Category Archives: books

Theory

“I think undergraduates should be kept away from Theory at all costs. I don’t think people should be allowed to even hear the word ‘theory’ until they’re doing graduate work—for the very good reason that it’s impossible to theorize about texts before one has deep familiarity with them (not that that stopped anyone in the 1980s when I was in grad school). Undergraduates should be taught to have a clean appreciation of what texts say and how they say them, and learn how to write intelligently and clearly about that. If undergraduates had to have a model of criticism it ought to be popular criticism rather than traditional academic criticism.”

Daniel Mendelsohn

All Bark and No Bite

It is remarkable, that persons who speculate the most boldly often conform with the most perfect quietude to the external regulations of society.

—Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter

(Via.)

Purple Rain

Albums reimagined as book covers.

Purple Rain

(Via.)

Gay Talese’s Daily Routine

When I am writing, each morning at around eight o’clock I am at my desk with a tray of muffins and a thermos filled with hot coffee at my side, and I sit working for four hours and then leave for a quick lunch at a coffee shop, followed perhaps by a set or two of tennis. By 4:00 p.m. I am back at my desk revising, discarding, or adding to what I had written earlier. At 8:00 I am contemplating the numbing predinner delight of a dry gin martini.

—Gay Talese, A Writer’s Life

Previous Gay Talese posts: Gay Talese’s Office, Dressed for a Dungeon, “I Don’t Use Notebooks. I Use Shirt Boards,” and The Species of Tailoring Is Threatened by the Outside World.

That’s Wonderful

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I like bars just after they open for the evening. When the air inside is still cool and clean and everything is shiny and the barkeep is giving himself that last look in the mirror to see if his tie is straight and his hair is smooth. I like the neat bottles on the bar back and the lovely shining glasses and the anticipation. I like to watch the man mix the first one of the evening and put it down on a crisp mat and put the little folded napkin beside it. I like to taste it slowly. The first quiet drink of the evening in a quiet bar – that’s wonderful.

—Raymond Chandler, The Long Goodbye

(Quote via Coudal. Image by Robert S. Donovan.)

Daily Schedules and Moral Resolutions

Benjamin Franklin, late 18th century:

bfschedule

Jay Gatsby (née James Gatz), early 20th century:

jgschedule

David Foster Wallace, late 20th century:

2–3 hours a day in writing
Up at 8–9
Only a couple late nights a week
Daily exercise
Minimum time spent teaching
2 nights/week spent with other friends
5 [recovery meetings a] week
Church

Acute

There was an opulent sunset. I was standing under an acacia in bloom and the words ‘shower of gold’ came into my mind, followed by a surge of feeling. I call it greed, but it was more a feeling of wanting a surplus in my life, wanting to have too much of something, for a change. I didn’t want to be a candidate anymore, not for a doctorate or anything else: I wanted to be at the next level, where things would come to me, accrue to me. It was acute.

—Norman Rush, Mating

(Via.)