this is a great collection of essays from david foster wallace. there are 7 essays in all, here, a brief snapshot (from wikipedia, along with where ththis is a great collection of essays from david foster wallace. there are 7 essays in all, here, a brief snapshot (from wikipedia, along with where the essays originally appeared, in case you are keen):
* "Derivative Sport in Tornado Alley" (Harper's, December 1991, under the title "Tennis, Trigonometry, Tornadoes") - An autobiographical essay about Wallace's youth in the Midwest, his involvement in competitive tennis, and his interest in mathematics.
* "E Unibus Pluram: Television and U.S. Fiction" (The Review of Contemporary Fiction, 1993)
* "Getting Away from Already Being Pretty Much Away from It All" (Harper's, 1994, under the title "Ticket to the Fair") - Wallace's experiences and opinions on the 1993 Illinois State Fair, ranging from a reports on competitive baton twirling to speculation on how the Illinois State Fair is representative of Midwestern culture and its subsets.
* "Greatly Exaggerated" (Harvard Book Review, 1992) - A review of Morte d'Author: An Autopsy by H. L. Hix, including Wallace's personal opinions on the role of the author in literary critical theory.
* "David Lynch Keeps His Head" (Premiere, 1996) - Wallace's experiences and opinions from visiting the set for Lost Highway and his thoughts about Lynch's oeuvre.
* "Tennis Player Michael Joyce's Professional Artistry as a Paradigm of Certain Stuff about Choice, Freedom, Discipline, Joy, Grotesquerie, and Human Completeness" (Esquire, 1996, under the title "The String Theory") - Wallace's reporting of the qualifying rounds for the 1995 Canadian Open and the Open itself, with the author's thoughts on the nature of tennis and professional athletics.
* "A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again" (Harper's, 1996, under the title "Shipping Out") - Wallace's experiences and opinions on a seven night luxury Caribbean cruise.
each essay has its own strength (and each is fairly brilliant), but overwhelmingly evident, when taken as a whole, is DFW's ability to assess and read people and analyze a situation or instance in the context of a bigger picture. it's uncanny, really.
my favourite essay is the last one in the book, chronicling his time aboard a luxury cruise. mostly because this particular essay made me laugh out loud several times. but also because we get a little bit more of a peek into DFW - his brain and his life. sure, smatterings and points are offered along the way, in each of the essays, but in this last essay he was more human. more real. taken along with the d.t. max biography i read a few months ago, Every Love Story Is a Ghost Story: A Life of David Foster Wallace, i just feel as though i am getting a good sense of the kind of guy DFW was. which makes me sad all over again because, for all his faults and demons (we all have them), he was, it seems to me, a right-on guy. and i am once again (still?) sad he is no longer with us. his brain is a marvel and we lost a lot when he took his own life.
the majority of the book is a memoir of place - the search for home. not just the physical: the location and the structure, butthis book is wonderful!
the majority of the book is a memoir of place - the search for home. not just the physical: the location and the structure, but also the feeling. feeling one is home is a big deal. at least it is to me, anyway. it's been something i have been hoping to find my whole life.
huggan gives voice to this search, this sensation and does it so beautifully and naturally. there's a lot of excavation of memory that goes on in the telling and it felt very much like i was just listening to huggan in conversation. also contained in the story are small snippets of huggan's writing life, something i really appreciated. at the end of the memoir, 3 short stories are included and for me they were a bit of a revelation. i always feel like i don't 'get' short stories - that i have either been left hanging (THAT'S IT??) or that i have missed something (WHAT HAPPENED?). here, these three short stories are each like a wee vignette - nothing major happens, but a slice of life is examined.
i think this will be a book i buy and give to people. a lot. it was an affecting read....more
Perhaps the best of Shakespeare's plays. I have read this one a few times and it is a play to which I can return and return. I say "perhaps" ShakespeaPerhaps the best of Shakespeare's plays. I have read this one a few times and it is a play to which I can return and return. I say "perhaps" Shakespeare's best only because I truly love several of his plays and whore-about in my preference, tossing my Willy-love hither and yon to any Dark Prince that may happen past. Ah love! 'Tis a fickle mistress....more
Well....I don't even know how to review this epic novel...so I will share a NYTimes piece, by Kathryn Harrison. This article ran only a few weeks agoWell....I don't even know how to review this epic novel...so I will share a NYTimes piece, by Kathryn Harrison. This article ran only a few weeks ago and though it addresses Nathaniel Philbrick's Why Read Moby-Dick?, she makes many observations and comments that I also shared during my read on Melville's novel.
It’s a hard sell Nathaniel Philbrick has undertaken in “Why Read Moby-Dick?” The novel’s plot has been recycled for decades, inspiring films, radio dramas, cartoons, comic books, a television mini-series, a couple of heavy metal albums, a music video and a rap rendition. How many potential readers approach the masterwork of Herman Melville without already knowing the story of Captain Ahab and the white whale? Any? And why would such an overly exposed audience embrace a work of such heft, especially as almost every edition carries the added weight of ponderous academic commentary? “Moby-Dick” would appear to be one of those unfortunate books that are taught rather than enjoyed.
But who knows how many teeter in the aisles of Barnes & Noble, both drawn and repelled by the promise of edification? It’s the historian Nathaniel Philbrick’s intent to give those uncertain consumers a gentle shove toward the “one book that deserves to be called our American Bible.” He wants “you — yes, you — to read . . . ‘Moby-Dick.’”
Philbrick, whose “In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex” recounted the real-life inspiration for Melville’s shipwreck, wears his erudition lightly. He broaches the novel in quirky thematic fashion, with gracefully written compact essays on topics like landlessness, chowder and sharks. His voice is that of a beloved professor lecturing with such infectious enthusiasm that one can almost, for a moment, believe in the possibility of a popular renaissance for Melville. But convincing and beguiling though his slender apologia is (the whole of it taking up less than a quarter of the space allotted to the Norton Critical Edition’s appendixes), Philbrick doesn’t have an audience held captive in a classroom.
Still, his Bible metaphor applies in that not only is “Moby-Dick” a big fat book about the wages of sin and the elusiveness of redemption, but also one to which zealots return even as potential admirers push it away, put off by its size and its longtime residence on literature courses’ reading lists.
It’s too bad. More capacious than ponderous, “Moby-Dick” has the wild and unpredictable energy of the great white whale itself, more than enough to heave its significance out of what Melville called “the universal cannibalism of the sea” and into the light. Melville challenged the form of the novel decades before James Joyce and a century before Thomas Pynchon or David Foster Wallace. Calling for tools befitting the ambition of his task — “Give me a condor’s quill! Give me Vesuvius’s crater for an ink stand!” — Melville substituted dialogue and stage direction for a chapter’s worth of prose. He halted the action to include a parody of the scientific classification of whales, a treatise on the whale as represented in art, a meditation on the complexity of rope, whatever snagged his attention. Reporting the exact day and time of his writing in a parenthetical aside, he “pulled back the fictive curtain and inserted a seemingly irrelevant glimpse of himself in the act of composition,” the moment Philbrick identifies as his favorite in the novel. Melville may not have called this playfulness metafiction, but he defied strictures that shaped the work of his contemporaries, including that of Nathaniel Hawthorne, to whom he dedicated “Moby-Dick,” calling it a “token of my admiration for his genius.”
Ahab doesn’t appear until the 28th of its 135 chapters. The vestigial plot is of the train-wreck variety. There is no conflict moving toward a crisis in “Moby-Dick” because the crisis is long past, the battle for the soul of the antihero won in a summary flashback made even more remote by the delirium that followed the castrating bite that took off Ahab’s leg. The one emotion returned to him is vengeance, Ahab now “shaped in an unalterable mould.” The die is cast; what’s left of the narrative is denouement, all the characters save the narrator, Ishmael, dragged inexorably toward destruction.
Philbrick reads the captain as a demagogue blinded by his profane quest. Ahab manipulates his crew into squandering both his investors’ funds and their own lives to satisfy his immoral agenda — piloting his ship toward a doomed conflict with a murderous, uncontrollable, unstoppable monster variously interpreted as nature, God, fate and, on a level particular to the history of the United States, slavery. “I’d strike the sun if it insulted me,” Ahab admits, supporting Philbrick’s suggestion that “instead of writing history, Melville is forging an American mythology.” Purer in his pride than a mere mortal, his grandness “plucked at from the skies, and dived for in the deep,” the captain is more Icarus than Tom Joad or Rabbit Angstrom. Melville’s America hurtles toward civil war, hobbled by slavery, as Ahab has been deformed by his first encounter with the evil that will drag him down to his death. His vision is both intimate, examining the intricacies of the tattoos on a savage’s leg and, sometimes, exalted.
For Ishmael, “a dreamy meditative man,” the vantage from the masthead “is delightful. There you stand, a hundred feet above the silent decks, striding along the deep, as if the masts were gigantic stilts, while beneath you and between your legs, as it were, swim the hugest monsters of the sea. . . . The tranced ship indolently rolls; the drowsy trade winds blow; everything resolves you into languor.” The description is what Philbrick calls a “little sidebar of miraculous prose, one of many that Melville scatters like speed bumps throughout the book as he purposely slows the pace of his mighty novel to a magisterial crawl.” But if the ship is becalmed or blown off course by one flight of fancy or another, each diversion is just a little stay of the end’s certain execution.
If light and life are composed of color, the whiteness of the whale is the “pallor of the dead” and “the shroud in which we wrap them.” The color is “the most meaning symbol of spiritual things,” Melville wrote, and “Moby-Dick” belongs as much to the 20th or 21st century as to the 19th. Fascism, the Holocaust, the threat of nuclear annihilation, terrorism — every failure of humanity can be projected onto the blank canvas of the beast’s unwitting head.
Melville sailed on whaling expeditions and understood well the crushing labor required to sustain America’s prosperity — to keep the whale oil burning in a rich man’s lamp — as well as the delicate maneuvering required to pilot a crew whose “demographic diversity,” as Philbrick calls it, predicted America’s future. Caucasians, Indians, African-Americans, varied islanders, all are, Melville wrote, “federated along one keel” of the “death-glorious” Pequod, a ship both “hearse” and “fading phantom.” A misdirected melting pot, it sails on, as Philbrick notes, under “a man divided, seared and parboiled by the conflagration raging inside him,” one who heedlessly sacrifices all those who have pledged their allegiance to him.
“The mythic incarnation of America: a country blessed,” in Philbrick’s words, “by God and by free enterprise that nonetheless embraces the barbarity it supposedly supplanted,” we are a nation, and a species, ever poised on self-destruction. “Listen to every word” Philbrick says of what might be read as a cautionary tale, betraying an optimism he cannot have drawn from Melville. After all, the ending he saw was unavoidable extinction.
what a great book!!! pierre berton is an excellent storyteller and it would seem he is also an impeccable researcher. that's no surprise!! shamefully,what a great book!!! pierre berton is an excellent storyteller and it would seem he is also an impeccable researcher. that's no surprise!! shamefully, this is the first time i have read a berton book. OOPS!! he definitely came up during my time in elementary and secondary school, but we were never actually given any of his books to read/study. weird, right??
an important video you need to watch so you understand the level of awesome of pierre berton, and one of the many reasons why he was so beloved in canada: what's the best way to roll a joint? "it's a tragedy we all want to avoid!!" YOU GUYS!!! come on!!!
but i digress....heh!!!
having studied the arctic in school, as well as having had the chance to travel to the arctic on an exchange in high school (holman, on victoria island in 1983!! though it's since been renamed to ulukhaktok), it's been a place that has always fascinated me. not to the point where i have ever felt the urge to, you know, make a dash for the north pole on skis, or anything like that, but there is a mysteriousness and intrigue about life in the high arctic. so i was thrilled to discover this book and that it was such an excellent portrayal of the lives and challenges these men faced in trying to achieve their dreams.
i was so amazed by the overwhelming lack of preparedness with which the majority of the expeditions undertook their quests. the british expeditions were stubbornly and fatally wrong-headed in not learning from their inuit contacts and judging the inuit, while useful to them, 'savages' and 'unintelligent'. roald amundsen was one explorer who 'went native' during his time in the arctic. he valued the inuit people he brought onto his team, he adapted their ways for clothing and shelther and sustenance. he was the only explorer who actually thrived and gained weight while wintering in the arctic (locked in by ice, waiting for a thaw that would allow passage). roald amundsen is my favourite explorer (who knew?! haha!!) he was smart and patient and treated everyone the same way - all were equal. previous british expeditions were mostly led by navy men. and most insisted on living by rank and dictatorship conditions, along with british ways of life (clothing, food, expectations...). these expeditions never fared well. at all. it seemed, at one point, ridiculous to me that men were suffering scurvy, dreadfully ill, trying their best to not lose their minds...and yet there is disappointment when the last bottle of champagne was uncorked in the officers' quarters. seriously.
this book is a bit like being locked in on ice in the winter -- it's a slow read and one with which you may need a bit of patience. but this is not a complaint or a criticism. i enjoyed every moment of reading this book and i liked that it slowed me down and gave me time to imagine and consider the lives of the people berton has written about. one point i like the most, i think, was the fact that berton gave so much credit to the inuit in his book, along with some lesser-known expedition members. so many people did not get the attention they deserved.
and one last note: cook and peary were asshats, you guys! like -- possibly full-out liars, definitely exaggerators, manipulative and of dubious character. i had inklings of this before going in to the read...but mostly, i had no idea. ...more
1. weird physical and emotional effects caused by reading the works of roberto bolaño. symptoms may include: confusion;bolañover
1. weird physical and emotional effects caused by reading the works of roberto bolaño. symptoms may include: confusion; anger; awe; dry eyes; headache; idolatry; exhaustion; the strong desire for alcohol, drugs or both; feelings of filthiness and the need to shower to remove the grit; wonder; sadness; curiosity; the unexplained urge to pimp our a 1970s impala. symptoms may ease with time or they may worsen.
2.a thing that has survived from the past.
i just don't even know. you know?
bolaño is (was) clearly some freak of nature genius. he creates in me visceral (haha!) reactions when i read his stuff. i get jittery, on edge. it's not unpleasant, but it's tiring. i have only ever felt this way a few times, when reading: The Brothers Karamazov, Infinite Jest and 2666.
these writers get under your skin. and they're smarter than you are. you might be reading along awed, sure, but you have these little niggling 'yeah buts' going through your mind. THEY KNOW THIS! and they point it out in their books. and then your left thinking 'GET OUTTA MY HEAD BOLAÑO!'. except you kinda like it. but they are totally messing with you. it's okay. let them.
hmm, now that i have finished this read, i am wondering if i like it more than pride and prejudice???
late in the book there is this quote:
"Minutiae whhmm, now that i have finished this read, i am wondering if i like it more than pride and prejudice???
late in the book there is this quote:
"Minutiae which, even with every advantage of taste and delicacy which good Mrs. Musgrove could not give, could be properly interesting only to the principals."
and when i read that line it made me think of the details in austen's writing and how, in fact, the minutiae present with her manner of storytelling sucks me right in every time. but...with persuasion i feel this is very much a novel of anne's restraint and resolve as much as it is a tale of different persuasions. so given anne's nature, though we aren't privy to her inner workings in great detail, i was seeing everything through her eyes and completely immersed in her world.
i am so glad i had saved a few austens to read and so had this novel to be experienced for the first time. i now, of course, want to re-watch one of the bbc adaptations!!...more
This novel enveloped me. I savoured each word and marvelled constantly at Steinbeck's brilliance. I have read many of his other novels, but this was tThis novel enveloped me. I savoured each word and marvelled constantly at Steinbeck's brilliance. I have read many of his other novels, but this was the first time reading East of Eden. It has become my favourite of Steinbeck's works. I highly recommend this book to everyone.