Art Kavanagh

Talk about books: a fortnightly publication about things I’ve read

I started to write a newsletter post about Browning’s “music poetry”, saw that John Lennard (The Poetry Handbook 📚) describes the metre of “A Toccata of Galuppi’s” as “catalectic trochaic octameter”, started to argue about why that’s so wrong and spent all day writing 1,000 words I can’t use (yet).

Hey, it seems that Françoise Hardy was still alive till just a few days ago. Who knew?

Here’s Ken Whyte of Sutherland House (a Canadian nonfic publisher) on the Junkification of Amazon. It’s getting worse. Strange to think it’s almost 5 years since I deleted my Amazon account (and almost 7 since I bought anything from them). I’ve never been even slightly tempted to go back.

“This verdict closes the book on a relentless 13-year effort to pin HP’s well-documented ineptitude on Dr Lynch …”

according to Mike Lynch’s lawyers following his acquittal.

This is one of the ways that Bookmunch gets on my nerves: in the first sentence of this book review the word “I” appears three times, and it’s the first word of the second sentence. Yet there’s no indication that I can see who “I” is.

A friend of mine, who’s slightly older than me, told me, “I don’t even buy green bananas anymore.”

Cormac McCarthy, in conversation with the Coen brothers, when No Country for Old Men 🍿 came out. Hat-tip to Sarah Ditum.

TFW you’ve just arrived on a web page and are trying to dismiss the popup that immediately appears in the middle of your screen, when another popup pops up in front of it 😡

The current Talk about books post is about Thomas Hardy, Tess of the d’Urbervilles 📖. I particularly enjoyed writing this one. It didn’t end up where I was expecting, and I don’t think it’s any the worse for that.

Everywoman in Arcadia: Thomas Hardy, Tess of the d’Urbervilles

A little over a year ago (3 May 2023) I wrote a post about two short novels by Ian McEwan. Though different in theme and tone, both novels featured main characters who were deeply involved with music: a composer in Amsterdam and the founder/leader of a string quartet in On Chesil Beach. I said at the time that I might write about The Children Act, another of McEwan’s novels in which music features prominently, “before too long”.

I think the last time I went to the cinema was 2007, when I saw Das Leben der Anderen (with French subtitles) in Toulouse. When I lived near the Dalston Rio I went there regularly, but I find multiplexes extremely uninviting. But micro cinemas are coming back, it says here🍿

A little over a year ago, I wrote about 2 short novels by Ian McEwan in which music plays a central role. I’ve finally got around to writing about The Children Act (2014), another novel where music is important 📖

Sad to hear that Palle Danielsson has died. I particularly love the CamJazz albums he made with John Taylor (p) and Martin France (d). I wanted to go and see that trio in Hamburg about 15 years ago, when they were supporting Jack DeJohnette but it was already sold out by the time I heard about it 🎶

If it weren’t for this side gig, he’d be back home petting his cats, grading papers, and bird-watching. (He doesn’t really have a lot going on.)

Huh? Has the person who wrote this Hitman review actually tried grading papers?

Not for the first time I’m thinking about removing Bookmunch from my feed reader. They often have irritating, offputting reviews of books I might want to read. Like this one 📖

He had loved Thurber when he was young. He even liked the television show that used Thurber’s drawings, My World and Welcome to It.

That’s from Laura Lippman’s Dream Girl 📖, which I finished reading last night. I had completely forgotten about that tv show. My dad used to love it. So I already had some idea who Thurber was before we read “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” in school.

I’m reading McEwan’s The Children Act for the third time, wanting to write something about his use of music. The phrase “ruin a fine tenor voice for effects that bring down the house” popped into my head and I couldn’t remember where it comes from, so I Googled it. Should have known it was poetry!

A new post from me in Talk about books. This time I’m looking at some city comedies by Thomas Middleton: A Trick to Catch the Old One and two others. The cruel comedy of Thomas Middleton 🎭

The cruel comedy of Thomas Middleton: A Trick to Catch the Old One and other city comedies

I’ve written about the early 17th century playwright Thomas Middleton in four previous posts: A Fair Quarrel; The Revenger’s Tragedy; The Changeling; and Women Beware Women. All but the first of these are considered tragedies — though I’ll have more to say about that classification in my conclusion below. Two are works of joint authorship, written with William Rowley: The Changeling (probably the best of the tragedies) and A Fair Quarrel, which I chose to write about first because it raises interesting questions.

A link in Julian Girdham’s latest blog post led me indirectly to this earlier one where he writes about the design of poetry textbooks. That in turn reminded me of my own four-year-old post, Reading poetry in scholarly editions.

I reread Margaret Atwood’s Cat’s Eye 📖 a few months ago, having previously read it in the early 90s and remembered only the theme — and that vaguely. It’s just occurred to me that the novel, which is quite long, might have worked a lot better as a short story by Alice Munro!

My sister was driving from France and brought the rest of the books I’d left behind there years ago. I was hoping to be reunited with Wilkie Collins, No Name; Scott Turow, Ordinary Heroes and A S Byatt, The Biographer’s Tale. Instead got Babel Tower ☹️ and a lot of “New Historicism” about Marvell.

I think it’s time I gave up trying to crosspost to BlueSky and just posted there manually instead. It’s a pity because I like being able to include real links in my BlueSky posts. I’ll disable crossposting for now (though that’s hardly necessary) and maybe try again in a few weeks.

I unexpectedly came across my old copies of The Invention of Solitude and Moon Palace just now. When Auster died recently, I thought I’d like to read Moon Palace again but assumed I’d left my copy behind somewhere, possibly decades ago. I hadn’t even been looking for it 📚

Front covers of two books by Paul Auster, The Invention of Solitude and Moon Palace Back covers of two Faber paperbacks of books by Paul Auster, The Invention of Solitude and Moon Palace. The description of the latter reads: Moon Palace is the story of Marco Stanley Fogg — a novel that spans three generations, from the early years of this [the twentieth] century to the first lunar landings; and that moves from the canyons of Manhattan to the cruelly beautiful landscape of the American West.

Apple, why is my “Recents” folder completely empty? And why has a photo I just saved to the “Preview” folder on iCloud not shown up there, or anywhere else that I can see? (That’s why I was looking in the “Recents” folder in the first place.)

What blasted idiot thought touchscreens were a good idea? I just wiped some dirt off the screen of my iPad and jumped at least one screen back in the browser history, losing my place in a “long read” 😡