--'

'For you, yes.'

'For everyone.'

'But I don't want to take it.  I don't try to persuade you not to.  So why do you try to persuade me to?'

'Because you're missing out on something great.  It can get to the point where there's nothing but lights and music.  You can feel yourself dissolving as an individual.  You can feel yourself not existing.'

'I love my existence.'

--Paris Trance by Geoff Dyer

June  13,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

'That was amazing,' said Luke when they came out of L'Avventura.

'Amazingly boring, you mean?' said Sahra.

'Yes, exactly.'

--Paris Trance by Geoff Dyer

June  12,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

When in pursuit of a woman, Alex thought, your friend's girlfriend will always be your best co-conspirator.

--Paris Trance by Geoff Dyer

June  11,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

'The most important thing,' said Nicole, 'is that women like men who like women.'

--Paris Trance by Geoff Dyer

June  10,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

To have telephoned the next day would have appeared over-eager; the following week too casual. So he called after three days - exactly, as Sara calculated, when someone romantically inclined would do so.

--Paris Trance by Geoff Dyer

June  9,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

'What did you see?' Alex said.  'More precisely, which Cassavetes film did you see?'  There was a Cassavetes season on.  You could not move for Cassavetes films.

'Faces'

'Faces?  I can't remember whether I've seen that one or not.  It's the one that's exactly like all the others, right?'

'That's the one.  Have you seen it?'

'Yes.  Or maybe it was one of the others.'

--Paris Trance by Geoff Dyer

June  8,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

Breaking a long silence, Lionel said, 'You see that uh, architect who topped hisself, Des?  Sir John someone.  His mum pops off and he tops hisself.  And everyone goes, Ah, he was depressed, see because his mum popped off.  They always say that - and it's bollocks.  It's not that he suddenly wanted to.  Top hisself.  It's that he suddenly could.'

--Lionel Asbo: State of England by Martin Amis

June  7,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

"See Daph, the rich world . . . is heavy.  Everything weighs.  Because it's here for the duration.  It's here to stay . . And my old world, Diston as was, it's . . it's light!  Nothing weighs an ounce!  People die!  It, things - fly away!"  He does some more frowning and says, "So that's me challenge.  To go from the floating world . . to the heavy.  That's me challenge.  And I can handle it."

--Lionel Asbo: State of England by Martin Amis

June  6,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

"You're not wrong, Daph.  I never had much time for the other.  Before.  Wasn't bothered.  Perfectly happy with the porn."

'This is casually said.  As if for all the world adult videos were a traditional alternative to adult relationships.'

"You can't go far wrong with the porn.  It's like prison.  You know where you are with the porn."

--Lionel Asbo: State of England by Martin Amis

June  5,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

I don't normally have much patience with messy lives.  Does it sound smug if I say that I saw through the seventies and its morality before most people?  I can't help that.  I tired fairly early of people boasting about their open relationships, and then complaining when that same openness let everything they could have valued trickle away.  The word open began to sound warning bells long before it became apparent that people were leaving themselves open to more than bad behaviour.  I would almost flinch when I heard that word.

--The Changes of Those Terrible Years collected in Monopolies of Loss by Adam Mars-Jones

June  4,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

I closed my eyes and I could see the characteristics of a voice, its strengths but also its temptations.  I knew which singers were basing themselves on the wrong models, dreaming of a sound that was impossibly big or pure.  The limitations of the physical apparatus must be faced squarely, but then transcended.  It's actually the limitations of the voice's owner, rather than the voice itself, that most often impose artificial boundaries on a singing career.

--The Changes of Those Terrible Years collected in Monopolies of Loss by Adam Mars-Jones

June  3,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

I believe I was the only partner with no musical ambition of my own.  Certainly at the firm's Christmas party each year two of my colleagues would be led protesting to the piano to attempt some Schubert four-hands.  Despite their protests at the stiffness of their fingers and the limited time they had for practice, they were really not very good.

--The Changes of Those Terrible Years collected in Monopolies of Loss by Adam Mars-Jones

June  2,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

Understanding people is a perfectly valid alternative to liking them  . . . .

--Summer Lightning collected in Monopolies of Loss by Adam Mars-Jones

June  1,  2014

Patrick: Lagniappe

He liked to walk along Bourbon Street, loving the clarity of its division.  On one side of a definite line, the street was clearly straight, on the other side it was just as clearly gay.  Standing there on the divide, it was impossible not to notice that straight sex was sold, and gay sex given away.

--The Brake collected in Monopolies of Loss by Adam Mars-Jones

May  31,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

The trouble was not that people were promiscuous, he thought, but that they were promiscuous only with their bodies.

--The Brake collected in Monopolies of Loss by Adam Mars-Jones

May  30,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

From talking to American architecture students he had also acquired a new idea of his profession.  The unfamiliar word they used was charette, a noun they also used as a verb.  A charrette was an all-night session of work, and they seemed to feel they were missing something if they didn't pull a charrette ('pull' was the correct verb, if you weren't actually saying 'charretting') every week or so.  The word was explained to him as meaning a 'little cart' in French: at one time students had to put their work in a cart which would drive off at a pre-ordained time.  They could run after the cart if need be, and throw their work in, but if their work didn't reach the cart there could be no excuses.  From the explanation as well as the word itself, charretting should be a European rather than American tradition, but his informant argued strongly for its status as American.  Certainly Roger had never heard the word in Britain.  The equivalent British words, he remembered, were gnoming or grinding; they were always words of penance and failure

--The Brake collected in Monopolies of Loss by Adam Mars-Jones

May  29,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

He watched Cukor's The Women at the Castro movie house, amazed.  There wasn't a man on screen, and hardly a woman in the audience.  In the film, Norma Shearer's mother told her that men were shallow, that men could only see themselves in someone else's eyes, that when they were bored with themselves they just changed the eyes they saw themselves in, so the best thing for her to do was to buy some new clothes, get a new hairdo, redecorate and wait till her man came back.  The men in the audience, with their new clothes, their recent haircuts (and some of them only going to the movies while the paint dried in their apartments anyway), erupted in affirmation.  Roger might have expected something of the sort when Scarlett O'Hara vowed never to be poor or hungry again, but he was startled by this mixture of resourcefulness and a communal masochism, self pity and rah-rah cheerleading.

--The Brake collected in Monopolies of Loss by Adam Mars-Jones

May  28,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

He looked with favour on historical references, irregular curves, erosions, the creative use of interstitial space.  He broadened his tolerance for eccentricity.  He loved, for instance, Peter Eisenman's House V, with it upside-down dummy staircase formally balancing the functional one - so useful at moments of reversed gravity.  He enjoyed too the slim pillar in the bedroom, whose sole purpose was preventing the residents from moving their beds together; by doing so they would lose the dawn view he had prepared fro them through a slit window.  That, Roger thought, was the right way to treat a client.  Even better than running off with the client's wife, make it hard for him to have an affair with her.  Make sure he's awake to see plenty of dawns.

--The Brake collected in Monopolies of Loss by Adam Mars-Jones

May  27,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

The nearest gay pub marked on the map that their host at Rogues had given them was called The Waterman.  As they entered, their novelty ensured them the equivalent of a ticker-tape welcome.  The Waterman had the usual amenities of a gay bar that had evolved stage by stage from a straight one, that is, no chairs, so that turning round to stare involved no violence to furniture.  The pub was too crowded for conversation actually to stop, but everyone there gave them an aggressively searching look in their first ten seconds in the pub.  Bernard knew the commercial gay scene well enough to realize that interest and approval were often signalled with a coldly accusing stare, but it still seemed strange to him.  You would have thought that The Waterman was playing host to a convention of bounty hunters, he though, who couldn't help comparing any unfamiliar faces with the Wanted posted in their minds.  Neil and Bernard felt Wanted all right.  It wasn't particularly pleasant.

--A Small Place collected in Monopolies of Loss by Adam Mars-Jones

May  26,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

Television viewers, too, could see the bishops of the Church in their copes, escorting the young monarch to her throne.  In her right hand was placed the sceptre and cross, ensign of power and justice; in her left, the rod wit the dove, a sign that equity and mercy would temper that power.  She was anointed with the oil of chrism on her head and on her chest by the former headmaster of Repton, Dr Geoffrey Fisher, archbishop of Canterbury, a crossword fanatic and firm disciplinarian who, while headmaster, had caned the schoolboy Michael Ramsey, who now stood beside the throne as bishop of Durham.  British life, in other words, in all its old-fashioned oddity, was much as it had always been.  And here came the crowned heads of other lands, driving through the rain in their landaus - the big, jolly, laughing queen of Tonga, and opposite her the diminutive sultan of Johore.  (Who was that?  'Her lunch,' replied Noel Coward.)  and here is the Prime Minister, Sir Winston Churchill, dressed as Warden of the Cinque Ports, stiff with gold braid, and golden buttons, and medals and old glory, his smiling Clementing, tiare'd and bejewelled, beside him, in the mantle and collar of the GBE.

--After the Victorians by A. N. Wilson

May  25,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

Typical of the British habit of coming in at the end of things and therefore creating almost instantaneous nostalgia was the Rev. W. Awdry's decision, in the late Forties, to write a series of children's stories about Thomas the Tank Engine on a small branch line.  Within a very few years of Awdry's series beginning, the Fat Controller, one of the old private railway bosses, would in fact have been sent packing by the new British Railways apparatchiks; and Thomas's friends, Gordon the Big Engine, Henry the Green Engine, and so on, would only have survived in museums or those slightly sad small stretches of track on which enthusiasts still run steam trains.  In the world of children's literature, however, these steam trains with their Fat Controller appear to be as immortal as the fairies or the gods, impervious to any changes on the Earth, let alone changes of government transport or ownership.  Children who have hardly travelled on a train, still less a passenger steam train, find these stories endlessly re-readable.  In part this is surely because of the illustrations by C. Reginald Dalby which evoke - witness the marvellous snow scenes in the story called 'The Flying Kipper' - a vanished Britain, though not always one which is sin or crime-free.  (In a later story in that volume, 'Henry's Sneeze', some boys throw stones from a railway bridge and leave the Fireman concussed.)

--After the Victorians by A. N. Wilson

May  24,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

On 20 August 1943 Friedrich Reck-Mallaczewen, the Man in Despair, saw a group of such refugees trying to force their way on to a train in Upper Bavaria.  As they do so a cardboard suitcase bursts open 'and spills its contents.  Toys, a manicure case, singed underwear.  And last of all, the roasted corpse of a child, shrunk like a mummy, which its half-deranged mother has been carrying about with her, the relic of a past that was still intact a few days ago.'

--After the Victorians by A. N. Wilson

May  23,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

The summer raid over Hamburg in July 1943, conducted in extreme heat, led in effect to a tornado of fire which took possession of the whole city.  Ben Witter, a Hamburg journalist who witnessed the raid, recollected: 'The water by the docks was on fire.  It is difficult to explain why the water was burning, there were many more ships in the canals.  They had exploded; burning oil was on the water and the people who were themselves on fire jumped into it; they burned and swam, burnt and went under.'  A Hamburg fire officer, Hans Brunswig, said: 'Most people were killed by the fierce heat: the temperature in some places reached 1,000 degrees centigrade.'  Over a million and a quarter people fled from Hamburg.

--After the Victorians by A. N. Wilson

May  22,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

On the night of Harris's thousand-bomber onslaught on Cologne, the morale of the people was terribly shaken.  A hospital doctor recalled: 'We were all shaking with fear, many of the patients were crying, many people actually caught fire and were running round like live torches.'  Amazingly, however, the survivors doggedly went on with life, just as Londoners did.

--After the Victorians by A. N. Wilson

May  21,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

Yet Hitler's anti-Semitism surely did play a part in the change of British public perception of the whole European situation.  Many of the 70,000 of those Jews (55,000 of whom settled permanently) who came to Britain as a result of Hitler's persecutions were to become household names, like Karl Popper, Nikolaus Pevsner, Georgi Solti, Geoffrey Elton.  Others were household names already.  When Sigmund Freud arrived, all the rules were bent, and he was made a British citizen the very next day.  Apart from enriching life in innumerable ways for the British, their very presence prompted the questions in the mind which would lead to something much deeper than questions of mere national interest.  What kind of a world would it be, if it were controlled by a regime that wanted to expunge Albert Einstein and Yehudi Menuhin?

--After the Victorians by A. N. Wilson

May  20,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

To be a poet was no longer a popular distinction, as it had been even in the early Twenties.  Hardly a poet now earned enough by the sale of collected poems to keep him in tobacco.  The crown had passed to the novelist, who was essayist dramatist, pamphleteer, prose-poet, historian, all in one.  The novel became industrialized: novels succeeded less on their literary merits than on the sales-power that author and publisher could exert by direct and indirect advertisement and 'pull'.  Useful instruments to this end were the professional reviewers, whose chief gift was knowing whom it was wise to praise or safe to slam.  Their names grew bloated from constant quotation in publishers' announcements.  In 1936 the head of one of the largest British publishing-houses congratulated his shareholders on the valuable contracts secured that year 'not only with well-known, novelists, but with novelists who are also reviewers'.

--The Long Week End: A Social History of Great Britain 1918-1939 by Robert Graves and Alan Hodge

[N.B.:  I, for one, take some comfort both in the knowledge that this sort of literary "enterprise" has existed for quite some time and that the advent of the internet and inexpensive electronic publishing means that at least some wheat will continue to be manufactured along with the prodigious quantities of chaff.]

May  19,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

Of course, as has been well known in the West for centuries, the Chinese are an enigmatic people, who talk in riddles and pass messages about in cookies, but they're also capable of searing and salutary frankness, as was experienced by friends of ours, a family of four, two distinguished adults and two comparatively placid sons under ten, who went regularly to a restaurant some distance from their home because they enjoyed both the delicious food and the speed of service.  They were nonetheless slightly puzzled by the gravity of the management's and waiters' demeanours - though they were never rude, they never smiled, or even greeted them as if they'd ever seen them before.  Finally, after several years of this, the man, a distinguished lawyer then, and now a judge, let's call him Cravenwood, decided to unravel what had come to seem to the whole family a bit of a mystery.  On their way out on what would proved to be their last visit, Cravenwood stopped at the door where the head waiter was loitering, and put it to him: 'Look', he said, 'look, we really, really like your restaurant, the food is excellent, and the service so efficient, and yet you, none of you, give us as much as a smile or a hello, not once in all these years, not even to the boys,' gesturing to them, 'so we can't help wondering, is there any particular reason?'  the manager thought for a moment, then said, 'We don't like you.'  There's not much you can say to that, really, all you can do is wish you hadn't asked - and not go back, of course.

--The Last Cigarette by Simon Gray

May  12,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

Izaak Walton described Donne, after the death of his wife, as being like the pelican in the wilderness - pelicans being thought to tear at and rend themselves from grief - and yet Donne was a man of God who triumphed in the thought of his own death because 'Then Thou hast done!' - 'hast Donne' - how is it then that he couldn't triumph in the thought of his wife's death?  Surely he should have exclaimed triumphantly, 'Then Thou hast Mary!'  Mary?  Why do I think her name was Mary?  It was Anne, surely?  Anne Donne?  He wrote it on the kitchen door, on the day of his marriage.  'John Donne, Anne Donne, Undonne.'

--The Last Cigarette by Simon Gray

May  11,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

So it always comes back to the same thing - if no God and no afterlife, no afterlife and no God, then no judgement.  Judging is simply another form of grieving, and all you really mean is: he shouldn't have done it because it's not fair on me.

--The Last Cigarette by Simon Gray

May  10,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

I've always loved the memory of the Promenade, such a neat, unassuming little off-Broadway theatre - off-Broadway signifying its status, not its location, because actually it's on Broadway, but with 499 seats - one more seat would have made it on Broadway, and everything, including the tickets, would have cost much more.

--The Last Cigarette by Simon Gray

May  9,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

Well.  Our beginnings never know our ends, as Butley says once or twice in the play, quoting T. S. Eliot - and it seems to me that it's probably also true that our ends never know our beginnings - well, how can we? . . . [W]hen one thing led to another and conclusions were somehow reached before choices were made, when you became a man in an altered condition as a result of a slip of the tongue, or a moment of inattention.  They felt more like lapses than choices - one lapsed into the future as possibly one lapses into infidelity, or into bankruptcy, or into death -

--The Last Cigarette by Simon Gray

May  8,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

I'm glad I've read Mahfouz - almost all the first volume, and sections of the two other volumes, have the transparency of a great novel, you seem to go straight into the characters without being conscious of the words that take you there - and this in translation, as with Tolstoy - and you feel the alien world of Cairo during the First World War becoming utterly familiar to you, habits and customs that would be disgusting when reported to you out of the context he creates come to seem quiet natural, so that one accepts, for instance, the prosperous merchant's attitude towards his wife and daughters even when shocked by it.  He's a wonderfully sympathetic creature, this merchant, majestic, epicene, wise, intolerant, devout, unfaithful.  When he behaves badly, which he does quite often, we find ourselves wishing quite simply that he wouldn't, as we do with our friends, the close ones that we can't allow other people to judge, and when we judge them ourselves it's with the proviso that the judgement should carry no penalties.  Very few novelists can do this, it seems to me, make us make close friends with characters we wouldn't hope, or even want, to understand if we came across them outside the novel. 

--The Last Cigarette by Simon Gray

[N.B.:  I must confess I have not read Mahfouz--yet--but if that sympathetic description doesn't make you want to read an unknown author, well, back to the Fifty Shades of Zombies for you.]

May  7,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

Inexplicable that it comes back to me now, as it did one afternoon last summer on Spetses when, drying after a swim, I watched a tiny old lady sitting in the rim of the sea, picking stones out of the water, looking at them, putting them back, not childishly but like a child, and my eyes filled with tears of shame.  I an now nearly ten years older than she was when she died, I've had all those years more than she had, and I hadn't given her a few minutes of those years, on an impulse -

--The Last Cigarette by Simon Gray

May  6,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

Now of course I wish I'd taken lots and lots, especially of my parents, especially of my mother, my mother in her prime, to block out the memory of her skeletal hand clinging to mine, and I determined not to look at my watch until I did, a swift, casual glance down at my wrist.  'Oh,' she said, in an anxious whisper, 'don't go yet, Si, stay a little while longer.'  'I can't', I said, 'I have to pick Ben up from his nursery school.'  She held her hand out to retain me.  I held it to my lips, kissed her quickly on the forehead and left.  I had enough time, more than enough time to get to the nursery school, so I walked along Putney towpath, and thought about the kind of son I was, who would deprive his dying mother of  a few more minutes, that's all she'd claimed, a few more minutes of his company.   I still don't know why I wouldn't stay.  It wasn't coldness of the heart or fear of seeing her so extremely ill and dying.  There had just been an undeniable impulse to remove myself.

--The Last Cigarette by Simon Gray

May  5,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

I wish I could remember what he looked like.  I wished we'd taken photographs.  I've always been a lazy and reluctant photographer.  The trouble is that the present never seems worth photographing, only the past, when it's too late, which is why I suppose I've so few photographs -

--The Last Cigarette by Simon Gray

May  4,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

Saying that murderous acts can't be definition be acts of faith only makes sense if you are referring to a specific faith, a clear and basic tenet of which is that murderous acts must not be committed in its name - but there are different faiths, and different gods - I suspect if our cop has any idea of God it's a mush-headed, compassionate, sexually open cop, just like himself, if marginally outranking him, with whom he can have conversations about their love for each other as they share a joint.  OK, it seems less harmful that a view of God as patriarchal pimp, running a Paradise brothel you can blow yourself up and into, with a portion of girlies for every infidel you take with you.

--The Last Cigarette by Simon Gray

May  3,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

He went on to instruct us not to think ill of Islam, these murders are merely criminal acts, to be viewed as non-racist, non-ethnically discriminatory unreligious acts and so forth, as if his first thought was that the population is so imbecilically homicidal that we'll rush out and stone the first Muslim, or approximate Muslim, we see, and then burn down mosques, etc. and so forth.  Or does he hope that a man who's packing himself with explosives will hear his words, rip off his psychic camouflage and identify himself to himself as a mere criminal, and defuse himself, resolving henceforth to lead a civically blameless life?

--The Last Cigarette by Simon Gray

May  2,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

A policeman who in quieter times likes to discuss his sexuality with the public has just appeared on television and said that the words 'Islam' and 'terrorist' don't belong in the same sentence.  But any word can belong with any other word in any sentence - 'It would be wrong to say that every follower of Islam is a terrorist' is an example of a sentence in which the two words belong.  'The words Islam and terrorist do not belong in the same sentence' is another example, as is the sentence 'The words Islam and terrorist occasionally belong in the same sentence.'  But of course what he was really saying, and what he intended us to hear, was, 'Do not dare to engage in a discussion in whicy you associate Islam with acts of terrorism.'

--The Last Cigarette by Simon Gray

May  1,  2013

Patrick: Lagniappe

It was a failure of imagination on my part.  So many calamities, big and small, are: the failure or inability to work out the day-to-day consequences, over a period, of our actions.  A few years before you came to England I got to know a writer.  He worked all week in the British Museum reading room and did his writing at the weekend.  All week, sitting high in the reading room, he had a whole world under his direct gaze; all week his imagination was fed.  The weekend fiction he did was immensely successful.  People would go to the reading room only to have a glimpse of the famous man at his ordinary weekday duties: beaky-faced, making small, abrupt, nervous movements.  In some such way, two centuries before, the ragged poor would go to the French royal palaces to see the king dine or get ready for bed.  And, indeed, a little like the king, the writer took his position too much for granted, the celebrity, the talent.  He began to feel cramped by his job in the British Museum.  He gave it up and retired to the country and set himself up as a full-time writer.  His writing changed.  He no longer had a world under his gaze.  His imagination became starved.  His writing became over-blown.  The great books, which would have kept the good early books alive, never came.  He died penniless.  His books have vanished.

--Magic Seeds by V. S. Naipaul

WHAT WE'RE READING


Patrick:

  1. Olympia: Paris in the Age of Manet by Otto Friedrich
  2. Cider with Rosie by Laurie Lee
  3. The Renaissance: Studies in Art and Poetry by Walter Pater

Kathryn:

  1. Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami
  2. Masters of Atlantis by Charles Portis

 


RECENT READS
Patrick: Kathryn:
IN THE QUEUE
Patrick:

Kathryn:

  • Story by Robert McKee
  • Consilience by Edward O. Wilson

LITBLOG BIBELOTS

SUGGESTED LINKS
Patrick:

The Reading Experience (a smart and witty litblog)

Invisible Adjunct (a sad and poignant blog written in ravishing prose by an anonymous adjunct professor ultimately denied tenure; she  left the site up as a well-visited tombstone)

The Dickens Page (Dickens, Dickens and more Dickens)

About Last Night (Terry Teachout rocks!)

OS Shakespeare (All things Shakespeare--and it's free!)

Kathryn:

Arts and Letters Daily

Internet Movie Database

Literary trivia: First Line Quiz

Movie reviews: Rotten Tomatoes

Photo.net: Fish around in "Top-rated photos."

Things My Girlfriend and I Have Argued About: Want a good laugh?

More earnest chain email propagating misinformation? Send the sender to Snopes.com.

An animated primer on The Internet vs. Real Life; takes a long time to load.

New Orleans Links
NOLA.com
WWOZ radio
Jazz Fest
Parasol's for po boys
Maple Street Books

Basin Street Records
Mardi Gras 2005

Austin Links
Mother Egan's Irish Pub
Austin City Limits Music Festival
Salvage Vanguard Theater
Book People