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August 1, 2007

CAAF: Lucky Jim, unlucky Ron, & other links

Alas, today finds me in a "I don't care if you have to cry and cut, but you better cry and cut" state of deadline, so I have little to offer but scattershot and brimstone.

A couple items that caught my fancy this morning:

• From Carol Blue's 1996 New Yorker profile of Salman Rushdie:

Rushdie excels at what might be termed Shakespeare trivia. Once, in the course of a literary word game, he was challenged to rename a Shakespeare play as if it had been written by Robert Ludlum. He was asked, first, to retitle "Hamlet" in the style of the author of "The Bourne Ultimatum" and "The Scarlatti Inheritance." With no advance notice and almost no hesitation, he said, "The Elsinore Vacillation." A palpable hit but, the other participants thought, sheer luck. Bet you can't do it twice. What about "Macbeth"? "The Dunsinane Deforestation." More meditated offerings included "The Rialto Forfeit," "The Capulet Infatuation," "The Kerchief Implication," and "The Solstice Entrancement."

Blue's piece is quoted in a Ludlum-rich entry over at Light Reading (like Jenny, I find Chrisopher Hitchens' variation of the Rushdie anecdote interesting).

• Ed Park gives a favorable review to Taylor Antrim's The Headmaster Ritual today at Salon. Trolling for other reviews of the novel, I came across one by Ron Charles for The Washington Post, which begins with the best lede I've read in a while:

The only good thing about the first year of teaching is that it can happen to you only once. Through a haze of cringing horror, I remember when I insisted that Ring Lardner was a fictional character, made fun of a deaf student, reduced a recently orphaned girl to tears, and, while swaying dramatically behind a wooden lectern, drove a long splinter through my pants and into my groin.

Other dashed thoughts and links:

• It's been widely linked to but if you haven't read it yet, Hilary Mantel's essay on Orpheus and Euridice is worth your attention.

• Two Amazon customers argue about what is "verifiable" in Swedenborg's Heaven and Hell.

• Speaking obliquely of Hitch and God (they're like Burton and Taylor, those two), the number of holds before me in the library queue for Christopher Hitchens' God Is Not Great: 16. Sixteen!

Posted August 1, 2007 1:31 PM

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