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Thursday, December 09, 2004

Books: Hornby, D. Foster Wallace on the Borges bio, ....

Thought I'd post this Salon link since Joel said he was thinking of going to see Hornby read in NYC this week:

"The Polysyllabic Spree" by Nick Hornby
From the author of "High Fidelity," a delightful celebration of the joys of reading that reminds us why most literary criticism is so bad.
By Charles Taylor

That's a review of a collection of Hornby's essays from The Believer. I previously blogged The Believer here, in particular that tremendously fascinating interview with ?love. (I'm just realizing now the interviewer there was Toure! Saw him read from Soul City--and bought a copy of The Portable Promised Land--at Cody's in Berkeley back in Oct.)

Some more literature links: going through piled-up NYT e-mails, and noticed that David Foster Wallace, who I mentioned here, had written a review of the very same Borges biography that I discussed here. From the Nov 5 Books Update e-mail:

1. In Sunday's Book Review: David Foster Wallace on the Life of Jorge Luis Borges

"Edwin Williamson is an Oxford don and esteemed Hispanist
whose 'Penguin History of Latin America' is a small
masterpiece of lucidity and triage. It is therefore
unsurprising that his 'Borges' starts strong, with a
fascinating sketch of Argentine history and the Borges
family's place within it. ..."

"The big problem with 'Borges: A Life' is that Williamson is
an atrocious reader of Borges's work; his interpretations
amount to a simplistic, dishonest kind of psychological
criticism. You can see why this problem might be intrinsic to
the genre. A biographer wants his story to be not only
interesting but literarily valuable. ... Biography-wise,
then, we have a strange situation in which Borges's
individual personality and circumstances matter only insofar
as they lead him to create artworks in which such personal
facts are held to be unreal."

First Chapter

Same edition of that Sunday's Book Review had these two reviews worth archiving:

'Men and Cartoons': The Superhero Next Door
Jonathan Lethem's new story collection features talking
livestock, sci-fi detectives and a comic-book sensibility.


'Perilous Times': War of Words
Geoffrey R. Stone's book is a history of the government's
struggle with the right to free speech during military

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