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Showing posts from November, 2010

HL Mencken

I had just two books on my Christmas wishlist, Andrew Graham-Dixon's biography of Caravaggio and a new essay collection on The Smiths, covering Manchester, Irish, Thatcherism and Catholicism (surely a library's worth?) I know I have this one secured, thanks to a sister. I may have to buy the former myself. But now there's also Prejudices, the six volume series of writings by H L Mencken, edited by Marion Rogers. Published by the Library of America it costs $70, whatever the sterling is. I doubt it will be in a public library here anytime soon, if at all, what with cuts left... Well, just left, it would seem, for which read 'humanities', (with the National Day of Action just yesterday that's a whole other blog). I know little of Mencken, but I am often drawn to a writer by learning something of their temperament or life first. Michael Dirda in the current issue of the TLS furnished me with the entree. Prejudices? Mencken had a few. He was the 'scourge of the…

Sam Willetts

I'm currently reading the widely acclaimed debut poetry collection, New Light for the Old Dark, by Sam Willetts. A recovering heroin addict who the press can't mention without that tag, Willetts has been shortlisted for the Costa Prize. He also finds himself competing with his collection editor, Robin Robertson, whose collection The Wrecking Light I have already posted on.

Robin Robertson

I may have mentioned in a previous post that I also bought the poetry collection The Wrecking Light, by Robin Robertson. He has a wonderful poem, Strindberg in Skovlyst, in the current issue of the London Review of Books. August Kleinzahler has two poems in the LRB too, but I took to neither. Whilst the LRB is open Blair Worden reviews a new book on the 17th century metaphysical poet Andrew Marvell, by Nigel Smith. Marvell hailed from Hull, the place made home by poet Philip Larkin. Marvell was not just poet but MP too. I'd love to buy it, I enjoyed Marvell whilst studying literature as an undergrad, but there is so much to read and so little time! No doubt one reviewer of this book won't be able to resist labelling it 'marvellous'!


I have been negligent of my blog of late. Two weeks ago saw me in Pendle, staying in a converted Piggery whilst trying (trying being the operative word) to progress the critical element of the PhD. I went for a couple of long walks, usually so good for the writerly part of the brain, got lost a bit and returned feeling a bit despondent. But it is still on its way. I am presenting a paper on how theory influences my writing at Kingston this Wednesday and so I have spent today on that, but have yet again struggled with focus and motivation. I'm not sure if it is just a lack of real effort on my part or whether I am just a bit jaded. Either way, it won't do itself! Before my trip I also bought Seamus Heaney's latest poetry collection 'The Human Chain'. It is beautiful, poignant, elegaic. That's it for now - there is plenty more I could write about but will save it for a time when I feel more 'in it', if you know what I mean.