main: June 2010 Archives

My review of Dosse's dual bio of Deleuze & Guattari appears in the new issue of Bookforum but isn't available online. But this piece on a new volume on Edward Said went up the other day at The Barnes and Noble Review.

Meanwhile, this one on Hitch-22 * went up just this morning at The National, which also ran my review of Sloterdijk's Rage and Time not long ago.

* In the Hitchens piece, it says that Hitchens was attending Cambridge at an age when Orwell was working as a policeman in Burma. This is a bit off. For while Hitchens did attend the Leys School at Cambridge (this is the subject of one chapter of the book) by the age that Orwell was in Burma, he was at Oxford. I have asked that this be corrected. In any case, the basic point isn't affected by this mistake.

This week's column is about the death last month, of Martin Gardner. The title, "Beyond the Fields We Know," is a phrase from Lord Dunsany that Gardner would draw on from time to time. (It's easy to imagine some sad little pedant reading him and saying, "He should stick to his field of knowledge, but I can't seem to figure out what that is.")

I had wanted to do something in honor of Gardner sooner than this week, but dealing with Book Expo America -- here and here -- came first.

Although I didn't say so in the column, this BEA was made somewhat more interesting by virtue of spending part of it doing a bit of mentoring to The New Inquiry crew, who were attending for the first time. It was good to be able to see the event through their eyes.

A number of people at BEA expressed their appreciation for my column about the New Press and how it is handling its new book by Michael Bellisles. I went around the New Press booth but my encounter with the one person there was pretty forgetable.

Unfortunately, someone else reported that the press was "very happy" about my column, on the grounds that it had created "attention" for a "controversial author." This left me feeling almost physically ill for a couple of hours. Michael Bellisles is not a "controversial" historian. He is a disgraced one. The press has elected to promote him in a dishonest fashion, and treating that column as some kind of publicity boon is evidence of profound meretriciousness.

Once in a while a familiar expression will suddenly feel deeply meaningful. Just so, in this case, with "beneath contempt."
June 11, 2010 9:55 AM | | Comments (4)

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