Sunday, December 20, 2009

sunday short stack

“It is not often that someone comes along who is a true friend and a good writer.” - E.B. White, Charlotte’s Web

Friday, December 18, 2009

santa baby

Dear Santa -

Think of all the fun I've missed
Think of all the fellas that I haven't kissed
Next year I could be just as good
If you'd check off my Christmas list

XO Chris

Gramercy Gate Compact
@ Etsy (citybitz) $40

Miz Mooz Amelia Button Boot @ Amazon $220

Pictorial Webster's Dictionary @ The Curiosity Shoppe $35

Aesa Diamond Vein Necklace @ Barneys $267

Stanton T90 USB Turnrable @ ebay $299

Orbit 3i (Emerald) @ Cyclewerks $549

The Bombshell Woolie @ Etsy (superjennylove) $46

Collins Sofa @ Crate & Barrel $2499

Thursday, December 17, 2009

a life beyond nostalgia

Anne Trubek on the death of handwriting:

The moral of this story is not that typing is superior to handwriting, that parents should have to transcribe the stories of their offspring or that private schools are superior to public ones. The moral of the story is that what we want from writing — what Simon wants and what the Sumerians wanted — is cognitive automaticity, the ability to think as fast as possible, freed as much as can be from the strictures of whichever technology we must use to record our thoughts. As Wolf writes: "A system that can become streamlined through specialization and automaticity has more time to think. This is the miraculous gift of the reading brain." This is what Palmer wanted for his students — speed. This is what the typewriter promised Twain. This is what typing does for millions. It allows us to go faster, not because we want everything faster in our hyped-up age, but for the opposite reason: We want more time to think.

Related, a student brings a typewriter to class (via Open Culture).

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

52 books in 52 weeks

33. A Gate at the Stairs by Lorrie Moore

Sigh...I'm not getting the accolades. I am a huge Lorrie Moore fan, but this novel did not do it for me at all. It took many, many pages to emerge from a somewhat boring beginning and never quite seemed to find its purpose. Of course, because it's Lorrie Moore, there were sentences of quirky, startling insight, but not as many as I would have liked. However, if the praise for this novel leads to more rapid release of another, then that's fine by me.

34. A Vindication of Love: Reclaiming Romance for the Twenty-first Century by Cristina Nehring

I love anyone who dares to point out that twenty-first century heterosexual relationships are suffering at best, totally fukakte at worst. Nehring doesn't explicitly state she's focused on male-female connections, but her use of literary and historical examples of this type imply it. She attributes this contemporary dilemma to a denial of much of the emotional currency that supported the traditional romantic economy. Is everything she says reasonable? Not necessarily, but at least she's saying it.

35. That Old Cape Magic by Richard Russo

I grew up in Massachusetts and took summer vacations in Maine, so I hoped the settings would charm me, regardless of any other narrative element. No such luck. This book wasn't painful to read and the second half was much more engaging, but I didn't really connect with any of the characters in this character-driven novel. There is one successful scene of absurdity that seems out of place, but it is also the most memorable section of the story.

36. Homer & Langley by E.L. Doctorow

I can't quite believe this is my first Doctorow novel, but there it is. I enjoyed this quick read that fictionalizes the story of New York's most famous hoarders, the Collyer Brothers. There's a mild Forrest Gump-like narrative arc that shows the brothers responding to different monumental events of the twentieth century. I questioned whether the idiosyncratic recluses would have never had a fight (really?), but the men and their increasingly cluttered home were effectively evoked.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

sunday short stack

"Telepathy and clairvoyance play a part in every love story." - Isaac Bashevis Singer

End of the year "Best of" lists are piling up. A random selection:

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

the death of uncool

Brian Eno thinks we're living in a stylistic tropics.

There’s a whole generation of people able to access almost anything from almost anywhere, and they don’t have the same localised stylistic sense that my generation grew up with. It’s all alive, all “now,” in an ever-expanding present, be it Hildegard of Bingen or a Bollywood soundtrack. The idea that something is uncool because it’s old or foreign has left the collective consciousness.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

going west

A beautiful short film for the New Zealand Book Council: