A Quick Roundup

  • Solzhenitsyn has kicked the bucket, traveling to that great gulag in the sky. That is, if you believe in that stuff. I’ll give him “One Day” and Cancer Ward to some extent, but I never quite took to Archipelago. Thought Gulag was turgid stuff that preached to the converted. (Explain yourself at length! Well, maybe one day.) Then again, I’m one of those odd readers who looks to the text, rather than an author’s miserable experience, for merit. The biggest upset here is that nobody thought to book Solzhenitsyn and Elie Wiesel for some demented pay-per-view boxing match.
  • Warren Ellis on the reality of SF magazines. Much of this, I suspect, has to do with the graying of science fiction fans. Or rather the graying of austere acolytes hostile to emerging voices and pining for hard science fiction the way that the rest of us look for a grand cross between Kierkegaard and a roller coaster. Don’t worry. The dour codgers will die off eventually, their unsmiling lips tarnished with talcum and a mortician’s assiduous cover. Unfortunately, Ellis is right. There are few ebullient pubs that will pick up the slack in print. Maybe if Gordon Van Gelder submits to disemvoweling, there might be some hope for tomorrow’s speculative Coovers, if only by accident.
  • Nicholson Baker has written a delightful essay about obsession with the OED!
  • What the hell? Ed’s writing something positive about the New York Times? Yes indeed. And I should also point out that I absolutely loved the theme for Sunday’s crossword too! I mean, that kind of wordplay takes an adept hand, depth and wit, if I do say so myself.
  • Aside from John Leonard’s pardon in Harper’s, it appears that Matthew Price is one of the few critics to get Thirlwell.
  • And Michael Martone has some damn interesting thoughts on blogs.

One Comment

  1. Yeah, Gulag is only really interesting if you really want to read about it. I guess I was since I read all three volumes. At that time I also read 1984. Twice. It’s a wonder I’m still alive. And though Solzhenitsyn was influential in me becoming a Russian major I don’t quite understand how “Gulag” became popular in the West, since it’s a combination of “Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire” and “Politics of the English Language,” and so it’s specifically targeted at a Russian audience, and challenging their false memories, and showing how he believed the Communists destroyed the Russian language.

    And I agree with you that it’s more important that he’s judged as a writer and not for his prison camp experiences. After all, he’s not the only writer to live in the camps or to emerge from them. Unfortunately, it was difficult for him to even escape those times. And for his merits as a writer, I’d recommend reading his short fiction and prose poems.

    Matthew is my brother’s name, but he’s off at summer camp.

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