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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 '12 January 2006'

Thursday 12 January 2006


Came across ReadItSwapIt ("the UK's free book swap shop!") a wee while back, but I don't think I mentioned it. Even if I did, worth mentioning it again: ReadItSwapIt "is a completely free service, so you can swap as many books as you like and you'll only pay for the postage."

Posted by Mark Thwaite

Thursday 12 January 2006

Poetry at the Troubadour

Popular London poetry venue the Troubadour Coffee House has announced its 2006 programme of readings, which take place every Monday from 8-10pm at 265 Old Brompton Road, SW5. The line-up includes: Alfred Corn, Nick Laird and David Harsent. Jane Yeh and Mimi Khalvati will be reading their work on 6th and 20th March respectively. Tickets cost £5.50 / £4.50 for concessions. Telephone 0208 354 0660 or email for more.

Posted by Mark Thwaite

Thursday 12 January 2006

Irving Layton

Canadian poet Irving Layton died Wednesday 4th in a Montreal care facility where had been living since 2000. Layton was one of Canada's leading poets but, I'll admit, not a poet whose work I knew anything about until I read Ellis:

Irving Layton was a towering figure in twentieth century Canadian literature. He was born into a Jewish family in Rumania in 1912, shortly before they immigrated to Canada the following year. He was a prolific writer, publishing over 40 books during half a century of writing. Layton was best known for his poetry, much of which was written in a loose, confessional mode. In the mid-century he helped lead the rebellion against a stuffy, genteel Canadian poetic tradition which aped British verse.

Posted by Mark Thwaite

Thursday 12 January 2006

Odds and sods

From around the 'sphere:

  • ESBNs and more thoughts on the end of cyberspace
  • Quotes from Blanchot's The Most High, Aminadab and The Infinite Conversation
  • A very good deal on literary journals
  • Mark Kaplan is back blogging regularly at Charlotte Street (indeed, he has been for a few weeks and I should have mentioned it earlier)
  • Waggish on Josipovici
  • David Beckham to be a judge for the 2006 British Book Awards
  • The Radical Anthropology Group (interesting [pdf] article on Chris Knight's Theory of Human Origins)

Posted by Mark Thwaite

Thursday 12 January 2006

Me on Sarraute's The Planetatium

My review of Nathalie Sarraute's The Planetarium (Dalkey Archive Press) appears in today's Times Literary Supplement (I know! The TLS!)

Sarraute, like the best revolutionaries, knew her canon. Her conception of the novel was greatly influenced by both Proust and Virginia Woolf, but Flaubert (especially Bouvard and Pécuchet) and Dostoevsky were also important precursors ... Sceptical of plot, chronology, characterization and traditional narrative, yet highly structured, subtle and artful, The Planetarium's central narrative is beguilingly simple. Alain, a struggling writer, wants his aunt's impressive flat, a dwelling that he is convinced is too big for her and would be far more suitable for him and his wife - perfect for their ambitions of social advancement. His father is both ashamed of and enlivened by this behaviour, his aunt mortified ... Sarraute is not a writer for whom story is a central concern. Her fiction is built by carefully layering broken sentences connected by ellipses ... This feels like Woolf's stream of consciousness, but the sense of the words flows, languidly, complicatedly, rhythmically, as it does in Proust's radical, run-on sentences. Strangely, with so little attention paid to characterization, the novels are acutely psychological ...

Posted by Mark Thwaite

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As you sow, so shall you reap. The bags packed,
Umbers and gold swollen between the purse-strings,
Getaway cars nose on a hot scent.
Under striped canvas the patrons gather,
Staring at blue, incorrigible seas.
The stubble burns a hole in summer's pocket;
Upon the baked crust of their world, the mice
Scatter their ashes to the harvest moon.

-- Peter Scupham
(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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