Monthly Archives: December 2009

Inspiring Writers

Intrigued by this list over at Poets & Writers, Alison Morris asks “What Living Authors and Illustrators Inspire You?

From the Poets & Writers list, I too admire Elizabeth Alexander (who wowed me with her Amistad poems before she did the inaugural one), Alison Bechdel (Fun Home is one of the most amazing memoirs, in any form, I’ve ever read), Susanna Clarke (Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell — need I say more?), Gabriel Garcia Marquez (I read One Hundred Years of Solitude decades ago and remember it vividly), and Salman Rushdie (whose early work I adored and who, I just saw somewhere, has a sequel to Haroun and the Sea of Stories in the works).

As for Alison’s list, I agree with her that  M. T. Andersen, Marilyn Nelson, Elizabeth Partridge, and Shaun Tan are all remarkable and can think of a number of other children’s authors in their league that I admire enormously as well.

But the living writer who inspires me most of all is the ever brilliant Philip Pullman.

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Oh, Those Annoying Snollygosters

The latest in old and new English vocab here.

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Hey, Hobbits!

There was a flurry of excitement (here, here, and many other places) about a casting call for hobbit extras on that movie, I mean, those movies (they are doing two out of the one book, evidently) a guy over in New Zealand is making.  The latest from theOneRing.net is to hold your horses (or ponies or whatever hobbits prefer) as casting calls won’t be until February.

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The Dreaded Cull

Books You Can Live Without.

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Rereading Holmes

As an adult rereading Holmes with a more critical, demanding eye, however, I find the stories thin, unexciting, sometimes confusing, and almost always quickly forgotten. The characters are still deathless, the atmosphere nicely judged and subtly stoked, and Conan Doyle’s writing isn’t half so clumsy or overwrought as many of his peers’. But, as with Faulks’s Bond pastiche, not much seems to happen in Sherlock Holmes tales.

I’ve been thinking about taking a stab at rereading Holmes, but Darragh McManus has me nervous.

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Illness at Night

This cockroach-like existence is cumulatively intolerable even though on any given night it is perfectly manageable. “Cockroach” is of course an allusion to Kafka’s Metamorphosis, in which the protagonist wakes up one morning to discover that he has been transformed into an insect. The point of the story is as much the responses and incomprehension of his family as it is the account of his own sensations, and it is hard to resist the thought that even the best-meaning and most generously thoughtful friend or relative cannot hope to understand the sense of isolation and imprisonment that this disease imposes upon its victims. Helplessness is humiliating even in a passing crisis—imagine or recall some occasion when you have fallen down or otherwise required physical assistance from strangers. Imagine the mind’s response to the knowledge that the peculiarly humiliating helplessness of ALS is a life sentence (we speak blithely of death sentences in this connection, but actually the latter would be a relief).

From Tony Judt’s  profoundly moving essay, “Night.”

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Gleeful Tidings of Joy

Happy Christmas!

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