Arcimboldo_Librarian_.jpgThe Bibliothecary Blog

a blog of literary endeavour                                       



Regency Flesh Eaters

In the Las Vegas Weekly, Scott Dickensheets interviews Seth Grahame-Smith, author/collaborator of the new Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.  I'm psyched to read this one (my wife rolls her eyes at me).  Sounds like lots of fun.  And I hope it gets made into a movie, as well (the film rights have been sold) . I'm getting tired of the traditional Austen adaptations.  I'd love to see that prick Wickham eaten alive by zombies.

I've also been reviewing for the Las Vegas Weekly this year.  Scott Dickensheets edits an excellent review section.  In January, I reviewed Ken Bruen's Once Were Cops and Jay Parini's Promised Land: Thirteen Books that Changed America.  Currently, I'm putting together a piece on Edgar Allan Poe for them (it's a little late, but hey, the Bicentennial lasts all year, right?).  I'll let you know when that one is published. 


More on Strunk and White

NPR reported on Strunk & White's anniversary the other day.  And Geoffrey Pullum must have been spitting mad: the report opens by referring to The Elements of Style as "the definitive writing guide." 


Strunk and Blight

Geoffrey Pullum is not amused:

April 16 is the 50th anniversary of the publication of a little book that is loved and admired throughout American academe. Celebrations, readings, and toasts are being held, and a commemorative edition has been released.

I won't be celebrating.

The Elements of Style does not deserve the enormous esteem in which it is held by American college graduates. Its advice ranges from limp platitudes to inconsistent nonsense. Its enormous influence has not improved American students' grasp of English grammar; it has significantly degraded it.

If you even think about getting any enjoyment out of Strunk and White's Elements of Style, Pullum is here to remind you that he has "spent too much of my scholarly life studying English grammar in a serious way," to ever let you be fooled by the "uninformed bossiness of Strunk and White."

Jeez, chill out, Geoff.  You sound like the geek who can't help but point out all the scientific mistakes in Star Wars.  "You know, when those TIE fighters explode, they wouldn't make any sound . . ."  Yadda yadda Yadda.  Shut up, I'm trying to enjoy the movie. 

Strunk and White's Elements isn't a serious book on linguistics and grammar. It's an advice book for writers. And it's fun. I've always enjoyed it's light, friendly touch. It's so cool, there's even a musical version.  I hope it's still read another fifty years from now. Maybe if Pullum hadn't spent "too much" time studying in such a "serious way," he wouldn't have turned into such a killjoy. 

Next you'll be telling me that the Cratchit family never could have cooked that enormous turkey Scrooge sent them on Christmas day.


The Bibliothecary blog is back

Wow, I haven't posted to the Bibliothecary blog since December.  Thought I would concentrate on the Ed & Edgar blog for the start of the Poe Bicentennial year, but I hadn't meant to neglect my other literary endeavours for this long. 

So all this week I'll be posting non-Poe stuff here.  Next week, I'll get back to posting on both blogs. 

If you're new to the Bibliothecary site, I maintain four blogs here, listed in the top left column of the page.  Mostly, I post on the Bibliothecary and Ed & Edgar blogs.  I post book reviews (some published, some not) in the Book Reviews.  And occasionally I post on the Quaker City, a blog devoted to Philadelphia Gothic writer George Lippard




Merry Christmas

Happy Holidays from The Bibliothecary!

Father Christmas and the lovely Mrs Christmas


BSRB No. 11: Double Shots

In today's Bibliothecary Sunday Review of Books you'll find a double shot of GMH, a double shot of RLS, and two from Weinman, as well as Seuss, Byron and a Wolkow.  Enjoy!

Two reviews of Paul Mariani's new biography of Gerard Manley Hopkins, one by Blake Bailey and another by Nick Owchar.

Sarah Weinman profiles Patricia Cornwell and adds some extras to the piece on her blog.

Michael Dirda writes about two Robert Louis Stevenson books you may not be familiar with, New Arabian Nights, vol 1 and The Wrong Box.

James Campbell reveals the beast within RLS' Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. What a great day: TWO pieces on RLS!

Erik Himmelsbach on a Dr Seuss book, The Lorax, that I've never really liked (too didactic = no fun), but my kids have always loved. 

Jay Parini reviews Benjamin Markovits' A Quiet Adjustment about the poet Lord Byron.

Richard Rayner on "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," the Kafkaesque story by F Scott Fitzgerald that is now a movie.

Rosie Blau on Brick Lit by Mark Crick, a home improvement book written int he style of various classic authors.

The London Times publishes a newly discovered whodunnit, "The Empty Chair," written by an "undisputed great of British literature" and turns it into a whowritit, but not revealing the author.  My first impression was PG Wodehouse.

And finally, my good buddy Daniel Wolkow, a great professor, writer and theatre director was profiled in the Roswell Daily Record. 


This Week's Books

Books acquired this week

What Burns Within and The Frailty of Flesh by Sandra Ruttan, both picked up at last Sunday's Noir at the Bar.

The Blackstone Key by Rose Melikan

Joker by Brian Azzarello and Lee Bermejo

From the Library (I love my library card!)

Education of a Felon, a memoir by Edward Bunker.  Bunker was a long-time felon, then a crime novelist and screenwriter.  He was Mr. Blue in Tarantino's Reservoir Dogs

No Beast So Fierce by Edward Bunker

Lincoln: The Biography of a Writer by Fred Kaplan

What I've been reading this week

Read the Azzarello Joker already.  Good stuff, but not as impressive as I'd hoped.  Still worth reading.

Proust Was a Neuroscientist by Jonah Lehrer.  Very enjoyable, as was the book seminar I attended led by Dr Robert Abel at the Abington Library on Wednesday evening.  I lead the Ruth R Abel Memorial Book Seminar six times a year at the library and Dr Abel (our patron's son) came in to lead an extra seminar on this book. 

I'm also reading Louis Bayard's The Black Tower.  I'll be attending the Crime Fiction Club Brunch tomorrow with Bayard at Les Bon Temps restaurant in Philly.  Come on out and meet him. 


The Saturday Idler, No. 9

How about an evening idling to some John Milton lectures.  Open Yale Coures features an entire Milton course of lectures by Professor John Rogers.  Twenty-four lectures!  You can listen to the audio or watch the video.  I am more excited than a idler should be.  I had no idea Yale offered this kind of thing for free online.  After watching a few Milton courses (in the comfort of my own study with pipe smoke filling the room), I'll be exploring further this Open Yale Courses site.  So fire up your own pipes and enjoy some Yale academia.


Baptist Milton

Another podcast of Milton, this one from an event held at the Andrew Fuller Center for Baptist Studies:

On November 13, 2008, the Andrew Fuller Center sponsored an event celebrating the life and thought of John Milton (1608-1674). The occassion was the quatercentenary of Milton’s birth. This event featured a brief historical introduction to Milton by Dr. Michael Haykin, followed by selected readings from Milton’s works by Dr. Jim Orrick.  The event concluded with a presentation on Milton’s classic work Paradise Lost by Dr. Timothy Paul Jones, interspersed with readings from Mr. Anthony Sauls.


Milton at the Morgan

At the website for the Morgan Library's John Milton exhibition you can see digital images of the handwritten manuscript of Paradise Lost and listen to Mark Rylance read from the invocation.