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now onto scored book #2: a collection of writing by william kennedy. at some point i guess i'll google to see if he's one of The kennedies, but for now i'm just reading around in it.

if i were disciplined i'd save the book reviews for last but i'm not. i'm really liking this because he reviews or comments on or interviews a lot of the writers i know of or have read myself. i like knowing what other readers think of books or authors that i'm familiar with.
 

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i'm reading (and laughing at) old glory, by jonathan raban. he's a middle-class british journalist/travel writer who bought a sixteen-foot boat and rode it down the mississippi in a sort of private pursuit of huck finn.

where had they learned this extraordinary style of speech? it must have been dreamed up in order to give waiting at table the impersonal professional status of gynaecology or the law, yet it succeeded in doing precisely the reverse. it made me feel like a customer at a brothel, all this false solicitude for my physical needs [...] i had barely started to poke at the lettuce when julie sprang on me with a smile that looked as if it had been purchased at a shop selling rubber masks.

"and are you having a good evening this evening, sir?"
"i'm having an . . . ab ... so...lutely...a...dor...able evening," i said, my mouth full of soggy tomato. at least i had managed to disconcert her. "oh," she said, "well that's neat," and fled.
 

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now laughing at jon ronson, so you've been publicly shamed. it's an interesting book and one i hope lots of people read, for fairly serious reasons. but here's the bit that made me chortle out loud:

"we don't give a fuck what your reason is," said brad. "we're going to resent you whether you explain it or not."
"that's not how conversations work," i said.
 

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i love richler. he was required reading when i was in 10th grade, and the apprenticeship of duddy kravitz was the first thing i ever wrote a serious, full-hearted paper about. about the only thing, too; until i was most of the way through university and got a sudden inspiration about 'the uses of space in madame bovary' 👅. i just didn't understand what a lit essay was meant to be for, most of the rest of the time.
I can appreciate this sentiment. I remember I had a flash of understanding what it was I was trying to do once in high school while analyzing a poem by e.e. cummings. It's a brilliant bit of analysis, and I still have it somewhere, even my English teacher father gave it high praise. But damned if I know now what that flash of understanding was that made it possible, because I couldn't do it again.
 
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