July 21st would have been Ernest Hemingway’s 121st birthday. I am a fan of his writing, though many Women’s Studies’ majors have told me I oughtn’t be. No, I don’t like the bullfighting and hunting scenes in his stories, but I love his view of life, the need for courage and acceptance, his understanding of fear and the vicissitudes of love, and I do so appreciate his unpretentious writing. And, of course, I love his love of Paris and his worship of cats. I found three links about him that are worth your time, dear readers: his Nobel Prize acceptance speech; a letter of advice he wrote to Scott Fitzgerald (wence came the title of this blog post) – a rather macho letter, but so endearing, so preferable to the usual weasel words we get from others; and his list of essential reading for aspiring writers. Sorry to say I have still not read all of his recommended books, but I am getting there.
A lengthy New York Times article today about Wallace Stegner. I absolutely loved Angle of Repose and Crossing to Safety, and reading this piece has made me want to read more of his work. I must have a bit of my prairie forebears in me, after all. (I do like wide open spaces!)
How much do I love this piece?
So. Much. And I fully agree with Stoppard’s statement that,
If it were not for the terrors surrounding us, this is the life I’ve always wanted – social distancing without social disapproval.
Sad anniversary. Easy to see why this man so appealed to people; easy to see why, as my parents told me, not only were they crying on November 22nd, 1963, but they saw more people crying in the streets that day than there had been on VE Day.
One of the things Significant Other and I like to listen to when we drive somewhere is the Diary of Samuel Pepys, read by Kenneth Branagh. It’s captivating, edifying, vivid, funny and sad. Pepys wrote a lot about his meals – mostly mutton, it seems, and tankards of liquor – and so I found this discovery of one of his silver plates quite fascinating. Coincidentally, Jeff Jacoby wrote a column just last week about anti-Semitism, and opened it by quoting Pepys’s observations on his 1663 visit to a London synagogue.
I’ve long been a fan of the Australian critic and writer Clive James and was extremely saddened to learn that he is ill. But here’s an uplifting conversation — of sorts — between James and Mary Beard (another writer and critic I admire).
Today is Bloomsday, a fact which got me to thinking about my New Year’s Resolutions a few years (3, maybe?) back: one of them was to read “Ulysses.” I did indeed read it, and I’m glad I did. It is brilliant, and I can see why it caused such a ruckus when first published. That said, it is also tedious in parts and a tad earthy for my tastes. So for those of you who haven’t read it but would like to appear highbrow enough to have done so, I give you this wonderful abridged version courtesy of YouTube and some guy with what sounds to me like a German accent.
This fine article sums up my feelings about the Nobel selection, as well as my thoughts about Dario Fo. The interesting thing is, I strongly suspect the Nobel Committee either did not know the song “Neighborhood Bully,” or did not understand it, as I cannot believe they would award someone so strongly supportive of Israel. Rather just that they did (likely in spite of themselves).
I was thinking about pigeons and it brought to mind this great quote from a book I read a few years back. The book is Masks in a Pageant — and I highly recommend it — by the great American journalist William Allen White. The quote follows:
The thrush, the oriole, the bird of paradise, are esteemed by society, while the unlovely hell-diver is despised. Nature has no favorites. All her creatures are equally beloved; in God’s kingdom all the subjects are of royal blood. The earthworm is as useful as the lion; the amoeba has full fellowship with man.