Thursday, March 28, 2013


I am safely home in New York, though so tired that I am eying the time and wondering whether I might possibly go to bed pretty much now!

That said, the JetBlue flight gets me home at a much more humane time than the Cayman Airways one - I was here before 5, not at all bad. Very happy to see little cat Mickey and also to find three finished copies of the novel.

Which also has its first post-publication review - Charles McNulty at the LA Times!

Someone who liked it less (I just saw this one last night, though I think it may have been up for a while): Walter Biggins at Bookslut.

In more alarming news, I think my Kindle is on the verge of giving up the ghost. I kept on having to reboot it last night and today on the plane, so that finally I had to give in and read my backup "real" book instead: Leonard Marcus's Listening for Madeleine: A Portrait of Madeleine L'Engle in Many Voices. I thought Katharine Weber's piece was one of the most moving in the entire collection, but I was very glad that the cooler and more critical essay by Christine Jenkins was included: the two most serious criticisms I have of L'Engle's writing concern (a) the intolerable smugness of many of the characters we are supposed to like and admire (when I was a child, I did not understand why my mother was not as enthusiastic as I was about L'Engle's books, but I think in retrospect this must have been at the root of it!); and (b) the distressing homophobia in novels like A House Like a Lotus and A Severed Wasp, and Jenkins is very good on both these counts. I think that I would have worshiped Madeleine L'Engle if I had met her between the ages of ten and fifteen, but that I would not have liked her very much at all if I had only encountered her in adulthood: there are some very unattractive elements mixed up with the parts that people rightly found so compelling. Cynthia Zarin's controversial New Yorker profile of 2004 is available online for free in its entirety.

Aside from the usual minutiae (it is difficult to explain how much time I seem to spend thinking about when I am going to get to the allergy doctor's office for my shots!), I really need to get down to business tomorrow morning and finish a good final version of this particular detail essay. I would like to send it out on Monday or Tuesday, and I also still need to write my paper for the ASECS conference in Cleveland next week: I am arguing against the utility of the term "experimental" to describe any eighteenth-century fiction, and then turning around and saying that if we do want to keep it, it fits Richardson's method better than Sterne's. Looking forward to lively conversation on this count and others!

Light reading around the edges: I love Charlie Williams' Mangel series more than almost anything else I can think of, and the latest installment Made of Stone is truly a gem - possibly my favorite one yet. I also greatly enjoyed Bridget Clerkin's Kindle Single Monster.

Bonus link: Jenny Diski on Buzz Bissinger and the shopping business.

I have ordered a new Kindle Paperwhite, but it probably won't arrive till Monday. I hope this current device will last until then. It is very good for all sorts of novel-reading, but particularly invaluable when I want to run down to Chelsea Piers with a tiny trail backpack containing a change of clothes, wallet, keys, asthma inhaler and reading material for lunch and subway home! I do have the Kindle app on my phone, I guess I could fall back on that if I have to....


  1. With the amount of reading you do, I'm amazed your Kindle lasted this long! Iain and I were expecting it to just implode or something.

    1. "Captain, the engines canna take nae more!"

  2. I read the Dinski piece, which is written with her usual panache, and it seems an extraordinary amount of money to spend on clothes, though, frankly, I know those who would do it if they had it. Obsessiveness is familiar to many people, perhaps even to many writers. However, I do take objection to the arrogant tone Dinski takes towards Bissinger's taste. She hides behind a certain pity -- 'the rich and deluded are never short of cruel people' -- when her disdain is altogether commonplace in our current age of irony. It's one of the ways American culture, particularly, is itself narcissistic. And guess what? I doubt she'd think some of those outfits hideous if they were worn by a young, slender, sexy bloke.