Tuesday, September 30, 2008

I was told there'd be obscurity

In a recent issue of The Week, Dzyd Sloane picks her six favorite books—sending me to Google with her selection of Miroslav Krleza's On the Edge of Reason, published by New Directions. I like this: "Imagine Larry David but not funny and involving war and exile."

(Here's my list, from June.)

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Monday, September 29, 2008

Image of the day

Representative Darrell Issa, a Republican, said he was “resolute” in his opposition to the measure because it would betray party principles and amount to “a coffin on top of Ronald Reagan’s coffin.” —NYT

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Minimal Table-Talk

If I had a clone and a time machine...
I would send Ed1 back to Saturay to attend the New School's Lolita conference, take a "disco nap," and then go to this FSG Lit Crawl event, which featured multigenre wizard/Psychic Envelope Sarah Mangoozles, my reading twin Rivka Galchen, ex-Buffalonian John Wray, and Wells Tower—a towering talent!

But there is no clone, and there is no time machine...

This Song Is Great
It just popped up on the iPod on Friday and I didn't know what it was (I have a shuffle) and I rewound (?) it about five times...

(I'm not sure about the video...)

Listen for Duran Duran cleverness at 1:25.

Parenthesis of the Day
A group of three "Islamic extremists" put a firebomb in the North London home of Gibson Square publisher Martin Rynja late Saturday night, and were promptly arrested by Scotland Yard in "a preplanned intelligence-led operation," according to a police spokesperson. (The company's offices are in the same building.) —Publisher's Lunch

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Friday, September 26, 2008

"The people all call her Alaska"

The iPod landed on VU's "Stephanie Says" today...and it seemed to be about Sarah Palin.

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Prime green

Dzyd Dennis on Nagisa Oshima:

Like all iconoclasts, Mr. Oshima has a patricidal aspect to his career. “My hatred for Japanese cinema includes absolutely all of it,” he declared. When he made a television documentary on Japanese cinema in 1995, he included only one clip each from older masters like Yasujiro Ozu and Kenji Mizoguchi. (Four of his own films made it in.) Where others saw refinement, Mr. Oshima saw meek politesse and ossified ideals of beauty. This is a filmmaker who once wrote an essay titled “Banish Green” and excised the color from his movies because he thought it too soothing. —NYT

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Thursday, September 25, 2008

"I am thinking of you now..."

Lucie Brock-Broido on Thomas James's Letter to a Stranger:

"In the three decades that I’ve hankered backward for this book, toward whence it came, almost everything and everybody that has had a connection to Thomas or to his work has disappeared or died along the way. So peculiar have these vanishings been, I admit that I am slightly spooked to be the vessel to bring this extraordinary text back into the world...."

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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Table-Talk of Parkus Grammaticus for September 24, 2008

Time Out Chicago on U. Chicago's reprint of Richard Stark's first three Parker books—a project spearheaded by none other than Dzyd Levi...I recommend all three books wholeheartedly...they will "hold you up"...!

When worlds collide: A recent Gossip Girl had Chuck speaking disdainfully of Blair's British beau as a "Bertie Wooster"...

Scott Bradfield—fan of Cavemen? Read his new story (up at The Fanzine), "Mankind Through the Ages," to find out...

At the Poetry Foundation*, Dzyd Jordan on Joe Brainard's Nancy paintings and Dzyd Mike on the importance of a good book title....

Who is "Kongthin Pearlmich"? "All his life he has been a recluse. He has avoided the art establishment like the plague." ¶ "A spokesman for Canterbury Cathedral said: 'The work has been offered to Canterbury Cathedral and we are certainly considering it, but we don't know much about the artist.' " ¶ "Experts at Sotheby's and Christie's said they did not recognise the artist's name."...

Strange embedfellows: Google lets you embed books! Not quite sure what this means. (Via L.G. Thomas)...Is it like this, where you can search inside Personal Days?....Speaking of which, is morale low at your company?...

From Dzys Team Member R.E.S.: "Not your grandfather's Moby Dick"....

The mighty Sampson Starkweather has a thing (poem?) in Typo 12—here's an excerpt from "A Limitation of Birds":

Browsing through used books on 32nd Street, I heard a young man say into his cell phone
Hi, is this the number I’m supposed to call if I find a dead bird in the street?
Later, I saw a pigeon lying in the gutter, some boys without shirts on
were poking it with a stick. I wanted to say something
but I didn’t know what number to call.

Speaking of poetry—this excerpt from Dzyd Mike's (different Mike's) Colored Squares will have you scratching your head and twitching your fingers—and saying: "More??"...

This Saturday (9/27): Dzyd Leland, Ron Rosenbaum, Robert Polito, and others hold an all-day New School conference on "Lolita in America"....

One more PD reading added: I'll join Paul Beatty, Gary Shteyngart, and other authors to read at an Obama fundraiser on October 19. More info here...

ALL DZYS TEAM MEMBERS please post items of interest!

*where—contra the bio read at the Brklyn Book Fest!—I no longer work

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Better headlines

What did Dzyds think of my headline "Exile on Maipu Street," for that link to the interview in which Borges's widow, Maria Kodama, reveals his fondness for the Beatles, Stones, Pink Floyd, et al.?

(a) Liked it
(b) Didn't like it
(c) Undecided

It left me a little unsatisfied. Dzyd David e-mailed me this idea: "Tlön, Uqbar, Ummagumma."

Excellent! How about "Piper at the Gates of Tlön"?

"Keith Richards, Author of the Quixote"?

Now the ideas are flowing...please send more...

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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Editor turned blogger

Et tu, Julia?! Personal Days editor Julia Cheiffetz, now at Harper Studio, is blogging at the imprint's The 26th Story.

Here she suggests five books for those fretting about the economy. (Heyyy...shouldn't people be curling up with Personal Days, too???)

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Haircut one hundred

While we wait for the new 30 Rock season to begin, Dzyd Martin has some Tracy Morgan–related news.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Meet the Mets (in Buffalo)

The New York Mets are a horrorshow right now, blowing late-game leads with the precision of a Swiss-made timepiece (a Tag Heuer, perhaps?). Jayson Stark of ESPN relays an astonishing statistic from Bill James: that if their games were ended after 6 innings, the Mets would have an 11 1/2 game lead over the Phillies, and if they were ended after 8 innings, the lead would be 6 1/2. Currently, they are trailing by 1.5 games. Incredible.

Which is why I shift my thoughts to more soothing things, like my (and the Dizzies') hometown Buffalo Bisons announcing the Mets as their new parent club. Now, the Mets' farm system can charitably be described as "bare", while the former daddy Cleveland Indians have consistently produced outstanding talent from within (i.e. Grady Sizemore, C.C. Sabathia), so this doesn't bode well for on the field success. But the Mets are my team (a rebellion against my Dad's Yankee-ness), so if on my visits home I can see the exploits of the few gems in the system (Fernando Martinez, Wilmer Flores), then all the better.

Part of the reason the Bisons are so attractive to major league teams (they beat out Syracuse to nab the Mets) is their top notch facilities. It's mind boggling to think of it now, but Pilot Field (now the poetically named Dunn Tire Park) is such a nice ballpark because Buffalo held out hope to land a major league team, and was one of five finalists in 1993 for an expansion team, which eventually went to Florida and Colorado. What would Buffalo be like now if it had a Major League franchise?

As Wikipedia helpfully points out, the stadium was one of the first "retro" style baseball-only stadiums built by the architectural firm HOK Sport, four years before they also built Baltimore's Camden Yards, initiating the template for all new parks, up to and including the new Mets stadium, CitiField, which will open next year along with their new Bisons affiliation. It's fate!

And...let me point out that the undefeated Buffalo Bills are now in first place in the AFC East for the first time since week 2 of 2003. I'm only stating facts, not setting myself up for inevitable disappointment.

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I could not tell

From Dzyd Paul:

"What is said about Ed Park?"

"Well, they say he accepts bribes."

"The people say Ed Park accepts bribes?"

"Yes, sir."

"What is Ed Park's standing in relation to money? How much money does he seem to have?"

"I could not tell. He owns a good many automobiles, two houses and lots, and big diamonds, and his wife dresses very elaborate."

"What kind of automobile has he got?"

"He has one Winton Six, and a Studebaker, and I heard he had a Buick."

"Smuggling of Asiatics" (!), Industrial Relations: Final Report and Testimony, 1916


Sunday, September 21, 2008

Last week

A scene from the Brooklyn Book Festival:

(From L to R: Laura Sinagra, moi, Chuck Klosterman, Charles Bock)

(Via Keenduck's Flickr)

While we're at it: This is from Rocketlass—hungry yet?

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Friday, September 19, 2008

Exile on Maipu Street

From a BBC interview with his widow, Maria Kodama:

[Maria Kodama:] [Borges liked] fun things such as The Beatles, the
Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd.

[BBC:] Pink Floyd?

[MK:] Yes, he loved it. So much so that his birthday anthem was not
"Happy Birthday To You" but "The Wall."

[BBC:] How did he discover it?

[MK:] I don't know. The movie of "The Wall" is awful and we watched it
infinite times. At some point I think he knew the dialogue by heart.
He liked that kind of music because he said it was a thing of enormous
force, yet vital.

[BBC:] And the Rolling Stones?

[MK:] He loved them, he also said they had an incredible strength. One
day we were at the Palace hotel in Madrid, waiting to go out for
dinner, and I see Mick Jagger coming. He kneels, grabs Borges' hand
and tells him: "Maestro, I admire you."

Borges, a little astonished, couldn't see him well, and says, 'And who
are you, sir?' and he answers "I am Mick Jagger." Borges says, 'Ah,
one of the Rolling Stones.' Mick Jagger almost faints.

[Original Spanish]
Le gustaba eso y después cosas divertidas como los Beatles, los
Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd.

¿Pink Floyd?

Sí, le encantaba. Tal es así que el himno para su cumpleaños no era el
Happy birthday sino The Wall.

¿Cómo lo descubrió?

No sé. La película The Wall es terrible y la vimos infinidad de veces.
En un momento creo que sabía de memoria los diálogos. Le gustaba ese
tipo de música porque decía que era una cosa de enorme fuerza,
terrible pero vital.

¿Y los Rolling Stones?

Le encantaban, también decía que tenían una fuerza increíble. Un día
estábamos en el hotel Palace de Madrid, esperando a que vinieran a
buscarnos para cenar, y veo que viene Mick Jagger. Se arrodilla, le
agarra la mano a Borges y le dice: "Maestro, yo lo admiro".

Borges, un poco asombrado, no lo veía, dice: "¿Y usted quién es,
señor?". Y él responde: "Soy Mick Jagger". Borges dice: "Ah, uno de
los Rolling Stones". Mick Jagger casi se desmaya.

(Via Gustavo, Dzyd status unknown)

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Thursday, September 18, 2008

Previous incarnations

Having lived through the Great Depression, Ed Park is more than a little unnerved about this year’s financial turmoil. He remembers the bank closures then and said he and his friends are “scared to death” it could happen again. —The Bulletin


Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Printed matter

Printing a Book, Old School from Armin Vit on Vimeo. (Via MUG)


Saturday, September 13, 2008

Machado about *something*!

The NYT has a piece on the centenary of the death of the great Brazilian writer Machado de Assis (Dom Casmurro, Posthumous Memoirs of Bras Cubás).

Here's an excerpt from Dom Casmurro...here's a review of DC and PMOBC (a/k/a Epitaph of a Small Winner) from 1998...And here's the 1953 NYT review of DC!

UPDATE: L.G. Thomas provides the following backup: A piece on MdA in Context, written by Zulkifar Ghose:

He is like one of those monuments in a city square that people drive past presuming he must be someone important but do not stop to read what it is he has accomplished; some, catching the name, might have an obscure recollection which they associate with another culture’s history, but otherwise his only devotees appear to be a small flock of students whose work is not unlike that of pigeons upon a statue—alighting upon him with a belly full of the latest theoretical jargon which might accidentally have highlighted a curious feature of his anatomy were it not indiscriminately deposited on the whole body.

That name of Ghose will ring a bell for B.S. Johnson fans—he was Johnson's great friend.

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Friday, September 12, 2008


This Sunday I'll be at the Brooklyn Book Festival for the second year in a row—despite not living in Brooklyn!—joining Chuck Klosterman and Charles Bock. We'll all be reading from our debut novels—CB from Beautiful Children, CK from the impending Downtown Owl, EP from that old chestnut Personal Days.

It's on Sunday, 9/14, at 5 p.m. on the Mainstage! More here.

See you there?!

And of course there are tons of other great readings/panels going on...

I hope the weather holds up....

I hope someone doesn't climb onstage and pat my head like last year.

Scene from last year's BBF: Chuck Klosterman, Rob Sheffield, and me. (I?)(Me.)("EP.")

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Accordions bearing stories

This looks pretty great: New-York Ghost contributor Ben Greenman's Correspondences. And...complicated:

But the literal subject of the work is only the beginning of the discussion: Each hand-crafted, signed copy is composed of an unfolding chip-board casing built by letter-press maven Brandon Mise, which contains pockets for three accordion books bearing two stories each. The seventh story, which is written by Mr. Greenman with intentional gaps in the narrative, is printed on the casing and does something unprecedented: It invites the reader to contribute to the collection.The fourth pocket in the casing contains a postcard that the reader can use to fill in the gaps in Greenman's narrative and send to Hotel St. George Press for possible publication in future online and paperback editions of the book. This experiment, code-named "The Postcard Project," will incorporate work by authors and non-authors alike, resulting in an ever-shifting, community-created story. Learn more about the Postcard Project, overseen by Postmaster Greenman, by visiting our Mail Room.


reflections on a gift of a monotype ouroboros

Ouroboros hunters/Blvr. editors Ross and Andrew spotted a fine specimen on the streets of San Francisco:

It's the office of Aurobora Press!

Like many of our young people today, Andrew is inspired to become an Ouroboros:

(According to the website, "Aurobora Press is an invitational fine art press located in San Francisco dedicated to the monotype medium.")

Here's one more, for good measure:

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Thursday, September 11, 2008

Anne Sexton poem

As MUG has done on past 9/11 anniversaries, today it features Anne Sexton's 1975 poem "Riding the Elevator Into the Sky."

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Obama and McCain at Columbia today

Obama McCain Event Production Schedule Revealed!

A minute-by-minute schedule discovered in plain view of the farmer's market on Broadway.

Highlights include:
7:20 - L. Ward and Bill Novelli Welcome Message
7:29 - Lee Bollinger Remarks
7:33 - Governor David Patterson Remarks
7:40 - Tobey Maguire Speaks
7:47 - 9-11 Family Testimonials
7:53 - John Huey Delivers Introduction
8:01 - John McCain Speech
9:00 - Barack Obama Speech
10:00 - Event Ends

Tobey Maguire?

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Ideas, ideas...GOT IT!

The Rock's alive with the sound of music.

Julie Andrews will play boss to Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson in Tooth Fairy, about a minor-league hockey player who, after spoiling a kid's dreams, is sentenced to one week as a real-life tooth fairy replete with wand and tutu. Andrews is an administrator at the Tooth Fairy Dept. Ashley Judd also stars. —E! News

(Via Jane)


Monday, September 08, 2008

O.K. What else?

“You told him no dice to the event, correct? What else? Saying what?” Pause. “What else? Which is when? What’s on the calendar now? Right? And her event is what? Whenever you see an invitation that says ‘What could be more magical than an evening under the stars in the Hamptons?’ you press delete. What’s going on with my voice-over for Major League Baseball? What’s their deadline? What else?” He banged the steering wheel. “What? Speak more clearly, I can’t hear you. He said what? Satellite broadcast goes where? I’ll look at that. What else? O.K. Take a deep breath. I don’t know what you’re talking about. What does their letter say? O.K. What else? O.K. What else? O.K. What else?”

—The New Yorker

License to ille

1. Paper Cuts' Gregory Cowles on Carpenter's Gothic: "Gaddis is not in fact all that difficult."

2. Dzyd Levi on his defining summer '08 reads, Roberto Bolaño's The Savage Detectives and Gary Indiana's Do Everything In the Dark.

3. Dzyd Paul on McCain's repetition of "my friends" (in Slate): "Like Dole's use of the dissociative third person—or illeism, a propensity also shared by Elmo and the Incredible Hulk—this year's obsessive invocations to friendship invite scrutiny."

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Sunday, September 07, 2008

"Reflections on That Dreadful Tuesday"

I have a piece in today's NYT—an essay (for the City section) on remembering (and forgetting) 9/11.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

His master's voice

Mr. Melendez’s second career as the voice of Snoopy happened entirely by accident. Because Mr. Schulz would not countenance the idea of a beagle uttering English dialogue, Mr. Melendez recited gibberish into a tape recorder, speeded it up and put the result on the soundtrack.

For his decades of squeaks, squawks and grunts, Mr. Melendez received residuals to the end of his life. —NYT

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Dizzies News Service for September 6, 2008

1. Sarah Mangoozles talks to Leonard Lopate about The Two Kinds of Decay—very nice! I'm going to try to embed it right onto The Dizzies!

2. More audio: Dzyd Paul is on NPR today, talking about the spelling reform movement—jumping off his epic "Buzzkill" piece in the current Believer—you can read it all online, but you'll want to have a bound copy or two for further perusal!

3. Dzyd Dennis has a long profile of Michelle Williams in the NYT.

At a low point last year she signed up for night classes in bookbinding and calligraphy. “I was prouder of my little foldout book than of some movies that I’ve made,” she said.

4. And the Dennis-masterminded Moving Image Source featuring the return of the manly Mark Holcomb, plus pieces by Dzyds Rob and Benno (also manly in their way).

5. Dzyd Alex on pollster John Zogby in The Nation. And Wyatt Mason at the Harper's blog picks the latest Triple Canopy (of which Alex is a driving force) as your weekend read.

6. Levi Stahl on John Wyndham. Also: New additions to The Invisible Library, including more titles only found in the books of Nabokov, Powell, Frank Herbert, and more!

7. And in my continuing bid to become the Pierre Menard of the Internet, I have discovered (thanks to a reader) that my "Blogs That Only Lasted for One Post" feature has already been done! But I am not going to look at it...

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Friday, September 05, 2008

The surge worked?

It did? Dzyd John Mark forwards the latest from David Rees.


Sweet leaves

My latest Astral Weeks is "live" (as we say in the web column biz)—my take on two excellent rock-and-roll novels, Martin Millar's Suzy, Led Zeppelin, and Me and John Darnielle's Master of Reality.

(Are they science fiction? Read on!)

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Thursday, September 04, 2008

The first person plural

Over at Nextbook, Gideon Lewis-Kraus (Dizzyhead status: unknown) writes about German writer Kevin Vennemann's debut novel, Close to Jedenew, which was called "by far the best literary text of the last few years that’s appeared from a writer under thirty."

The “we” who are not breathing are here hiding from their neighbors in an unfinished treehouse, and it is the “we” who narrates throughout. Unlike other recent examples of first-person-plural narration—Joshua Ferris’s Then We Came to the End and Ed Park’s Personal Days come to mind—the “we” does not represent a cohort from which individuals are intermittently rotated out for examination, but rather a single narrator here speaking at the center of concentric crowds.

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Ochopsycho Nightmare

The Cincinnati Bengals receiver has legally changed his name to Chad Javon Ocho Cinco in Broward County, Fla., a switch that became official this week....Two years ago, Johnson gave himself the moniker—a reference in Spanish to his No. 85—and put it on the back of his uniform before a game. Quarterback Carson Palmer ripped it off before the kickoff. After the season, coach Marvin Lewis—who dislikes Johnson's attention-getting stunts -- referred to the receiver as "Ocho Psycho." —ESPN

(Via Jane)


American idle

In the NYT Book Review, Joyce Carol Oates began her review of Curtis Sittenfeld's American Wife by asking: "Is there a distinctly American experience?" She adds:

“The American,” by Henry James; “An American Tragedy,” by Theodore Dreiser; “The Quiet American,” by Graham Greene; “The Ugly American,” by William Lederer and Eugene Burdick; Philip Roth’s “American Pastoral” and Bret Easton Ellis’s “American Psycho” — each suggests, in its very title, a mythic dimension in which fictitious characters are intended to represent national types or predilections.

Hmmm...Maybe this answers the question? (Punchline ca. 1:30 mark)

(Via Termite Art.)

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Wednesday, September 03, 2008

The art of the index

René Daumal (at AJRMS)

Jenny Davidson

Laura Miller

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A new Dizzies feature!

Blogs that only lasted for one post, #1:

Time for a Midwestern Culture Shock


Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Stock footage

Buffalo's Talking Leaves bookstore gets a nice salute from Three Percent, for stocking the new Dubravka Ugresic...and from The Dizzies, for stocking Personal Days! (Buffalonians, why not stock up on both?)

In other PD news (wait, was that last thing "news"?)—PD has been shortlisted for the John Sargent Sr. First Novel Prize! (Here's the Galleycat post, and here's something else, with more on the prize.)

UPDATE: In further PD news—and yes, that last thing was news—though the jury's still out on item #1!—GET TO THE POINT, PARK—I'll be reading at the Brooklyn Book Festival on Sunday, 9/14 at 5 p.m. on the Mainstage. (Website here; click "2008 events.") Once again I join Chuck Klosterman (whose debut novel, Downtown Owl, is coming out soon)...also reading: Charles Bock! I need to change my name so that it is "Charles" based? Maybe that is a joke I can tell before I start reading......hmmm.....

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Context: Richard Brautigan/Stark

"There were so many blackberries back in there that it was hard to believe. They were huge like black diamonds but it took a lot of medieval blackberry engineering, chopping entrances and laying bridges, to be successful like the siege of a castle."

That's form a story called "Blackberry Motorist." The title caught my eye, as if it were written yesterday. Motorists using Blackberries while driving! But actually it's from Richard Brautigan's Revenge of the Lawn: Stories 1962–1970.

Reading a tense passage of description in one of Richard Stark's Parker novels, I realized it wouldn't seem tense without the setup. It would just seem like Parker was looking to buy a used truck.

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Stalk footage

From the comments on Dave Kehr's blog:

This somehow reminds me of the “celery theory” I sometimes jokingly bring up when I feel silly. I have noticed that in every American film in which people are shown taking groceries home, they carry a paper bag that has celery stalks peeking out of it (this happens even in Paris — e.g. “The Girls” — where I never saw anybody buy celery stalks or carry them in a paper bag). My point: there are millions of cliches of that kind that reappear in countless films, and I doubt that the directors in most cases have much to do with it. Did Cukor tell the prop person: “Put celery stalks into that bag and I want to see them sticking out”? Perhaps but I doubt it. And I don’t think it would be very enlightening to describe any director’s work in terms of how many times characters in his films are seen carrying grocery bags with celery stalks peeking out of them.

I hope this celery disquisition will be taken for just what it is: a metaphor.

Comment by jean-pierre coursodon 08.31.08 @ 8:27 pm

(Via Dzyd Brent)

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Literary discovery of two minutes ago

From the back cover of the most recent Lydia Davis book: "Fifty-seven rule-breaking short stories..."

The book is Varieties of Disturbance.

Is this intentional? 57 Varieties?!


The Connections: Desk Jockey Edition

My obsession with computers (what an infancy they're in, and how it charms!) is a kind of nostalgia for the future. I long to be half-man, half-desk.
—Don Paterson, Best Thought, Worst Thought

When I stand in my office, my limbs slowly turn to wood, which one longs to set fire to, so that it might burn: desk and man, one with time!
—Robert Walser, "Helbling's Story"

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