• Michael Gove digs up the obligatory article about David Lodge’s “Humiliation,” the game whereby each participant admits what they haven’t read. He confesses that he hadn’t read Stephen King until he read Lisey’s Story, which he describes as “more painful for me than being trapped alone in one of the pods of the London Eye with a flatulent Appalachian mountain man anxious to re-enact a scene from Deliverance above the flowing waters of the Thames.” I didn’t care for Lisey either, but I don’t know if it’s fair to castigate a writer, particularly a prolific one, for a misfire.
  • Fascinating details on George Bernard Shaw’s last will and testament.
  • Anne Petty: “A case in point is the third Harry Potter film directed by Alfonso Cuarón. In that film, the familiar setting for Hogwarts was replaced by an incredibly precipitous landscape, especially the approach and immediate surroundings of Hagrid’s hut, and the interior for the school we thought we knew so well emerged in highly disorienting camera angles with ”House of Usher” look and feel. The effect was so distracting that I found it hard to lose myself in the flow of events on the screen.” Just keep ordering those lima beans from the menu, Anne. I hear they go great with castor oil. Leave the appreciation (and concomitant commentary) of cultural innovation to those willing to swim in the deep end or, better yet, those who still have a pulse.
  • Christ, some madman has released The Match Game to DVD. And it’s a four-disc collection no doubt full of the grand sleaze I didn’t come to appreciate (although I’m not sure if “appreciate” is the word) until decades later.
  • Alas, the Christmas season can’t save indie bookstores.
  • More FBI documents on John Lennon have been released.
  • 2006: the coldest year in the last five years. (via Books Inq.)
  • Chasing Ray takes umbrage with the Underrated Writers Project, noting that YA authors were not present. I fully confess that I’m quite in the dark on YA titles, but certainly not adverse to them. If anybody has some good YA author recommendations, do list them here.
  • Call me a skeptic, but am I the only one who sees through the blatant marketing of offering John Hodgman’s book on iTunes for free? You’ll get no link from me. No download either. Of course, if it came from a conduit outside iTunes, that might be another story.
  • Who knew that Jason Boog was a closet boxer who liked to knock the wind out of unfairly matched opponents who criticized his work?
  • The sublime Mr. Parr regularly underestimates himself. To wit: this very helpful guide to New York indie bookstores, quietly updated. (via The Written Nerd)
  • William Frith: Victorian hypocrite?
  • “What gives the school the right to decide when children should know the truth about such a harmless matter when knowing the truth does take away that little bit of magic?” What gives this mother the assumption that her kid still won’t believe in Santa, despite all claims to the contrary? (via Bryan Appleyard)
  • Various notables offer thoughts on Woody Allen’s movies. (via Quiet Bubble)
  • Orhan Pamuk’s Nobel lecture.


  1. Of course offering Hodgman’s audio book for free is a marketing move: why would there be any other reason to do so? But why does that make a free version of an excellent author reading his own work something not worth downloading?

  2. I am pointing out your recommendation all over Gwenda! I guess I just wish there were a few included in the list – and as it has been pointed out over at Syntax, there were also no GN authors mentioned. So maybe there will be an even broader list next year. (Although as I said at my site, it’s still a fantastic list!)

  3. Do read _Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Country, etc_. It blew the top of my head off.

    yrs, B. Dagger Lee

  4. I agree. It’s definitely a marketing move, but so what? Some books and authors deserve the marketing, and I think Hodgman’s one of them. I guess I can understand not linking to it here, if you disapprove of marketing on general principle, or don’t want to be a indirect party to it, but why no download? What does not downloading the book do but suggest to the publisher that people don’t want the book?

    Oh, and Petty might as well have subtitled her essay “A Defense of Homogeneity”. Personally, I like the unique visions that different directors bring to the Potter books. And if the alternative to Cuarón was an unbroken line of Chris Columbus movies…well, no thanks.

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