Beethoven: The Man Revealed

Stieler, Joseph Karl: Beethoven mit der Missa solemnis Ölgemälde, 1819

By John Suchet (2012) This “biography” is a sub-Wikipedia standard, slapdash tract that wouldn’t pass muster as an afternoon talk to Kiwanis with early onset dementia. We’ve developed a drinking game for those who choose to peruse it: When the author says “it seems” or something “might have” been, or is “likely,” “possible,” “probable,” or words to that effect, you have a beer. I had a beer on pages 4, 17, 26, 30, 41, 48, 50, 54, 56, 76, 83, and 100;  2 beers on pages 5, 6, 36, 47, 51, 82, and 105; 3 schooners on page 82, and 4 pots on pages 3 and 7….

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Philip Roth (1933-2018)

May 23, 2018 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | Fiction, WRITING & LITERATURE |

Life, at least in his books, was a grim farce. Everything in life was stupid, wrong, meaningless. Even his writing was a deliberately destructive, nihilistic act; preparing one piece, he thought of a critic, saying “I think, “How (s)he is going to hate this!” That can be just the encouragement I need.” We’ll leave to others the parlour game, played from time to time by the author himself, which of his characters he most resembles (though a case could be made, of late, for Mickey Sabbath: “You have the body of an old man, the life of an old man,…

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Christopher Priest – “Indoctrinaire” and “Inverted World”

Indoctrinaire Many years ago I was given the Pan Science Fiction copy of Christopher Priest’s novel Indoctrinaire (1971).  The ghastly cover, hinting at lurid prose in aid of a ridiculously stupid plot ensured that I would not read the book, although it moved interstate and from house to house with me – for decades. Then recently I came across Andrew McKie’s revie in The Spectator of Priest’s 2016 novel, The Gradual (“a resounding success”). He says that Priest’s prose is “apparently prosaic – provided, that is, one means unshowy straightforward and devoid of ostentation. For the cumulative effect of his plain sentences,…

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Circe by Madeline Miller

"The young man was leaning against my house, watching me. His hair was loose and tousled, his face bright as a jewel. .. I knew who he was, of course I knew...That laughing gadfly of the gods, Hermes" (Painting by Nicholas Hillliard).

“In due course we came to the island of Aeaea, the home of the beautiful Circe, a formidable goddess, though her voice is like a woman’s. She is the sister of the wizard Aeetes, both being children of the Sun who lights the world by the same mother, Perse the daughter of Ocean”.* So does Homer introduce us to the witch goddess Circe, who famously turned men to swine. After giving Odysseus’ men a potion, Homer’s Circe “struck them with her wand, drove them off, and penned them in the pigsties. For now to all appearance they were swine: they had pigs’…

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A Farewell to Arms

(by Ernest Hemingway) (1929) – His robust, muscular and terse style?  Give us a break!  This is his opening paragraph: “In the late summer of that year we lived in a house in a village that looked across the river and the plain to the mountains. In the bed of the river there were pebbles and boulders, dry and white in the sun, and the water was clear and swiftly moving and blue in the channels. Troops went by the house and down the road and the dust they raised powdered the leaves of the trees. The trunks of the…

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