What'cha Reading?

I’ve been trying to adopt a similar policy and I’m just reaching that point with it now. To be fair, I’m not making a lot of time for reading and giving it its best chance.

1 Like

I vaguely remember a book about salt called “Salt” and saw it at a friend’s house, flipped through it and was intrigued. My library has the ebook, so I’ll probably start reading it tomorrow. 20 years old and the Adam Roberts SF novel “Salt” which I liked when it came out is old too. I wonder if there are any books called just “Pepper” — not gonna look it up!


Ray Jardine has been a sort of abstract hero to me for quite a while. I knew he patented some kind of rock climbing piton/locking thing in his spare time, but I don’t GAF about rock climbing…more his ultra lightweight style of backpacking and way of living among the elements influenced me…

But this is fascinating.


Trad climbing is not the type I am most familiar with, nor do I ever expect to do it myself, but that is interesting. Some people have a tolerance that amazes me. After a route gets a certain level of hard, I can’t imagine it’s very fun to climb. 'Course, most of the ones I climb are probably barely a 5.8 or 5.9, so what do I know. What I want to know is how the picture in that article was taken.


Good question! Damned if I know!

It’s a real shame that (last time I checked) Ray Jardine’s magnum opus, his big book nominally about a thru-hike of the Pacific Crest Trail (but really a general purpose book outlining his philosophy of extended backpacking junkets, gear, and all kinds of things) is out of print.

Fascinating athlete and a trailblazer, so to speak, in, it appears, quite a few diverse areas.


Probably with a camera.


How do you sleep at night? Ahhhh…errr…errgh!

OK, yeah, it probably had to be said. You took one for the team.

Oh, I just now found that the “new” Bertrand Marchal Pléiade edition of Mallarmé has a sheet-ton of commentary just on that one sonnet (“Ses purs ongles très haut…” [it doesn’t have a title, nor do the other three sonnets in that little “collection,” I suppose you’d call it…that’s just half of the first line…an Alexandrine wouldn’t you know!]), as well as earlier unpublished drafts of many many of Mallarmé’s little scribblings (that’s a joke…I revere Mallarmé as an outstanding, complex proto-modernist poet…he did scribble, though!).

So, it’s worth it not only for the collected material on the deeply strange would-be creation called simple « Le livre », but all kinds of goodies in here.

I read one of Marchal’s book on Mallarmé a long time ago…I mean, I must have, since my “job” was in part to read all of the important relevant secondary literature, which I did…but one of my main champions on my doctoral committee was kind of bitter that Marchal had more success and prestige in the academic scene as an expert on Mallarmé and French “symbolism” in general…so…we didn’t really talk about BM too much. Gérard never said as much, but you know, he was a typical Frenchman, from Grenoble to boot (doctorates in linguistics and literature, but, essentially, a provincial man in many ways), originally, so he didn’t exactly hide his feelings when it came to his areas of expertise. But, of course, Marchal’s new edition of Mallarmé was and is a revelation for even just a casual reader.

Still peeved that a paperback edition of Mondor’s classic « Vie de Mallarmé » is kind of pricey…there are a lot of good anecdotes in there…kids throwing rocks at his house [he was a teacher of English language as his career…and not very well liked by his pupils!]…and interlibrary loan…eh…just doesn’t give me enough time with it. It’s a really dense book, especially for a biography.

Henri Mondor (editor of the previous Pléiade edition of Mallarmé, which I also have but my plastic grabber probably … well, pretty sure it was 1945, and there’ve been a lot of advancements in Mallarmé scholarship since then) was not exactly a great writer of engaging prose. IIRC, he has a way of turning juicy anecdotes into absolutely boring, dull prose.

He was one of the first, and, to put in perspective, Mallarmé had really not only not been dead for that long a time, and his influence on modernist poetics, critical theory, poets was still ongoing.

Mondor deserves credit for achieving what was required. I’m not sure, but was it possible Mondor was elected to the Acad…no, it does not seem he was elected to the Collège de France nor to the Académie Française…but he could have been.

/* CURRENTLY struggling to get through this very short book called … Addiction, Procrastination, and Laziness : A Proactive Guide to the Psychology of Motivation by a guy with the pretty rad name of Roman GELPERIN.

It’s like pulling teeth, though, just to get through all the jibber-jabber. Ferjudaschrist, just put the whole damn thing in a few … WTF happened to my compose key? sheet! … well just pretend I used the pilcrow (or Paragraph Symbol)… a few paragraphs and be done with it.

Book’s only 114 pages…and it’s from ILL where a previous borrower apparently soaked it in a bathtub. It’s framed as a set of “case studies,” whose veridicality I cannot vouch for.

It’s very tedious.

Maybe I should write a better version of this and make up my own “case studies,” and also have it not be so damned boring.

Nahhh…I can’t keep reading this. Not right now, anyway. So I go back to my reliable “new”-ish find, Ben Sidran’s collection of interviews with prominent jazz (and even a few jazz-adjacent) musicians.

I like it very much. Reading the brief interview with Carla Bley now.

Yes, despite me having bought it new as a paperback, most of the pages are falling out so I periodically stuff them back in where they belong. Shoddy, cheap, despicable0 craftsmanship, but the book itself is a gem, a mansion of many rooms.


/* edit…I don’t want to insult anyone’s acumen and knowledge here, but I feel I should briefly explain that the “Alexandrine” is sort of the French equivalent of iambic pentamenter in English.

It’s twelve beats cut in two, so, du du du du du DUH du du du du du DUH, the the caesura typically ending on an accent, which is sort of a default way of providing accent for a phrase.

Yes, there are rules about which syllables get counted and which don’t, and masculine vs. feminine rhymes, so-called, but I ain’t no dictionary so look it up if you want.

Mathematician by trade, experimental poet by inclination and also trade, Jacques ROUBAUD has a very interesting book on the history of the alexandrine…it’s on a shelf here but my grabber can’t reach that far. I think it’s just called History of the Alexandrine or something …OK…fine…see what you made me do? *La vieillesse d’Alexandre : essai sure quelques Etats rEcents du vers franCaise (Paris: FranCois Maspero, 1971) …damn compose key…that explains the weird capitalization to avoid using accents…systemd probably screwed something up…never mind. */

/* Oh, of course, why didn’t I think of this first? udevadm trigger --subsystem-match=input --action=change

Obvious, really!

(No, xfce is engaged in some kind of fight between whatever else I did…yes, I can fix it, but it is annoying).

Oh…never mind. Not going to deal with it right now. First person who says “why don’t you just use the numeric keypad?” Pow! Right in the kisser! Ain’t got nothing to do with holding a bunch of random numeric codes in my head, foo! */

1 Like

This doesn’t quite fit, because I haven’t read any of my collections of his work in a while, but it seemed like the best place to share this article. It’s a bit old, but for some reason The New Yorker shared it on Facebook.

He was an obsessive sewer of small fabric arts,” Hischak told me. “I think the toys were born out of nervous energy, a device to keep his hands busy.” Most evenings, Gorey sewed and stuffed the toys by hand while watching VHS recordings of his favorite television shows: “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” “Golden Girls,” “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” “The X-Files,” and “Murder, She Wrote.” He used whatever fabric he happened to have around (blue denim, gold lamé, gray velvet, green gingham, pink satin, white cotton) and, once he cut out the shapes, he stitched them together by hand, then filled them with rice—preferably Uncle Ben’s, because it was the only brand that came with a spout for easy pouring.


When my older nephew was a baby I sewed him a little stuffed Doubtful Guest. Probably needless to say, it did not come out nearly as well. (It also did not have the suit, the gangly limbs, or the extra arms.)


I have loved Gorey’s work ever since I was a kid. That blog is amazing. All kinds of stuff I’ve never seen before. I have all the Amphigorey anthologies though.


Searching for and reading up on the various versions of Dorian Gray… not sure which one to check out, censored or uncensored (and/or whatever the third version is)

I could read all of them, sure, but trying to decide what to start with.

Any opinions on that from those who’ve read it? (I know, one is gayer than the other, but aside from that, there are added passages that attack hypocrisy (which I imagine was directed at critics of his original version), one write-up noted a great line that was added to the censored version - not sure which is the better read, or if they’re pretty much equals)


I’ve only read the censored version, but I honestly didn’t care for it much. Maybe I just prefer Wilde when he’s being a comic wit, but the film versions I’ve seen, especially the one with Angela Lansbury, are better.

1 Like

I read it unabridged and still found it a fairly brief and easy read, so IMO you may as well get the full experience! (I’m also naturally ornery about reading things some tightass thinks I shouldn’t.)


I wasn’t even sure which one I had access to, before I saw that there was an uncensored version (“Hu? What’s that about?”). The library has the Penguin Classics edition (looking at the preview at Amazon, it says it’s the 1891 edition). But I know where to find a copy that’s annotated and unabridged.

I like a lot of 19th century literature, so I went looking for novels from that period that came highly recommended, that I’ve not read. So I’m going to do “Middelmarch”, and “The Moonstone” and I’m not sure if I’ve ever read “Ivanhoe” (did we read it in school?, it seems familiar but that could just be the movies and such) and while I’ve seen the plays and movies based on Wildes work - Salome, Lady Windermere’s Fan, The Importance of Being Earnest, The Canterville Ghost - how much have I actually read (The Selfish Giant, as a kid, I believe) so I wanted to give his novel a go (my mother loved it, probably had it in her library, but most of her stuff was sold at an estate sale after she passed. I read a lot of her books, Daphne du Maurie, Shirley Jackson and others, but not that one - odd).

That’s 4 for the reading wishlist.


Now those are Wilde works I really enjoy and I haven’t seen a film that does the latter justice. Worse, they often needlessly modernize it.

(They do the same stupid modernization thing with War of the Worlds. Every freakin’ time.)

Visually, I think this is my favorite War of the Worlds “adaptation.”

Although I would like to see one that’s truly faithful to the book sometime. WotW was the very first sci-fi book I ever read. I had this edition:



My favorite Wilde is Salome, especially when they attempt to replicate the Beardsley illustrations - though Wilde felt they were overly sophisticated, that’s what I liked and prefer.

I’ve enjoyed the War of the Worlds adaptations, don’t have a problem with them speaking to events current at the time of their making. But yeah, it would be cool to see one that was faithful to the book.

1 Like

Now… speaking of movie adaptations (this is the other way around), who’s going to find this and read it?

1 Like

This is probably my favorite War Of The Worlds, but it is not a visual adaptation.


I read that as John Wayne and thought, what kind of Twilight Zone have I slipped into where John Wayne produces sci-fi musicals?

1 Like