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A student librarian with a family who likes to keep an eye on cyberspace and the specialised writing and journalism happening there.
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26. Bumper list of poets in Tranter's Best Australian Poems 2012

I'm amazed that it's that time of year already, however it's good to know that Best Australian Poems 2012, edited by John Tranter, draws work from a long list of poets, noted here by Andrew Burke.

And Cordite editor Kent McCarter has remarked upon poems therein published in the last three issues of Cordite.

You can hear Josephine Rowe read "Atlantic City" here, and read Tiggy Johnson's "Photograph" as well.

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27. as the man says, the elephant has left the room

At Jacket2, John Tranter has posted an excerpt from his recent article in the JASAL journal on the Internet and the history of Jacket magazine. Here's the abstract.
Australian poet John Tranter trained in all aspects of publishing, from hand-lettering to editing, from litho platemaking to screen printing, and developed an early familiarity with computers. The development of the Internet in the 1990s found him armed with a formidable array of skills. He published the first issue of the free international Internet-only magazine «Jacket» single-handed in 1997. «Jacket» quickly grew to become the most widely read and highly respected literary magazine ever published from Australia. In late 2010 John Tranter gave it to the University of Pennsylvania, where it continues to flourish. This memoir traces John Tranter’s publication of literary materials on the Internet including the technical and literary problems faced by «Jacket», and outlines the many other projects he embarked on that resulted in the Internet publication of over fifty thousand mostly Australian poems, articles, reviews, interviews and photographs. 
You can read more, and download the full article, here.

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28. "a standing annoyance to the small-town Irish literary male": Edna O'Brien's memoir reviewed by Anne Enright

The influence of Joyce is everywhere in O'Brien's work, and her discussion of his style is a manifesto for her own: "the lush descriptions of corpses and steers and pigs and kine, and sea and sea stones, and then the extraordinary ascensions in which worlds within worlds unfolded." He was such a girl, Joyce.
Mailer might have found him too interior, though he would never have kissed him, shyly, in a church in Brooklyn while sheltering from the rain. It was a funny time, the late 20th century, when men wrote like men, and women wrote like women, and then everybody said mean things about who was right and who was just whoring around. And if you ask me, it wasn't Edna.
-Anne Enright has reviewed the memoirs of Edna O'Brien, for the Guardian, and her conclusions are informative and celebratory.

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29. for a shining moment, this blog is provisionally sublime



At Gallerysmith, in North Melbourne, Dena Kahan is exhibiting, with an opening tomorrow night (October 12) from 6-8 pm. 

Paintings are already on display, however, and will be so till November 3rd (CORRECTION - not the 1oth as I mistakenly posted earlier on).

The show carries the evocative title, The Provisional Sublime.

Larger images can also be viewed here.

UPDATE: Having seen this last night, I resolve to return. It is a stunning exhibition. The subjects of these oils are from the Glass Flowers Collection at the Harvard Museum of Modern History.

Kahan's interest in the Glass Flowers collection , however, is optical rather than botanical, and reflects a longstanding fascination with the qualities and nature of glass. Glass was used to create these models so that they might be exactly reproduced and perfectly fixed in time and place. Yet, in these paintings, the order and perfection of the display is subverted: ambiguities of space and reflection undermine the clear containment and neat taxonomy of the museum case. (Gallerysmith notes).

The exhibition was also reviewed in the gallery roundup in last Saturday's Age:

THEY are life-like, life-size and always in bloom. Made by father-and-son German artisans from 1887 to 1936, the glass flowers (more than 3000 in total) are one of the biggest attractions of the Harvard Museum of Natural History. Step in Dena Kahan, whose paintings have long dwelled on the assemblage of glass in museums and the way the medium reflects and refracts. Kahan takes the Harvard models with their accurate anatomical sections and faithful flower parts and plays up their optical tricks. For a start, she makes them much bigger, which also serves to emphasise their transparency and how — for all their scientific truth — they reflect and dissolve into all that is around them. Then Kahan also plays up the museum context — with vast but hazy interior spaces — so that you will never be fooled that these shimmering, gauzy exotic plants might actually be growing.

Gallerysmith is at 170-174 Abbotsford St., North Melbourne, and open Tuesday to Saturday, 11am-5pm.

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30. Eleanor Hogan's book on Alice Springs launched this Monday

Note also that Eleanor Hogan's Alice Springs, the latest in a series of books on Australian cities published by NewSouth Publishing, will be launched at Readings in Carlton on Monday night.

Eleanor kept the popular blog The View From Elsewhere during her time in Alice and has drawn on her experiences there in writing this account. She also wrote for Sarsaparilla, a space some of you might remember.

Hogan’s uncompromising narrative is based on her experience living in Alice Springs between 2005 and 2010 to work as a policy officer in Aboriginal services. Looming large is a disparate population. Some residents are non-Indigenous expats from capital cities who have relocated to ‘make a difference’ as part of the town’s welfare economy. Others are the Aboriginal recipients of this welfare, many of whom Hogan shows to be living in serious disadvantage born from dispossession, and made even more difficult by seemingly unending cycles of alcohol, violence, poverty, bureaucracy and exploitation.

These depictions are not based on idle impressions, but are supported by a public servant’s eye for statistics and policy documents and a journalist’s skill in interviewing prominent community members. Lives led in this place of extremes are difficult, but are cross-cut with the pleasures of community that exist in regional centres, and the importance of sport, art, friendship, family and culture.

A tough portrait of life in a beautiful but harsh landscape of contradictions, Alice Springs is as much a series of general questions about living ethically as it is Hogan’s memoir of being an outsider looking in.

Alison Huber, Readings.

Here's a review at The Australian, and an extract from the book at Inside Story.


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31. Sugar, sugar - Olympik Phever shaking it for another week at the Fringe

If you want to find out what THAT's all about - well, in other words, Madeleine Tucker's show Olympik Phever has been extended for a week at Son Of Loft, Lithuanian Club, North Melbourne (just around the corner from the North Melbourne Town Hall).

The show features sports of sorts, songs, videos, and yet another ridiculous costume, to which my pimping today carries a clue. To tell you any more would be a total spoiler. But I cannot get the accompanying song out of my head today, mainly because I've been singing it to my nieces while their mum and dad went along to chuckle.

Well done, team (Maddy, Danny, Rena, Sarah). Go you good things.

Tickets available here.  And yes, still a cosy venue.

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32. another review at The Ember: Tarcutta Wake

A busy time of year chez nous. And I am not blogging much, more's the pity.

However I do have a review of Josephine Rowe's new story collection from UQP, Tarcutta Wake, up at The Ember. Here is a taster:

I think when Josephine Rowe is older, we will be approaching these early collections as extended prose poems, reaching into each other. Reflecting on her second collection of stories, How A Moth Becomes A Boat, words like ‘painterly’, ‘highly visual’, and ‘cinematic’ spring readily to mind. Even on a repeat reading, where one is more receptive to small nuances, three stories is all it takes before you are seized once more by the urge to swallow that book whole.

Perhaps there are already academics out there sharpening their pencils at the prospect of tracking plot devices and mood shifts, shadows and shapes, as they roam through Rowe’s early works, including this latest collection, Tarcutta Wake. Rowe is that rare thing, a poet completely at home in prose which asks to be read aloud (like poetry should be). While facing down cliché, Rowe is capable of compounding an astringent and powerful vocalism from closely observed moments and often percussive sounds:

It is understood that a second key will not be cut, just as it is understood that you will not be staying long enough for it to matter. But three weeks now, most of February, and you’re wearing his clothes, smoking his cigarettes, sharing his bed and his razors. From his kitchen window you watch the freight trains thunder past, headed west. By the time you’ve eaten and dressed it will be twelve or one, hot as hell. You’ll listen to the telephones ringing out over the loudspeakers of the factories and Joe’s Storage from across the highway and, grinding your first cigarette of the day into his stainless steel sink, you will not understand why the sound of the freight trains breaks your fucking heart. ‘Stay’ - How a Moth Becomes A Boat

Read More

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33. Life and work of the cosmopolitan Shirley Hazzard, glimpsed from behind a paywall

In the Weekend Australian Review, Geordie Williamson has a fine review of what must be an engrossing academic title which deserves a discerning readership, Margaret Olubas' new book on the life and works of Shirley Hazzard. As Williamson writes, this title is "astonishingly" the first of its kind. The review is behind a paywall but I liked these sentences enough to excise them. (There is a free 28-day trial on the website if you wish to read further.)

Her monograph argues that liberal humanism does not have a geographic home; it is not fixed in space, does not emerge from a single source. Rather its fragile decencies are founded on connections between disparate individuals, creative artists and people-smugglers of the intellect who carry other people's words around inside their heads.



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34. well turned out journals on Flavorwire

Via Margaret Atwood on Twitter, Flavorwire presents a slideshow of twelve strikingly designed literary magazines.

We’ve been hearing that print is dead for years now. It obviously isn’t true: look at the beautiful food magazine Lucky Peach, or any issue of McSweeney’s, or the excitement around reissues of old classics with fresh cover designs (Peter Mendelsund’s Kafka editions, anyone?), or any other print book with striking presentation (the paperbacks of Bolaño’s 2666 or Murakami’s 1Q84, to name just a couple). Yet the Web has grown into an equally great place for lovely presentation of lovely writing. Long-established journalism outlets have moved their book coverage online, or revamped it— check out the Slate Book Review, or the New Yorker’s renamed Page-Turner blog — but scores of literary magazines have been killing it online for years.

We’d like to present just a few that have particularly nice design online. 

(Metazen, Paper Darts and Zyzzyva are new to me, so I'll enjoy checking those out.)


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35. can haz streamed cutoffs? CAN HAZ.

The Millions kindly provided this vital link to the recent Rolling Stone interview with David Cross about the next season of Arrested Development, which will be released on Netflix:

It's really audacious and amazing. I think a lot of people will miss the work that is involved, the story, the Venn diagrams that are being created, the domino effect that characters have with each other in their various episodes. I know what he's doing, and this has never been done on a TV show like this. This makes Lost look like a Spalding Grey monologue. You'll have to watch each episode more than once.

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36. to read: Julian Barnes on Parade's End

Last weekend Julian Barnes wrote at some length on Ford Madox Ford's Parade's End, for the Guardian. The book has been adapted for the BBC by Tom Stoppard and is currently screening in Britain.

Greene wrote that "The Good Soldier and the Tietjens series seem to me almost the only adult novels dealing with the sexual life that have been written in English. They are our answer to Flaubert." In subject-matter, certainly; but also there is also a consanguinity in technique. One of Flaubert's great developments (not inventions – no one really invents anything in the novel) was style indirect libre, that way of dipping into a character's consciousness – for a paragraph, a sentence, a phrase, sometimes for just a single word – showing things from his or her point of view, and then dipping out again. This is a direct ancestor of the stream-of-consciousness narrative so richly deployed by Ford. Much of Parade's End takes place within the heads of its characters: in memory and anticipation, reflection, misunderstanding and self-justification. Few novelists have better understood and conveyed the overworkings of the hysterical brain, the underworkings of the damaged brain (after his first spell at the front, Tietjens returns with partial memory loss), the slippings and slidings of the mind at the end of its tether, with all its breakings-in and breakings-off.
Barnes also notes that the fourth volume was sometimes suppressed by certain editors, including Greene, who considered it to be "more than a mistake – it was a disaster, a disaster which has delayed a full critical appreciation of Parade's End".

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37. go down and swing at the Toff

Melbourne Writers Festival would not be complete without a lavish and swinging event from prominent multimedia journal GoingDownSwinging, a Melbourne institution of over thirty years' standing of avant-gardedness:

TICKETS HERE - $25  gets you in, gets you a copy of the journal.

Issue #33 features a full-colour collaboration between Cate Kennedy and artist Simon McEwan, a stunning commissioned essay from straight-talking theorist Briohny Doyle, and a radical new design from Santangelo and Hall. It will take you from Thailand to rundown apartments in Minneapolis to the depths of the ocean to a run-in with Czech border guards. Andre Dao contemplates Catholicism and mourning, Paul Adkin looks at 9/11 translated by Edgar Allan Poe, and Michael Trudeau leaves you speechless with his take on aimless masculinity.


Highlights of the accompanying CD include Tom Waits' iconic theme from The Wire, covered by Darwin soul stars Sietta; alongside hip-hop artist Mantra and a spellbinding performance from Felix Nobis; as well as new work from Joe Dolce, PiO, Emilie Zoey Baker, and The Bedroom Philosopher.


Issue #33 will be launched on the closing night of the Melbourne Writers Festival. The launch will showcase some of Melbourne’s best spoken-word artists; introducing brand new performances from the acclaimed Cate Kennedy, blues-soaked Benezra and Frente singer Angie Hart, who responds to a special performance from spoken-word legend Adam Gibson.


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38. and you thought the Olympics were over! NAAAAAH

Hey there, hoopla, daughter's circus is in town again. It's that fringey time of year...

Olympik Phever posterI have enjoyed all of Maddy's posters so far, but I really love the retro look of this one, designed by Rena Littleson.

Facebook has the details.

Fringe has the tickets.

Be there quickly, as the venue is cosy 

Olympik Phever is performed by Madeleine Tucker, and was developed by Madeleine Tucker and Danny Cisco: 

It's the middle of the Olympics and bespangled entertainer Madeleine Tucker has been given her big chance to shine, filling in as the presenter for a late night Olympics TV special. With interviews, live ads and musical numbers, she’s set to cram in as much high-quality entertainment as she can!

Not one for sports fans, this colourfully kitsch extravaganza will pay surreal homage to the faded world of variety television, with catchy songs and segments galore!


If you can't make it to the show, you might like to take in some of Maddy's videos at her blog. (Look for Rodney The Goblin.) 

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39. a pile of stuff #27

Is Maud the only book blogger on Pinterest? she certainly has one of the most attractive "Books I'm Reading" pages.

There is a very fine Victorian Premier's Awards website up at the Wheeler Centre with a terrific collection of reviews on each shortlisted title in all categories. Go, be informed, and vote in the People's Choice awards. 

At The Millions, Sonya Chung interviews James Salter.

From ReadWriteWeb, a video of fifthgraders in 1995 who made some interesting predictions about the future of the Web.

Pleasing to see that the first of Australian Book Review's Fireside Chats, on Jonson, Donne and Shakespeare, is booked out. So be sure to get in early for the second (scroll down at that link), on September 12: Peter Rose and Michael Farrell will read from their new collections, and hopefully chew some fat regarding Peter Porter.


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40. how did your country really go at the games, then?

I am following a new blog which carries some pretty impressive infographics (that is, posters designed to communicate a lot of information visually. As you all knew). 
Here then, if it pastes into Typepad in a satisfactory manner, is a fine example which shows what one can do with pictures when one doesn't accept that the number of medals is what really counts. The poster was created by Paulo Estriga.



This infographic was originally published at CargoCollective.com – via Cool Infographics.

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41. Toni Jordan's Nine Days highly praised

If you buy the Saturday Oz, there is a cracker review for Toni Jordan's new book Nine Days from Peter Pierce, so I am going out to buy that at the first opportunity:

Dickens' exuberant example happily infects the speech of several of the characters, while the grisly scene in which Jack Husting's parents introduce him to a prospective marriage partner is worthy of Patrick White.

Motifs are artfully woven into the narrative, such as "the bitter-sweet of twin-dom". Jordan's story gives free rein to chance and to coincidence. So much is packed generously into Nine Days as to belie its considerately moderate length...This novel is a triumph. Another signal career in Australian fiction is well under way.

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42. after the Olympics left


Natalie Bakopoulos: For the games Athens created a new airport, a gorgeous subway and tram system, and a national highway, all which function still. Athens is a certainly a city of ancient ruins, and because of this we often conflate the ancient with the modern. But ruins of an ancient civilization are not the same as the wreckage of an economically devastated city. Viewing it through this lens takes pleasure in its devastation, stunts progress and change, and completely disregards the living, working humanity of the city. Athens has seen better days, but it is still kicking and alive. 
(Athens, 2004) 

David Karashima 

Tokyo, 1964 (and 2020?) 

Last summer, Tokyo lost its lights. This summer, they’re back, as bright as ever. And in every fluoro-lit subway station – running again on a minute-by-minute schedule – hang posters advertising the city’s Olympic bid. 

‘Ima, Nippon ni wa kono yume no chikara ga hitsuyoda (Japan needs the power of this dream now)’ asserts the official slogan for the games they’ve dubbed the Japan Revival Olympics. 

But whose dreams? Whose needs? Whose power? 

Whatever the legacy of the 1964 games, whatever the benefits of bringing them back in 2020, they seem to have little to do with restoring the dreams and lives shattered last spring. 

But the brightness, it’s blinding. 

Read these and several other writers' accounts of life after the Olympics, around the world, at Granta magazine.

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43. 'when something is beautiful, it can't be minor'

Minor, major—those words have never done much for me. I don’t understand them. The question any novel is really trying to answer is, Is life worth living? That’s a major question, a huge question, but the best way to ­answer it might not be to crank the novelistic universe into a crude, lurching ­motion by employing a big inciting incident. Sometimes life provides only the tiniest of inciting incidents—that your left shoelace snaps within a day of your right one. That’s enough for me. When something is beautiful, it can’t be minor. Also I think it’s neat when a novel offers you miscellaneous helpful tips or tricks or facts. When it’s a friendly companion, when it does you good on various levels. A lot of novels bully us into assenting to their importance. I’m tired of that.


Paris Review - The Art of Fiction No. 212, Nicholson Baker

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44. Named for a Harwood acrostic, the So Long Bulletin is a must-read

All right, I know most of my posts in the past couple of reloaded weeks have been about poetry.

Found via the newly launched Haplax, in turn mentioned in the Writers Victoria weekly news email, the SoLong Bulletin Of Australian Poetry And Criticism is edited by Elizabeth Campbell,  LK Holt and Petra White.
LK Holt's posts in particular look snappy and fun, though there is an illustrious bunch of contributors already. It seems to have been here for some time.
The search box on that Tumblr theme is more effective than some I've played with too.  (All blogging platforms have their Achilles heel.)
Go, enjoy. It's a fine surprise.

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45. no e-versions for Kundera

Michael Orthofer reports from the Complete Review that Milan Kundera refuses to sign contracts to release his titles to e-publishing:

...for several years, he's insisted on a clause in his contracts stipulating that his books only appear in 'traditional' (i.e. printed) form -- no e-book versions. And, indeed, you won't find any Kundera titles on Kindle (etc.).
       Not many authors are still holding out from e-formats -- and, indeed, presumably few have enough clout to be able to do so. Kundera can afford to -- though one has to wonder: to what end ?

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46. the book that can't wait: Argentinean publisher Eterna Cadencia adopts new writers before they disappear

Or as Bud Parr has said, read now (or never).

The publishers of this anthology of Latin American writing wanted to draw attention to the very short life of new writing in our times. Using vanishing ink seemed like a fine way to do it.

The buyers of the first print run were clearly in agreement, but one wonders, what were they buying? A novelty, a talking point - or a journal? would they leave it closed on the bookshelf for fear of losing the book?

The editors remark that most first books vanish anyway. They are currently investigating further publications in the same format:

'we think that this is a magical and poetic way of confronting a real problem,' explains javier campopiano, regional general creative director of draftFCB.
'we wanted to make a book that was a message in itself, that encourages us to read those authors, before their stories disappear for real, right before our eyes.'

while potential purchasers are likely to object to the impermanence of the object-- which defies being returned to months or years later for a second reading--
the project highlights both the difficulties that face emerging contemporary authors, as well as our often-neglected enjoyment of text, and the perhaps overly
confident opinions we hold about the permanence of written material. as the video documentation of the project suggests:

'books are very patient objects. we buy them, and then they wait for us to read them. days, months, even years. that’s OK for books, but not for new authors.
if people don’t read their first books, they’ll never make it to a second.'

Read more at Design Boom. (Noted also at Wired, Gizmodo, the Independent and the Boston Globe, among others.)

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47. consume or disappear? the first Mad Man is profiled at The Cataloguer's Desk



Laura Massey from The Cataloguer's Desk, a rare books blog, has written recently about Ernest Dichter, one of the few advertising men working in the late 30s who had training in psychology and psychoanalysis.

Using in-depth consumer interviews, he learned that when shoppers picked a particular brand,

“it wasn’t exactly the smell or price or look or feel of the soap, but all that and something else besides—that is, the gestalt or ‘personality’ of the soap.

This was a big idea. Dichter understood that every product has an image, even a ‘soul’, and is bought not merely for the purpose it serves but for the values it seems to embody. Our possessions are extensions of our own personalities, which serve as a ‘kind of mirror which reflects our own image’. Dichter’s message to advertisers was: figure out the personality of a product, and you will understand how to market it” (The Economist).

Dichter published a book on the subject which became a bestseller, though eventually his methods fell out of favour with Madison Avenue.

There are links to two other articles on the subject, one from The Economist. I'm very happy I've found this blog, though I've now forgotten where I found it (probably things magazine, as is often the way!) Enjoy.


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48. There's a party at Collected Works, you're all invited

Giramondo Publishing
warmly invites you
to the launch of the 
new poetry collection by
Michael Farrell
open sesame

to be launched by Alan Loney

poet and bookmaker

on Thursday 2 August
6 for 6.30 pm
Collected Works Bookshop
Level 1, 37 Swanston Street

Michael Farrell is highly regarded for the unique rhythms, and the gestural and comic qualities of his poetry. His poems set language, syntax and punctuation in motion, heightening the expression of wonder, drama, attitude: or simply relishing the richness and resonance of each new word situation. His new collection, open sesame, includes sonnets derived from Edna St Vincent Millay (‘saints & or’) and from the British police drama The Bill, a sestina on John F. Kennedy set in a laundry, an improvised parody (‘et tu supermarket’), an Oulipo poem (‘debit of a pirate kino’), and four long poems on friendship. The book concludes with a series of collage poems, including one which takes its cue from the legendary Phar Lap.  

Michael Farrell is the winner of the 2012 Peter Porter Poetry Prize. An earlier version of open sesame won the Barrett Reid award for a radical poetry manuscript. 


 Enquiries: aliceg@giramondopublishing.com

I did hope to get to this but I will not be spared, unfortunately.

The launches at Kris Hemensley's Collected Works are inviting affairs. Take another poetry lover along, and be prepared to succumb to the temptation of purchasing something special - there are some amazing books there.


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49. on ambition and uglification, with some intertextuality to go

I really enjoyed the slideshow at the Melville House blog on writers attacking other writers.

And I was chuffed to discover there another nod to the title of this blog (whose derivation you can familiarise yourself with here ):

Elizabeth Bishop’s oft-quoted put-down of J.D. Salinger — make that oft-mis-quoted — may be all the more withering for being made privately and off-hand. In a letter to Robert Lowell, she made a passing comment on Seymour: An Introduction (not Catcher in the Rye, as is usually claimed): “I HATED the Salinger story. It took me days to go through it, gingerly, a page at a time, and blushing with embarrassment for him every ridiculous sentence of the way. How can they let him do it?” 

What is it she disliked so much about it? Perhaps it was that Salinger had his character write poetry. As is rarely quoted, Bishop’s comment went on: “Perhaps Seymour isn’t supposed to be anything out of the ordinary, nor his poems either, so that all that writhing and reeling is to show the average man trying to express his love for his brother, or brotherly love? Well, Henry James did it much better in one or two long sentences.” 

-Dennis Johnson

But it gets better. While looking for a quick link to Alice, I found this.  A treely ruly live university course in...

Taught by Michael Hulse at the University of Warwick, EN273 Reeling and Writhing is described on the university website as a "hybrid module... combining intertextual scholarship with poet-to-poet skills...described in student feedback (2011) as “bloody brilliant”."

 I will have to update my About Page,  Ninety-Nine, our lives may depend upon it.


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50. a pile of stuff #27

Some not so fresh stuff. Slow blogging is slow, as we might say on Twitter.

Putting Shakespeare's First Folio on line during the Olympics means you have to "Sprint For Shakespeare". Via Corsair Books on Twitter.

A very attractive way to document train readings, and also to present potential readers with the library's holdings. Via Karen Andrews (@Miscmum) on Twitter.

When I find a typo in a piece of work that''s already sent out...

Introducing Spineless Wonders Audio, along with a bunch of links to other Australian fiction recorded online. 

Cabaret writer-performer Michael Dalley's new show, Mademoiselle, will finish at fortyfivedownstairs on the 19th of August, so be quick.

If you haven't seen my tweet already, here is Bill Murray doing more stunts for Poetry House. Here he reads Wallace Stevens, with some reverence. Rather delightful.

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