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Posts Tagged ‘Oxford’

Town of Marvels

June 27, 2013 | by

Image via oxfordmississippi.com

Image via oxfordmississippi.com.

The boy and the girl were engaged, driving to California, where the girl wanted to make costumes for the movies. The boy planned to study Native American archaeology; he was just out of the Navy. They were the sort of young people I felt accurate calling beautiful—good-looking, around twenty years old, in love. But it was more than that. The fact is, it’s sustaining, getting older, to meet young adults who are hopeful and naïve, just enough.

They had a car, a dog, a vision. But they didn’t have a book. Leaving New England, they’d heard about a certain book on NPR, and the girl thought it sounded just right. The boy said they’d find a copy on the road somewhere. They drove for days, heading south from New Hampshire: Maryland, Virginia, Tennessee. No book. The girl pressed. The boy promised. Bookstores don’t exactly dot the American highway in the grand manner of Sbarros. Finally, driving through Mississippi, seeing a sign for Oxford, the boy suggested they stop, stretch their legs, find the damn book. Oxford was a university town, there had to be a bookstore somewhere.

They parked in the tiny main square. A bookstore stood on the corner under a sign for Fortune’s Famous Ice Cream. The girl walked the dog, the boy went inside. He asked, Do you have this book?

We do, the clerk said. And there it was, right next to the register, a stack of them. The clerk said, Do you want a signed copy?

I guess so, the boy said.

Wait, but you do know the author was here tonight, right? He just did a reading, the clerk said after a moment. It was about seven P.M., the verge of dusk. The boy was confused. Suddenly, the clerk was pointing out the window, saying, Wait, that’s him going by right there.

No one really knows the value of book tours. Whether or not they’re good ideas, or if they improve book sales. I happen to think the author is the last person you’d want to talk to about a book; they hate it by that point, they’ve already moved on to a new lover. Besides, the author never knows what the book is about anyway. Read More »

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Arthurian Legend, Literary Restaurants

October 10, 2012 | by

  • Oxford’s Bodleian Library has put more than three hundred thousand rare books online.
  • J.R.R. Tolkien’s previously unseen two-hundred-page Arthurian epic poem, The Fall of Arthur, will be released next May. His son has acted as editor.
  • As I Chipotle Dying: the #literaryrestaurants hash tag sweeps Twitter.
  • Lena Dunham’s purported $3.5 million sale prompts a list of outrageous book deals.
  • Lolita, then, is undeniably news in the world of books. Unfortunately, it is bad news. There are two equally serious reasons why it isn’t worth any adult reader’s attention. The first is that it is dull, dull, dull in a pretentious, florid and archly fatuous fashion. The second is that it is repulsive.” The New York Times’s pan: just one of the bad reviews received by classics.

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    #Undateable; Toolkit Reading

    August 4, 2011 | by

    Inspired by the new hashtag sensation, who are your top “undateable” literary characters (and your top “dateable”)? —Rhonda

    Heathcliff is definitely up there. So is Cathy. (My favorite entry is “Detective, possibly with Asperger Syndrome, opium addict, involved in bromance with roomie.”) At the risk of double-dipping, this week I’d award the palm to Harriet, narrator and heroine of the aforementioned After Claude:

    “I’m not a charlady. I’m a sensuous woman. Please, Claude, please. I’m not asking you to take me to rapturous heights. Your feeble efforts mean more to me than all your mountain goats rolled into one. Remember how it was for us at the beginning, Claude? Gigantic. You were a tidal wave. All right. Maybe it’s not in you to maintain that hectic pace. I don’t care. I’m not like other women. I’m not asking for heaven, Claude, I’m just asking to be held.”
    When the echo of my shrill voice died out, there was a resounding silence left in the room, as if a monster rock-and-roll concert had ended on one abrupt note.
    “Harriet, don’t cry.”
    “Why not? After all we’ve meant to each other, suddenly you’re horrified by my touch.”
    Claude, completely dressed, took my hand and held it tightly. “I’m sorry if I’ve given you that impression, Harriet, because it’s not correct. I had no right to blame the breakup on you.”
    “There doesn’t have to be a breakup. I don’t want to hear about breakups,” I wailed.
    “You’re a beautiful girl, an intelligent girl, a sensitive girl. It’s just that we’re not suited.”
    “Are you determined to spend your life with a stupid slut?”
    Claude sighed. “I need to be alone.”
    “What is this suicidal despair? So you haven’t been King Farouk for a couple of weeks. It’s not such a tragedy.”

    The most dateable woman—the most dateable character—I can think of is Viola in Twelfth Night, but my eleven-year-old self would have killed to have a Coke with Jolenta, of The Book of the New Sun.

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