Sunday, February 20, 2005

Things that interested me over coffee

"According to the report, the average American household spent $40,817 in 2003. Of that, just $127 was spent on reading newspapers, magazines or books, or 0.3 percent, while $290 was spent on tobacco and $391 on alcohol. Spending on consumer electronics was $2060, or 5 percent. Housing ($13,432) and transportation ($7,781) costs accounted for over half (52 percent) of total spending. " (Folio)

We are so not an average American household. . .

"If Bowen is not read now as widely as Henry James and Virginia Woolf, to whom she is often compared, it may be not because of her hyphen (since the specific concerns of the Anglo-Irish are not so widely understood these days), or the intricacy of her style. It may be, instead, that it is difficult to read a writer who bears down so hard on intimacy -- among not only men and women, but men and women and their country, their houses, their pasts and themselves -- and with an overwhelming, Irish sense of a bottomless, ancient pool of loss. She is as ruthless as James, as stylistically uncanny as Woolf, but with an ineradicable sense that history is made of other people's dirt." (Stacey D'erasmo reviews Neil Corcoran's insightful, slender Elizabeth Bowen: The Enforced Return.)

I've been reading Elizabeth Bowen short stories this year and I haven't hit a dud yet.

I can't decide if I want to read Ian McEwan's Saturday, but Barbaric Document takes McEwan quite soundly to task.

A new Kazuo Ishiguro! Yay! While I won't be rushing to purchase it, I'm sure I'll eventually get around to it. The Guardian reviews it, profiles Ishiguro, and presents an extract.

The Shelia Variations covers the Alexander Hamilton exhibit at the New York Historical Society with great enthusiasm.

Susan Sontag finished an introduction to the recent translation of Halldor Laxness's Under the Glacier shortly before her death. I need to finish World Light and read the other two Laxness novels I own before I get around to this one.

And, thanks to some encouragement from Book World and a recent post at The Millions, I have entered the 21st century and can now access many of my favorite links via RSS feeds. In what direction will I channel my nervous energy now that I have no reason to click obsessively on my favorites? Will I put all the time saved to productive use? Will I, in time, come to resent this new technology?

Stay tuned.

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