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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"

Thursday 18 December 2003

... December 18th ...

Well, I finally submitted! I jumped on the grammar bandwagon and yesterday bought myself (and read) James Cochrane's Between You and I - A Little Book of Bad English. Seemingly not selling as well as Eats, Shoots and Leaves (how could it!?) Cochrane's book is a compact A-Z of examples of Bad English. I'll review it over the weekend: it 'amused and informed' me, so a job well done I suppose ...
Granta (thanks Louise) sent the wonderful books of Joseph Roth through this morning. I hope to have an article on Roth done by the end of January. He is such a wonderful writer - The Legend of the Holy Drinker, my favourite, is pitched somewhere between fable and Zola-esque realism, a superb book (beautifully translated, as far as the non-German reader can tell, by Michael Hofmann). I'm keen to read Roth's What I Saw - Reports from Berlin 1920 - 33 especially after reading Zsolt's Nine Suitcases (set ten years later and mainly set in Hungary but dissecting similar issues: Roth as background information to what Zsolt suffered).
Out in paperback next year are two novels by Wolfgang Koeppen (Death in Rome and The Hothouse) which look fantastically good (both out May) and, out in June, the curiously named The Stalin Organ ('a slang military term for a multiple rocket launcher') by Gert Ledig (all translated by the estimable Hofmann) which I'll be reviewing as and when ...
I suppose I should compile some kind of Best of 2003 list. I like lists (as I've said) and don't at all think them the curse that most 'literary' folk seem to. I just find them useful joggers of my increasingly shot memory! Trouble is I spent such a good amount of this year avoiding new books and reading classics. However, there are plenty that did pull me in: I avoided the huge best-sellers (Ali Smith, Martin Amis, Ballard even Coetzee) and read my way through a peculiar set of oldies-but-goodies and marginalia. I'll report back on 2003 soon!

Posted by Mark Thwaite

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Memorial Tablet

Squire nagged and bullied till I went to fight,
(Under Lord Derby’s Scheme). I died in hell—
(They called it Passchendaele). My wound was slight,
And I was hobbling back; and then a shell
Burst slick upon the duck-boards: so I fell
Into the bottomless mud, and lost the light.

At sermon-time, while Squire is in his pew,
He gives my gilded name a thoughtful stare:
For, though low down upon the list, I’m there;
‘In proud and glorious memory’... that’s my due.
Two bleeding years I fought in France, for Squire:
I suffered anguish that he’s never guessed.
Once I came home on leave: and then went west...
What greater glory could a man desire?

-- Siegfried Sassoon
Collected Poems (Faber and Faber)

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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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The New Spirit of Capitalism The New Spirit of Capitalism
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Horizons Touched: The Music of ECM Horizons Touched: The Music of ECM
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