Books 2010

Books 2009

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Sunday, 16 March 2008


I think I'll try to check on Stenvenson's story and compare it to the two short stories about clerics of Alphonse Daudet in 'Les lettres de mon moulin'.
Daudet is a writer from South of France (Provence). One of the stories takes place on Christmas Eve. Servants are being preparing the delicious dishes in the kitchen for the Christmas evening dinner. The priest is supposed to give three masses for Christmas but of course his mind is lured by the nice food...

Let me strongly recommend a recently published collection of short stories by ZZ Packer "Drinking Coffee Elsewhere". It is a stunning debut collection (the stories were I think first published in The New Yorker and Harpers) and the author recently won the Guggenheim Fellowship for fiction in 2005.

Sharply and subtly observed comments on human nature, a world full of misfits, of racial and cultural tensions, and self-examination.

I hope you give them a go, I am glad I did.

Dark Puss

I've read all of Saki, though more years ago than I care to say, and am reading what I suppose is a short story by Henry James right now -- The Lesson of the Master. I would probably find lots to enjoy in this collection, and it strikes me that I am much more likely to read an anthology of stories by a number of writers than to pick up a one-author edition. In fact, though you have me down as a short story hater, I edited a collection myself some years ago -- 19th century women's short stories, it was, and jolly good some of them were, too.

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  • Nothing is of greater consolation to the author of a novel than the disovery of readings he had not conceived but which are then prompted by his readers. (Umberto Eco, Reflections on The Name of the Rose)
  • ... relatively few persons in London ... can afford the luxury of one or more servants. No fewer than 3,700,000 have no servants at all, and of the half million that have servants 227,000 have only one. (The Times, 6 June 1895)
  • Standing among savage scenery, the hotel offers stupendous revelations. There is a French widow in every bedroom, affording delightful prospects. (Tyrolean inn brochure, according to Gerard Hoffnung)
  • (A doctor is at an elderly relative's deathbed) "The old sawbones, eh?" he bellowed ... "Just in the nick, perhaps. Haul the old girl back by the short hairs, if you ask me. Devilish smart at his work ... Always take a fence with more confidence when I know he's out with us."
  • Too often, when a man of Monty Godkin's mental powers is plunged in thought, nothing happens at all. The machinery just whirs for a while, and that is the end of it. (P G Wodehouse, Heavy Weather)
  • ...the breed that take their pleasures as Saint Laurence took his grid (Kipling, The Five nations)

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