Sunday, November 30, 2014

Never Again in This World Anything So Good

Daily Dose

From The Complete Works of Saki, by H. H. Munro


"'Oh, do let's all go down to the cow-house and listen to what they've got to say?'" exclaimed Beryl, to whom anything was thrilling and amusing if you did it in a troop."

From Bertie's Christmas Eve

Saturday, November 29, 2014

The New Year, by Mark Strand

A Caricature

John Cleese at University Book Store - Seattle

Daily Dose

From Food: A Love Story, by Jim Gaffigan


"In cas I die, I'm gathering a list of advice for my kids.  All I have so far is:

1. Mustard on a cheeseburger is amazing.
2. Ignore lists."

From The Cheeseburger: America's Sweetheart

Friday, November 28, 2014

"It's Fruitcake Weather!"

"It's fruitcake weather!"

It is, indeed, that time of year. Come Tuesday, December 2nd, at 7PM I will be reading Truman Capote's A Christmas Memory at the bookstore.  I don't know if seven years quite constitutes a "tradition" yet, but if it does, this is ours, and mine.

Every year I pull my rather weathered copy of the book off my shelf, and read it again to myself.  Then I read it aloud.  No one but me to hear it then, that first time, in November.  I stumble, every year, in the same places, over the same words, even after seven years and more than a dozen performances of the piece.  Every year I smile and every year I choke up in exactly the same places.  Every time I am impressed again by the quality of the prose and moved by the power of the sentiment.

It is a perfect, American Christmas story.

Of all the readings I do each year, this is the one I like best.  I can't say, even after all this time that it is the best I can do, but I'm proud of it, nonetheless.  The folks who come to hear it, and the folks who come back year after year, tell me how much this story means to them, how much they enjoy our evening together.  They tell me the cookies were better last year, or that they wish the cider was "hard", but no one really complains, and a good time would seem to be had by all.

A Christmas Memory is an expression of gratitude.  That's it's power, I think.  It's beautifully written and as brief, as slight, perhaps as an actual memory, but it's authority comes from the sincerity with which it was written.  The joy and the regret are real.  The love is honest.

Truman Capote was already something of a literary celebrity at just thirty-two, and working as a journalist, alone at Christmas, in a hotel room "on the other side of the world" when he wrote this story.  In it he recalls to life Buddy -- himself at six -- and Sook, his "sixty-something" cousin and best friend, their little dog, Queenie, and the holidays they spent together in Monroeville, Alabama, where Buddy's mother left him, in the care of rather stern "relations."  Together the friends make fruitcakes, and Christmas decorations, fetch a tree from the woods, and make each other kites as presents, yet again unable to afford the gifts they each wish they might buy for the other.  That's it.  That's the story.  From such humble materials, Capote made a minor masterpiece; redolent of whisky and candied fruit, pine and orange-peel, tinted with the red dust of the roads and colored by the loneliness of a young man, far from home, remembering the last happiness of his troubled childhood.  He would go on to write other, grander things.  He never wrote a better.

And every year, I read it aloud at the bookstore.  I'd like to think I'm better at this now than I was the first time I did it, but I don't know that to be true.  What I do know is that there is a magic in the words; a power to unite and delight the reader and the listeners alike, a magic that transports us all back to childhood, and the wonder of a cold, Christmas morning, the pleasures of a kite as it takes the air.

It's a story, and a tradition for which I am grateful and with which I hope in turn to express my gratitude to the audience, our customers at the bookstore, to my employers for letting me read aloud, to the memories of the author, to the shades of Buddy and Sook.

Gratitude, I'm convinced, to be sincere, requires action, sound.  We must say it, show it, sing it if we can.  Well, I can't sing, so this is the best I can do.

Hope to see you there, the night of.

A Caricature

Daily Dose

From My Mother's House, by Colette, translated by Una Vicenzo Troubridge and Enid McLeod


"A succession of harsh sounds, made by the train, cabs, and omnibuses, is all that my memory retains of a brief visit to Paris when I was six years old.  Of a week in Paris five years later I remember nothing but arid heat, panting thirst, feverish fatigue and fleas in a hotel bedroom in the Rue St. Roch."

From My Mother and the Animals

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Breakfast at the Bookstore #12

Cookery Is My One Vanity

Daily Dose

From Poems: Feasts and Fasts, by Christina Rossetti


Earth grown old, yet still so green,
Deep beneath her crust of cold
Nurses fire unfelt, unseen:
Earth grown old.

We who live are quickly told:
Millions more lie hid between
Inner swathings of her fold.

When will fire break up her screen?
When will life burst thro' her mould?
Earth, earth, earth, thy cold is keen,
Earth grown old.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Dining with a Kalmuck Prince

Daily Dose

From The Sea, the Sea, by Iris Murdoch


"The scarred lip gave a twisted male force to his pretty mouth."

From page 310

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

John Cleese - the Audio

Mencken's First Books

Daily Dose

From Felix Holt, The Radical, by George Eliot


"Felix felt himself in danger of getting into a rage.  There is hardly any mental misery worse than that of having our own serious phrases, our own rooted beliefs, caricatured by a charlatan or a hireling.  He began to feel the sharp lower edge of his tin pint-measure, and to think it a tempting misale."

From Chapter XI

Monday, November 24, 2014

A Hostly Use of Oranges

Daily Dose

From Cain, by Jose Saramago, translated by Margaret Jull Costa


"... it's the same old story, it starts with a lamb and ends with the murder of the very person you should love the most."

From page 70 - 71, this edition.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

A Caricature

Daily Dose

From The Years with Ross, by James Thurber


"If it wasn't one thing it was another, at the New Yorker, and sometimes it was both."

From Chapter XI, Up Popped the Devil

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Of Men and Cooks

Daily Dose

From When the World Spoke French, by Marc Fumaroli, translated by Richard Howard


"The century of the Enlightenment was often indifferent to religion, but never to education.  From Fenelon to Rousseau by way of Condillac, pedagogues pullulated."

From Chapter 17, William Beckford: The Author of Vathek

Friday, November 21, 2014

Breakfast at the Bookstore #11

Daily Dose

From The Reader's Macaulay, edited by Walter H. French and Gerald D. Sanders


"The mirth of Swift is the mirth of Mephistophiles; the mirth of Voltaire is the mirth of Puck."

From Joseph Addison

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Francoise's Art

Daily Dose

From The Reader's Macaulay, edited by Walter H. French and Gerald D. Sanders


"The Glance with which he surveyed the intellectual universe resembled that which the Archangel, from the golden threshold of heaven, darted down into creation."

From Francis Bacon

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Ballad of Culinary Frustration

Daily Dose

From The Works of Lord Byron


"But far from us and from our mimic scene
Such things should be -- if such have ever been;
Ours be the gentler wish, the kinder task,
To give the tribute Glory need not ask,
To mourn the vanished beam, and add our mite
Of praise in payment of a long delight."

From Monody on the Death of the Right Hon. R. B. Sheridan

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Book Storage Errors

(All the above doodles are based on explanations actually given for the state of used books intended for sale.)

Noel Coward as Cook and Bottle Washer

Daily Dose

From Principal Products of Portugal: Prose Pieces, by Donald Hall


"Yet, it's true: When we read poems we often feel more emotion than we can reasonably account for."

From The Unsayable Said

Monday, November 17, 2014

Picnicking with W C Field

Daily Dose

From An Area of Darkness: A Discovery of India, by V. S. Naipaul


"He took a napkin off his shoulder and flicked away tiny flies.  'This is nothing. Get little hot, little flies dead.  Big flies come chase little flies.  Then mosquito come bite big flies and they go away.'"

From Chapter 5, A Doll's House on the Dal Lake

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Introducing John Cleese.

So, here's my introduction from tonight's event, when I got to introduce John Cleese.  As you can see, I even had a prop -- see (parrot) below.  Mr. Cleese proved to be a shy gentleman, not eager to meet people or pose for pictures, thus the photograph above.  I did get to have a brief chat with him, and he shook my hand after I'd introduced him.  That was enough for me.  His conversation with Seattle radio personality, Steve Scher was delightful.  I got to sit right in the front.  It was thrilling, as I said below.  Hopefully, there will be a video along directly, though I've no idea if I'll be in it.  For the time being though, there's this:
I'm a bookseller at the University Book Store and my name is... well, I can't quite remember what my name is, but I'm a bookseller at the University Book Store. Please forgive me. I am what my grandmother would probably have described as – “over-excited” – this evening.

I've just had the privilege of meeting one of my heroes, a man I very much admire, as you might imagine, and I'm still a bit star-struck. SO exciting. I refer, of course -- to Mr. Steve Scher. (He's right over there, by the way, next to the tall, English gentleman.)

I stand more than a little in awe of real competence, you see. I stand before you as someone who is himself good at very, very few things, and lucky, frankly, to have found employment in a bookstore. You can imagine then how dazzled I am by anyone as good at his job as we all here in Seattle know Mr. Scher to be from listening to him for so many years on the radio. More than this, he has the knack – so vital, I should think in an interviewer -- of intelligent conversation with every sort of interesting person; from authors and experts and actors to just... well, strangers, actually. He meets people well, he really does. Not everyone has this gift, you know.

I, for example, tend to become uncharacteristically shy in the presence of genius; I tend to burble and gush, to ramble on aimlessly and blush and perspire... what was I saying?

Take this evening! When I was offered the chance to introduce Mr Cleese I was, understandably thrilled! He is, after all, one of the towering comedic talents of our time. But what to do?! What to say about a man who has been making me, all of us, howl with laughter for decades? It's a problem. How to thank him for Monty Python, and Fawlty Towers, and a Fish Called Wanda, and now for this wonderful new book, So, Anyway...?

Well, I had time to think about it, and I did have a few ideas, all of them bad, as it turns out. I thought of asking a particularly tall coworker to practice his silly walk, or asking another if he might be willing to wear Manuel's white jacket and a false mustache. I thought of this... ( displaying paper mache parrot) Wiser heads prevailed.

As Jerome K. Jerome once said, “I often arrive at quite sensible ideas and judgements, – on the spur of the moment. It is when I stop to think that I become foolish.”
Let me be a warning to us all then:

When meeting Placido Domingo,even if you've been told you can carry a tune, do not try to sing!

So instead, and in conclusion, let me just humbly encourage anyone who hasn't yet to buy a copy – and with the Holidays coming on, buy multiple copies and give them as gifts – of this wonderful new book, So, Anyway... In it you will find not only one of the funniest human beings presently astride this planet, but also a wonderful writer, a fascinating man, and a delightful companion on many a cold night. (To say nothing here of bright pink schoolmasters, Graham Chapman, Connie Booth, a genuinely dear old Dad, and a truly unforgettable mother.)

Oh! Not that it matters now, but I've just remembered my name. Be that as it may, ladies and gentlemen, please allow me to introduce Steve Scher and – the author of So, Anyway... Mister John Cleese!

Daily Dose

From Art and Lies, by Jeanette Winterson


"Men prefer one another, I am quite sure of that, women are a kind of indulgence.  I don't expect my Arab friend to like them, he doesn't, but I find it odd when my heterosexual friends don't like them either."

From Handel

Saturday, November 15, 2014

A Caricature

Daily Dose

From Robert Browning: Selected Poetry and Prose, edited by Aidan Day


"Why else the pause prolonged but that singing might issue thence?"

From Abt Vogler, XI

Friday, November 14, 2014

Breakfast at the Bookstore with Brad and Nick #10

Daily Dose

From The Immortal Evening: A Legendary Dinner with Keats, Wordsworth, and Lamb, by Stanley Plumly


"Hazlitt again: 'Lamb's jests scald like tears; and he probes a question with a play of words.  What a keen, laughing, hair-brained vein of home-felt truth!'"

From Chapter 22

Thursday, November 13, 2014

A Caricature

Daily Dose

From Myles Away from Dublin, by Flann O'Brien


"One could write a lot about this exposition of brutality but I am afraid that the conclusion must be that we have all enjoyed very, very rough stuff so long as other people are involved."

From Mowers to movies

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

(plus a few cents mailing charges.)

Here's the text of the ad that used to run, among other places, in the Parade Magazine in the Sunday paper:

 Rosyln, New York

Please reserve in my name the handsomely bound volumes of The Giants of Literature Series.  Send me at once the first three: SHAKESPEARE, KIPLING and DE MAUPASSANT.  I enclose no money in advance.  A week after receiving my books, I will either return them and owe nothing, or keep them for the special introductory price of only $1 (plus a few cents mailing charges) for ALL THREE.

Then, as they are printed, I will be entitled to receive additional volumes on approval, for only $3.98 each (plus a few cents mailing charges.)  I am to receive advance descriptions of future volumes.  I may reject any books before or after I receive them.  And I may cancel my reservation at any time.  (Books shipped in the U.S.A. only.)"

This followed with a form for the subscriber's name address, and zip-code.  (I quote from a version of the add from Parade, circa 1971.)

Days gone by, I'm afraid.

We get individual volumes in this series, "The Giants of Literature" periodically at the used desk, though not usually so many at one time.  Most often, and unsurprisingly considering the text of the ad above, Shakespeare, Kipling and De Maupassant.  Just yesterday we got Tennyson, Shelley, Wordsworth, Coleridge and Donne.  Never saw the Donne before, but the rest were familiar.  We sell these for $5.99 apiece, used.  Most of the copies we see have never been opened, if the stiffness of the covers is any indication.  Meant more for decoration than otherwise, one assumes.

That said, they are attractive enough little books, and perfectly serviceable editions, if unhappily free of footnotes, indexes and introductions.

In the first place, I note them here because such book club editions seem to have all but disappeared as a publishing business model, though cheap reprints still flourish and the copyright free classics are still to be found in chain-store editions and the like.  This suggests that while subscription-based clubs have indeed gone the way of the Fuller Brush Man, there are still plenty of buyers out there for the unread classics.  And that would be my other reason for mentioning here the products of Black's Readers Service and Walter J. Black, Inc.

As a dealer in used books, I am always pleased to find old books in pristine -- unread -- condition.  As a recent and devoted reader of Alfred Lord Tennyson though, it seems a little shocking to crack open seemingly for the first time a hardcover copy published as long ago as 1952.  Has there really never been anyone before me even so curious about the old boy as to have a peek inside?

One of the first lessons learned working in a bookstore is to not be hurt by the neglect of the classics.  It's alright to push them on people, to remind the reader that he or she could do worse than to read a bit of Wordsworth, but one mustn't despair when a particular edition of some monumental work or canonical author ends up on the clearance shelf or mark-down table.  The poems of John Donne have survived for better than 380 years.  I see no reason to think they will not survive a Penguin going out of print.

It's ironic that these seemingly unread editions are actually a comfort to me, but they are.  While the original subscribers of "The Giants Of Literature" from Black's Readers Service may never have opened these books, I have more confidence in the readers of used books.  At six bucks a pop, nobody will be looking to impress with one of these.  I would bet there's nobody buying these books just to decorate a shelf.  I believe these books will be bought and read.  The fact that used copies of all these poets continue to sell and circulate regularly tells me that their readers are still numerous enough to justify, for example, more than one used edition of Browning on our shelves, and that, to my mind, is a very good thing indeed.

And if it turns out that poor ol' Tennyson ends up, yet again unread on a shelf this time, remember, no one -- but poets, presumably -- lives forever, and so, dear reader, that will just mean another pristine used copy for the next fellow.

A Caricature

Daily Dose

From The Poems of Marianne Moore, edited by Grace Schulman


Percieving that in a masked ball
attitude, there is a hollowness
that beauty's light momentum can't redeem;
since disproportionate satisfaction anywhere
lacks proportionate air,

he let us know without offense
by his hands' denunciatory
upheaval, that he despised the fashion
of curing us with an ape -- making it his care
to smother us with fresh air.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

It's the Most (Stressful) Time of the Year

It's that time again when a retail-worker's thoughts turn to the Holidays and I begin to panic about Christmas presents and Priority Mail and the like.  I love the actual Season, and I truly enjoy working in a bookstore come the Holidays, but on a personal level, I always find myself all atwitter, trying to arrange gift-giving and shipping and making something to send.

Almost everyone I know lives elsewhere.  This means at the very least half of a dozen trips to the Post Office to send out packages.  There is some thought, and some work involved.  I do try.

My latest calendar of caricatures is finished and printed, this year in a timely enough way as to not worry about it again until I start printing shipping-labels in a few weeks.  But what to go with it?

I do feel a little guilty, just sending along the things I make myself; the calendars and the little books I make on the Espresso Book Machine.  For family, I do try to include at least one other gift they may actually want, be it a subscription to "Old West Magazine" for my father and brother, or gift-cards for this and that.  (Oddly enough this year, for my father and brother I already have something bought, but what now for the ladies?)  My friends, I fear, will again this year have to be content with the simple efforts of my pencil, meaning, in addition to my calendar, yet another new alphabet book -- if it gets printed in time.

Any other time I might be excited to announce something forthcoming from me and my friends and coworkers at the University Book Store Press, but just now it seems a bit... predictable.  Still, it's what I got to give.

This will be my third publication via the EBM.  I'm proud of the work, or rather, pleased enough to anticipate sending off copies of the new one to the four corners of the earth.  Why not?  I make these things very much with the intention to amuse.  My efforts to date all have seemed to meet that purpose well enough.  What's one more?

I of course have yet to see a copy of what will be my latest.  Fingers Crossed.

But now that Christmas ornaments and candy-canes, green and red this and that and Hanukkah cards are making their insidious way into every corner of the bookstore, I begin to worry, not just about getting my own stuff done and shipped, but finding something to buy for my beloved husband, dear A., and something for my mother, and something for the (grown) nephews, etc.  Panic.

AND I have my annual Capote reading to think about, and finding a encore to read for that.  I can barely imagine doing that yet.

So, given all that added stress, why then this morning do I find myself already humming Carols?!

It's a sickness, my friends, it really is.

And so it begins.

Hoping for a Delivery in a Couple of Weeks...

Daily Dose

From The Little Sister, by Raymond Chandler


"I left him to his thoughts, which were probably as small, ugly and frightened as the man himself."

From Chapter Eleven

Monday, November 10, 2014

A Caricature

A delightful young coworker, refreshingly new to everything, has been sharing her discovery of Shirley Jackson with me, and Flannery O'Connor.  At the desk I decided to do a quick doodle of the latter, to please my new friend.  Turned out nice enough to share it here and then gift her the original.  She seemed pleased, and so I am as well.

Daily Dose

From Speeches, by Mark Twain


"Ten pages of that.  Each and every word a seventeen-jointed vestibuled railroad train.  Seven cents a word."

From Spelling and Pictures

Sunday, November 9, 2014


It's true.  Sometimes I do speak to customers at the bookstore where I work as though I've read every book, ever.  I don't mean to.  The truth is, working every day with so many new books, reading reviews, conversating with coworkers at the Information Desk, it can start to feel as if I had indeed been reading every  new book, and every old book, and every rare book, every day if not since Gutenberg then certainly since the day I was born, with nary a pause to so much as eat.  (Clearly, I ain't been missing many meals.)  It's not true, as I say, but it can feel as if.  As if, indeed.

 Every day or nearly, someone asks me if I've read some new-ish novel, or popular biography, or what have you, and it's just easier to nod and smile while they describe how wonderful the book is, or how wonderful it was made to sound in that review in the Times, etc.  Nodding and smiling are two of the fundamental skills of the successful bookseller.  (And by successful, I mean still employed.)  I nod.  I smile.  I ring up the sale.

I don't mean to lie.  If the question is direct, "Have you read this?" and the customer pauses for my answer, I will answer honestly, yea or nay.  (More often nay, it seems nowadays, a fact I regret professionally if not otherwise, but then no one seems ever to ask me, "Have you read Goethe's autobiography?")  That said, it's usually encouragement rather than an opinion I'm being asked to provide, thus all the nodding and smiling. If pressed about a new book I haven't read and never will, I will usually resort to some acceptable variation on either "it's a popular title" or "people seem to really enjoy it."

It's a rare customer who wants to be talked out of buying the book in his or her hand.

Lots of people, as I've already suggested, simply want to tell someone, even if it's only me, why more people should be reading the books the speaker reads.  I get that.  Do it myself, sadly -- here, for example.

Such conversations on the sales floor however can be a trap, of course.  There are regulars -- can't really call them customers as such as I seem seldom if ever to have sold a book to any of them -- lonely, older gentlemen, mostly, who will corner well neigh anybody unlucky enough to happen by.  Said sad souls will then relentlessly chat up their captives on books about the American Civil War, say, or UFOs, or the history of Boeing Aviation.  To intentionally bore people has always seemed to me a sin, more venial than mortal certainly, but none the less a sin.  As ol' Erving Goffman once said, "Readiness to become over-involved is a form of tyranny practised by children, prima donnas and lords, placing feelings above moral rules that should have made society safe for interaction.”  Indeed.

 That is not, however, the Moral rule about which I am most exercised at the moment.  It's not so much a sin of commission I confess -- I do try not to lie -- or even omission, as I don't think I am obliged as a retail-worker to be ruthlessly honest with smiling strangers about the books they want to buy.  Call it then, the Sin of Osmosis.  As in the case of the habitual book-bores, it's more self-deception than not.  I really do think I've read more books than I have, thus the lying nod and the deceptive smile.

There are books that I seem to see every day for months, if not years: bestsellers, blockbusters, books on a display too near my desk for too long, books I've been finding for student-reading-lists for a decade or more.  I've seen the covers so often and I've come to know something, roughly of the content, until I begin to mistake familiarity with actual experience.  After roughly ten years of selling Jared Diamond's book, Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed, it honestly feels as if I read it back in 2005 when it came out.  (I did not.)  I've been selling Paulo Coehlo's The Alchemist -- and buying used copies to sell, in various covers and editions -- so long now, I swear I read the damned thing cover to cover before deciding I hate it.  (I did not.)

Less forgivable, or more, depending, are all the more recent, popular books I read about in Entertainment Weekly and The New York Times Book Review, the new to new-ish books I've talked about and sold so often it seems entirely plausible that I must have read them, or in them at least.  Sometimes, that last concession to popularity is true.  I do still take popular books home, or at least to lunch now and then, just to get some basic sense of the thing. For example, I did indeed read a bit of Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl.

We just saw the Ben Afleck movie.  It was entertaining, completely, rather gloriously, hilariously improbable.  We enjoyed it immensely.  (By the last act, I wouldn't have been the least surprised had Jason Mewes and Kevin Smith popped up in cameos as Jay and Silent Bob.)  I understand that the novelist, who adapted the screenplay herself, and the film's director, David Fincher, agreed to alter the ending from the book, so as to give a twist for the many fans of the book.  I wouldn't know.

I never finished the book.  When it rocketed up the bestseller list, I borrowed a copy.  I read enough.  Then a friend, misunderstanding me when I said I was reading the book, thought I said I'd read it and pretty much told me the end.  That clinched it.  I was done.

Film is a strange medium.  The more realistic the detail, and the acting, the move forgiving of story it becomes.  Therein the magic, I suppose.  Contemporary fiction, on the other hand, for me at least, needs a compelling voice; some novelty or wit in description, structure and language to hold my interest.  Moreover, if a novel is written in a realistic way, every absurdity of plot and character needs to be anchored to some idea larger than the story, it must be about something, must say something in an interesting or unexpected way.  Otherwise, as became the question with Gilliam Flynn's novel, why would I spend my evenings with such awful people?

And they are awful.  Gone Girl is basically a revenge fantasy; a bad, upper-middleclass marriage gone crazy.  I love this sort of thing on the ID Channel over a lazy weekend.  It happens.  As a longish novel about white, suburban assholes with trust-funds and gym-abs, told in uninteresting prose, I couldn't care.

Too often nowadays in fiction, unsympathetic characters seem to be mistaken for interesting people and unreliable narrators for interesting writing.  Is there anything more boring now than He Said, She Said as a narrative device?  Do we really need another popular novel to tell us that a woman scorned, etc.?  Or that Missouri is boring?

The worst bit for me when I was reading Flynn's book was the creepy sensation that the reader was meant to find her story... empowering, somehow, as if there was some feminist undertone meant to make the mayhem somehow okay or the pot-boiling more palatable for being smart.  Revenge fantasies can be serious,  feminist and satirical -- see Fay Weldon -- but this wasn't that.

At least not so far as I read.

And there's the problem again.  It really isn't fair for me to review Gillian Flynn's book because, as I've said, I didn't really read Gillian Flynn's book.  It feels like I did, but I didn't.  I read maybe eight or nine, very short chapters.  I read some of the reviews -- including the review in the New York Times Book Review, the sole function of which would seem to be let the reader not read the books "reviewed" and still be able to talk about them.  So, when customers in the bookstore have asked me, "Did you read Gone Girl?" I probably smiled and nodded, but it wasn't entirely true, that smile, now was it?

I'm ashamed to say it will probably happen again.  My  apologies to Ms. Flynn, and to any and all of her readers for letting myself to alternately endorse and decry a novel I didn't really read.  In my defense, I can't read everything we sell at the shop.  I do need to know a little something about a lot of books.  I try to be encouraging.  I try here to confine myself to what I know; to the books I've read, and the experience I have had of the reading I do. Still.

I'd like to say that hereafter I will try not to lie.  I will try to neither grin like a gibbon nor frown like a toad when asked an honest question like, "Have you read Gone Girl?"

Well, it's been a very popular title for us.  Honest.

Daily Dose


From Poems of Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Do you ask what the birds say? The Sparrow, the Dove,
The Linnet and Thrush say, “I love and I love!”
In the winter they’re silent—the wind is so strong;
What it says, I don’t know, but it sings a loud song.
But green leaves, and blossoms, and sunny warm weather,
And singing, and loving—all come back together.
But the Lark is so brimful of gladness and love,
The green fields below him, the blue sky above,
That he sings, and he sings; and for ever sings he—
“I love my Love, and my Love loves me!”

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Putti giocherellona

Daily Dose

From So, Anyway..., by John Cleese


"So provided I avoided irony, conversation flowed quite easily, even if it was a little limited.  What they liked best were stories of pranks I had played on my teachers.  What they were keenest to tell me were statistics about dinosaurs and cricket and how people were tortured to death in China."

From Chapter 5

Friday, November 7, 2014

A Caricature

Hero in a bowtie.

Daily Dose

From Undeniable: Evolution and the Science of Creation, by Bill Nye, edited by Corey S, Powell


"Without diversity, each of the species is less successful.  Diversity leads to resilience."

From Chapter 12, Biodiversity Comes in the Territory

Thursday, November 6, 2014

A Caricature

Okay.  I didn't so much mishear the title yesterday, as misconstrue it's meaning, so, yeah, this.

Daily Dose

From Five Plays, by Ben Jonson


"Why art thou 'maz'd to see me thus revived?"

From Volpone, Act III, Scene VI

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Bradley Craft Presents an Evening of William Cowper

Daily Dose

From The Reader's Macaulay, edited by Walter H. French and Gerald D. Sanders


"At last I have attained true glory.  As I walked through Fleet Street the day before yesterday, I saw a copy of Hume at the bookseller's window with the following label: 'Only £2 2s.  Hume's History of England, in eight volumes, highly valuable as an introduction to Macaulay.'  I laughed so convulsively that the other people who were staring at the books took me for a poor demented gentleman.  Alas for poor David!"

From a letter to T. F. Ellis, dated March 8th, 1849

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

A Caricature

Daily Dose

From The Poems, by Lee Bassett


"Today, the yellow maple leaves
Shatter bright across my face,
And the fragility of the park
Is beautiful."

From Illicit Love, 1.