Sunday, December 31, 2006

a ragbag collection of this and that

to end up the old year. My mother actually had a rag bag, which hung in the hall closet of our old house (later in the new house, it was just a rag corner in a linen closet shelf). She especially prized my father's old T-shirts for their dust-catching quality (in the before-Swiffer and even before-Pledge days), but there were also pieces of my sister's and my clothes in there, giving up their last days to dust the piano or winkle out dirt from corners of the kitchen the mop didn't sufficiently clean.
I went to a very good party last night where there were mostly writers--poets, journalists, memoirists, novelists--and their hapless spouses and SOs, and there was a lot of talk about books. Not so much the ones being written (although there was some of that), but those being read and recommended. Here's a gleaning, from conversations and eavesdroppings:
Dashiel Hammett's letters (that was me)
Hammett's Red Harvest (I can't convince Charlie that it's a wonderful book)
Anthony Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential
Memento Mori
, Muriel Spark
The Working Poor (forgot the author)
The Life of Pi (am I the only person who hasn't read this?)
Sylvia Plath's poetry (with a side conversation on Ted Hughes goodness or badness)
Oliver Sachs's books
Bridget Jones
the Helen MacInnes spy thrillers (this was me again)
Alistair MacLean (this was because at first I said Helen MacLean, conflating these 2 quite dissimilar spy-thriller writers)
Tom Clancy
John LeCarre
Sarah Gridley's poems
Middlemarch, which several of us are reading, although I'm sadly behind.
Some other this-and-thats:
Some kind people have put together a list of underrated writers, a nice way to fulfill any New Year's resolutions you may have about reading more widely. I was charmed to find Elizabeth Bowen on this list, and also Michael Martone (who is very funny and off-the-wall) but most of them I haven't read--new literary fields to gambol in.
Worried about the state of the novel? He's not dead yet--here, from MrBFK is the report of a sighting.
If you're a fan of horror writer H.P. Lovecraft, you'll be delighted to hear that the Library of America had published an edition of his stories. In his review of this and a book-length essay on Lovecraft by the French novelist Michel Houellebecq, Luc Sante lists the fears that fed Lovecraft's horror:
He was also frightened of invertebrates, marine life in general, temperatures below freezing, fat people, people of other races, race-mixing, slums, percussion instruments, caves, cellars, old age, great expanses of time, monumental architecture, non-Euclidean geometry, deserts, oceans, rats, dogs, the New England countryside, New York City, fungi and molds, viscous substances, medical experiments, dreams, brittle textures, gelatinous textures, the color gray, plant life of diverse sorts, memory lapses, old books, heredity, mists, gases, whistling, whispering—
Well, who isn't afraid of gelatinous textures, I ask you?
Happy 2007.


Blogger erieblue said...

Which reminds me what is that website where they send you bits of novels to read every day?

12/31/2006 6:00 PM  
Blogger lucette said...


12/31/2006 8:24 PM  
Blogger erieblue said...

Oh, and I never read The Life of Pi either. Are we supposed to?

1/01/2007 4:00 PM  
Blogger K-Oh said...

I loved the Life of Pi!

Sadly, I never got into any of those wonderful booky conversations. Too busy filling wine glasses and worrying that the dog was going to snatch the salmon ball.

Thanks for the link to the underrated writers, L.

1/03/2007 10:26 AM  
Blogger Erin O'Brien said...

"McTeague" by Frank Norris.

And another tip for anyone who doesn't know, Lucette is a total fox.

1/07/2007 7:42 AM  
Blogger lucette said...

How did I miss the McTeague conversation?

1/07/2007 6:20 PM  

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