Archive for the ‘Books’ Category

Laughter and forgetting

April 20, 2015

Today’s Zippy, set in the town of Prosaic:

With apologies to Milan Kundera, it’s the strip of laughter and forgetting: forgetting the catch-phrase, forgetting to rewire the CD remote, forgetting that Dingburg is only 12 miles away. Apparently Happy Boy interferes with memory.

(Note that there are three argument structures for forget here: forget NP, forget to VP, forget that S; remember and, for that matter, know have the same possibilities.)


The sandwich issue

April 16, 2015

The Food section of the New York Times yesterday was The Sandwich Issue: 11 pages on:

PILE IT HIGH. In the space between two slices of bread lies a world of possibilities, from sub to club, from po’ boy to beef on weck and beyond. Here, we celebrate everything that makes a great sandwich.

A series of stories (from many hands) on sandwiches, with extensive details about particular sandwiches, their variants from place to place, their differing names, and so on. Great stuff, which I hope the NYT will transform from the broadsheet format on cheap newsprint to a ordinary book with high-quality photos.


Jolly lemurs

April 16, 2015

In the 4/11 New Scientist, a review by Adrian Barnett of Allison Jolly’s Thank You, Madagascar: The conservation diaries of Alison Jolly:

In exploring the female-dominated world of lemurs in Madagascar, Alison Jolly shed a unique light on a world as biologically rich as it is economically poor [Jolly died last year, at the age of 76]



April 15, 2015

In Kevin Young’s April 12th NYT review of The Sellout by Paul Beatty, a comic novel on black life on the outskirts of Los Angeles:

There are more mentions of the N-word than on a Sigma Alpha Epsilon field trip. But like early Richard Pryor, Beatty seems to wish to take the word out of the shadows

The reclaiming of nigger is certainly of note, but this posting is about the allusion, to a Sigma Alpha Epsilon field trip. Either you get it or you don’t; it’s not something you can figure out.


Morning: Ronald Arbuthnott Knox

April 13, 2015

This morning’s surprise name was Ronald Arbuthnot(t) — which led me nowhere, until I realized that the (very British) name was just the beginning of the name of Ronald Arbuthnott Knox, who is a figure of considerable interest. (The surname Arbuthnot(t) is Scottish.) Knox leads to the fictional detective Miles Bredon and to the Golden Age of Detective Fiction.


Language in the New Yorker

April 4, 2015

In recent weeks, two New Yorker pieces on language matters: one on punctuation (by Mary Norris) and one on endangered languages (by Judith Thurman).


Terry Pratchett

March 13, 2015

Announced all over the place, the death of Terry Pratchett. From the BBC site yesterday, with a wonderful photo:

Sir Terry Pratchett, fantasy author and creator of the Discworld series, has died aged 66, eight years after being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. [well, an early-onset dementia]

“The world has lost one of its brightest, sharpest minds,” said Larry Finlay of his publishers Transworld.

The author died at home, surrounded by his family, “with his cat sleeping on his bed”, he added.

Sir Terry wrote more than 70 books during his career and completed his final book last summer.

He “enriched the planet like few before him” and through Discworld satirised the world “with great skill, enormous humour and constant invention,” said Mr Finlay.


The bookish cartoonist

March 9, 2015

The work of Tom Gauld, surely the world’s most bookish cartoonist.


Morning names: two literary women

March 4, 2015

Two morning names today (from waking up at two different times, with a name in my head each time): Marijane Meaker (the writer), Kay Scarpetta (the fictional medical examiner).


Gormenghast, the name

March 1, 2015

My morning name today was Gormenghast, the name of a series of books and the title of the second volume in the series:



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