Archive for the ‘Books’ Category

Changes to Ellora’s Cave Links



Dear Ellora’s Cave Fans,

Ellora’s Cave has redesigned their website and it looks like the old links might not work. They will just take you to the main page.  From there, it’s not that hard to look up what you’re looking for.  I’m going to work on re-posting links, so keep an eye on this site.

Thank you,


A Happy Accident*: Soccer + Books = Bliss

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*The expression “happy accident” originated with Bob Ross.


Product Details Product Details
Facing Unpleasant Facts (Narrative Essays). George Orwell The Highly Engaged Classroom. Marzano & Heflebower
Product Details Product Details
The Moronic Inferno.  Martin Amis The EtymologiconMark Forsyth
Product Details Product Details
Man and His Symbols.  Carl Jung The Portable MFA in Creative Writing. The NY Writers Workshop
Product Details Product Details
You Are Not A Gadget. Jaron Lanier What I Hate from A to Z.  Roz Chast


  • Housekeeping vs. The Dirt.  Nick Hornby
  • Shakespeare Wrote for Money.  Nick Hornby
  • The Pleasure of The Text.  Roland Barthes, trans. (badly) by Richard Miller
  • The Learned Banqueters.  Athenaeus
  • What I hate from A to Z.  Roz Chast

Today is UEFA Champions League Final Day!

     Cover your mirrors.

          Turn off your clocks. 

               Don’t answer the phone. 

                    Shut the drapes. 

                         Send the young’uns to their Auntie’s for the afternoon.

Oh, and watch it on a Spanish-language station if you can. They show you all the fun stuff – celebrations and all that. The American stations (FOX, in this instance) cut to commercial or commentary as soon as the players are done with the game itself. (Hey MLS, if you want America to love soccer, show all the prep stuff and celebratory stuff.  It’s so cool!) 

But this post is not about CL.  It’s just a multi-tasking thing.

I returned to my blogging raison d’etre during the last two weeks. As I read the two Hornby books, I was convinced that I had done the right thing by adopting and adapting his critical style. It’s a very human style, very humble. I’m not as self-deprecating as Hornby, though.  I struggled and sacrificed to be as book-learned as I am.  And I come from a culture that looks down on pulling yourself up. (George Lopez has a very good shpiel (sp?) about that.) But the crux of it all is simply that Hornby’s chatty, parabolic style appeals to me and it feels very natural to write that way.  (I don’t know him. I’m not getting paid to to talk him up. He doesn’t know  I exist. ©)

Right off the bat, the READ list and BOUGHT list have little in common.  The Hornby books, as I said, served as refresher courses in writing and book reviewing.  The Pleasure of The Text is going to get the blog treatment soon, so I will just say that it’s been a serious pain the synapses.  Roz Chast’s “Fuck It” List is so not worth the eight bucks and change that it costs!  The book is thinner than “Charlie Sheen’s Guide to Classy Etiquette.”  Thinner than “Kelly Ripa Interprets Shakespeare.”  I’m talking THIN!  It should be saved as a chapter to be included in a larger collection.  And she’s not a writer.  But on the bright side, her prose is refreshingly astringent, like a big glass of strong iced tea. 

The Learned Banqueters, a collection of ancient Greek prose writing about a banquet with the intellectual all-star team of the day, has a useful introduction.  It tells you in plain English what the book is about and how it came to be.  It’s unusual that an introductory piece is any good.  It’s not riveting prose, but it tells you what you need to know, and that’s quite valuable when dealing with this material.  The writing in Banqueters itself is choppy in several spots because the work is pieced together from leftovers.  That’s cool.  We’re lucky to have what we have, I guess.  In the 230s, I found myself engrossed in a treatise on the qualities of water.  WATER!  And it was INTERESTING!  WTF!

Man and His Symbols: Honestly, don’t even bother with buying the ridiculously thick paperback.  The print is too tiny and the illustrations are rendered useless by the trade paperback format with it’s cheap-ass paper and muddy picture quality.  I managed to get hold of a hardcover through  That turned out to be an excellent investment because it’s the original printing from the 1960s, and it’s BIG.  The illustrations are faded in that way that forty-year-old books can be, but that’s okay.  They are still better than the paperback.  It’s a better reading experience all around.  But if you need something to read on the fly, the paperback will do, as long as you don’t care about the illustrations being, you know…illustrative.

Etymologicon is based on blog material from The Inky Fool. It’s a great blog. Check it out. 

Here’s last year’s UEFA Champion’s League Final Day post.   UEFA site.

The game has gone to penalties.  Damn you, Chelsea.  I wouldn’t be surprised if you were holding out for that since you all equalized.  Can Schweinsteiger lightning strike twice?


Drogba is up… OH MY GOD!

Back to Nature–Books Whirlybinge

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My last post was in September.  I had just started graduate school, and since then, it’s been a “mad coupla months”!  Reading and writing for every book, for quizzes and tests. Abstracts, research papers, annotations. I love it!  Writing for school is kinda chill.  It satisfies a hunger that can’t be fed by anything material.  All the reading and writing works like Slick50 in my brain.  New words and ideas are firing sparks, making new connections – synapses snapping all day long in a jazzy funk rhythm that knows no time and no boundaries.  My mind is so active and firing on all pistons…

But it’s Christmas holidays now – what some people call “winter” break.  Qoi?  Brutha, pleez!  Down in South Texas, the kindest thing I can say is that it’s NOT 100 degrees F. 

So what’s my point? Where, even?  Well, I was writing an informal essay for every novel, interpreting Middle English, analyzing, synthesizing, assessing – the whole Bloom’s.  Writing for the blog seemed redundant.  Also, I wondered whether writing about the same book here and for class might create a conflict.  I knew in my heart, there would be a significant slip differential between how the work was represented for academic purposes and how I felt about it personally.  Case in point: PATTERN RECOGNITION by William Gibson.  The protagonist Cayce is ridiculously hip and cool in her anti-logo fetish, but the novel itself is well-boring. Snail’s pace. Grim, gray other-world that’s a cross between Graham Greene and Ray Bradbury, except not interesting.  But through academic eyes, it’s a disturbingly visionary story.  Cayce talks about people she doesn’t ever see, chats online with people she never sees but once or twice. Her life has almost nothing to do with human interaction and a lot to do with cyber-communication.  Are we headed there or are we already there?  Geddit?

So I let the blog go for the time-being.  But now that it’s the hols, let the variety begin!


Saturnalia, Volume I: Books 1-2 (Loeb Classical Library)[1] Lucian, Vol. 7: Dialogues of the Dead / Dialogues of the Sea-Gods / Dialogues of the Gods / Dialogues of the Courtesans (Loeb Classical Library, No. 4[2] Genealogy of the Pagan Gods, Volume 1: Books I-V (I Tatti Renaissance Library)[3]
Juvenal and Persius (Loeb Classical Library)[4] Boccaccio, Beauvau and Chaucer: Troilus and Criseyde : Four Perspectives on Influence[5] Days of Reading (Penguin Great Ideas)[6]
One Continuous Mistake : Four Noble Truths for Writers[7] How to Give Effective Feedback to Your Students[8] The Consolation of Philosophy (Norton Critical Editions)[9]


[1]  I really enjoyed Somnium Scipionis which led me to pick up this SATURNALIA of Macrobius.   LINK to good online overview of this work.  I also have this Loeb by Cicero – De Officiis (Walter Miller, trans.).  LINK to online overview.

[2]  Effing Cool, Irresistible titles!

Product Details[3]  Again – Effing Cool Title. It’s early days but it’s sounding like a crosMs between Bullfinch’sMythology and Ovid’s Metamorpheses.  Loving it! (LINK to online version)  (Who the hell needs Effing SparkNotes for Bullfinch’s Mythology???)


[4]  My Medieval Lit prof talked about these satires and I had a Pavlovian reaction to the word “satire”.  That being, ears perk up, blood flows a little faster, I start thinking of clever wordplay, double-entendres, taking the piss, etc.  I shan’t rule out a touch of salivating. (UofMichigan Collection)  I finished reading the six Juvenal satires and, while there was a strong odor of whingeing, the translation was accomplished with a good ear for standup comedy.  Very Lewis Black in nature.

image[5]  4 Perspectives on Troilus and Criseyde.  Pure intellectual spelunking. Highbrow fun.  It reads like the author’s doctoral dissertation, though. What a wonderful advantage to be able to do research in more than one language.  For all that English is wonderfully comprehensive, I now feel incomplete that I can’t read German or Italian well enough (yet) to do more thorough research in Medieval literature. (LINK to online version) My favorite version of T&C is George Phillip Krapp’s rendition in verse.  It’s out of print, but I managed to find a copy through

[6]   Ahhh, Proust. You most nerdy of nerds. Is there a French word for “nerd”?  Do the French even need one?  You might think not, but then again, Franck Ribery.  C’est une tare’.  Une grosse dinde. 

Product Details[7]  I actually ordered this book in 2009 on the recommendation of my student teacher that semester.  I lent it to a friend because I started reading the other book that ordered with it.  Haven’t seen it since but it’s cool.  That’s a good sign, I think. Beautiful cover design. Very easy to read. It’s kind of like A Writing Life by Annie Dillard.  It just has that kind of “become one with the pencil” kind of vibe.  It’s actually a great apologia for writing, as is Dillard’s book.

[8]  Not here yet

[9] Not here yet.


A Writing Life (Annie Dillard)

One Continuous Mistake

Satires of Juvenal and Persius

Navarro’s Promise  (Lora Leigh)

Geneology of The Pagan Gods

Pattern Recognition (William Gibson)

“Simulacra and Simulations” by Jean Baudrillard (Chapter 7 of Baudrillard’s Selected Writings, Mark Poster, ed.)

Graduate English Passus 1

I’ve finally gone and done it… finally got set up in grad school.  It took ages for many reasons not relevant to this blog.  Nevertheless, here’s the gear I had to stock up on.


Medieval Lit: “The Dream Vision”

  • PIERS PLOWMAN.  William Langland/Norton Critical Ed.  (ISBN 9780393975598)
  • DREAM VISIONS AND OTHER POEMS/GEOFFREY CHAUCER.  Kathryn L. Lynch, ed.  Norton Critical Ed. (ISBN: 9780393925883)


    Other Readings:

    John Gower. Confessio Amantis

    The Dream of The Rood

    The Romance of The Rose

    Plato.  Myth of Er 

  • Somnium Scipionis

    American Lit:  Transnationalism, Cosmopolitanism, and Globalization

    Product Details A Small Place My Year of Meats
    Product Details Product Details The Names
    Pattern Recognition Dogeaters Product Details
    1. Dogeaters: A Play by Jessica Hagedorn  (The Phillipines)
    2. The Names.  Don DeLillo   (Greece, Mideast, India)
    3. A Small Place.  Jamaica Kincaid   (British West Indies)
    4. Caramelo.  Sandra Cisneros   (Mexico City)
    5. Pattern Recognition.  William Gibson
    6. My Year of Meats.  Ruth Ozeki
    7. Tropic of Orange.  Karen Tei Yamashita


    1. Arjun Appadurai, Modernity At Large: Cultural Dimensions of Globalization. U Minnesota Press. 1996.
    2. Homi K. Bhabha, The Location of Culture. Routledge. 1994.
    3. Timothy Brennan, At Home in the World: Cosmopolitanism Now. Harvard U Press. 1997.
    4. Garrett Wallace Brown, The Cosmopolitanism Reader. Polity. 2011.
    5. Pheng Cheah and Bruce Robbins, eds. Cosmopolitics: Thinking and Feeling Beyond the Nation. U Minnesota Press. 1998.
    6. Liam Connell and Nicky Marsh, eds. Literature and Globalization: A Reader. Routledge. 2011.
    7. Wai Chee Dimock and Lawrence Buell. Shades of the Planet: American Literature as World Literature. Princeton U Press.2007.
    8. Brian T. Edwards and Dilip Parameshwar Gaonkar, Globalizing American Studies. U Chicago Press. 2010.
    9. Anthony Giddens, The Consequences of Modernity. Stanford U Press. 1991.
    10. David Harvey, A Brief History of Neoliberalism. Oxford. 2007.
    11. David Harvey, Cosmopolitanism and the Geographies of Freedom. Columbia U Press. 2009.
    12. Fredric Jameson and Masao Miyoshi, eds. The Cultures of Globalization. Duke U Press. 1998.
    13. Paul Jay, Global Matters: The Transnational Turn in Literary Studies. Cornell U Press. 2010.
    14. Naomi Klein, No Logo. Picador. 2000.
    15. Naomi Klein, The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism. Picador. 2008.
    16. Chandra Mohanty, Feminism Without Borders: Decolonizing Theory, Practicing Solidarity. Duke U Press. 2003.
    17. Bruce Robbins, Feeling Global: Internationalism in Distress. NYU Press, 1999.
    18. Saskia Sassen, Globalization and Its Discontents. The New Press, 1998.
    19. John Tomlinson, Globalization and Culture. U Chicago Press, 1999.

    So…yeah. Okay.  No pressure, then.

    Another couple of books I picked up for a song…

    The lively image: 4 myths in literatureTHE LIVELY IMAGE:  4 MYTHS IN LITERATURE

    — I think I have a copy of this somewhere because when I saw it, it looked so familiar.  It’s probably in exile in the garage or something. So what do I do? I bought it.  Best table of contents ever!  Four sections:  “The Narcissus Myth”; “The Dionysus Myth”; “The Orpheus Myth”; and “The Christ Myth”.

    OPHELIA JOINED THE GROUP “MAIDENS WHO DON’T FLOAT”: CLASSIC LIT SIGNS ON TO Ophelia Joined the Group Maidens Who Don't Float: Classic Lit Signs on to FacebookFACEBOOK.

    It’s mostly banalities, but the page for “Puck” of “Midsummer Night’s Dream” is hilarious.  Still, I can see why it was marked down to three dollars — and yet, I feel sorta guilty because I wish I had written this book, or something like it.  It’s a bitter pill to swallow. 

    You don’t learn anything that wasn’t already common knowledge, but it’s good for a few laughs.


     What I eventually acquired: 

    Product DetailsWhy I Write
    Product DetailsDangerous Secrets
    Product DetailsThe Learned Banqueters
    Product DetailsRescue Me
    Product DetailsTrick of The Tale
    Product DetailsNot Quite What I Was Planning
    Product DetailsGone To New York
    Product DetailsHardcover version of THE ILIAD
    Product DetailsMulticultural Manners




    Easy Greek/A Photo Phrase Book by HarperCollinsUK

    The Renaissance: Studies in Art and Poetry by Walter Pater

    The Writing Life by Random House Publishers

    The Mabinogion by Dover Thrift Editions

    The Language Instinct by Steven Pinker


    Easy Greek/A Photo Phrase Book

    Harmony’s Way by Lora Leigh

    The Story of A Hundred Operas by Felix Mendelsohn


    "Life is a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death!"

                                                                      Rosalind Russell as Mame Dennis

    Such is the case when you walk into the hodge-podge pot pourri of books known as HALF-PRICE BOOKS.  HPB is an all-Half Price Booksyou-can-eat of ideas.  That’s why I always walk out of there with a motley assortment of brain- ticklers.  Variety is the order of the day.  You’re at once amazed at how much drek is published as well as how many jewels remain unmined.  I go in looking for polished gems, but most often come out with rough, semi-precious stones.  Turquoise instead of diamonds.   


    The Greek phrase book I attacked right away.  Compact, sturdy and loaded with color illustrations.  Nice.

    The Pater book is an edition from THE MODERN LIBRARY.  Originally published in 1873, it’s a collection of essays and stories about a tiny coterie of artists spanning the French, Italian, and possibly Dutch Renaissance.  My ML edition was published in 1940.  It has the soft sepia tones of aged paper and the scent of your grandparents’ closet.  That scent. That’s what absolutely sends me.  Ever since I was a kid, I associate that scent of musty closet with hidden treasure.

    The Writing Life is also a collection.  National Book Award authors such as Joyce Carol Oates, Annie Proulx, John Updike, and Norman Rush write about writing and a writing life.  Just flipping through it, whole paragraphs of sane, erudite, blunt prose have hooked me.  This is going to be my next portable feast.  It even has a great, useful blurb.  The blurb on the back groups the authors in three and offers a brief description of their contributions. Excellent! Above that it says "America’s most honored authors, National Book Award winners and finalists, reveal what it means to be a writer."  Okay. Nice. I can use that information.  William Zinsser, in ON WRITING WELL,  bravely addresses many of the themes covered by the dozen and a half writers in TWL all by himself.  Annie Dillard, in her own WRITING LIFE, beautifully and simply pulls us into the isolation that is so necessary for a writer. 

    The 100 Operas book is NOT written by the composer of "Fingal’s Cave".  It’s another Felix M.  One "S", not two.  This most portable of portables is the size of a large pack of cigarettes.  The slip cover is long gone; all that’s left is the red hard cover with gold lettering.  It was copyrighted in 1913, then published by Grosset and Dunlap in 1940.  In the foreward, the publishers explain how the book was compiled to bring the wonder of opera to the masses.  Hey, it worked for me.  I went to see a Met production of "La Sonnambula" last week, and if I had not read the story of the sleepwalking lady, I would have come away with less — not unenthusiastic — but less appreciation of the drama.  In fact, I was a bit thrown by the fact that there’s not much to the story.  It’s short, not even particularly interesting, and the characters are a bit thick.  But when you see it in live HD with glorious voices and gorgeous costumes…wow!  They make you care!

    I updated my SHELFARI site today.






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