Thursday, May 27, 2010

Susan Sontag

I've been reading the first volume of Sontag's journals. From her entry for 1/15/57.

To become erudite in

1) Life and philosophy of Abelard
2) Marine biology, esp. jellyfish
3) Baron Bunsen
4) Philosophy of Spinoza
5) Book of Job

I find I've become very fond of the young Sontag. This is both funny and admirable.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Bad blurbing

On the back of a novel I ordered from Amazon--it doesn't really matter what it is or who it's by--there's some boilerplate written by the publisher meant to make me want to read (well, at least buy) the book. I'm told, in black on pale blue, I'll like this novel for its 'observations', its 'language', and its 'narrative'. Had I seen this description before I ordered the novel, I never would have bought it. What's happened to plot and characters? And any novel praised for its language, I find particularly suspect. This one, I'm told, has 'precise and brilliant' language. The only thing worse would be if it were 'poetic'.

It's not that I'm in favor of pedestrian observations and mangled language, but most of the contemporary novels I dislike, whatever they may be, are celebrated for their language. Ick. Narrative might interest me, but I'd never use the word. Rather, is it a good story?

I don't really remember what interested me in this particular novel. But I'm sure the reviewer--if it was a reviewer that clued me in--didn't praise the novel's 'language'.