Wednesday, September 26, 2007


Well Left
The extent to which Malamud's devotion to his work was the cause of his limitations, rather than merely the rationalisation for them, is a question that Davis leaves open.
The FT reviews Philip Davis' superb new biography of Bernard Malamud.

I Agree Shock
The Guardian Book Blog posts entries by John Morton and Nicholas Lezard that do not annoy me in any way, including the comments. No longer am I the sole voice in the wilderness! (BTW: I want to be next year's Booker committee idiot).

Does he mean me?
Bloggers like these just may demonstrate in the long run that "thoughtful" literary criticism doesn't always have to be "long" and that the "patience" requested by certain windy critics might not really be worth the time.
Dan Green does indeed. Thanks Dan. I have time for windy critics, just not the patience.

Tuesday Top Ten
Yesterday, the Editor's Corner at The Book Depository posted my top ten genre-defying books. Regular glancers at this blog will be familiar with many of them. But here's your chance to click through and buy them at low, low prices!


  1. Though there is one classic comment by Lough to the Lezard piece which was, & indeed is, humbling, invigorating & a beautiful work of art in its own right:

    "if i want great literature,i watch a good movie or TV..if i weant poetry,whcih i dont,then ill listen to a bob dylan(or any decent songwriter) song.. please stop this ghastly 'death of the reader 'nonsense.we dont care. i never buy books and im still an intellectual.despite the english being ashamed of the term!"

    Though I wonder a little at a couple of peeved responses to Lough's musings at the site...sometimes things are just funny.

  2. Anonymous7:19 am

    Regarding your top ten list: I was steered by your blog into reading Bernard, and fully agree that Extinction is a masterpiece. And am now proceeding with other Bernard works. Also you recommended Montano's Malady, by Enrique Vila-Matas, and I find that book absolutely incredible; surely this author must be on the brink of being translated more fully? Genre-defying works indeed. Also, I am TRYING to read Blanchot. Already a reader of Borges, and Sebald, the latter especially a category breaker, I thank you for your pointers, and will check out The Great Fire . . . My favorite category breakers are Owen Barfield, and E.L. Grant Watson. Plus the outrageous Raymond Roussell, and the true ground-breaker, Alain Robbe-Grillet.

  3. I didn't see that comment Andrew. It reminds of Jonathan Raban talking about Humboldt's Gift and the gangster character Cantabile: "he's a kind of intellectual who's read no books". But I rarely buy books either. The last one was Montano's Malady.

    Edward, that name, Owen Barfield, rings a loud bell. He lived near here says wikipedia, so that might have something to do with it. Never heard of EL Grant Watson though. I read Mark Ford's biography of Roussell, which was fun. Not sure about his own work though.

    With Blanchot, I should have mentioned one of the books of essays instead. But there's something about WD ...

  4. Though I suspect where you let yourself down, Steve, is that you do still read books.

  5. Anonymous9:18 am

    Thoughtful literary criticism may not need to be long but while I love this blog it does on occasion seem opaque in its arguments.

    I don't think your opinions are opaque Steve, just that the form you've chosen to air them in - a blog on the internet - leads you to fall in with the convention of shorter, more pithy posts, which sometimes leaves me feeling that your opinions never get properly laid out.

    I have read some of your longer pieces elsewhere and indeed the earlier posts on this site were longer and attempted to set out an argument but more often than not, you refrain from doing that. It's a shame because I sense that you have well-marshalled arguments about you but you never seem willing to realy lay them out. Less is not more in your case.

    Mattie Taylor

  6. Yes, Mattie. I tend to agree with you. I often wonder what I mean myself.

    I have invested a lot of time and effort in writing longer posts and, as I said when I reached 500, these seemed to be the ones that fell on deaf ears, with the shorter, off-the-cuff posts getting more of a response.

    And I enjoy trying to spray doubt where assertions grow. A couple of sentences are often enough. They're not meant to be arguments.

    I'm also fed up with the usual turns of rhetoric one has to employ in critical prose - all the qualifications and information one must supply to lay out an argument. Maybe I'm just looking for another form that isn't there.

    BTW, I presume you're not the Mattie Taylor ...

  7. I suppose part of the problem of a blog is the satisfaction of posting is to be read & the only thing to go on in terms of reaction to a post is the responses. The impression of a scarcely answered or unanswered post is that it did fall on deaf ears, but then again, for all one knows, it may have been read with enthusiasm. It's a lot easier to fire off a snappy response to a shorter post, but this may be misleading in terms of the nature of the ears upon which the post fell.
    Though, Nietzsche's line about wanting to say in a line what someone else says in a book, or does not say in a book comes to mind. The cutting through the defences of a Reason enmeshed mind... as I lose interest in trying to find the correct form of the sentence conveying the desired truth...



Please email me at steve dot mitchelmore at gmail dot com.

Blog Archive


Contact steve dot mitchelmore at Powered by Blogger.