In Translation

The Literary Saloon points out the Oxford-Weidenfeld Translation Prize for works translated into English. The Saloon advocates such work, encouraging readers to broaden themselves with literature written outside the U.S., and has some of this prize’s shortlist under review. I think I’ll have to make room for Suite Francaise.

As an interesting parallel, The Saloon also quotes from Alberto Fuguet of Chile who says translated works can be pretty ugly, and for works translated from the original to another language then to Spanish? Forget it!

Annie Dillard on Rewriting

Publishers Weekly asks author Annie Dillard, “Isn’t it hard to kill off your own characters and writing?”

I’ve made the decision many times. Of course, I always save them in a file. And then I got to the part that was really interesting: shaving the book by the syllable. If there was a three-syllable word, I’d say, is there a two syllable word for this, etc. That was really fun.

Dillard has a new novel coming in June called, The Maytrees.

Clipping Reviews

Wouldn’t there be a market for a national literary supplement, something to go in USA Today maybe? Perhaps the NYTBR holds that place, and yet it is as disgraced its partner paper, is it not?

Grad student Kristen Keckler remembers seeking out book reviews in the Sunday paper, clipping them, and taking a folder of them to the bookstore to help her buy interesting or winning books. “While Amazon suggests books it ‘thinks’ I’ll like,” she says, “newspaper book reviews introduce me to books off my radar, books I wouldn’t encounter otherwise. Print book reviews also offer the authority, depth, and substance that online reviews often lack.”

I feel for her, honestly, and I do wonder about a national book review, The USABR, if you will; but regardless, I can readily imagine a country without newspapers.

A Bløt on the escutcheon

Those refreshments I thought I had to prepare for the Viking Age Society last week? Tonight’s the proper night. I just put together a concoction which will doubtless go down in song and story as one of the great tragedies of our time.

The thing is, May 17 is coming up. That’s Syttende Mai, Norwegian Constitution Day. Syttende Mai is the really big national holiday in Norway. Much bigger than their Independence Day, for historical reasons I won’t bore you with now (I’ll bore you with them later).

Anyway, last month when I got roped into providing refreshments, people made it known that they’d really like to have a bløtkake for the May meeting. The bløtkake (cream cake) is a wonderful Norwegian dessert made of sponge cake, cream and fruit.

I did some research and discovered that there doesn’t seem to be anyplace in this area (Tell it not in Gath!) that sells bløtkaker. I looked up recipes, and decided the real thing is beyond my baking skills.

So I’m faking it. No deception is involved. I’ll announce it as “Mock Bløtkake.”

I’m using a (store-bought) angel food cake and Cool Whip. The fruit, at least, is real (strawberries and blueberries). I assembled the thing and now have it keeping cool in a cooler. No doubt the cream will have slid down the sides by the time it’s time to serve it, and I’ll go home covered with shame.

In other news, my former agent, now defunct, e-mailed me the other day to ask if I was all set up with the new agent to whom he’d referred me a few months back.

I replied that I’d gotten no reply at all from the new agent.

He says I should e-mail them again, and then call them.

I think I can work up the nerve to send a second e-mail. The call, I think, is not on.

I’ve heard recordings of me on the phone. It’s not a euphonious phenomenon.

Which is odd, because I’m a good actor, and I can read copy for radio with the best of them. But when I get on the phone, talking to someone whose body language I can’t read, I go all paranoid defensive, and it shows in my voice.

I’ll keep you posted as further milestones are marked on the downward slide of my writing career.

Promising Documentary on American Colleges

What do you think about indoctrination? I’m all for it and plan to indoctrinate my children in my worldview for as long as I can. It will look like education the older they get, but as I endeavor to know the truth, I will pass it on to them.

American colleges don’t claim to follow my pattern for their students. They claim to promote freedom and the bold exchange of ideas. It’s about education for them, but in a new documentary, Evan Coyne Maloney shines light on what education means on campus. My guess is Indoctrinate U. will show how liberalism undermines its own principles. I don’t know when I will be able to see this film, but I’m sure it’s worth seeing.

Is Christianity Good for the World?

Authors Douglas Wilson (pro) and Christopher Hitchens (con) debate Christianity. Excerpt:

Hitchens: “the ‘Golden Rule’ is much older than any monotheism, and that no human society would have been possible or even thinkable without elementary solidarity (which also allows for self-interest) between its members.”

Wilson: “The Christian faith cannot credit itself for all that ‘Love your neighbor’ stuff, not to mention the Golden Rule, and the reason for this is that such moral precepts have been self-evident to everybody throughout history who wanted to have a stable society.”

No cohesion here

It’s a black dog day today, for me. Lovely spring outside, but it is winter (in Spitzbergen) in my soul. My blood is reducing to the consistency of a slurry, and a bar graph has appeared on my right thumbnail, along with the flashing message, “Low Signal.” So what I’ve got is a couple links for you tonight, and then I’ll curl up to watch an Ingmar Bergman film. Something in black and white. In the original Swedish. In slow motion.

Libertas blog put up this post the other day, featuring a photo of Fred Thompson and his wife.

I make so bold as to prognosticate that no guy Fred’s age with an arm accessory that looks like that is ever going to be elected president.

My friend “Mad Mike” Williamson, author of Freehold, showed me this site.

Now that’s my idea of aliens. They don’t come in peace. They aren’t here to teach us some mystical secret that will end all human conflict and repair the environment. They come with a technique for kicking cosmic butt. And watch for the picture of the Master. You’d just have to cast Arnold to play him in the movie, right?

Arnold Toynbee, that is.

Book Reviews, Creative Culture