Sunday, March 19, 2023

Sunday Salon (and CCSpin Number Reveal!)


Last Week

Posted Chicago poet Keith Preston on 'Reading in Bed As A Fine Art'.

Blogged about Samuel Butler's The Way of All Flesh, a book from my Classics Club list.

And signed up for the latest Classics Club spin #33. The spin number is 18,

which means Honoré de Balzac's Cousin Bette for me. A good choice!

Some other books, including The Songs of Kabir, tr. Arvind Krishna Mehrotra:
The mind's a shortchanging
Huckster with a crafty 
Wife and Five
Scoundrel children.
It won't change its ways.

The mind's a knot, says Kabir,
Not easy to untie.

On The Stack

In addition to the Balzac, that's Early Irish Myths and Sagas, the Rae Dalven translation of Cavafy, and a volume of selected David Slavitt poems I'm making my way through.


I went to see the Eleanor Catton at the main Toronto Public Library talk about her new book Birnam Wood. Except there's apparently some suspense, so while she read from it, she didn't necessarily talk about it much. Not so long she wrote the screenplay for a version of Emma, so she mostly talked (very astutely) about that. She's impressive.

But now I do want to read the book. The Toronto library system bought a hundred copies, but I'm afraid I'm only five hundred on the list, so it will be a while...

I was going to post the video of the talk, but it doesn't seem to be available yet, though the library usually does post them here. I've also got tickets for Rebecca Makkai in May.

Eleanor Catton was born in Canada and lived here until she was six. (Her father was a grad student at the University of Western Ontario.) The Luminaries won the Canadian Governor General's award for fiction, as well as the Booker. The interviewer tried to absorb Catton into the Canadian borg, a thing which has been tried before and which I knew from some interview I read earlier, she politely resists. But based on her vowels, she's definitely a New Zealander, which you could check for yourself, if I could post the video... reflict, attintion, togither. 😉 

Chocolate Pots-de-créme, all gone now sadly...

How was your week?

Thursday, March 16, 2023

Reading In Bed As A Fine Art (#poem)

Reading In Bed As A Fine Art

That reading in bed is a rite with a ritual,
    Those couch-cognoscenti our essayists teach;
Ye novices, learn from us aesthetes habitual
    The bed written rules that the essayists preach.
Retire to your room with the paraphernalia,
    Some hoary old volume, your brier and pouch,
And garbing yourself in nocturnal regalia,
    Then kindle the candle that stands by the couch.

For bed books, no new books we essayists handle;
    For night lights, no bright lights are known to the game—
A second-hand book by a flickering candle,
    A tattered old tome by a tremulous flame.
We cling to the candle, so human, appealing;
    It weeps as it works, shedding tallowy tears;
So second-hand books touch us readers of feeling
    With lachrymose thoughts of delectable years.

How fondly we dandle in candle-lit darkness
    Fair folios veiled in voluptuous vellum,
And thrill to the mad Latin grammar of Harkness
    Or rakish old Caesar's wild Gallicum Bellum.
How dull and drab novels or newspaper colyums!
    Ye tyros, give ear to us urging instead
The old broken volumes, the vellum-bound volumes,
    The worm-eaten volumes we lug to our bed.

-Keith Preston

Keith Preston (1884-1927) wrote a column for Chicago Daily News, which often included poetry.  I suppose Ogden Nash is the best-known newspaper poet, but it used to be a common genre, and there are a bunch of fun things to be found: Don Marquis, Eugene Field, etc.

That's the Chicago Daily News building up above, where presumably Preston worked. The building's still there, but it's not the Daily News, which folded when I was a teenager, and was my parents' newspaper until it wasn't...

Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Classics Club Spin #33

How can you not spin for #33? I feel like I should add a 1/3rd to that.

I'm nearing the end of my original list; the last couple of spins I added a few books from a potential new classics club list. But not this time! I'm concentrating on knocking off those remaining books, so there will be some doubling up.

(For full directions on how to do a Classics Club spin, see the organizing post. But you know all that...)

The First Five

1.) W. Somerset Maugham/The Razor's Edge
2.) Virginia Woolf/The Waves
3.) Balzac/Cousin Bette
4.) Boccaccio/The Decameron
5.) James Baldwin/Notes of a Native Son

The Second Five

6.) W. Somerset Maugham/The Razor's Edge
7.) Virginia Woolf/The Waves
8.) Balzac/Cousin Bette
9.) Boccaccio/The Decameron
10.) James Baldwin/Notes of a Native Son

Hmm...those look a lot like the first five.

The Third Five

11.) W. Somerset Maugham/The Razor's Edge
12.) Virginia Woolf/The Waves
13.) Balzac/Cousin Bette
14.) Boccaccio/The Decameron
15.) James Baldwin/Notes of a Native Son

Whoa. I'm picking up on a pattern here...

The Final Five

16.) W. Somerset Maugham/The Razor's Edge
17.) Virginia Woolf/The Waves
18.) Balzac/Cousin Bette
19.) Boccaccio/The Decameron
20.) James Baldwin/Notes of a Native Son

Yes, there may have been some copying and pasting going on!

They've all appeared on spin lists before and have failed to be selected. Of those 20 (whoops, I mean 5) books, which do you particularly like? Sunday, the 19th, will reveal all.

Happy spinning!