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Showing posts from January, 2012

Book Mark Rants

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I don't want to seem like a snob. I probably am. I just don't want to appear that way. I have nothing against entertainment in general. Who does? But I'm also a lover of the arts. And by arts I mean music and literature, and by literature I really mean good books in general. For those of you not familiar with my take on art, I differentiate it from entertainment. Example, Lady Gaga is a performer. She wears costumes; she dances; she tries to sing. But she's an entertainer. Or as I like to think of her: a hot dog: more preservatives than meat. The irony may be that she’s worn it. Her image is everything – attitude, choreography, flipping off media at a ball game, etc. She’s imaginative and bold, and something can be said for those who succeed in that field, though not much. But I don't consider her an artist per se. I mean, while her sub-field is music, she's not a musician. Which is just as well since most consumers aren’t concerned with music in general anyway…

"Pale Fire" by Vladimir Nabokov

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Based solely on the Table of Contents (Forward, Poem, Commentary) you might assume you're in for a dry academic study of a poet’s work. This is the book’s veneer. Once peeled away, an exhilarating story unfolds. Pale Fire is written, first person, by one Charles Kinbote, a native of Zembla, now living in New Wye, Appalachia, and a recently hired professor at WordsmithCollege. Before this book is published, Kinbote rents a house from one Judge Goldsworth, who years ago had a madman named Jack Grey committed to an insane asylum. The judge is away on sabbatical when Kinbote moves in.
Next door lives our celebrated poet, John Shade. He writes a 999-line poem he entitles Pale Fire – stirring verse full of poignant imagery, double entendres, brilliant puns and word games. (As a rule, I deplore poetry; but this is fantastic stuff.) Shade dies; the manuscript falls (you’ll learn how) to Kinbote. He writes the accompanying Forward and Commentary and finds a publisher.
This is that book.
Initi…

"Tempest-Tost" by Robertson Davies

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First book in the Salterton Trilogy. I’d read book two, Leaven of Malice, first, back in November (see blog post). That was a paperback stand alone. Then nearly two weeks ago I found the whole trilogy in a thick paperbound book hiding in a bag against my bedroom wall. Didn’t even know I had it. I swear; I really need to clean my room. This stack of thirty-seven pizza boxes is about to tip over too.
Reading the books out of sequence didn’t hurt anything; the stories are self contained.
Great books are like a seduction, an intimate relationship between reader and writer. When the writer’s command of the language is sure, the reader will moisten the fingers and caress the story as it unfolds, soon “mmm-ing” and “ah-ing” as another pleasure is laid bare. Eventually the writer has the reader in the throes of a passion and an ecstasy until ultimately the reader is panting, lying naked, and in a fevered delirium!
Or is that just me?
Book three, A Mixture of Frailties, closes out the trilogy,…