Thursday, January 30, 2014

End-of-the-week news

Phenomenally tired; must buckle down and do one more hour of reading before bed. What I don't have but would like: parabolic sherry!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Closing tabs

I am looking at an unprecedented semester in which I have so much other reading to do, I hardly have any time in the week for light reading!

One book that I do intend to read at the earliest possible juncture, though, is Rebecca Mead's My Life in Middlemarch, published today. Here is a very good interview at the Millions; she says exactly what I think, too, about the important distinction between literature and self-help:
TM: Where’s the line between self-help and literature? George Eliot, maybe more than most novelists, rather explicitly wanted to make her readers better. I admire how your book is not “How George Eliot Can Change Your Life In Seventeen Steps.” Where do you think that line is?

RM: I began with a piece in The New Yorker that was about the origin of this quotation — “It’s never too late to be what you might have been” — and I wanted to disprove that Eliot had said it. I didn’t disprove it, though I still don’t believe that she said it. When I started thinking about writing this book, I thought maybe I could do chapters based on twelve or thirteen things she did say. But I realized that this didn’t work at all, because that’s not how she works. When you separate what look like nuggets of wisdom from the text, they can make nice refrigerator magnets, but they’re just phrases. I think you have to read the whole book in order for it to make any real difference in your life. Because while you’re reading Middlemarch, you have the experience of empathy. You’re not simply told to be empathetic. You have your empathy shift from one character to another. And you have it change as you go back to the book over time, as most serious readers do. Middlemarch doesn’t tell you how to live, but reading Middlemarch, knowing Middlemarch, thinking about Middlemarch, helps you think about how to live for yourself. It’s a more demanding process than simply being told how to live.
Closing tabs:

Flight paths of fireflies.

Mole locomotion!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

"What would Bowie do?"

Boy George's life soundtrack. I have never had a strong relationship with the Boy George oeuvre, but it is a great list!

(I saw Taboo with G. when it was on Broadway some years ago; it was surprisingly enjoyable. I have one semi-sentimental association with Boy George: the summer I turned thirteen I did a ton of babysitting, due to a good arrangement made with my mother. I was already taking lessons on two musical instruments, clarinet and recorder, but I felt that I would die if I could not learn to play the oboe as well [I'd always had a longing for it, but some off-the-books bassoon lessons from a visiting Scottish exchange student had further whetted my appetite], and she made a deal with me that if I made enough money to buy the instrument, she would pay for the lessons! We found an oboe for $125 and it cost about $125 more for repairs, which she generously paid as well; things were cheaper in those days, but on the other hand babysitting in that time and place only paid $2/hr., so it took quite a lot of hours regardless. My main babysitting gig was 9-1 four or so days a week for 2 endearing but tiring hellions; their favorite game was to pretend that they were Jimmy Connors and John McEnroe and whack each other with tennis rackets. I did babysit them fairly regularly in the evening as well, and when I was putting them to bed, we always listened to one of the two cassettes they possessed: Michael Jackson's Thriller or Culture Club's Colour By Numbers. 1984 in a nutshell.)

Thursday, January 23, 2014

First seminar meeting

I've tweaked the syllabus quite a bit since the last time I taught it, adding a few new books and subtracting various other stuff. These are the books on order at Book Culture (other primary texts include Virgil's Georgics as translated by Dryden and Johnson's prefatory materials for the Dictionary). It's a graduate seminar, but I have admitted a few undergraduates to keep things lively....

Defoe, Robinson Crusoe (Norton)
Swift, Gulliver's Travels (Oxford World's Classics)
Rousseau, Discourse on the Origin of Inequality (Oxford World’s Classics)
Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia (Penguin)
Smollett, The Expedition of Humphry Clinker (Oxford World's Classics)
Johnson and Boswell, A Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland and The Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides (Penguin)
Rousseau, Emile (Basic Books)
Wollstonecraft, Vindications (Broadview)
Burney, Camilla (Oxford World’s Classics)
Austen, Emma (Oxford World's Classics)

Pout redivivus

The increasing difficulty of determining whether or not a news story originated with the Onion.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Negative influences

Thomas Mallon and Daniel Mendelsohn on the books they didn't want to write.

Snowpocalypse! My late-afternoon pulmonary function test is canceled (rescheduled for Feb. 4, and not urgent, so that's fine). I am about to gear up and head in to the office to see if I can dig out the folders and files from the last time I taught my graduate seminar on the idea of culture; as always, I am bemoaning my lack of a beautiful filing system in which I would leave each semester's teaching stuff in meticulously organized and easily locatable form!

Monday, January 20, 2014

Closing tabs

A short history of Velveeta. (Via B.)

Backformation of "hair" from "hairy"?

Miscellaneous light reading: Ned Beauman, The Teleportation Accident (very good); Rhiannon Held, Tarnished (I am always regretful after reading a book in this genre, this one is quite good but no exception to that rule - I am not the target audience!); Bill Loehfelm, The Devil In Her Way (this series is excellent); Jon Bassoff, Corrosion (slightly too Faulkneresque for my taste, but genuinely chilling, a good recommendation from Heath Lowrance); "James S. A. Corey"'s The Gods of Risk novella; and, inevitably, Cat Sense: The Feline Enigma Revealed! Which I finished on the plane home from Cayman this afternoon: gearing up for bitter cold and the first days of a new semester.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

"this dot, here, this one"

Closing tabs:

Kathryn Schulz on five of the best punctuation marks in literature.

More on indexing. (Courtesy of Dave Lull.)

Mr. Chicken! (I have ordered the book.)

NB many fewer chickens hereabouts than when I was in Cayman in August. B.'s theory: inverse relationship to invasive green iguana population; iguanas like to eat eggs! Fewer of certain other birds, too; I like how the populations are always shifting (much higher proportion of various anoles to northern curly-tailed lizards, also, compared to five years ago, but this sort of thing really concerns micro-environments - geckos are abundant at Regal Beach half a mile down the road, but we don't see many here at the Grandview, though one occasionally makes its way indoors, leading to presence of a plastic cup and piece of paper in the kitchen cupboards with pertinent label "gecko trapper" - that particular discrepancy probably has to do with how well the gecko can camouflage itself against a sand-colored wall versus a light blue one).

Friday, January 17, 2014


A 1768 account of hair-dressing from The London Magazine, or Gentleman's Monthly Intelligencer, as given in Julia Allen's Swimming with Dr Johnson and Mrs Thrale: Sport, Health and Exercise in eighteenth-century England:
When Mr. Gilchrist opened my aunt's head, as he called it, I must confess it's effluvias affected my sense of smelling disagreeably, which stench, however, did not surprize me, when I observed the great variety of materials employed in raising the dirty Fabrick. False locks to supply the great deficiency of native hair, pomatum with profusion, great wool to bolster up the adopted locks, and grey powder to conceal at once age and dirt, and all these caulked together by pins of an indecent length, and corresponding colour. When the comb was applied to the natural hair, I observed swarms of animalculas running about in the utmost consternation, and in different directions, upon which I put my chair a little further from the table, and asked the operator whether that numerous swarm did not from time to time send out colonies to other parts of the body? He assured me that they could not; for that the quantity of powder and pomatum formed a glutinous matter, which, like limetwiggs to birds, caught and clogged the little natives, and prevented their migration.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

One more letter

Index is now sent. Have also rather haplessly written to see if I might be able to elicit a few blurbs, though the fact is that if all you have is someone's Twitter and Facebook contact information, it is relatively unlikely that they will respond! I have three already, notionally, so really that is enough....

My January spell in Cayman is almost at an end. On my return to New York, I am going to be plunged immediately into the thick of a very busy spring semester - next week will be frenetic, but after that I hope I will be able to settle in to a good work and exercise schedule.

The letter R:

Raymond, Derek, 57
reading, 92-94, 176; addiction to, 3; childhood, 4, 7, 35; developmental stages of, 8; at different ages, 68-70; ethics of, 1-2; “mouthy,” 27-28, 30; pathologies of, 3; for pleasure, 6-7, 8, 133; speed of, 3; voluminous, 7; as way of life, 8
realism, 15-16, 153
record-keeping, 126
rejection, 85-86
Rembrandt, The Anatomy Lesson, 140-41
repetition, 41, 56-61, 63, 172-73; and humor, 57-60
rereading, 9, 35-36, 69
revision, 71, 98; by re-typing, 122
rhetoric, 73; see also periods
Richardson, Samuel, Clarissa, 56, 84, 97
risk-taking, emotional, 171
Rousseau, Confessions, 109
rule-breaking, 180n4

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The letter S

Sacks, Oliver, case studies of, 8, 97
Sante, Luc, “Commerce,” 123-26; “French Without Tears,” 60-61
Sartre, Jean-Paul, The Words, 109
satire, 42-44
Sayers, Dorothy L., 4
scale, 89, 103-104, 138-39; see also miniatures, models
scholarship, novelistic qualities of excellent, 8
science fiction, novel of ideas and, 179n2
Sebald, W. G., On the Natural History of Destruction, 137; The Rings of Saturn, 2, 135-46
selection, 3, 9; as argument, 12-13
sensation, literature of, 18
sensibility, 15, 89, 136-37
sensory experience, 113-14
sentences, 71, 122, 147; of Gary Lutz, 26-27; glimmer of, 2; in Proust, 94-95; and paragraphs, 95; reading for, 11-12; as units of meaning, 9
Sévigné, Madame de, 145
Shakespeare, King Lear, 2, 144
Shklar, Judith, 69
Shklovskii, Victor, 7
short story, traits of 16-19, 31
Shriver, Lionel, The Post-Birthday World, 21-23
simile, 20-21, 58-59
slang, 119
sleepovers, 7, 134-35
Smith, Adam, 7, has love-hate relationship with Mandeville’s Fable of the Bees, 43
Solomon, Andrew, originality of, 97
Sontag, Susan, “Notes on ‘Camp,’” 75, 121
sound, 71
Spark, Muriel, 17
spelling, 180n4
sport, 6
Spufford, Francis, The Child That Books Built, 4
Spurgeon, Caroline, 5
stage directions, 9
Stephenson, Neal, Anathem, 179n2
Sterne, Tristram Shandy, 61
story, 29; as model versus vector, 64
strangeness, literary style and, 20-21
Strauss, Richard, and morality of taste, 155-56
structure, 124
Strunk and White, The Elements of Style, 12, 56
style, 2; affiliated with sentences rather than character, 135; bleak, 169; clinical, 75; and emotion, 165; and ethics, 154-55; etymology of, 12; and experience, 18; experienced in time, 55-56; in the European tradition, 136; free indirect, 47-48, 166; and global literature, 129-30; as instrument of the self, 176; as key to the heart, 13; “late,” 70; and morality, 13-15, 21-23; not affiliated with narrative, 14?; in proportion to occasion, 65; perfection of, 170-71; as performance of sensibility, 21; as repository of character, 12, 15; and the senses, 113-14; and sexuality, 161; and speech, 132; sublimation of emotion into, 167; as topic, 49; and writing, 112-12
surfaces, 164
sweets, 120-21, 144-45; see also chocolate
Swift, Jonathan, 39, 42
syllabus design, 69
synecdoche, 5, 20, 128
synesthesia, 119-20


Indexing has an incredible allure for me. I have been marking up references on post-its and sticking them in the margins of the proofs; this morning I consolidated the individual entries into alphabetical stacks, then began typing in one letter at a time (Word will alphabetize once I type in entries, but I need to do it letter by letter so that I can keep track of which individual entries to consolidate - if you typed them all in higgledy-piggledy, you would end up with a good deal of subsequent reformatting still needed).

Probably nobody but myself and perhaps a copy editor or two will ever look closely through the index, but I like the way it presents an alternate route through the book, with each letter of the alphabet - in this case of this sort-of-memoir - representing a kind of self-portrait in miniature.

(This index isn't nearly as complicated as the last one I did! Fewer options here, too, for activist indexing, though in compensation there are more opportunities for mildly humorous entries.)

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

A taste for the cane

At the TLS, Peter Leggatt on an early unpublished play by Swinburne:
The play concerns a boy called Redgie, a naughty recidivist who, despite his multiple convictions, is dared by his schoolmates to plead “first fault” – a clause obviating punishment for a first-time offender – when he is about to receive a thrashing for whispering in church. Needless to say, no mercy is shown and a graphic beating ensues. Despite the schoolboy subject, Swinburne’s aural imagination is already magnificent. As Redgie is being beaten and his peers look on, Swinburne gives the Birch itself a part:
“Wilmot. (aside to Lunsford) What a happy idea of young Clavering’s! but I’ve an idea – & I’m sure – that he’ll wish
In a minute or two that he never had asked for first fault for the hundredth time.
Birch. Swish!”
The word “Swish!” is written, I should add, in inch-high letters, presumably as Swinburne becomes less able to contain his rising excitement.

Signal boost

Tanya Selvaratnam has been a dear friend of mine since our first year of college. We acted in a ton of plays together in those days; as well as being a talented and successful actor, she has been an immensely generous friend in intervening years (in particular I recall a wonderful party she hosted for me when my first book came out, not to mention countless delicious meals cooked for me and copious treats provided over several decades!).

Tanya's first book has just been published; it's called The Big Lie: Motherhood, Feminism, and the Reality of the Biological Clock, and she kindly agreed to answer a few questions for me here.
This is your first published book, but you have a rich background as a performer, producer and activist. What past experiences in any of those areas did you find most useful as you worked on the book and as you take it out into the world?

It was more the ways in which my past experiences were different that helped me write. As a performer, I have to be extroverted and relatively social, and also submissive to a director’s vision. As a producer, my head is full 24/7 of other people’s stuff. Writing was the opposite experience and hence thoroughly enjoyable for me. The activism was more useful: finding ways to turn adversity into positive action.

You and I have talked about the importance of hiring a publicist, especially if you are an author of nonfiction books. What are the pros and cons for an author to consider? How did you choose your publicist, and what kinds of thing have you been able to do as a result? Can you share some links to online pieces that have come about in part as a consequence of that relationship?

The support of my publicists, Wunderkind PR: Elena Stokes and Tanya Farrell, has been a necessity. Initially, I solicited publicist recommendations from my agent, publisher, and writer friends, but I ended up finding Wunderkind online while researching another publicist. I was impressed by the expertise and passion displayed on Wunderkind’s website as well as its roster of clients. Both Elena and Tanya had many years of experience at major houses before breaking out with their own shingle. Also, as women around my age and mothers themselves, they connected strongly with my subject matter. The expense is cumbersome, but it’s an investment worth making. I handle PR for many of my projects so I have a strong database of media contacts, and my list converged nicely with Wunderkind’s. There were many media gets that would not have happened without my publicist, such as an exclusive excerpt in Vogue, a guest blogger post on HuffPo Women, and an appearance on the Leonard Lopate Show. And there is much more press to come, which will hopefully translate not only into visibility but also into sales.

The New York Times Motherlode blog has been running a series of columns by a woman trying to become pregnant by IVF, and I have been absolutely horrified by the vitriol in some of the comments readers leave there for her. Why do you think feelings run so high around these questions?

One, we live in a judgmental culture and also a very sensitive one. There is a pervasive polarity of “I hate you. Please love me.” Two, people have loaded, subjective, emotional points of view around these questions. We’re talking about our bodies, sexualities, ambitions, futures, and what we leave behind in this world. That said, it’s important for those who have the mic, like the woman on the Motherlode blog, to understand that people will attack them for simply having the mic. Stay true to your voice and your experience, and be open to multiple perspectives. There is no one answer. I learn something even from those who oppose me.

With my book specifically, I hope to encourage people to embrace the multiplicity of ways in which people build families and also to embrace the different ways in which people live their lives, with kids or without. As Sheryl Sandberg wrote in Lean In, “When arguments turn into ‘she said/she said’ we all lose.”

Buy Tanya's book at Amazon, Powell's, Barnes and Noble, McNally Robinson.

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Tuesday update

Lungs have recovered sufficiently that I was able to go to hot yoga yesterday and today, though they are still full of junk (I am chomping at the bit to do two-a-day workouts, but the lungs really benefit from a full twenty-four-hour recovery when they are not quite right - I'll do a double class in the morning tomorrow and then see how I'm doing as far as Wednesday Night Run Club goes).

Tore through a good number of tasks on the to-do list yesterday and today, also suggesting that I am well on my way back to health. Two letters of recommendation, some interview questions for a friend whose book I want to help publicize, full proofread on the first pages of the style book - but I think I will have to incentivize the typing-up of a reader's report on a journal article with cookies or some other kind of delicious food, it is too late in the day now for me to pull my attention together otherwise....

Have several other miscellaneous letters of evaluation to write, and some requests for blurbs and similar, but the main thing I hope to get done by the end of the weekend is the style index.

Tasks for next week: revisions to the essay on particular detail (everything I can do without the library stuff I failed to assemble before leaving New York - but really it doesn't make sense to cart around a huge load of books, it will just have to wait till school starts and I'm back at home, only of course then I am deluged with other work!); some preliminary thoughts for a Clarissa book proposal.

Miscellaneous light reading around the edges: John Searles, Help for the Haunted; Bill Loehfelm, The Devil She Knows (I have lost track of where this recommendation came from - Sarah Weinman, maybe? - but it was a good one); Jesmyn Ward, Men We Reaped (I found it a little slow in opening, but once it gets going it is unbelievably gripping - a must-read, I think, if you are interested in the subject of race and poverty in the rural South); Rhiannon Held, Silver (slight but soothing - sometimes there is nothing better than an animal shapeshifter novel - I am fascinated by the extent to which a set of conventions has been established in this genre!); Tonke Dragt, The Letter for the King (I kept on thinking it was about to get much more complicated, only it does not - it is a children's book originally published in 1962 - it was very enjoyable, but if you want the more complicated version, read Corbenic!).

Halfway through Ned Beauman's The Teleportation Accident, which I almost cast aside on the basis of its being too ostentatiously clever - only then I realized how funny it is, as though you gave Terry Pratchett free rein to do a complete rewrite on Gravity's Rainbow (a good recommendation from Lavie Tidhar).

Monday, January 06, 2014


Martin Amis reflects on the life and work of his stepmother Elizabeth Jane Howard. (Via Rebecca Mead, whose forthcoming book I am eagerly awaiting.)

I am thwarted - the Cazalet Chronicle is not available for Kindle, barring (impractically) the last volume! I will have to wait to read them till I am back in NYC; I have been meaning to for some time.

Lungs still full of junk, but sufficiently recovered for me to go to hot yoga today, which has had a massively cheering effect. I am going to spend the afternoon making a first pass through the typeset pages for my style book and thinking about the index. A day that includes hot yoga and this sort of work is a very good day indeed!

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

X-ray pressed


Year in review

2013 was the best year I've had for a long time. 2010 was a hard one, and it took me a couple years to bounce back fully, but this year everything seemed to fall into place.

(That said, I have just had three weeks of respiratory ailments, so I am feeling a little less euphoric than I was at various points along the way! Flying to Cayman tomorrow, failed to get any of the library stuff together I needed to do more complicated work while I'm there so it basically will be a fortnight of rest and recovery, which is probably a good idea anyway - I need to read proofs and make index for the style book, and have a couple other reader reports & similar to take care of, but real work will have to wait till I get back.)

(I also lost some people I cared about this year, including college classmate Khakasa, who died by her own hand in September. That was not good, to say the least, and I've ended the year with Khakasa and another classmate who killed himself a couple years ago very much in my thoughts.)

Big-ticket items: promotion to full professor; publication of The Magic Circle, a novel that was hard to write and that has consumed a good deal of my thoughts and energies over the last few years; the end of the six-year quest to complete an Ironman triathlon! It was an honor to be invited to submit a playlist for the novel to Largehearted Boy. This was my IMWI race report.

(The race itself was almost anticlimactic, but I do consider it a genuine triumph that I completed my thirteen-week training plan without getting a single cold, not even a minor one. This also represents the fruit of several years of prioritizing dealing with asthma, allergies and anxiety, the trio that seem to erode my life quality most profoundly!)

These "big" things, though, made less difference to my quality of life than two changes that I feel extremely delighted about: taking up Bikram yoga; adding a second cat to the Davidson menage.

Most unusual museum visited: Bletchley Park.

Plays and performances that especially stayed with me: Aurelia Thierree, Murmurs; my student Abby Rosebrock's wonderful play Different Animals; Mr. Burns: A Post-Electric Play; Tarell Alvin McCraney's Choir Boy; Nico's Two Boys at the Met.

Most mind-blowing literary experience: Knausgaard's My Struggle, volumes 1 and 2. Cannot wait for the rest of this to be translated!

Other "literary" novels I absolutely loved: Donna Tartt, The Goldfinch; Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Americanah and Purple Hibiscus; Kate Atkinson, Life After Life; Jake Arnott, The House of Rumour. Also, Nicola Griffith's Hild, which I never mentioned here, I think, because I was waiting to see if my Bookforum review would come online. (This could equally fall under historical fiction or fantasy, in the best possible way - highly recommended to fans of Rosemary Sutcliff and Mary Renault.)

I'm going to pull one memoir from its category below because I loved it so much: Alysia Abbott, Fairyland: A Memoir of My Father. A gripping and highly moving read.

Not perhaps quite at the same degree of love, in some cases because they are not that sort of book and in others because the ambition is smaller-scale: Claire Messud, The Woman Upstairs; Ann Leary, The Good House; Jonathan Lethem, Dissident Gardens; Karen Joy Fowler, We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves; several excellent books by Kelly Braffett.

It is a happy fact for me that a certain kind of fantastic-crime hybrid mode has become very prevalent, which means that there is a huge amount of light reading being produced right now that works out to be incredibly to my taste. Light reading is not a dismissing term - these books are ambitious, interesting, gripping and also the sort of thing I most love to read (other, I suppose, than straight crime fiction and young-adult fantasy, my other two particular favorites). Some highlights, grouped according to subcategory:

Big ones that rightly got a lot of attention: Joe Hill, Nos4A2; Lauren Beukes, The Shining Girls.

Others with comparable horror-crime or fantasy-crime hybridity: Richard Bowes, Minions of the Moon; Stina Leicht, Of Blood and Honey and sequel; Sarah Pinborough, A Matter of Blood and sequels; ; Chuck Wendig, Mockingbird and sequel; Sara Gran, Claire DeWitt and the Bohemian Highway. Also, uncanny crime fiction by Deborah Coates and Stephen Graham Jones and Alex Bledsoe (weirdly similar to the Coates in its conception, but I feel fairly certain that they were conceived independently - it is zeitgeist!).

Under the sign of science fiction, fantasy and alternate history: Ben Winters, The Last Policeman; Ian Tregillis, The Milkweed trilogy; Mira Grant, Parasite (a novel of sapient tapeworms); wonderful novels by Melissa Scott with and without the collaboration of Lisa Barnett; the amazing Expanse series by "James S. A. Corey."

Crime and noir: Woodrell, The Maid's Version; Pelecanos, The Double; Alan Russell, Burning Man; Steve HAmilton's latest McKnight books; Harry Bingham, Talking to the Dead; everything by Gene Kerrigan, who is a genius; Tom Pitts, Piggyback; Ivy Pochoda, Visitation Street; David Gordon, The Mystery Girl; Indridason, Black Skies; Alex Marwood, The Wicked Girls. As always, anything by Charlie Williams is devoured by me as soon as it is available. Ditto Lee Child.

Young-adult of fantastical and science-fictional bent: Gwenda Bond, The Woken Gods; Robin McKinley, Shadows; Gordon Dahlquist, The Different Girl (this one's a standout and didn't get as much attention as I thought it deserved); M. A. Breen, Darkwood.

Neil Gaiman's The Ocean at the End of the Lane was delightful, but I would describe it as a novella rather than a novel. Pleasantly recalled some of Joan Aiken's tales of the uncanny. Several novellas, released in both cases I think only as ebooks: Laini Taylor, Night of Cake and Puppets; Bridget Clerkin, Monster.

I only read one graphic novel, but it was a doozy: Sara Ryan, Bad Houses.

Favorite intellectual re-read: Moby-Dick. (But I also enjoyed teaching a lot of old favorites, including Tom Jones and Dangerous Liaisons.)

Miscellaneous interesting nonfiction (I have a resolution to read fewer novels and more complex nonfiction in 2014): Kahnemann, Thinking, Fast and Slow; David Epstein, The Sports Gene; Wright, Going Clear (which also led me to Murakami's book about the sarin attacks in Tokyo); M. E. Thomas, Confessions of a Sociopath; the fascinating Wheelmen; Mark Binelli, Detroit City is the Place to Be; Antonia Fraser, Must You Go?; Rachel Adams, Raising Henry; Luke Barr, Provence, 1970; Wayne Koestenbaum, My 1980s and Other Essays.

Comfort rereads: Peter Dickinson, Tana French, Susan Howatch's Church of England and St. Benet books, Eva Ibbotson.

I am sure I have missed some things out, and I haven't really touched on music, but this will have to do. My main intention for 2014 is to meditate every day (I fell out of the habit this spring when I was on sabbatical and didn't get it back into the regular schedule thereafter when I started really needing it again). Most anticipated thing of 2014 is seeing the style book into the world! But I have some good races planned, and some interesting writing projects (all critical and nonfictional at the moment) - it is very much the case that "more of the same" will be a very happy outcome, and I don't know that I need to make any really drastic changes just now.

Happy new year!