Friday, September 16, 2011

weapons of combat and literature

These just in at the Thirdfloorian Library: William Golding's Rites of Passage and Caroline Alexander's The War That Killed Achilles, onto the pile, with no particular agenda in mind.

In progress, China Miéville's Kraken; Romola, George Eliot's stab at writing really (as opposed to slightly) historical fiction, wherein it's like she was so out of her comfort zone that she had to hang obscure literary references on every sentence, but this is no doubt pleasing and a gig to the writers of footnotes; and Russell Shorto's history of Nieuw Amsterdam (as Nuevo York used to be known).

In other news, John Le Carré thinks Spooks (that's MI-5 in Americanistanian) is crap.  Apparently he means this as negative criticism, which would seem to indicate that he's missing the point.  Its crapness is part of its charm, Mr. Cornwell, which is something that could never be said about Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy.  Whatever, it's popular in West Thirdflooria, and this has nothing to do with the fact that the Thirdfloorian Security Services really are all hopelessly beautiful incognito people who live in fantastically posh but appropriately non-descript dwellings and work in offices that are the height of style but wouldn't stand out in an Architectural Digest line-up or anything -- nor does it have anything to do with the precedent set by legendary American tv shows of yore wherein vice cops wore Armani on the job and, even better, a guy and his spotless (even in winter!) black Jag never failed to find an unmetered parking spot on the street in New York City no matter how instantaneous the need -- but much more to do with its being both hilariously right-wing and crankily anti-American at the same time.  We just find that refreshing, somehow. Granted we're only half way through season 3. Things could change.

Lastly there's this item on a recent faculty appointment at Trinity College Dublin.  I'm all for "applicants should note that anyone found guilty of academic misconduct or weakness in the face of the enemy will be crucified as an example to the others."  In spite of the risk -- and surely all who have made it past Intro to Literary Theory know that the Gods of Discourse favor boldness and a good broad-axe -- it's certainly better than a Philology degree at Miskatonic University, where doctoral degree candidates can look forward not only to having their very souls devoured by the Undead God of the diabolist Esquimaux before they're even interviewed for a tenure track position, but also their student loans paid for by the blood of their descendants, yea, unto the thirteenth generation, curse the gold-giver.

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