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

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Blog entries on '04 June 2007'

Monday 04 June 2007

RSB on Twitter

You can now get RSB blog posts via instant messaging, SMS and other new-fangled ways through Twitter (thanks, Lee, for all your help here). If you're already a Twitter user, just add ReadySteadyBook at If you're not, signing up is nimps (old scouse for "easy"). If you wish to avoid such nonsense, I don't blame you!

Update: I've now also added The Book Depository to Twitter:

Update II: And now also BritLitBlogs --

Posted by Mark Thwaite
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Monday 04 June 2007

Pereira Declares

So, the summer finally landed! Lola the puppy, Mrs Book and me went away this past weekend and visited the splendid Woodfest Wales. Happily, not much reading was done, but I did manage to finish Antonio Tabucchi's excellent Pereira Declares (which I've just quickly reviewed over at The Book Depository):

Antonio Tabucchi's Pereira Declares  is set in the hot summer of 1938 in Salazar's Portugal. Franco and the Spanish Civil War, as well as the politics of everyday life in Portugal itself, haunt the pages. Dr. Pereira, with 30 years experience as a crime journalist, is now in charge of the culture page at Lisboa, a "second-rate evening newspaper." He studiously avoids politics and contents himself with translating 19th century French stories. But politics is very difficult to hide from. He reads an article by Monteiro Rossi, a young graduate, about death and decides to contact and hire him to write write advance obituaries on great writers for his culture page. Rossi and his girlfriend Marta are politically active pro-Republicans and slowly Dr Pereira gets drawn into helping them, mostly by advancing Rossi money for polemical, unpublishable articles. Despite his protestations, politics have wheedled their way into Pereira's blindly cultured life. An astonishingly vivid portrait of one man and his growing consciousness, Pereira Declares is wonderfully astute about the lies we tell ourselves. It is never quite clear whether the book, which peppers the text with the declarative intervention "Pereira declares...", is a police/bureaucratic report of Pereira's involvement with political undesirables or whether it is Pereira himself declaring himself to us. But the rhythm this recurring phrase adds to the book is vital: it brings our attention to the text as text and to the ever-present possibility of unreliability in everything that we read -- and the resonances of this back to Pereira hardly need underscoring. Exceptional.

Posted by Mark Thwaite
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Monday 04 June 2007

Habitus magazine

News from Habitus magazine:

An exclusive essay by acclaimed novelist Aleksandar Hemon is now available online from Habitus: A Diaspora Journal.

The essay, entitled "Sarajevo Is..." is one of two pieces that Hemon contributed to the just-released second issue of Habitus, devoted to writing from and about Sarajevo. Other contributors include David Rieff, Courtney Angela Brkic, Semezdin Mehmedinovic, Muharem Bazdulj, and photographer Simon Norfolk.

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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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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