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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 '03 March 2006'

Friday 03 March 2006

Tony loves Trotsky

Intesting piece in the Independent reporting that the PM Tony Blair revealed his favourite reading matter at a World Book Day event in London yesterday. Blair said: "There were people who got me very involved in politics. But then there was also a book. It was a trilogy, a biography of Trotsky by Isaac Deutscher, which made a very deep impression on me and gave me a love of political biography for the rest of my life."

Radical publisher Verso will be loving this. Verso publish Isaac Deutscher's massive biography of Trotsky in three volumes: The Prophet Armed: Trotsky 1879-1921, The Prophet Unarmed: Trotsky 1921-1929 and The Prophet Outcast: Trotsky 1929-1940. In a press release the publisher asks, "does this mean that even Verso, the radical left publishers, are now part of the Blairite project?" Let's hope not: the thought of a whole load of publishers tooling up and invading Iran does not make me happy!

Posted by Mark Thwaite
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Friday 03 March 2006

PNReview editorial

I neglected to mention that Michael Schmidt's excellent editorial to PN Review no.168 is now online here at RSB. Schmidt seems to be one of the few critics around who has noticed how self-laceratingly, blackly funny the poet Geoffrey Hill is. And how bawdy too! Certainly, Hill is a far more approachable writer than the severe, arcane, opaque oracle he is sometimes painted as:

From its dedication to the Italian poet Eugenio Montale to its impassioned dialogue with the novelist, publisher and poet Cesare Pavese, who committed suicide in 1950, there is a fascinating erotic current. And the book is marked by Hill’s peculiar brand of humour, Old Testament and merciless and true, not least when he reflects on himself.

Posted by Mark Thwaite
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Friday 03 March 2006

Independent Foreign Fiction Prize shortlist

The Independent Foreign Fiction Prize shortlist has been announced. For the past few years the prize has always thrown up some interesting titles but, despite thinking Fatelessness a very good book, I'm a bit underwhelmed by the rest of the choices this year: This Blinding Absence of Light by Tahar Ben Jelloun; Mercedes-Benz by Pawel Huelle; Fatelessness by Imre Kertész (reviewed on RSB; and Kertész will be talking on Sunday at Jewish Book Week); Out Stealing Horses by Per Petterson; The Door by Magda Szabó and The Ministry of Pain by Dubravka Ugresic.

Posted by Mark Thwaite
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Friday 03 March 2006

Chris Knight

Yesterday, I posted a brilliant interview with the radical anthropologist Chris Knight. Chris is professor of anthropology at the University of East London and the author of the highly acclaimed and controversial Blood Relations: Menstruation and The Origins of Culture. Please take the time to read the interview (which Stuart did for RSB); it really is very good!

Posted by Mark Thwaite

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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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