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One of the Guardian Unlimited Books' top 10 literary blogs: "A home-grown treasure ... smart, serious analysis"

The Bookaholics' Guide to Book Blogs: "Mark Thwaite ... has a maverick, independent mind"

Saturday 27 December 2003

... December 27th ...

Pre-Christmas break in Amsterdam prevented recent 'blogging': a visit to Anne Frank's House continuuing a bit of a recent Holocaust/War theme. Maybe that's a good thing - this is not a world where we should forget such occurrences. But we have to avoid memorialising and learn real lessons: the Anne Frank museum itself seemed rather too pleased that liberal democracy and 'a commitment to human rights' were the answer to a repeat of the horrors of the '40s. I think that is beyond banal.
Read Mark Haddon's The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night to see what all the fuss was about. I was charmed, I'll admit. An excellent book - bit rushed at the end and some of the 'diversions' feel more simply like 'filler' but the autistic child-hero Christopher John Francis Boone is a quirky, warm, lovable companion and I missed him when I finished the book.
Dufresne's Killing Freud [Continuum] was very good too. Sometimes feeling like a bit of a ragbag of collected essays from here and there forced into book shape, it nonetheless is the start of a decent case not only against Freud (the case against whom has been well made by Fred Crews, Frank Cioffi, Richard Webster etc. [I'll add a reading list to my review]) but also against Lacan and the excesses of the 'posties' (post-structuralists and post-modernists). Often Dufresne needed to make a tighter case (as did Terry Eagleton in his recent After Theory) but the book is nicely done and I'd recommend it.
Yesterday I read Alberto Manguel's novella Stevenson Under the Palm Trees [Canongate]. Very decent. Fine little tale which cleverly plays on the reader's knowledge of Stevenson as the writer of the over-referenced and under-read Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.
Started Michael Marr's Bluebeard's Chamber (Verso) which is compelling so far (and which also bears upon the WWII theme) ...
Top 5 CDs of the year would be: Four Tet's Rounds, David Sylvian's Blemish, Robert Wyatt's Cuckooland and, joint favourites, Bonnie 'Prince' Billie's gorgeous Master and Everyone and Rothko's quite beautiful Wish For a World Without Hurt [www.rothkomusic.co.uk].

Posted by Mark Thwaite

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Augustus

As you sow, so shall you reap. The bags packed,
Umbers and gold swollen between the purse-strings,
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