Friday, December 29, 2006


"The Irish through the centuries have honed their backstage wits on the observation of Britain’s imperious weight in the world. What do we want this striking green-eyed sage to tell us about ourselves, our writers and politicians, our American performance at home and on the wider stage of this young global century?"
  • You need to listen to this program - and start submitting your writing to journals for publication. O Brien speaks beautifully about writing and writers in Ireland. WOP and I once thought about starting a blogger book club, but it seems that we all tend to read different things and once classes start, of course, no one has time to read (even what is assigned), so I doubt anything would come of it. But listening to this program with O Brien and running into a group of guys last night with the classics in thier pockets (quite literally), roused the interest again. I tend to think that the curent rage for book-clubs, popularized by the big O, is a result of the abandonment the canon of western literature by our educational institutions over the past 30 years. We no longer, even as highly 'educated' individuals, find much literary common ground for discussion and, therefore, must engineer a situation in which more than 3 people have read the same thing. We can no longer assume that a person with a university degree will even know James Joyce, Dante or Dickens, let alone have read them. We've replaced giants with pygmies; we throw Chaucer in the trash and exult the latest victimization-narrative so we can wallow in the collective sins of Western Civilization. Perhaps the Renaissance has dried up and I should just get over it, but like Voyager II the further we remove ourselves from the life-sustaining atmosphere near the ground, the more tenous, hazy, and useless the signal becomes. Once the lifeline snaps, we just drift aimlessly.
  • So, what HAVE you been reading? I jut finished a fine little history about a Scots lad gone bad, John the Painter: Terrorist of the American Revolution. A person at Hogwarts recently posited tha if he pursued history there was nothing new to discover or wite about. Well this little gem proves the point that a keen mind and creative use of sources can indeed add new wheel-ruts into well-worn roads. I also dipped into Robert Louis Stevenson and Jules Verne for a needed escape from work-related literaure. Great stories both. So, what were your best reads of 2006?
Yits: Has the VQR arrived here yet? And have you ever heard of Belfast writer Bernard MacLaverty?


sobinator said...

i just read a decent book on Walt Whitman who was a fabulously intersting man and Robert Kaplan is a fabulous biographer to boot. Im reading leaves of grass concurrently-brilliant. Best piece of fiction of 2006 is hands down the tropic of Capricorn by Henry Miller. The guy tears the hell out of America 50 years ago, but so much of it still applies (surprise surprise). The best piece of non-fiction that i've come across this year would have to be EP Thompson's work on The Making of the English Working Class. However british he is, it will be hard for any of you to find a better 400 pages of historical analysis.

I will tell ye all of my recent excursion to Rome and the Vatican soon enough, but I'm already working on a possible galavant through Bavaria and Bohemia. While very tentative now, there is some hope so I was wondering what book I should pick up to that extent. It would be great if someone at Hogwarts taught about the germanic peoples, or european history in general, but alas, I'll have to do my own reading(what a chore, right?).

Additionally, I'd be very interested in participating in a book series on PaddyWop. Could be very useful for us who may be slightly literate in mentality.

Paddy said...

The fact that you recognize the brilliance of E.P. Thompson really does brighten my day. It's hard to find a more broadly accomplished scholar who could communicate his themes so effectively and elegantly, and get this, his interpreations are actually based on a thorough knowledge of textual sources. Simon Schama (at Columbia)comes to mind as a contemporary historian of similar brilliance.

And if you wish to start the PW book of the month discussion, I'll let you name the first work for January.