Thursday, 9 August 2007

"For pieces of silver I dressed her sweet confidences in the frills of folly and made them dance in the marketplace."
(Fate 4)

H ere's a final look at the black and white version of Fate of the Artist. My adaptation of the O. Henry story, The Confessions of a Humorist (Ainslee's magazine, Oct 1903), that concludes the book was in place in the original submission.

The wife of my bosom likes to quote lines from that story. If she catches me listening intently to somebody telling me an anecdote she'll say: "Watch out, he's a literary Judas. He'll kiss you and betray you." The world remembers O.Henry for the twist endings to his short stories. It tends to forget how polished and memorable his prose was. I became particularly fond of the author during the early days of my Bacchus when I named a story "The Rubaiyat of a cheap plonk', a title far too close in form to Henry's 'The Rubaiyat of a scotch highball'. The similarity ended there, but I was smitten by the man's way of putting things:

This document is intended to strike somewhere between a temperance lecture and the 'Bartender's Guide." Relative to the latter, drink shall swell the theme and be set forth in abundance. Agreeably to the former, not an elbow shall be crooked.
Bob Babbit was "off the stuff." Which means- as you will discover by referring to the unabridged dictionary of Bohemia- that he had "cut out the booze," that he was "on the water wagon." The reason for Bob's sudden attitude of hostility toward the "demon rum"- as the white ribboners miscall whiskey (see the "Bartender's Guide") should be of interest to reformers and saloon keepers.
(NY World, Feb 25 1906)

Naturally I had to own a 'complete' O. Henry, with all the details about where each and every story was published. That's it up there sporting the well known John Sloan 1912 painting of McSorley's bar in NY, which if I remember correctly still looks a lot like the painting. (Chris Staros and Judith Hansen perhaps had their minds more on practical matters than I did that day) (or any day for that matter).
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I awoke the smorning with the hint of a bad case of eyestrain building up, and then I read this telling me that we will never have time to read all the books we want to read:
Read the introduction to How To Read a Novel: A User's Guide by John Sutherland-August 07-Guardian.
I would wager that, for English Language readers, 2006-7 was also the richest-ever year for fiction. And, for a certainty, 2008 will be even richer. This is not merely a function of ever more new novels as the fact that - unlike other products - old novels do not disappear once consumed. Like old soldiers, they never fade away. The must-read archive gets bigger and bigger. Bestseller lists used to contain ten titles. Now it's up to a hundred. It's like a mountain which grows faster than any reader can climb. How to be well-read in the 21st century? Can one be well-read?
As the sad witness of lottery winners testifies, vast wealth seldom makes life easier. We are, as regards the range, quality, and sheer number of novels available to us in 2007, better off than all generations before us. "Embarrassment" is inadequate to describe the dilemmas this unprecedented richness poses. It is not (as it was in my youth) disposable cash which defines the dilemma as available time. We live longer than they did but even if we lasted as long as Swift's Struldbrugs the reader's eye would never catch up with the writer's hand.

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'Watchmen' Cast's Watchwoman Revealed: Carla Gugino To Play Silk Spectre: Zack Snyder's adaptation of classic graphic novel begins filming in the fall for March release.-Aug 8
Gugino will play Sally during all her varying ages throughout the film, as Snyder has indicated in the past that he will be using "aging" and "de-aging" technology rather than casting different actors.
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Interesting story for people who collect stuff
(thanks, dan)

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2 Comments:

Blogger drjon said...

I don't know if this is your kick or not, but Borders in the City have 5 or 6 copies of Ascending Peculiarity: Edward Gorey on Edward Gorey on one of the Bargain Tables on the top level of the store for $10 each.

9 August 2007 9:55:00 am GMT-5  
Anonymous tita said...

Talk about being selective ("so many novels, so little time"), what kind of novels do you tend to avoid?

9 August 2007 11:06:00 am GMT-5  

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