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Showing posts from March, 2010

Lapham's Quarterly

I have only recently discovered the brilliant Lapham's Quarterly and am already addicted. We need more home-grown titles such as this. The current issue is dedicated to 'arts and letters', which is probably why I'm loving it, especially this, and this.

No one has the right to live without being shocked.

Philip Pullman responded to a Christian who claimed that the title of Pullman's latest book, The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ, was offensive, by saying 'no-one has the right to live without being shocked'. It is already doing the rounds on the Internet, and in New Humanist Magazine, here, and will surely be quoted for many years to come.
What a difficult past couple of weeks it has been. I've been up and down like the proverbial yo-yo. And I daren't go into what I'm reading as the pile of books teeters dangerously.

However, I was very pleased that my good friend, the journalist Tanya Gold, won the 'Feature Writer of the Year' award at last week's British Press Awards, whom the judges said 'always laughed at herself, never the reader'.

Last night I went to see 'I Love you Philip Morris' and, whilst containing many good moments, was not worthy of my love! Jim Carrey is a great actor, but whoever decided to cast Ewan McGregor a…

Questioning the Rescuer...

The current issue (March) of the Literary Review contains a review of Hilary Spurling's new work, Burying the Bones – Pearl Buck’s Life in China. Buck won the 1938 Nobel Prize for Literature, yet has drifted into the shadows. The reviewer claims that this new work promises ‘to repair Buck’s literary fortunes and restore her to the pantheon of feminist heroines’. The reviewer is Elaine Showalter, the doyenne of gynocriticism, author of A Literature of One's Own, and more recently A Jury of Her Peers. A long-standing rescuer of ‘forgotten’ women writers, Showalter has long applauded those who do likewise. Over the years this push to rescue has had a noticeable effect. There are now a slew of women writers producing books that champion and ‘rescue’ not just women writers, but virtually any woman they deem to have been, to use highly emotive words, ‘forgotten’ or ‘abandoned’. I now think it’s time to question not those rescued, but the rescuers themselves.

A good illustration of th…

O Canada!

Today is International Women’s Day, which serves only to remind us that masculine rule is still considered the norm, otherwise why would we need one specific day? In fact, why do newspapers need to give us Women’s sections, or even Woman’s Hour? There’s no need for Man’s Hour. Even English law assumes the norm is sexed male and does not refer to us equally; in fact, England remains one of the last of the English speaking countries to bow to masculine rule when drafting legislation. Meg Munn, Minister for Women and Equality, calling for gender neutrality in legislative drafting on this day in 2007, said that ‘It may seem a small thing in one sense, but language is important. We have a society in which we believe men and women are equal, so why shouldn’t the law refer to us equally?’ Why shouldn’t everything refer to us equally? It is an issue Canada is aware of. Even Wales and Ireland have gone some way to addressing the issue. Ireland’s Oireachtas has endorsed gender neutrality for …


I've had more books delivered this week than I know what to do with. Ok, so that is something of an exaggeration, but still, even four or so books is more than I know what to do with at the moment. I'm awaiting delivery of Jung's Answer to Job, in which I expect I'll find out that it's Job's fault - it's his mind that's at fault, which is fair enough. Then there's the second-hand copy I received this morning 'Moon Country - Further Reports from Iceland', a book by poets Simon Armitage and Glyn Maxwell (whose work I'm rather into at the moment), which follows in the footsteps of Auden and MacNeice's Letters from Iceland, billed as 'one of the key works of the 1930's'. Armitage and Maxwell's book is a pleasing 'mix of poetry and prose - reportage and imaginative elaboration'. Take this, the first few stanzas of the poem 'Song of the West Men':

To the far of the far
off the isles of the isles,
near the rocks…