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Posts Tagged ‘James Joyce’

Rahm Emanuel to Jump in Lake If Kids Read, and Other News

July 8, 2013 | by

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  • “This ‘immortal’ pilferer of other men’s stories and ideas, with his monstrous rhetorical fustian, his unbearable platitudes, his pretentious reduction of the subtlest problems of life to commonplaces against which a Polytechnic debating club would revolt, his incredible unsuggestiveness, his sententious combination of ready reflection with complete intellectual sterility, and his consequent incapacity for getting out of the depth of even the most ignorant audience, except when he solemnly says something so transcendentally platitudinous that his more humble-minded hearers cannot bring themselves to believe that so great a man really meant to talk like their grandmothers.” And other literary takedowns.
  • Playing on children’s eternal desire to see authority figures drenched in cold water, Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel and former Chicago Bear Israel Idonije have sworn to jump in wintry Lake Michigan if local kids read two million books this summer.
  • Think the fun is over now that you’re back at work? Not so fast: here’s an idioms and formulaic language quiz!
  • Plus: (more) dirty jokes from Shakespeare.
  • When James Joyce, Jeanette Winterson, and Salman Rushdie wrote for children.
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    Where’s Leo?

    June 17, 2013 | by

    ww600

    Two years ago yesterday I followed a man dressed in black into a small pharmacy in Dublin. Bars of yellow soap covered the shop’s dark wooden shelves and countertops. I watched from across the shop as the man conversed loudly with the pharmacist, gesticulating as he spoke. He ordered a specific type of lotion. He then grabbed a bar of soap, indicating that he’d return later to pay for the soap and lotion. I lifted a bar to my nose and sniffed: lemon. The man waved goodbye to the pharmacist and left. I put down the soap and followed him out.

    While I don’t usually stalk errand-running strangers in foreign cities, this was an exception: I was participating in Bloomsday, the annual reenactment of James Joyce’s Ulysses, on the anniversary of day the novel takes place, June 16, 1904. The man clad in black was an actor portraying protagonist Leopold Bloom as he moves through his day in real time, in the actual spots around Dublin where Joyce set his narrative. I was part of a spectator’s group of about thirty people—some dressed in period garb, including an unwitting infant in a lace collar and antique stroller—that trailed Bloom through the streets of Dublin throughout the day. We visited a home on Eccles Street that could have been Bloom’s. The pharmacy was Sweny’s, a Dublin establishment still selling the same lemon-scented soap that Joyce first made famous in 1922. Read More »

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    Undiscovered Joyce Title? And Other News

    June 17, 2013 | by

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  • An Irish press is publishing a collection of ten short pieces by James Joyce, calling it “almost certainly the last undiscovered title” by the author. But did Joyce want them published at all? Scholars choose sides.
  • Speaking of cashing in, “for a day celebrating a book many admit to never having read, Bloomsday is a brilliant piece of marketing.”
  • Harvard’s Graduate School of Design has started something nifty called the Library Test Kitchen, dedicated to preserving libraries with new design concepts. Student designs are displayed in—wait for it—a “Labrary.”
  • After bedbugs were detected in the environs of the Chappaqua Library, a bedbug-sniffing dog was provided to case books from a recent library sale. “If it can happen here, it can happen anywhere,” declared one mom (whose new set of Harry Potter was cleared by the beagle).
  • Without further ado: the trailer for Salinger.
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    Challenges, and Other News

    April 17, 2013 | by

    richmarchplowman

  • “At times of tragedy, the mind goes to certain favored zones; mine goes automatically to poetry.” Dan Chiasson offers the tested comforts of William Langland.
  • The Los Angeles Times brings us a nifty map of literary LA.
  • The most frequently challenged library book of 2012? Captain Underpants.
  • Bells, whistles, and animation: the so-called next generation of e-books.
  • Flann O’Brien’s “alleged role as author of an allegedly fake interview with John Stanislaus Joyce, father of James Joyce.”
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    Blue Eyes in Watertown

    March 14, 2013 | by

    61lxyA2cN6L._SY300_No one under the age of fifty really listens to Frank Sinatra anymore. Like anything else, there may be exceptions to this fact, but overall it’s true. Frank Sinatra is a legendary artist whose work will always be enjoyed and referred to. However, his era of direct relevancy is obviously long gone, and his era of anecdotal relevancy is starting to fade.

    We associate Frank Sinatra with a bygone era of America, a time of guys and dolls, a time when people would swing and dance and when the lounge singer was king. Sinatra’s unique talent was maintaining this vision even as it eroded away over time—to make you feel old-fashioned feelings in a modern era. Sinatra’s heyday was from the late forties to the late fifties, yet he recorded “New York, New York” in 1977.  And “My Way” makes you feel like a proud man looking over the skyline of post–World War II Manhattan, even in 2013.

    Still, Sinatra’s most overlooked achievement is perhaps the one album he made that did not feel as though it was evoking the era he loved or knew the most. In 1969, the same year that Frank Sinatra recorded “My Way,” he released an album called Watertown. Chances are, even some of the biggest Sinatra fans—like my grandparents and great aunts and uncles—have forgotten about Watertown. But Watertown is Frank Sinatra’s best album and his most enduring contribution to American culture. Read More »

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    House of Poesy: At the Grolier Poetry Book Shop

    February 26, 2013 | by

    2344815284_eef84104c5The Grolier Poetry Book Shop in Cambridge, Massachusetts, is both a misnomer and an anomaly. It has long dedicated itself to the task of promoting the reading and writing of poetry and has, for eighty-five years, served as a niche for poets the world over. While its reputation has bloomed over the years, thanks largely to word-of-mouth praise, it has never fared well financially, partly due to competition from larger stores and the Internet, partly because poetry has never been popular with the masses, and partly because its founder seems to have done everything in his power to ensure that his store not be turned into a business.

    Located on Plympton Street in Harvard Square, the Grolier occupies just 404 square feet of space and is dwarfed by the neighboring Harvard Book Store. A white square sign with meticulous black lettering juts out near the top of the store entrance. The font size decreases from top to bottom, much like on an eye exam chart, and one can just make out, at the very top, a finely done illustration of three cats (or is it the same cat?) dozing, grooming, and turning their backs on the viewer.

    Upon ascending a small flight of steps, one is greeted by the sight of an abundance of colorful spines—approximately fifteen thousand—neatly arranged against nearly every flat surface of the shop. These volumes are neatly balkanized into several categories, including anthologies, used, African-American, early English, Irish, Russian, Chinese, Iranian, Indian, Latin, classical Greek, Japanese, Korean, East European, Spanish, and Catalan.

    Above the towering shelves are approximately seventy black and white photos (many courtesy of the photographer Elsa Dorfman) of poets and other members of the literati for whom the Grolier has served as a meeting place for well over half a century. Among the Grolier’s most illustrious visitors, most of whom are smiling or gazing sagely and serenely ahead in the photos, are T. S. Eliot, Robert Lowell, Elizabeth Bishop, e. e. cummings, Marianne Moore, James Tate, Donald Hall, and Helen Vendler.

    Off to one side at the front of the store sits a lean shelf of chapbooks and a donation jar; a small note says that the chapbooks have been generously donated by the author and that monetary contributions to the shop would be greatly appreciated. Directly across this bookcase is the cash register, propped up on a desk and flanked by sundry items, including bookmarks, promotional literature, pamphlets, business cards, and commemorative pens. On the wall right adjacent to the register hangs a certificate from Boston Magazine honoring the Grolier as the best poetry store of 1994. Read More »

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