Thursday, May 19, 2016

"Documents, ink, methods of drying"

I loved this Paris Review interview with Hilary Mantel. I have been reading her for a long time, ever since my college professor and literary inspiration Simon Schama recommended A Place of Greater Safety to me c. 1993 (and then I read all the backlist):
When I began work on the French Revolution, it seemed to me the most interesting thing that had ever happened in the history of the world, and it still does in many ways. I had no idea how little the British public knew or cared or wished to know about the French Revolution. And that’s still the case. They want to know about Henry VIII.

Sunday, May 15, 2016


Kevin Young remembers Prince.

(I have been listening to Prince a great deal over the last couple weeks, especially to Lovesexy - the most baroquely sensual and hyperverbal album I have ever loved! - and Sign o' the Times - I had a huge collection of bootleg Prince tapes in the late 80s, many of them made for me by a friendly co-worker at Urban Outfitters in Philadelphia the summer of 1989, but they are long since lost or destroyed. Might need to fill out the collection again.)

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Closing tabs

Ah, I am long overdue some tab-closing and a light reading update, but life is complicated and Facebook continues to leach the energy out of blogging! I'm in Cayman for a couple more days, but my term isn't really over - flying back to New York Thursday for a couple more Friday tenure meetings and some end-of-semester teaching stuff. Can get through a couple more weeks without disaster I think....

Anyway, links first (I have upgraded to a new Kindle and will need to consult 2 different devices to get the full log):

How many eggs does a chicken lay in its lifetime?

On the subject of recreational zoology, read Jane Yeh's rhino poem in the NYRB!

At the New Yorker, Adelle Waldman on loving and loathing Samuel Richardson.

The new era of drone vandalism.

Should brand protection extend to paper offerings to the dead?

Top ten things junior faculty should know in order to get tenure. (There was a feminist rebuttal to this somewhere, but I have misplaced the link, and besides, it didn't invalidate the original points, just complemented them!)

What do Enid Blyton's school stories teach a reader about ethics?

Who will come with me to try this sour-cherry-pie sundae?

Finally, on a sadder note, Frederic Tuten interviewed Jenny Diski in 1999 and it's well worth a reread. I won't write more about Diski here, as I am attempting to write a proper piece about her for an online publication I admire, but I have been thinking very much of one of my favorite passages of hers, from On Trying to Keep Still (I think of it all the time and have certainly never read such an uncannily accurate description of why I have such a strong aversion to making plans to see even my favorite people!):
Being really alone means being free from anticipation. Even to know that something is going to happen, that I am required to do something is an intrusion on the emptiness I am after. What I love to see is an empty diary, pages and pages of nothing planned. A date, an arrangement, is a point in the future when something is required of me. I begin to worry about it days, sometimes weeks ahead. Just a haircut, a hospital visit, a dinner party. Going out. The weight of the thing-that-is-going-to-happen sits on my heart and crushes the present into non-existence. My ability to live in the here and now depends on not having any plans, on there being no expected interruption. I have no other way to do it. How can you be alone, properly alone, if you know someone is going to knock at the door in five hours, or tomorrow morning, or you have to get ready and go out in three days' time? I can't abide the fracturing of the present by the intrusion of a planned future.