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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"

Blog entries on '08 October 2005'

Saturday 08 October 2005

Ellis's challenge

Ellis Sharp issues a challenge:


With the Booker Prize ceremony coming up on Monday, what better time to reflect on the state of modern British fiction? The Sharp Side challenge, thrown out to all you literary bloggers and smart culture vultures, is: name the ten best British fiction titles since 1950.


Hmmmm. I'll have a ponder. Ellis's list runs:

  1. Evelyn Waugh The Ordeal of Gilbert Pinfold
  2. Malcolm Lowry Through the Panama
  3. Doris Lessing The Golden Notebook
  4. Alexander Trocchi Cain’s Book
  5. Ann Quin Passages
  6. JG Ballard The Atrocity Exhibition
  7. BS Johnson Christie Malry’s Own Double Entry
  8. Alasdair Gray Lanark: A Life in 4 Books
  9. Iain Banks Excession
  10. Alan Warner Morvern Callar

Posted by Mark Thwaite

Saturday 08 October 2005

Rainy reading

It is pouring down here and, as I wait for the footy to come on the telly, I'm leisurely leafing through two lovely art books from Yale and listening to Library Tapes superb Alone In The Bright Lights Of A Shattered Life (Resonant).


The Artist's Reality: Philosophies of Art:


A recently discovered book manuscript by the celebrated artist Mark Rothko offering a landmark discussion of his views on topics ranging from the Renaissance to contemporary art, criticism, and the role of art and artists in society. One of the most important artists of the twentieth century, Mark Rothko (1903–1970) created a new and impassioned form of abstract painting over the course of his career. Rothko also wrote a number of essays and critical reviews during his lifetime, adding his thoughtful, intelligent, and opinionated voice to the debates of the contemporary art world. Although the artist never published a book of his varied and complex views, his heirs indicate that he occasionally spoke of the existence of such a manuscript to friends and colleagues.


Ghost Ships:


Travel and exploration fascinated the Surrealists, who crossed continents marveling at their diversity. This riveting book retraces one of their most important and exciting voyages, made on the eve of the birth of Surrealism in 1924. It describes the secret journey made by an extraordinary ménage à trois: the painter Max Ernst, Paul Eluard (cofounder of Surrealism with André Breton), and Eluard’s wife Gala.

Posted by Mark Thwaite

Saturday 08 October 2005

Leora on Bergelson

Leora Skolkin-Smith on Dovid Bergelson's Shadows of Berlin:


For me, these are the elements of Bergelson’s brilliance: waves of meaning subtly gripping us with a lack of melodrama or artifice; a softness, conversational easy-goingness in the voice; the use of realism as a means of telling, but achieving a supra-realism through allusions to the Torah and hence a subterranean foundation from the scriptures. Though written in naturalistic prose, the work is, nonetheless, spiritually magical and transformative.


(For all of Leora's review of Shadows of Berlin)

Posted by Mark Thwaite

Saturday 08 October 2005

Signals magazine

A new issue of Signals magazine is online:


This issue of Signals looks at the work of several poet-critics. Setting the scene for his study English Poetry 1900-1950, C.H. Sisson exposes the nebulous mists of the 1890s. Sisson praises the poets of the period (e.g. Lionel Johnson, Ernest Downson) for their immersion in the classics, lamenting the lack of such learning among more recent practitioners ...


Also contains an interview with Peter Robinson and a commentary piece on Geoffrey Hill.

Posted by Mark Thwaite

Saturday 08 October 2005

Wood s Lot

On Thursday (and my bad for only just noticing), the incomparable Wood s Lot website was five years old. Happy birthday! Mark quotes himself from two years back, saying:


My sense of collegiality with those of similar sensibilities coupled with the voice I find in producing this collage have acted as a great anodyne for megrims, funks and other assorted black dogs of a chemical, tempermental and/or situational variety.

Posted by Mark Thwaite

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Serendipoetry

Omens, after Alexander Pushkin

I rode to meet you: dreams
like living beings swarmed around me
and the moon on my right side
followed me, burning.

I rode back: everything changed.
My soul in love was sad
and the moon on my left side
trailed me without hope.

To such endless impressions
we poets give ourselves absolutely,
making, in silence, omen of mere event,
until the world reflects the deepest needs of the soul.

-- Louise Gluck
Averno (Carcanet Press)

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Word of the Day

The Dord, the Diglot, and an Avocado or two

Pre-order Anu Garg's new book: The Dord, the Diglot, and an Avocado or Two: The Hidden Lives and Strange Origins of Common and Not-So-Common Words (ISBN 9780452288614), published by Penguin more …

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October's Books of the Month

The New Spirit of Capitalism The New Spirit of Capitalism
Luc Boltanski; Eve Chiapello
Horizons Touched: The Music of ECM Horizons Touched: The Music of ECM
Steve Lake, Paul Griffiths

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