icancauseaconstellation: Robert Frank, Hollywood, 1958



icancauseaconstellation:

Robert Frank, Hollywood, 1958

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mypubliclands: todaysdocument: Preparing a National Bird…



mypubliclands:

todaysdocument:

Preparing a National Bird List, 5/15/1940

"This photograph depicts two National Youth Association students as they prepare a national bird list and data for use in college biology classes at the State Teachers College in Framingham, Massachusetts."

From the series: National Youth Administration (NYA) Photographs showing Projects in New England and New York, 1935 - 1942. Records of the Work Projects Administration, 1922 - 1944.

Working on any special projects for National Bird Day?

Nice post about National Bird Day from our friends at Today’s Document!

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fairy-wren: Herring Gull



fairy-wren:

Herring Gull

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heylenne: Children’s book illustrations for the tale…













heylenne:

Children’s book illustrations for the tale “Undine”.

It’s a german fairytale about a water elemental that falls in love with a knight and by loving him (and being loved back) gains a human soul. It’s a quite tragic tale, the couple get married and all goes perfectly happy for a while until the knight starts having feelings for another…

It’s an unsual fairytale, more adult oriented I think. (I don’t always read fairytales so rich in details about human behavior and I’m not sure children would understand what is being represented but… well, we can always simplify things with images.)

Not my usual style, but I had only 2 days (including sleepless nights) to start AND finish 5 illustrations… And I find this simplified style much easier to do. I finished them just in time. =)

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Hypocrite Idler 2014

1464719567_923cce6397_oWhat the author of the Idler's Glossary accomplished in 2014.
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The year I ate my way through Oaxaca and reported in Argentina, Peru, Colombia, Chile, and Guerrero, Mexico

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The year I ate my way through Oaxaca and reported in Argentina, Peru, Colombia, Chile, and Guerrero, Mexico

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The year I ate my way through Oaxaca and reported in Argentina, Peru, Colombia, Chile, and Guerrero, Mexico

* With my homie Franco, an hincha for club Newell's Old Boys in Rosario, Argentina, May 2014. Photo by producer Raymundo Perez-Arellano. There is no use apologizing. Intersections, like a lot of blogs that started in this long-forgotten blog big bang of 2005-2006, went into posting decline after the realization that it was impossible for me to keep up. Not while at the same time taking on a reporting and writing job with extremely demanding responsibilities and expectations. When I was in the DF bureau of the LA Times, at least I managed to re-post my stories, most of the...
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The year I ate my way through Oaxaca and reported in Argentina, Peru, Colombia, Chile, and Guerrero, Mexico

* With my homie Franco, an hincha for club Newell's Old Boys in Rosario, Argentina, May 2014. Photo by producer Raymundo Perez-Arellano. There is no use apologizing. Intersections, like a lot of blogs that started in this long-forgotten blog big bang of 2005-2006, went into posting decline after the realization that it was impossible for me to keep up. Not while at the same time taking on a reporting and writing job with extremely demanding responsibilities and expectations. When I was in the DF bureau of the LA Times, at least I managed to re-post my stories, most of the...
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The year I ate my way through Oaxaca and reported in Argentina, Peru, Colombia, Chile, and Guerrero, Mexico

* With my homie Franco, an hincha for club Newell's Old Boys in Rosario, Argentina, May 2014. Photo by producer Raymundo Perez-Arellano. There is no use apologizing. Intersections, like a lot of blogs that started in this long-forgotten blog big bang of 2005-2006, went into posting decline after the realization that it was impossible for me to keep up. Not while at the same time taking on a reporting and writing job with extremely demanding responsibilities and expectations. When I was in the DF bureau of the LA Times, at least I managed to re-post my stories, most of the...
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The year I ate my way through Oaxaca and reported in Argentina, Peru, Colombia, Chile, and Guerrero, Mexico

* With my homie Franco, an hincha for club Newell's Old Boys in Rosario, Argentina, May 2014. Photo by producer Raymundo Perez-Arellano. There is no use apologizing. Intersections, like a lot of blogs that started in this long-forgotten blog big bang of 2005-2006, went into posting decline after the realization that it was impossible for me to keep up. Not while at the same time taking on a reporting and writing job with extremely demanding responsibilities and expectations. When I was in the DF bureau of the LA Times, at least I managed to re-post my stories, most of the...
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The year I ate my way through Oaxaca and reported in Argentina, Peru, Colombia, Chile, and Guerrero, Mexico

* With my homie Franco, an hincha for club Newell's Old Boys in Rosario, Argentina, May 2014. Photo by producer Raymundo Perez-Arellano. There is no use apologizing. Intersections, like a lot of blogs that started in this long-forgotten blog big bang of 2005-2006, went into posting decline after the realization that it was impossible for me to keep up. Not while at the same time taking on a reporting and writing job with extremely demanding responsibilities and expectations. When I was in the DF bureau of the LA Times, at least I managed to re-post my stories, most of the...
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THE SUNDAY SERIES starting Sunday January 11, 2015


Ladies and Gentlemen, 
Did you really think I would go away? Starting next Sunday, I'll be starting my "SUNDAY SERIES." Every Sunday I will post a new story. Some of it will be true, some of it will be blue, and some will just exist in its own natural naked state. Hopefully you will enjoy it, as much as I will enjoy writing the pieces for you. - Tosh Berman, January 4, 2014.
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Photo



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Postscript

No sooner had I posted my favorite reading of 2014 list than I realized that I had left out my latest favorite discovery, the books of Elizabeth Wein. Both the WWII ones and the Arthurian-Ethiopia ones are superb. I am sure there are a few other important things I omitted, but this is the key one.

(In case you are curious for a glimpse into my working method, it is no wonder that I missed it - I just skim through the blog and jot down notes in this format, with things loosely grouped together in categories, then type it up in a new post, ticking things off as I proceed. Although I am characteristically very accurate in terms of proofreading and copy-editing, my tendency is to be extremely messy - I guess I like the environment to be the right balance of austere and chaotic - and it has been suggested that I might have a mild undiagnosed case of ADD, symptoms of which include the inability to wake up easily in the morning and the desire to stab myself in the eye with a fork when I have to listen to a boring talk or lecture.)
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Postscript

No sooner had I posted my favorite reading of 2014 list than I realized that I had left out my latest favorite discovery, the books of Elizabeth Wein. Both the WWII ones and the Arthurian-Ethiopia ones are superb. I am sure there are a few other important things I omitted, but this is the key one.

(In case you are curious for a glimpse into my working method, it is no wonder that I missed it - I just skim through the blog and jot down notes in this format, with things loosely grouped together in categories, then type it up in a new post, ticking things off as I proceed. Although I am characteristically very accurate in terms of proofreading and copy-editing, my tendency is to be extremely messy - I guess I like the environment to be the right balance of austere and chaotic - and it has been suggested that I might have a mild undiagnosed case of ADD, symptoms of which include the inability to wake up easily in the morning and the desire to stab myself in the eye with a fork when I have to listen to a boring talk or lecture.)
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Postscript

No sooner had I posted my favorite reading of 2014 list than I realized that I had left out my latest favorite discovery, the books of Elizabeth Wein. Both the WWII ones and the Arthurian-Ethiopia ones are superb. I am sure there are a few other important things I omitted, but this is the key one.

(In case you are curious for a glimpse into my working method, it is no wonder that I missed it - I just skim through the blog and jot down notes in this format, with things loosely grouped together in categories, then type it up in a new post, ticking things off as I proceed. Although I am characteristically very accurate in terms of proofreading and copy-editing, my tendency is to be extremely messy - I guess I like the environment to be the right balance of austere and chaotic - and it has been suggested that I might have a mild undiagnosed case of ADD, symptoms of which include the inability to wake up easily in the morning and the desire to stab myself in the eye with a fork when I have to listen to a boring talk or lecture.)
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Bone music

Copying Western records onto discarded X-rays in Soviet Russia. (Via and here.)
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“Fringed with Ducks”

At the FT, Edward Posnett's prizewinning essay on the eiderdown in Iceland (site registration required).
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“Fringed with Ducks”

At the FT, Edward Posnett's prizewinning essay on the eiderdown in Iceland (site registration required).
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2014 in libraries

Screen Shot 2015-01-04 at 16.22.46

I tracked the libraries that I visited this year, like every year. Previous years: 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010 and 2009 (and this little list of reviews from 2003)

I went to thirty-six different libraries in seven states and two non-US countries for eighty visits total. A bunch more than last year, but some were just for ukulele practice or tech planning sessions at a friend’s library. Here’s the short annotated list of what I was doing in libraries last year. Top three libraries are: my local public, my local academic and my summer local.

  • Kimball – my local and also the place that hosts Ukulele Club
  • Hartness at VTC – the best academic library anywhere near here. Good hours, great place to hang out.
  • Carney – UMass Dartmouth – probably my favorite library building of all time
  • Chelsea VT – helping with tech planning, I go here often
  • Somerville West – did a talk and stopped by here another time. Lovely upstairs.
  • Goddard – did some VLA website work here
  • Fairfield/Millicent – One of the most amazing looking libraries in MA with some cool local lore
  • Aldrich/Barre – Went to a few meetings, my favorite local library renovation story
  • Mackinac Island MI – small and lovely with a great book sale and classic furniture
  • NYLP/SIBL – keep waiting for them to close this but they haven’t yet
  • Southworth/Dartmouth – they have a harpoon display here!
  • Pierson/Shelburne VT – went to a meeting, small with a great puzzle collection
  • St Ignace MI – killing time while stranded here, this is a great building where you wouldn’t expect it
  • Atwater/Montreal – my favorite Canadian library
  • British Library – got an awesome tour from Stella Wisdom
  • ULU Senate Hall UK – got a great tour from Simon who no longer works there
  • Rockingham VT – dropped off some things, stuck around to take a peek at this great place
  • Guilford UK – one of the smaller local publics, nice with a watch museum next door
  • Roxbury VT – helped with the automation project
  • Artizan St UK – community center, small and busy
  • John Harvard Library UK – had an odd section for Black Titles and a security guard
  • Sunderland MA – great place to pass the time en route to or from Amherst
  • Somerville MA – the other little library
  • Boxboro MA – wifi to check email if you are early to visit Mom
  • Boston Public – got a great tour by Tom Blake and saw some great stuff
  • Sun City AZ – hanging out while visiting Jim’s folks
  • UM – Duluth – Chihuly sculpture!
  • NYPL/Epiphany – I always love the huge staircase in here
  • Duluth MN – bizarre design but fun to hang out in
  • Westport MA – great DVD collection, sort of an odd place
  • Barbican UK – inside the funky Barbican, lots of great UK history books
  • Varnum, Cambridge VT – stopped by randomly, folks were so nice and friendly
  • Ashfield MA – gave a talk, enjoyed getting to see the place
  • NYPL/Kipp’s Bay – small and in need of renovation but warm and welcoming
  • City University, UK – stopped to check email en route to dinner, nice place, square dancing outside
  • Vicksburg MS – neat renovation, fun kids area

Did not get to as many Vermont libraries as I had wanted to as part of my 183 project. Working slowly on maybe getting a statewide 183 project up and running with other members of the VLA. Looking forward to another year of library visiting.

Apologies for putting Duluth in MI accidentally. Now fixed.

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#ClippedOnIssuu from ISSUE 38 Download and Own for…



#ClippedOnIssuu from ISSUE 38
Download and Own for http://bit.ly/DBM_38 ISSUE 38 features works from Lindsay Adler, Camilla Lobo, Dianne Baars,Breanne Marie, Fabrice Meuwissen, Jürgen Angelow, Alex Saint, Donna Lewis, Mohsin Khawar, Dedalus&Crane, Jennifer MacDonald, Andrei Gonciulea, Kerp Photography, Asia Ray, Tom Lau, Kyle Weaver, Sequoia Emmanuelle, Jodie Mann, Laurie-Lou, Luke Schneider, Lori Cicchini, Hartmut Nörenberg, Tim Engle, Emily Payne, Rudy Shoushany Qrude, StevieChris, Spoiled Cherry, Steve White, Debra Lamb, and many other talents.

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nitratediva: Greta Garbo in The Mysterious Lady (1928).



nitratediva:

Greta Garbo in The Mysterious Lady (1928).

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mario-klingemann: Interesting collection of glitches generated…



mario-klingemann:

Interesting collection of glitches generated by changing a single byte in a DjVu file.

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The High Wire (10)

the-high-wire‘You’re the woman I loved. You betrayed me.’
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A very How Not To Be Wrong Christmas

My bookselling friends tell me that December is the big book-selling month of the year.  (These Census figures show even bigger spikes in January and September, but these are from textbooks, which make up a really big chunk of the total book market.)

And indeed, sales of How Not To Be Wrong shot up in a very satisfactory way during the holiday season; according to Nielsen BookScan, the book sold more copies in the Dec 15-21 week than it had any week since the first month of release in June.  The book also rose up the Amazon rankings; having settled in in the #1500-2000 range for a couple of months, it popped up to around #700, about the same level as August, and stayed there for two weeks.  Two days after Christmas, pop — immedately back down to four digits.  The increase in ranking suggests that How Not To Be Wrong was unusually popular around Christmas, even relative to other books.

One thing I don’t quite get, though; the Kindle edition also got a notable rankings boost in the second half of December, though a bit smaller.  Where is that coming from?  Do people buy books for other people’s Kindles as Christmas presents?


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How old were you when you first read “The Story of…



How old were you when you first read “The Story of O”? I was 14 going on 50. #ClippedOnIssuu from ISSUE 38
Download and Own for http://bit.ly/DBM_38 ISSUE 38 features works from Lindsay Adler, Camilla Lobo, Dianne Baars,Breanne Marie, Fabrice Meuwissen, Jürgen Angelow, Alex Saint, Donna Lewis, Mohsin Khawar, Dedalus&Crane, Jennifer MacDonald, Andrei Gonciulea, Kerp Photography, Asia Ray, Tom Lau, Kyle Weaver, Sequoia Emmanuelle, Jodie Mann, Laurie-Lou, Luke Schneider, Lori Cicchini, Hartmut Nörenberg, Tim Engle, Emily Payne, Rudy Shoushany Qrude, StevieChris, Spoiled Cherry, Steve White, Debra Lamb, and many other talents.

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Negative footprints

There should be a word for when you’re shoveling dry, powdery snow off the driveway, but the places where you stepped are slightly compacted and stick to the concrete, leaving raised snow “footprints” when the rest is shoveled away.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/39b/1236000/files/2015/01/img_1991.jpg


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The Unconquerable (27)

macinnesDeath of Anna Braun
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Herbie Nichols

nichols thumbHis solos elliptically paraphrase his melodies.
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2014 BOOK BURNERS

FSG asked me to name the best, most original book(s) I read in 2014. You can check them out here alongside recommendations from a lot of great authors. Or simply look below:

Rebecca West, Survivors in Mexico – Reading Rebecca West for the first time floored me. There’s such active intelligence in her language, it’s nearly overwhelming. This book was compiled posthumously from essay fragments, so quality varies accordingly, but there’s more wisdom and elegance in a single paragraph of West contemplating Montezuma and Cortes then most books on the subject. Bow down.

Luis Zapata, El Vampiro de la Colonia Roma – El Vampiro is a picaresque gay Mexico City hustler novel from late 70s in the format of ‘told to tape recorder’ monologue, with speech pauses indicated by spaces on the page. A bath of slang and general hilarity, indebted to the Spanish novella The Life of Lazarillo de Tormes and of his Fortunes and Adversities, which came before Don Quixote and is also very funny.

Ágota Kristóf, The Notebook – First part of a trilogy (whole trilogy is great, each book does very different things). Told in first-person plural by limpid and disturbing young twins in a border village during wartime. Kristóf’s stark minimalism reads simply (the stylistic opposite of fellow Hungarian Krasznahorkai’s baroque apocalyptics) but after a few paragraphs the awe piles up and you realize how deep it all goes. A stone cold classic that’s impossible to discuss at a holiday party without alienating your peers!

Etel Adnan, Sitt Marie Rose – Experimental novella set (and written) during the Lebanese Civil War in which gendered violence might be the real civil war. It is also about the way cities tense up. Politics and religion and sentences as precise and glowing as Adnan’s abstracted landscape paintings. The title character is a teacher of deaf-mute children. Adnan’s language shares those concerns through a great attention to sound, vibration, and silence.

Horacio Castellanos Moya, Senselessness – Senselessness is narrated by a drunk horny literary bigot working freelance for the Catholic Church in Central America. His job: to edit 1100 pages of indigenous survivors’ testimony from the Guatemalan massacres. What’s not to like? Seriously, it’s dynamite—rambunctious on one level and masterfully subtle on another, no preaching to the choir, no creepy neo-con pull, no letting the reader off the hook. I think of the Hannah Arendt quote: “Storytelling reveals meaning without committing the error of defining it.”

Elias Canetti – Do people talk about how crazy Canetti is? His books are either too long or too short; his fiction reads like psychology and his sociology reads like fiction. The single flaw of his Marrakech book is its brevity. Crowds and Power is rewarding reading for all of us who gather in the streets because we still need to assert that #BlackLivesMatter.

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Photo



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Photo



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this wilding’s thinking “Ugh, why don’t…



this wilding’s thinking “Ugh, why don’t pantyliners stick to fur?” #ClippedOnIssuu from ISSUE 38
Download and Own for http://bit.ly/DBM_38 ISSUE 38 features works from Lindsay Adler, Camilla Lobo, Dianne Baars,Breanne Marie, Fabrice Meuwissen, Jürgen Angelow, Alex Saint, Donna Lewis, Mohsin Khawar, Dedalus&Crane, Jennifer MacDonald, Andrei Gonciulea, Kerp Photography, Asia Ray, Tom Lau, Kyle Weaver, Sequoia Emmanuelle, Jodie Mann, Laurie-Lou, Luke Schneider, Lori Cicchini, Hartmut Nörenberg, Tim Engle, Emily Payne, Rudy Shoushany Qrude, StevieChris, Spoiled Cherry, Steve White, Debra Lamb, and many other talents.

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2014 reading list, a year end summary

books this year

I started 104 books this year and finished 102. This year’s goals were twofold: read more books than last year, and read more diversely. I got the first goal accomplished but sort of at the expense of the second goal. I tried to get into a good daily reading pattern, and dug in to some book series. This meant that when I finished up the books by Archer Mayor, I had just read a large number of books by yet another white guy from New England. I didn’t read as many books by women as I’d wanted. I read a higher percentage of books by non-white, non-Western authors but I still need to do a lot better. I’m really happy to have managed a lifestyle where I read almost every day, off screen, for 30 minutes or more. Now I need to get choosier about what I am reading.

average read per month: 8.67
average read per week: 2
number read in worst month: 7 (Jan/July/Sep)
number read in best month: 11 (May)
number unfinished: 2
percentage by male authors: 79
percentage by female authors: 21
percentage of authors of color: 8
fiction as percentage of total: 70
non-fiction as percentage of total: 30
percentage of total liked: 93
percentage of total ambivalent: 7
percentage of total disliked: 0

A few book-specific notes. I really enjoyed Archer Mayor’s books and am now caught up. I recommend them to anyone looking for a place-based set of cop procedurals. I read almost every book suggested in this Ask MetaFilter thread and I enjoyed most of them. I also read a bunch of YA-ish techie nerdish books like Soon I will be Invincible and Ready Player One which are great books that any people who spend a lot of time online will enjoy. Many of the graphic novels I read were published by First Second and I probably need to read more books by them. I also enjoyed some local New England books both fiction (The Lace Reader) and non-fiction (Bootleggers, Lobstermen & Lumberjacks). One of the things that is odd about reading this many more books than last year is that the books from earlier in the year seem like I read them forever ago and they fade into distant memory. 2014 seemed long in mostly good ways. I also have a few books that I am halfway done with and they have been halfway done for months. I need to find a new way to kick books more quickly to the “unfinished” list. Here’s a chart for this information instead of a long list of numbers. I’m more concerned with trends than specific numbers.

Screen Shot 2015-01-01 at 17.50.18

Previous librarian.net summaries: 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004. My always-updated booklist lives at jessamyn.info/booklist and it has its own RSS feed which is mostly not broken.

If you’ve made a reading list for last year, I’d love to read it. Happy New Year.

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Lynda Barry

BARRY.self_Devastatingly funny one week and bittersweet the next.
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Logical endpoints

More on Aaronson (see previous post for context):

I was struck by this commment Scott made on Gil Kalai’s blog:

Yes, I admit, I do have the moral philosopher’s (or for that matter, the mathematician’s) habit of trying to take stated principles to their logical conclusions, even if many people would regard those conclusions as “irrelevant” or “absurd.” (To take a different example: “People should have the right to own whatever weapon they want, since merely owning it doesn’t harm anyone.” “OK then, what about nuclear missiles?” “That’s irrelevant and absurd! I was talking about guns.”) Is this habit something I should apologize for?

and this reddit comment he quotes approvingly:

I think the reason Dworkin comes up in discussions like this is because her thinking is the logical endpoint of mainstream feminist theory.
It goes something like this:
1) Women are systematically oppressed by men
2) If 1 is true, how can a woman ever consent to sex or practically anything else with men? Any “consent” a woman gives will be given under duress because she is being systematically oppressed.
3) If any “consent” a woman gives is under duress (because every decision and choice a woman makes is under duress because she’s being systematically oppressed), then women can never ever give consent in any dealing with men.
Dworkin, to her credit, was so logical that she came to this conclusion and accepted it. All logical thinkers will probably come to this conclusion which is why nerds and STEM people will like and understand Dworkin. She’s logical. She makes sense.

For my own part, I find this idea of taking political and moral principles to their logical conclusions to be very weird.  And I don’t think it’s “the mathematician’s habit,” as Scott says.  At least, it’s not this mathematician’s habit.  Being a mathematician doesn’t incline me to apply Boolean operations to ethical principles; on the contrary, I think being a mathematician makes me more alive than the average person to the difference between mathematical assertions (which do behave really well under logical operations) and every other kind.

In particular, I don’t find the argument by the reddit commenter very compelling.  There are lots of feminists (I think almost all feminists!) who sound nothing like Andrea Dworkin, and who pretty obviously think that there exists sex between men and women that isn’t rape.  Is that because they can’t do logic?  I am a STEM person and a feminist and I think systematic sexism exists in the world and I don’t think heterosexual sex is rape.  Is that because I can’t do logic?

No — it’s because I think there are very few assertions about sex, power and feminism which stand in a relation of authentic logical entailment.


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First sunrise of 2015

through the blinds of an upstairs window.

IMG_4379

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If i’m dead by the time this is posted, oh well…i…



If i’m dead by the time this is posted, oh well…i love you.

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The writer and the librarian

As I mentioned last year sometime, I stepped down from MetaFilter. I’ve been casting around to find a few small jobs that equal one big job. I’m a lucky person in that I’m pretty employable in a general sense. But I also have a lot of smaller commitments to my local job and spending a big chunk of time away over the summer that I’m not looking for regular work per se. I had a gig writing for The Open Standard which vanished in a weird gamer-gate-related political thing (not having to do with me personally, I was just collateral damage) and I picked up some work writing for Medium which is part “platform” and part “community” in a weird way. Anyhow, I like it there so far. I wrote a piece about DRM that I am very proud of. It’s here.

Things That Make the Librarian Angry

I’ll be noodling around with my year-end lists like I usually do but I figured on the off chance you hadn’t seen this, you’d probably like it.

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“where are my dragons?” #ClippedOnIssuu from ISSUE 38 Download…



"where are my dragons?" #ClippedOnIssuu from ISSUE 38
Download and Own for http://bit.ly/DBM_38 ISSUE 38 features works from Lindsay Adler, Camilla Lobo, Dianne Baars,Breanne Marie, Fabrice Meuwissen, Jürgen Angelow, Alex Saint, Donna Lewis, Mohsin Khawar, Dedalus&Crane, Jennifer MacDonald, Andrei Gonciulea, Kerp Photography, Asia Ray, Tom Lau, Kyle Weaver, Sequoia Emmanuelle, Jodie Mann, Laurie-Lou, Luke Schneider, Lori Cicchini, Hartmut Nörenberg, Tim Engle, Emily Payne, Rudy Shoushany Qrude, StevieChris, Spoiled Cherry, Steve White, Debra Lamb, and many other talents.

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HiLobrow’s 2014

hilothumb7Here's what we published in 2014!
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A Rondel for HiLo Heroes (6)

wattCelebrating thirteen HiLo Heroes about whom we wrote in 2014.
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James Frazer

FrazerNot for him the “purblind vision” of small minds.
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is that cauliflower?



is that cauliflower?

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blackhistoryalbum: “My recipe for life is not being afraid of…



blackhistoryalbum:

"My recipe for life is not being afraid of myself, afraid of what I think or of my opinions."

— Eartha Kit (with husband John William McDonald, 1960s)

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vimalsu999: Billie Holiday in Paris, photographed by…



vimalsu999:

Billie Holiday in Paris, photographed by Jean-Pierre Leloir, 1958

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2014 in brief

At the end of December I always do a quick skim back through the whole year's blog posts, mostly to get the book list together (anything named here is something I wholeheartedly recommend, though not all genres appeal equally to all readers - but we are living in a great age of light reading!) but also to get some sense of patterns: patterns to be repeated, patterns to be avoided.

I am always struck by how much of my life doesn't make it onto the blog, and also by how familiar the pattern of overwork, travel, fatigue and respiratory infection seems to be. Only serious resolution for 2015: live life in a way that doesn't get me sick so often!

I do also think I should read fewer novels and more nonfiction, but I don't want to be too penitential about it either, so we will see how that shakes out (I read the last issue of the NYRB last night before going to bed, as my Kindle needed recharging; it is certainly better than reading schlock, but I am not sure it is necessarily better than reading good fiction, so really what I mean is to get more narrative nonfiction, biography, science writing etc. and see if I can tempt myself more regularly in that direction so that I can pre-filter the good stuff from the pap and find something else to occupy my idle hours).

2014 was a good year in many respects. I taught a couple of graduate seminars I've taught before (one on culture, one on fiction of the 1790s) and I spent a huge amount of time and energy developing a new lecture course, Literary Texts, Critical Methods, the one course we require of all English majors. I loved almost everything about teaching that class, but I was especially taken with the nineteenth-century Americans: William Wells Brown's Clotel, Melville, Dickinson. Alternate self is clearly writing on Melville one universe over.

Books that especially spoke to me as I was teaching them (randomly recalled): Boswell and Johnson on the Hebrides; Inchbald's A Simple Story and Godwin's Caleb Williams, two seriously underrated novels; Endgame! An accident of proximity (last fiction, first play) caused me to realize the uncanny similarities between Billy Budd and The Importance of Being Earnest.

I spent a good deal of my reading and thinking time in the spring serving on a committee that advises the Provost on tenure cases throughout the entire university (we're coming up on the busy season for that again). As their tenure is now a matter of public record, I can say that two books I particularly enjoyed out of dozens I read for that charge were Shamus Khan's Privilege and Gray Tuttle's Tibetan Buddhists and the Making of Modern China.

I wrote four tenure letters for eighteenth-century scholars at other universities (this is at least two more than I should do) and a seemingly endless stream of letters of recommendation. I have mixed feelings about being a gatekeeper, but there is no getting around it.

I had three amazing work trips, to Israel, Dublin and Paris respectively. In Paris I served as a member of the thesis jury for a doctoral dissertation: it was at once completely familiar (I must have done this twenty times by now) and wonderfully strange! (The thesis was extremely good.)

The saddest thing I wrote was the obituary for Brent's father.

In January I was finishing up the index for my little book on style, which came out in June (I think it found quite a few readers, but I am afraid that it essentially sank without a trace otherwise: here was one particularly fun review, but I increasingly realize I am not cut out for the publicity end of the book business - I like writing 'em, not hawking 'em, especially not if they are written by me!); between syllabus-writing, minor publicity, revising an article that I first wrote an incredibly long time ago and aforementioned tenure letters, I didn't get any major work done over the summer, but that was OK, as I wanted a bit of a breather before I plunged into next books.

2014 was also the year I came to realize (it dawns on me very strongly now and again) that though I tend to think of my own writing as my real work and everything else as part of a complex and rewarding but fundamentally external set of obligations, my teaching is also my real work, and might in the end be the thing I do that makes me feel proudest! (Writing, as everyone knows, being more conducive to grinding sense of imperfections and ongoing striving rather than any simple sense of achievement and satisfaction.)

(On a related note, 2015 is going to be a year of starting new books rather than finishing ongoing ones - this is enjoyable, they always glow with promise when the words are not even quite yet on the paper!)

Best thing I heard in a theater: The Death of Klinghoffer. Other best thing I heard in a theatre: Hedwig and the Angry Inch, with Neil Patrick Harris in the lead! (Close third: Britten's Curlew River, with the sublime Ian Bostridge. Also: Storm Large.)

Now for a selectively granular record of a rather frivolous year of reading (consider this a list of strong recommendations, with apologies for anything I've accidentally excluded)....

Best book I'd never heard of, courtesy of Marina H.: Delphine de Vigan, Nothing Holds Back the Night.

Favorite "book I somehow never read, or never read since early childhood": Kipling, Kim (and follow-up thoughts on the literature of counter-insurgency courtesy of my friend Joey - was reading Kipling stories all fall on the subway, they are uneven but the standard is incredibly high).

Other favorite "literary" fiction (yes, I know these categories are all slightly fraught): Chimimanda Ngozi Adichie, Half of a Yellow Sun; Knausgaard, vol. 3; Jenny Offill, Dept. of Speculation; Sarah Waters, The Paying Guests; Teju Cole, Every Day Is For The Thief. Kiese Laymon's Long Division properly belongs here, I think, rather than with the YA books below, though much of the contemporary fiction I most enjoy and admire can't readily be put under any single rubric.

Some older British fiction I just now caughtup with: Elizabeth Jane Howard's Cazalet Chronicles (too sameish, I think, and rather depressing, but the scene in which Hilly gets home after having all her teeth extracted is unforgettable); Jane Gardam's Old Filth trilogy (superb); Margaret Drabble, The Realms of Gold.

Crime: Megan Abbott, The Fever; Tana French, The Secret Place; Robert Galbraith, The Silkworm; Bill Loefhelm's "Devil" series (three installments so far); Warren Ellis, Crooked Little Vein; Anthony Neil Smith, Yellow Medicine (this guy is a slightly undersung genius); Tom Bouman, Dry Bones in the Valley; Harry Bingham, The Strange Death of Fiona Griffiths (#3 in series); Stav Sherez, Eleven Days and A Dark Redemption; Karin Slaughter, Cop Town; Oliver Harris, The Hollow Man and Deep Shelter; Robert Hudson, The Dazzle (1930s pastiche); Deborah Coates, Strange Country (that might be the only one on this list that has fantastical elements, but there is definite bleed between this and subsequent categories).

Thrillers of excellence: Deon Meyer, Cobra; Terry Hayes, I am Pilgrim; Taylor Stevens, The Catch and The Vessel; Patrick Lee, Runner.

Vaguely science-fictional or fantastic, including alternate history (my heart is really with this category most of all - I have slightly sworn off fiction-writing, but here is where I would be if I were anywhere!): William Gibson, The Peripheral; Jo Walton, My Real Children; Max Gladstone's Craft books; Tim Powers, Declare; Peter Higgins, Wolfhound Century and Truth and Fear; Ned Beauman, The Teleportation Accident; Martin Millar, The Anxiety of Kalix the Werewolf (it is beyond words for me to say how much I love this series!); Ben Winter, World of Trouble (almost too sad); Dave Hutchinson, Europe in Autumn; Ben Aaronovitch, Broken Houses; Paul Cornell, The Severed Streets; Charles Stross, The Apocalypse Codex (and reread of entire delightful Laundry series to prepare); Lev Grossman, The Magician's Land; Lauren Beukes, Broken Monsters; James S. A. Corey, book 4 of the Expanse; Daniel Price, The Flight of the Silvers (hungry for next installment of this one - pernicious age of trilogies and series fiction!); Laini Taylor's final installment in the Daughters of Smoke and Bone series; all novels by Daryl Gregory.

I will happily read whatever Seanan McGuire publishes under any name, but I especially enjoyed her Mira Grant Newsflash installment titled The Day the Dead Came to Show and Tell, with the proviso that if my mother had been that classroom teacher, she would have managed to get a higher proportion of the children safely out of the building! (It is part of the point of the story that the teacher is relatively inexperienced, so really it's not a fair comparison.)

Favorite reread (along with much Eva Ibbotson, Diana Wynne Jones and Victoria Clayton): Mary Stewart's Merlin books.

YA: Gwenda Bond, Girl on a Wire; Garth Nix, Clariel; Marcus Guillory, Red Now and Laters (this gets award for most mouth-watering title, but it is a very good genre-busting book too, and probably should go under literary fiction as well).

Best literary book about cycling: Paul Fournel, Need for the Bike. But I also enjoyed the repellent Willy Voet's Breaking the Chain, on performance-enhancing drugs in cycling.

Finally, my recommendations from a rather funny assortment of nonfiction: two excellent and completely different essay collections (both belong on best-of-year lists), Leslie Jamison's The Empathy Exams and Kiese Laymon's How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America; Jesmyn Ward, Men We Reaped; Alice Goffman, On the Run (a book I wish I had written myself); Rebecca Mead, My Life in Middlemarch; Ari Shavit, My Promised Land; Judy Melineck and T. J. Marshall, Working Stiff; and last but not least, a ringer from eighteenth-century studies (my review is forthcoming in Biography), Julia Allen's Swimming with Dr. Johnson and Mrs. Thrale.

Best wishes for 2015!
Uncategorized

2014 in brief

At the end of December I always do a quick skim back through the whole year's blog posts, mostly to get the book list together (anything named here is something I wholeheartedly recommend, though not all genres appeal equally to all readers - but we are living in a great age of light reading!) but also to get some sense of patterns: patterns to be repeated, patterns to be avoided.

I am always struck by how much of my life doesn't make it onto the blog, and also by how familiar the pattern of overwork, travel, fatigue and respiratory infection seems to be. Only serious resolution for 2015: live life in a way that doesn't get me sick so often!

I do also think I should read fewer novels and more nonfiction, but I don't want to be too penitential about it either, so we will see how that shakes out (I read the last issue of the NYRB last night before going to bed, as my Kindle needed recharging; it is certainly better than reading schlock, but I am not sure it is necessarily better than reading good fiction, so really what I mean is to get more narrative nonfiction, biography, science writing etc. and see if I can tempt myself more regularly in that direction so that I can pre-filter the good stuff from the pap and find something else to occupy my idle hours).

2014 was a good year in many respects. I taught a couple of graduate seminars I've taught before (one on culture, one on fiction of the 1790s) and I spent a huge amount of time and energy developing a new lecture course, Literary Texts, Critical Methods, the one course we require of all English majors. I loved almost everything about teaching that class, but I was especially taken with the nineteenth-century Americans: William Wells Brown's Clotel, Melville, Dickinson. Alternate self is clearly writing on Melville one universe over.

Books that especially spoke to me as I was teaching them (randomly recalled): Boswell and Johnson on the Hebrides; Inchbald's A Simple Story and Godwin's Caleb Williams, two seriously underrated novels; Endgame! An accident of proximity (last fiction, first play) caused me to realize the uncanny similarities between Billy Budd and The Importance of Being Earnest.

I spent a good deal of my reading and thinking time in the spring serving on a committee that advises the Provost on tenure cases throughout the entire university (we're coming up on the busy season for that again). As their tenure is now a matter of public record, I can say that two books I particularly enjoyed out of dozens I read for that charge were Shamus Khan's Privilege and Gray Tuttle's Tibetan Buddhists and the Making of Modern China.

I wrote four tenure letters for eighteenth-century scholars at other universities (this is at least two more than I should do) and a seemingly endless stream of letters of recommendation. I have mixed feelings about being a gatekeeper, but there is no getting around it.

I had three amazing work trips, to Israel, Dublin and Paris respectively. In Paris I served as a member of the thesis jury for a doctoral dissertation: it was at once completely familiar (I must have done this twenty times by now) and wonderfully strange! (The thesis was extremely good.)

The saddest thing I wrote was the obituary for Brent's father.

In January I was finishing up the index for my little book on style, which came out in June (I think it found quite a few readers, but I am afraid that it essentially sank without a trace otherwise: here was one particularly fun review, but I increasingly realize I am not cut out for the publicity end of the book business - I like writing 'em, not hawking 'em, especially not if they are written by me!); between syllabus-writing, minor publicity, revising an article that I first wrote an incredibly long time ago and aforementioned tenure letters, I didn't get any major work done over the summer, but that was OK, as I wanted a bit of a breather before I plunged into next books.

2014 was also the year I came to realize (it dawns on me very strongly now and again) that though I tend to think of my own writing as my real work and everything else as part of a complex and rewarding but fundamentally external set of obligations, my teaching is also my real work, and might in the end be the thing I do that makes me feel proudest! (Writing, as everyone knows, being more conducive to grinding sense of imperfections and ongoing striving rather than any simple sense of achievement and satisfaction.)

(On a related note, 2015 is going to be a year of starting new books rather than finishing ongoing ones - this is enjoyable, they always glow with promise when the words are not even quite yet on the paper!)

Best thing I heard in a theater: The Death of Klinghoffer. Other best thing I heard in a theatre: Hedwig and the Angry Inch, with Neil Patrick Harris in the lead! (Close third: Britten's Curlew River, with the sublime Ian Bostridge. Also: Storm Large.)

Now for a selectively granular record of a rather frivolous year of reading (consider this a list of strong recommendations, with apologies for anything I've accidentally excluded)....

Best book I'd never heard of, courtesy of Marina H.: Delphine de Vigan, Nothing Holds Back the Night.

Favorite "book I somehow never read, or never read since early childhood": Kipling, Kim (and follow-up thoughts on the literature of counter-insurgency courtesy of my friend Joey - was reading Kipling stories all fall on the subway, they are uneven but the standard is incredibly high).

Other favorite "literary" fiction (yes, I know these categories are all slightly fraught): Chimimanda Ngozi Adichie, Half of a Yellow Sun; Knausgaard, vol. 3; Jenny Offill, Dept. of Speculation; Sarah Waters, The Paying Guests; Teju Cole, Every Day Is For The Thief. Kiese Laymon's Long Division properly belongs here, I think, rather than with the YA books below, though much of the contemporary fiction I most enjoy and admire can't readily be put under any single rubric.

Some older British fiction I just now caughtup with: Elizabeth Jane Howard's Cazalet Chronicles (too sameish, I think, and rather depressing, but the scene in which Hilly gets home after having all her teeth extracted is unforgettable); Jane Gardam's Old Filth trilogy (superb); Margaret Drabble, The Realms of Gold.

Crime: Megan Abbott, The Fever; Tana French, The Secret Place; Robert Galbraith, The Silkworm; Bill Loefhelm's "Devil" series (three installments so far); Warren Ellis, Crooked Little Vein; Anthony Neil Smith, Yellow Medicine (this guy is a slightly undersung genius); Tom Bouman, Dry Bones in the Valley; Harry Bingham, The Strange Death of Fiona Griffiths (#3 in series); Stav Sherez, Eleven Days and A Dark Redemption; Karin Slaughter, Cop Town; Oliver Harris, The Hollow Man and Deep Shelter; Robert Hudson, The Dazzle (1930s pastiche); Deborah Coates, Strange Country (that might be the only one on this list that has fantastical elements, but there is definite bleed between this and subsequent categories).

Thrillers of excellence: Deon Meyer, Cobra; Terry Hayes, I am Pilgrim; Taylor Stevens, The Catch and The Vessel; Patrick Lee, Runner.

Vaguely science-fictional or fantastic, including alternate history (my heart is really with this category most of all - I have slightly sworn off fiction-writing, but here is where I would be if I were anywhere!): William Gibson, The Peripheral; Jo Walton, My Real Children; Max Gladstone's Craft books; Tim Powers, Declare; Peter Higgins, Wolfhound Century and Truth and Fear; Ned Beauman, The Teleportation Accident; Martin Millar, The Anxiety of Kalix the Werewolf (it is beyond words for me to say how much I love this series!); Ben Winter, World of Trouble (almost too sad); Dave Hutchinson, Europe in Autumn; Ben Aaronovitch, Broken Houses; Paul Cornell, The Severed Streets; Charles Stross, The Apocalypse Codex (and reread of entire delightful Laundry series to prepare); Lev Grossman, The Magician's Land; Lauren Beukes, Broken Monsters; James S. A. Corey, book 4 of the Expanse; Daniel Price, The Flight of the Silvers (hungry for next installment of this one - pernicious age of trilogies and series fiction!); Laini Taylor's final installment in the Daughters of Smoke and Bone series; all novels by Daryl Gregory.

I will happily read whatever Seanan McGuire publishes under any name, but I especially enjoyed her Mira Grant Newsflash installment titled The Day the Dead Came to Show and Tell, with the proviso that if my mother had been that classroom teacher, she would have managed to get a higher proportion of the children safely out of the building! (It is part of the point of the story that the teacher is relatively inexperienced, so really it's not a fair comparison.)

Favorite reread (along with much Eva Ibbotson, Diana Wynne Jones and Victoria Clayton): Mary Stewart's Merlin books.

YA: Gwenda Bond, Girl on a Wire; Garth Nix, Clariel; Marcus Guillory, Red Now and Laters (this gets award for most mouth-watering title, but it is a very good genre-busting book too, and probably should go under literary fiction as well).

Best literary book about cycling: Paul Fournel, Need for the Bike. But I also enjoyed the repellent Willy Voet's Breaking the Chain, on performance-enhancing drugs in cycling.

Finally, my recommendations from a rather funny assortment of nonfiction: two excellent and completely different essay collections (both belong on best-of-year lists), Leslie Jamison's The Empathy Exams and Kiese Laymon's How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America; Jesmyn Ward, Men We Reaped; Alice Goffman, On the Run (a book I wish I had written myself); Rebecca Mead, My Life in Middlemarch; Ari Shavit, My Promised Land; Judy Melineck and T. J. Marshall, Working Stiff; and last but not least, a ringer from eighteenth-century studies (my review is forthcoming in Biography), Julia Allen's Swimming with Dr. Johnson and Mrs. Thrale.

Best wishes for 2015!
Uncategorized

2014 in brief

At the end of December I always do a quick skim back through the whole year's blog posts, mostly to get the book list together (anything named here is something I wholeheartedly recommend, though not all genres appeal equally to all readers - but we are living in a great age of light reading!) but also to get some sense of patterns: patterns to be repeated, patterns to be avoided.

I am always struck by how much of my life doesn't make it onto the blog, and also by how familiar the pattern of overwork, travel, fatigue and respiratory infection seems to be. Only serious resolution for 2015: live life in a way that doesn't get me sick so often!

I do also think I should read fewer novels and more nonfiction, but I don't want to be too penitential about it either, so we will see how that shakes out (I read the last issue of the NYRB last night before going to bed, as my Kindle needed recharging; it is certainly better than reading schlock, but I am not sure it is necessarily better than reading good fiction, so really what I mean is to get more narrative nonfiction, biography, science writing etc. and see if I can tempt myself more regularly in that direction so that I can pre-filter the good stuff from the pap and find something else to occupy my idle hours).

2014 was a good year in many respects. I taught a couple of graduate seminars I've taught before (one on culture, one on fiction of the 1790s) and I spent a huge amount of time and energy developing a new lecture course, Literary Texts, Critical Methods, the one course we require of all English majors. I loved almost everything about teaching that class, but I was especially taken with the nineteenth-century Americans: William Wells Brown's Clotel, Melville, Dickinson. Alternate self is clearly writing on Melville one universe over.

Books that especially spoke to me as I was teaching them (randomly recalled): Boswell and Johnson on the Hebrides; Inchbald's A Simple Story and Godwin's Caleb Williams, two seriously underrated novels; Endgame! An accident of proximity (last fiction, first play) caused me to realize the uncanny similarities between Billy Budd and The Importance of Being Earnest.

I spent a good deal of my reading and thinking time in the spring serving on a committee that advises the Provost on tenure cases throughout the entire university (we're coming up on the busy season for that again). As their tenure is now a matter of public record, I can say that two books I particularly enjoyed out of dozens I read for that charge were Shamus Khan's Privilege and Gray Tuttle's Tibetan Buddhists and the Making of Modern China.

I wrote four tenure letters for eighteenth-century scholars at other universities (this is at least two more than I should do) and a seemingly endless stream of letters of recommendation. I have mixed feelings about being a gatekeeper, but there is no getting around it.

I had three amazing work trips, to Israel, Dublin and Paris respectively. In Paris I served as a member of the thesis jury for a doctoral dissertation: it was at once completely familiar (I must have done this twenty times by now) and wonderfully strange! (The thesis was extremely good.)

The saddest thing I wrote was the obituary for Brent's father.

In January I was finishing up the index for my little book on style, which came out in June (I think it found quite a few readers, but I am afraid that it essentially sank without a trace otherwise: here was one particularly fun review, but I increasingly realize I am not cut out for the publicity end of the book business - I like writing 'em, not hawking 'em, especially not if they are written by me!); between syllabus-writing, minor publicity, revising an article that I first wrote an incredibly long time ago and aforementioned tenure letters, I didn't get any major work done over the summer, but that was OK, as I wanted a bit of a breather before I plunged into next books.

2014 was also the year I came to realize (it dawns on me very strongly now and again) that though I tend to think of my own writing as my real work and everything else as part of a complex and rewarding but fundamentally external set of obligations, my teaching is also my real work, and might in the end be the thing I do that makes me feel proudest! (Writing, as everyone knows, being more conducive to grinding sense of imperfections and ongoing striving rather than any simple sense of achievement and satisfaction.)

(On a related note, 2015 is going to be a year of starting new books rather than finishing ongoing ones - this is enjoyable, they always glow with promise when the words are not even quite yet on the paper!)

Best thing I heard in a theater: The Death of Klinghoffer. Other best thing I heard in a theatre: Hedwig and the Angry Inch, with Neil Patrick Harris in the lead! (Close third: Britten's Curlew River, with the sublime Ian Bostridge. Also: Storm Large.)

Now for a selectively granular record of a rather frivolous year of reading (consider this a list of strong recommendations, with apologies for anything I've accidentally excluded)....

Best book I'd never heard of, courtesy of Marina H.: Delphine de Vigan, Nothing Holds Back the Night.

Favorite "book I somehow never read, or never read since early childhood": Kipling, Kim (and follow-up thoughts on the literature of counter-insurgency courtesy of my friend Joey - was reading Kipling stories all fall on the subway, they are uneven but the standard is incredibly high).

Other favorite "literary" fiction (yes, I know these categories are all slightly fraught): Chimimanda Ngozi Adichie, Half of a Yellow Sun; Knausgaard, vol. 3; Jenny Offill, Dept. of Speculation; Sarah Waters, The Paying Guests; Teju Cole, Every Day Is For The Thief. Kiese Laymon's Long Division properly belongs here, I think, rather than with the YA books below, though much of the contemporary fiction I most enjoy and admire can't readily be put under any single rubric.

Some older British fiction I just now caughtup with: Elizabeth Jane Howard's Cazalet Chronicles (too sameish, I think, and rather depressing, but the scene in which Hilly gets home after having all her teeth extracted is unforgettable); Jane Gardam's Old Filth trilogy (superb); Margaret Drabble, The Realms of Gold.

Crime: Megan Abbott, The Fever; Tana French, The Secret Place; Robert Galbraith, The Silkworm; Bill Loefhelm's "Devil" series (three installments so far); Warren Ellis, Crooked Little Vein; Anthony Neil Smith, Yellow Medicine (this guy is a slightly undersung genius); Tom Bouman, Dry Bones in the Valley; Harry Bingham, The Strange Death of Fiona Griffiths (#3 in series); Stav Sherez, Eleven Days and A Dark Redemption; Karin Slaughter, Cop Town; Oliver Harris, The Hollow Man and Deep Shelter; Robert Hudson, The Dazzle (1930s pastiche); Deborah Coates, Strange Country (that might be the only one on this list that has fantastical elements, but there is definite bleed between this and subsequent categories).

Thrillers of excellence: Deon Meyer, Cobra; Terry Hayes, I am Pilgrim; Taylor Stevens, The Catch and The Vessel; Patrick Lee, Runner.

Vaguely science-fictional or fantastic, including alternate history (my heart is really with this category most of all - I have slightly sworn off fiction-writing, but here is where I would be if I were anywhere!): William Gibson, The Peripheral; Jo Walton, My Real Children; Max Gladstone's Craft books; Tim Powers, Declare; Peter Higgins, Wolfhound Century and Truth and Fear; Ned Beauman, The Teleportation Accident; Martin Millar, The Anxiety of Kalix the Werewolf (it is beyond words for me to say how much I love this series!); Ben Winter, World of Trouble (almost too sad); Dave Hutchinson, Europe in Autumn; Ben Aaronovitch, Broken Houses; Paul Cornell, The Severed Streets; Charles Stross, The Apocalypse Codex (and reread of entire delightful Laundry series to prepare); Lev Grossman, The Magician's Land; Lauren Beukes, Broken Monsters; James S. A. Corey, book 4 of the Expanse; Daniel Price, The Flight of the Silvers (hungry for next installment of this one - pernicious age of trilogies and series fiction!); Laini Taylor's final installment in the Daughters of Smoke and Bone series; all novels by Daryl Gregory.

I will happily read whatever Seanan McGuire publishes under any name, but I especially enjoyed her Mira Grant Newsflash installment titled The Day the Dead Came to Show and Tell, with the proviso that if my mother had been that classroom teacher, she would have managed to get a higher proportion of the children safely out of the building! (It is part of the point of the story that the teacher is relatively inexperienced, so really it's not a fair comparison.)

Favorite reread (along with much Eva Ibbotson, Diana Wynne Jones and Victoria Clayton): Mary Stewart's Merlin books.

YA: Gwenda Bond, Girl on a Wire; Garth Nix, Clariel; Marcus Guillory, Red Now and Laters (this gets award for most mouth-watering title, but it is a very good genre-busting book too, and probably should go under literary fiction as well).

Best literary book about cycling: Paul Fournel, Need for the Bike. But I also enjoyed the repellent Willy Voet's Breaking the Chain, on performance-enhancing drugs in cycling.

Finally, my recommendations from a rather funny assortment of nonfiction: two excellent and completely different essay collections (both belong on best-of-year lists), Leslie Jamison's The Empathy Exams and Kiese Laymon's How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America; Jesmyn Ward, Men We Reaped; Alice Goffman, On the Run (a book I wish I had written myself); Rebecca Mead, My Life in Middlemarch; Ari Shavit, My Promised Land; Judy Melineck and T. J. Marshall, Working Stiff; and last but not least, a ringer from eighteenth-century studies (my review is forthcoming in Biography), Julia Allen's Swimming with Dr. Johnson and Mrs. Thrale.

Best wishes for 2015!
Uncategorized

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