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Just finished Adam Gopnik's "From Paris to the Moon" after having set it aside for several months. At first, I was very disappointed in the book, but then after revisiting it, I realized that I had gone in with the wrong set of expectations. He turns a phrase about as well as any writer around today. Several times I took note of some sentence constructions that were particularly stylish and pointedly metaphorical. Its a very tender and warm story, and in many ways a love letter to his family. While it certainly lives up to the billing as an examination of the differences bewteen an American city (New York) and a French one (Paris), it does so in the context of a man deeply in love with his wife and child. This absence of the cold critical perspective keeps Gopnik from seeming judgmental or perpetuating stereotypes. I was sorry when it was over.


Several of the pieces in Paris to the Moon appeared earlier as Gopnik's monthly Letters from Paris to The New Yorker. His use of adjectives to describe the weather, the neighborhood, etc impressed me.


In a way, I think I enjoyed them more as a serial, rather than assembled in a package, nicely gathered.



Related question: Are Janet Flanner's 1930s letters to The New Yorker from Paris in print anywhere?

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Just finished Ask the Dust by John Fante, a slim novel which didn't live up to the extravagant praise I've heard from Bukowski fans. Henry Miller and Hubert Selby did this kind of thing much better.

I'm currently reading Middlesex, has anyone else read it? I remember it being discussed elsewhere and people were criticizing the fact that it won the pulitzer prize. Maybe not Pulitzer Prize worthy

Several of the pieces in Paris to the Moon appeared earlier as Gopnik's monthly Letters from Paris to The New Yorker. His use of adjectives to describe the weather, the neighborhood, etc impressed me

I again reinvented book-reading during my brief holiday in Madeira :)


My thoughtful daughters bought me The Millionaires by Brad Meltzer. Never heard of it or him. The blurb "this is about as Grisham as you can get without having his name on the cover" reeks of a significant lack of self-confidence by the publishers, but was exactly accurate. Good, escapist read.


They also bought me "Truth Game" by Douglas Hurd. Yes, the very same ex-Foreign Secretary and Pompous Ass. The book is set in the 1980s, but it's written just like a 1930s novelette. Names like Francis Trennion (FO civil servant) and Johnny Revani (an Arab cad) abound. The characters behave and speak just like Dougie himself, complete with plum in mouth. Awful. I cannot believe he has had 12 books published, unless he pays for them himself.


Finally, I found the gem hidden in the hotel library. "Headlong" by Michael Frayn was superb. It's written in Frayn's easy humour, but it turns into an art thriller. Much of the book reads like a scholarly dissertation on the life and times of Pieter Bruegel, but written in an entirely intelligible and fascinating manner. I have become obsessed with Bruegel now, and I intend to start doing some research of my own. For someone like me, who is entirely lacking any knowledge of understanding of art, that ranks as astonishing, but this book has simply inspired me.


And it's a helluva good story (apart from the inevitable denouement) written elegantly and entertainingly.


"Headlong" was nominated for the 1999 Booker Prize, and that fact has awakened my respect for that institution, which I have hitherto (obviously wrongly)assumed ranked alongside the Turner..

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Michael Frayn's daughter was one of the most beautiful women I ever met.

I may've mentioned before. I know where Frayn's daughters got their beauty. I was at university with Frayn's first wife (I was in my 20's, Gill was in her 40's, I'd guess). She was very beautiful.


In the early 80s, I visited their home in Blackheath, a modern affair. It looked pretty normal inside, but Gill told us that they'd experimented having no internal doors whatsoever. That lasted a few weeks during which time family members were at each other's throats. So they got an architect to put back the doors. I think the Frayns split up soon afterwards.

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Like a lot of other people, I suppose, I'm reading Richard Clarke's Against All Enemies. The ad hominem attacks really miss the mark. The guy actually has something to say. You may not agree with him, but one point he makes is that if you want to defeat terrorism, you go after terrorists. I find it hard to disagree. Sadly, he also documents incredible infighting among the FBI, CIA, DOD, etc. All to our detriment. And so it goes.

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I found his appearance on Meet The Press rather persuasive; someone obviously very intelligent, well-prepared and on top of his subject rather stands out from the usual parade of political and journalistic hacks.


But I'm reading the poetry of Walter Savage Landor. Some of the brief epigrams are rather good; the longer stuff lies dead on the page.

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Philip Larkin, The Less Deceived. Conrad, "Falk". Shanar: dedication ritual of a Buryat shaman in Siberia by Virlana Tkacz with photographs by Alexander Khantaev.


Also, just picked up a used copy of Terrible Honesty, Ann Douglas's cultural history of Manhattan in the 1920s for seven bucks.

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