MLK round-up

  • The print origins of Sweeney Todd lie in The String of Pearls: A Romance. It was an 18-part serialization first published in 1846 in one of the period's "penny bloods," its author unknown. Louise Welsh examines the historical evidence to answer the question: Was there ever a real razor-wielder behind the slasher legend?
  • Tired of self-pitying memoirs? Of tales of childhood degradation and deprivation? Julie Burchill in the Guardian blasts them all, and has some left-over nitro for anti-Americanism from the chi-chi French.
  • Cut the hooptedoodle: Elmore Leonard's rules of writing.
  • Philip Glass tells how it was living for a year with Moondog, the late eccentric composer-musician who stood on a New York street corner dressed as a Viking. His music can be an amazingly beautiful mix of jazz, classical music, minimalism and Frank Zappa-ish quirk, but he apparently wasn't the easiest houseguest:

    Though he spent a year with us, I gave him lots of privacy. Before he moved to Germany, it did become uncomfortable at times. It seemed that he felt entitled to grab hold of any woman he could. He told me: "I can't be prosecuted for rape because they can't do that to blind people." Another uncomfortable thing about living with Moondog was that he didn't pick up after himself, or know how or bother to throw out the trash, so I spent some time cleaning up the fast food he brought to his room.

    It's from the preface for the official biography, Moondog: The Viking of Sixth Avenue by Robert Scotto, which includes a 28-track CD.

  • In his Sunday sermon in The Dallas Morning News, Monsignor Rod Dreher says independents and Christian conservatives (and Andrew Sulllivan, although the good monsignor never names him) attracted to candidate Barack Obama are seriously mistaken. Obama's Christian faith seems to be of the "social" and "liberal" variety, not the more fearful and punitive one the monsignor prefers. What's worse, Obama is guilty by second-hand association with Black Muslims: Obama's pastor likes Louis Farakhan.
    Few people believe that GOP presidential candidate Ron Paul believes the racist, anti-Semitic things published anonymously in his newsletter. The problem was that Mr. Paul was not sufficiently alarmed by the poison-pen dispatches to distance himself from the creeps writing them. If Mr. Paul takes hits for the company he keeps, shouldn't Mr. Obama?

    Consider the holes in that dubious analogy for a moment. Obama not only denounced the Farakhan connection, he didn't oversee, publish and disseminate his pastor's ideas, with his name on them and in support of his own electoral prospects. And unlike Paul, he didn't take more than a decade to denounce them, after they became public embarrasments and were no longer politically useful.

    Inconveniently for the good monsignor, online conservatives such as Johan Wennstrom, research fellow of London's Institute of Economic Affairs, have indeed been intelligently articulating just why American and European conservatives should hail an Obama presidency:

    Obama's hopeful non-partisan tone appeals to those conservatives who have been disillusioned by the polarising George W Bush presidency. After eight years with a leadership that has deepened the political divide in America, they long for a president capable of rising above the standard ideological fray....

    The attraction of Obama to Sullivan and other conservatives is not surprising. In fact, their support is consistent with the constructive wing of the philosophy of conservatism. Those stuck in the world of divisional politics can be baffled by this. How, they ask, can people who admire Reagan and Thatcher also have time for Obama?

    Aside from his positive message of unity, there are a number of things concerning Obama which appeal to conservatives, not least his appreciative attitude towards traditions and his understanding of the importance of learning from history.

  • January 21, 2008 7:35 AM |



    Best of the Vault


    Pat Barker, Frankenstein, Cass Sunstein on the internet, Samuel Johnson, Thrillers, Denis Johnson, Alan Furst, Caryl Phillips, Richard Flanagan, George Saunders, Michael Harvey, Larry McMurtry, Harry Potter and more ...


    Big D between the sheets -- Dallas in fiction


    Reviewing the state of reviewing


    9/11 as a novel: Why?


    How can critics say the things they do? And why does anyone pay attention? It's the issue of authority.

    The disappearing book pages:  

    Papers are cutting book coverage for little reason

    Thrillers and Lists:  

    Noir favorites, who makes the cut and why



    About this Entry

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