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13 october 2014

Steve Almond devotes a lot of attention to ethos in Against Football. I mean that in the rhetorical sense: he tells us who he is, what his history as a fan has meant to him, why we should listen to him on the subject. He's a Raiders fan, beyond die-hard, and he admits to spending way more time thinking about football than might be good for him. He's open, and intensely personal – as far as any rhetoric can be or seem, and in rhetoric, seeming is being. He charts an evolving dynamic between fascination and repulsion, beauty and horror, that continues to inform his views on American football. And he's written a brisk, thought-provoking book that is also literate: quoting Don DeLillo, Frederick Exley, and James Wright as often as any other authorities.     read more

12 october 2014

Mary Woods says that her book Beyond the Architect's Eye was provoked by a discrepancy between the content of a book on architectural images and its cover illustration. Even alternative histories of architectural imagery, Woods says, tend to clothe themselves in canonical photographs of masterworks. This put University of Pennsylvania Press on the spot to choose an appropriate cover picture for Beyond the Architect's Eye. Woods and her editors ended up choosing a photograph by Marion Post Wolcott, of a Depression-era juke joint in the farm country of South Florida. It fits her themes well.     read more

11 october 2014

When I was eleven, I saw a huge gull on top of a disused pile stuck into the sands of the Jersey Shore. It was so big that for years I was sure I had seen an albatross. According to Graham Barwell, I was almost certainly wrong about this. But then again, I was eleven.     read more

4 october 2014

Le fou de Bergerac, one of the last of the Maigret novels that Georges Simenon published in the incredibly prolific year-and-a-half between early 1931 and mid-1932, explodes into action, if not very coherently. On his way from Paris to the south of France, unable to sleep in a couchette (I know the feeling), Maigret wonders about the equally restless passenger in the berth above. Suddenly the insomniac above gets up, goes out into the corridor, and jumps from the train. Maigret jumps after him. This is one of these "seems like a good idea at the time moves," but it quickly seems bad, because the fleeing man shoots Maigret. Our hero passes out and wakes up in Bergerac.     read more