Archive for the ‘Books’ Category

Chuck Tingle

February 2, 2015

From Gary R. Kelly on Facebook, a link to the Amazon site for the author publishing under the name Chuck Tingle. One of his books:



January 23, 2015

Yesterday’s Zippy has our Pinhead playing with catchphrases:

More grist for my posting mill; I’m working on a posting about:

Orin Hargraves. 2014. It’s Been Said Before: A Guide to the Use and Abuse of Clichés. Oxford.

Tomi Ungerer

January 17, 2015

(About art and sexuality, not much about language.)

In the latest (January 19th) New Yorker, a notice of “All in One”, a retrospective of Tomi Ungerer’s work at the Design Center in SoHo. From Wikipedia:

Jean-Thomas “Tomi” Ungerer (born 28 November 1931 [in Strasbourg]) is a French illustrator and a writer in three languages. He has published over 140 books ranging from much loved children’s books to controversial adult work and from the fantastic to the autobiographical. He is known for sharp social satire and witty aphorisms… Ungerer describes himself first and foremost as a story teller and satirist. Prevalent themes in his work include political satire such as drawings and posters against the Vietnam War and against animal cruelty, eroticism, and imaginative subjects for children’s books.

Not your typical sweet children’s book author. Here’s The Three Robbers


which “tells the story of three fierce black-clad robbers who terrorize and plunder the countryside, armed with a blunderbuss, a pepper blower, and a huge red axe.”


Male sex work

January 14, 2015

Recently published:

Minichiello, Victor & John Scott (eds.). 2014. Male sex work and society. NY: Harrington Park Press.

Over 500 pages, with a survey introduction on MSW (male sex work), 17 topical chapters from contributors, in four sections (MSW in sociohistoric context, marketing of MSW, social issues and cultures in MSW, and MSW in its global context), and a conclusion on future directions.


Paddington Bear

January 13, 2015

A charming and perceptive piece from Sunday’s NYT Book Review : “Please Look After This Bear” by Pico Iyer, about the Paddington Bear books, which Iyer sees as (among other things) social commentary. The beginning:

When Paddington Bear landed in London in 1958, it was still quite a provincial place. Safe, settled, a little gray — no sign of the Beatles or the swinging ’60s yet — it upheld the ceremonial proprieties immortalized in [the film] “Brief Encounter” and [the book] “84, Charing Cross Road.” Men wore ties to dinner, women skirts; the post-nuclear nightmares and beatnik explosions of America were barely visible on occasional television screens. Yes, the likes of the Trinidad-born novelist Samuel Selvon were beginning to give voice to other realities in works like “The Lonely Londoners,” but if a British family’s name was Brown, you could be fairly sure its skin was not.


Peoplification at the NYT

December 23, 2014

Briefly noted, with surprise, the beginning of Clancy Martin’s review of Preparation for the Next Life by Atticus Lish (NYT Book Review on the 21st); crucial bit in boldface:

In the next life, this would be a simple happy story about a young Chinese immigrant and an American war hero who find love in 21st-century New York City.

But the real 21st-century New York isn’t a place for simple happy love stories. In “Preparation for the Next Life,” his astonishing, gorgeous and very upsetting debut novel, Atticus Lish (son of the editor, writer and teacher Gordon Lish) introduces a poor Muslim immigrant, Zou Lei, and her suicidally shellshocked boyfriend, Brad Skinner, who don’t stand a chance in the unfeeling city.

What on earth does the identity of the author’s father have to do with this book? Absolutely nothing, so far as I can see. It seems to be nothing more than a celebrity note, the sort of thing that People magazine revels in, but should have no place in the NYT.

The book has gotten very strong reviews and should have been able to stand on its own merits, without this silly puffery.

Holiday books

December 16, 2014

On December 7th, a special issue of the NYT Book Review with a pile of reviews organized by category. Took me more than a week to get through, because it was packed with fascinating-sounding books. Here, a small number of highlights.


Who-liday specials

December 10, 2014

Not one, but two. First, a special offer from the BBC Doctor Who Shop. And a special holiday event at the Universal Orlando Resort, featuring Dr. Seuss’s Grinch and the Whos of Whoville.


Ciao, Carpaccio!

November 24, 2014

In The American Scholar, Autumn 2014 (pp. 87-91), a piece by Jan Morris, “Carnival of the Animals: The Italian artist Carpaccio cast a careful, loving eye on his many nonhuman subjects” — an essay adapted from her book Ciao, Carpaccio!: An Infatuation (published on November 3rd). The book is an appreciation (with lots of color plates) of the 15th-century Venetian painter Vittore Carpaccio, and this essay is an appreciation of Carpaccio’s depictions of animals and birds, as in the Flight Into Egypt:

Morris writes that the ass bearing the Holy Family away from Herod’s slaughter is “as elegant as any Golden Stallion, and as beautifully groomed.”


Huffing and puffing over the Man Booker Prize

November 23, 2014

In the 12/4/14 New York Review of Books, a piece on the 2013 winner of the Man Booker Prize for fiction in English (James Walton’s “Star Fiction”, reviewing The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton) begins with this year’s controversy over the prize (with the bit I’m going to focus on bold-faced):

The year 2014 was famously the first time that Americans have been eligible for the [Man Booker Prize], alongside those from Britain, the British Commonwealth, and Ireland. It was a change of rules that had been discussed for years, but when the decision was finally announced, the reaction was not – I think it’s fair to say – wholly positive. The 2011 winner Julian Barnes called it simply “a bad idea,” while Philip Hensher, former judge and shortlistee, wrote a piece in The Guardian headlined, “Well, that’s tbe end of the Booker prize, then.” Just days before this year’s ceremony Peter Carey – who holds dual US-Australian citizenship, and is one of the prize’s few double winners – lamented the “particular cultural flavour” that will be lost: “There was and there is a real Commonwealth culture. It’s different. America doesn’t really feel to be a part of that.”

Ah, the US isn’t really Commonwealth material, Carey sniffs, alluding to a fantasized cultural commonality sentimentally uniting the Commonwealth of Nations under the reigning monarch of the UK (currently Queen Elizabeth II).



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