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John Holbo - Editor
Scott Eric Kaufman - Editor
Aaron Bady
Adam Roberts
Amardeep Singh
Andrew Seal
Bill Benzon
Daniel Green
Jonathan Goodwin
Joseph Kugelmass
Lawrence LaRiviere White
Marc Bousquet
Matt Greenfield
Miriam Burstein
Ray Davis
Rohan Maitzen
Sean McCann
Guest Authors

Laura Carroll
Mark Bauerlein
Miriam Jones

Past Valve Book Events

cover of the book Theory's Empire

Event Archive

cover of the book The Literary Wittgenstein

Event Archive

cover of the book Graphs, Maps, Trees

Event Archive

cover of the book How Novels Think

Event Archive

cover of the book The Trouble With Diversity

Event Archive

cover of the book What's Liberal About the Liberal Arts?

Event Archive

cover of the book The Novel of Purpose

Event Archive

The Valve - Closed For Renovation

Happy Trails to You

What’s an Encyclopedia These Days?

Encyclopedia Britannica to Shut Down Print Operations

Intimate Enemies: What’s Opera, Doc?

Alphonso Lingis talks of various things, cameras and photos among them

Feynmann, John von Neumann, and Mental Models

Support Michael Sporn’s Film about Edgar Allen Poe

Philosophy, Ontics or Toothpaste for the Mind

Nazi Rules for Regulating Funk ‘n Freedom

The Early History of Modern Computing: A Brief Chronology

Computing Encounters Being, an Addendum

On the Origin of Objects (towards a philosophy of computation)

Symposium on Graeber’s Debt

The Nightmare of Digital Film Preservation

Richard Petti on Occupy Wall Street: America HAS a Ruling Class

Bill Benzon on Whatwhatwhatwhatwhatwhatwhat?

Nick J. on The Valve - Closed For Renovation

Bill Benzon on Encyclopedia Britannica to Shut Down Print Operations

Norma on Encyclopedia Britannica to Shut Down Print Operations

Bill Benzon on What’s an Object, Metaphysically Speaking?

john balwit on What’s an Object, Metaphysically Speaking?

William Ray on That Shakespeare Thing

Bill Benzon on That Shakespeare Thing

William Ray on That Shakespeare Thing

JoseAngel on That Shakespeare Thing

Bill Benzon on Objects and Graeber's Debt

Bill Benzon on A Dirty Dozen Sneaking up on the Apocalypse

JoseAngel on A Dirty Dozen Sneaking up on the Apocalypse

JoseAngel on Objects and Graeber's Debt

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About Last Night
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Amardeep Singh
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the Diaries of Franz Kafka
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What Now?
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About Adam Roberts

Email Address: DrACRoberts@aol.com
Website: http://adamroberts.com


Posts by Adam Roberts

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Dombey and Daughter

Posted by Adam Roberts on 01/11/09 at 05:03 AM

A pendant to previous frolics in Dickensiana.  This Dombey and Son rip-off by Renton Nicholson is only one of many contemporary attempts to exploit the success of Dickens’s novels. AntiQbook wrongly describe it as a parody (actually it’s not) and have a copy on sale for, good grief, $1045; which, since I picked up my copy for £20—admittedly a few years ago—rather startles me. Maybe the credit crunch will eat into that sum.  There’s no date on the title page of the novel; The Oxford Reader’s Companion to Dickens dates it to 1847; the DNB to 1858, which seems rather late to attempt to ride the coattails of Dickens’s original success.

It is, as you might guess, rubbish. More to the point, it has almost nothing to do with Dombey and Son. Old Mr Dombey makes a couple of cameo appearances; charitably gifting money to secure the future of a poor orphaned girl called Clara. But otherwise Nicholson elected not to recycle Dickens’s characters, instead giving centre-stage to his own watery creations, amongst them the comical landlady Mrs Fribble, the poetical young Mr Shadow, the virtuous old quack-doctor Peter the Herbalist, the sparky maidservant Cleopatra (so named because ‘she was everything the sultry queen of Egypt was not; she was the contrast, the antagonist proposition’) and too many others. Presumably this was an unrelated short novel in Nicholson’s top-drawer, a project he managed to publish by substituting the name Dombey for whatever name he’d originally given his ‘Benign Old Rich Man’ character. The fit is not exact. Nicholson’s Dombey, for instance, has a brother (a Colonel called Daniel), which Dickens’s original never did. None of Dickens’s other characters appear: no Florence, for instance, despite the book’s title; no Walter Gay, Old Sol, no Toots. Dickens fans buying a copy in the 1840s would have been within their rights to feel cheated.

Continue reading "Dombey and Daughter"

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

On Pinter

Posted by Adam Roberts on 01/06/09 at 06:53 AM

I direct your attention to this engaging, thoughtful response to the news of Pinter’s death by my friend and colleague Dan Rebellato (a pretty notable contemporary playwright himself) on the Royal Holloway Creative Writing course blog.  It meditates upon Dan’s own indebtedness to Pinter, the way his dialogue works (’Technically - and boringly - his language is fiercely performative. It’s not what people are saying it’s that they are saying it and what they are doing by saying it‘), his affinity with Python (I think the Python boys are often underappreciated as theatrical writers; their dialogue is often first class) and what he did when Dan accosted him on the street.  It’s worth your time.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Urine-coloured, pooch-screwing

Posted by Adam Roberts on 01/02/09 at 05:20 AM

I had read it before, but at speed; this Christmas, though, gave me the opportunity to read it again.  And so I did.  It made me think: why do I keep going back to Martin Amis?  I suppose it is because I like the idea of Amis.  I just can’t seem to get my actually-reading-Amis ducks in a row.

What am I talking about?  Yellow Dog (2003) that’s what.  Science Fictional (alt-historical) or at the least satiric-phantasmagorical, Yellow Dog is set in a 2003 in which Henry IX sits on the throne of England—his wife is in a coma and his 15-year-old daughter subject to leering, video tabloidesque intrusions into her bathtime frolics. Henry is one character in Amis’s tale; another is Clint Smoker, a hack from a sub-Sun rag called Morning Lark. Another character is the improbable film-star, novelist, rock-star, ideal husband Xan Meo who gets clonked on the bonce and undergoes a change of personality into an obnoxious spoiling-for-a-fight alpha male. Then there’s Joseph Andrews, an elderly Brit-gangster even less believable than those delineated by Guy Ritchie. Hard to imagine, I know, but there you go. Amis sets these different storylines running, but seems clueless as to how to bring them back together again: he ends up literally smashing them into one another—very crudely handled. There’s also an underpowered conspiracy plotline that’s supposed to link them all, but which fails to do so.

Continue reading "Urine-coloured, pooch-screwing"

Friday, December 12, 2008

May Your Days Be Merry And Bright

Posted by Adam Roberts on 12/12/08 at 05:03 PM

And here, at last, is your obligatory Valve Christmas post.  Well, sort of.  Earlier today, discussing Christmas songs with my daughter, I revealed I knew all the words to ‘White Christmas’.  When pressed as to how I knew this (whether, for instance, I had specifically memorised the lyrics) I made the following, and in retrospect perhaps rather embarrassing, confession.

Continue reading "May Your Days Be Merry And Bright"

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Ho ho Hogarth

Posted by Adam Roberts on 12/09/08 at 12:41 PM

Not as Christmassy, actually, as that title might suggest, this is actually a post about a Hogarth sketch, ‘George Taylor Triumphing over Death’ (1750, or thereabouts).  It is one of two Hogarth chalk-on-paper designs (the other is here) picturing this handsome eighteenth-century boxer and wrestler. It’s in the Tate, London, and this is what the gallery’s website has to say about it.

This drawing forms part of a design by Hogarth for a tombstone for the famous boxer and prize-fighter, George Taylor. Nick-named ‘Taylor the Barber’ because of his other profession, he became Champion of England in 1734. From the early 1730s Taylor was proprietor of the Tottenham Court Boxing Booth. He also ran an academy where gentlemen were taught the art of self-defence. Taylor, who clearly had a fine physique, may also have modelled at the St. Martin’s Lane Academy, where Hogarth himself taught.

And what a splendid, weird little image it is.

The implication must be that Taylor is so expert a wrestler that he has defeated death. Is that the Last Trump, emerging hornily from the clouds to bring in the end times? Nothing less, surely, would be required. But doesn’t that horn look a little like … a bone? And isn’t there something disconcertingly … sexual about George’s posture? His musculature is so pronounced, and drawn in such an angular, inorganic way, that it seems almost to detach from the flesh: there’s almost a parallel between the solid mass of pectoral muscle, there, and the solid swathe of modesty-preserving cloth about his loins. And his gestures are so angular and awkward (his head at such a dislocating angle, his arms like two branches of a swastika, the twist to his torso, the one leg straight the other tucked away like he’s playing Long John Silver on the stage) it’s as if his body is trapped in painful mimicry of the skeleton beneath. Does it look to you as if Taylor’s left leg almost extends behind him in skeletal form? Is that some kind of Mannerist visual echo?

Taylor’s knee is penetrating, breaking indeed, the ribcage of the skeleton beneath him. But the skeleton’s left femur, paralleling Taylor’s leg, occupies an almost lasciviously obvious phallic position. The ambiguity is enhanced, isn’t it, by the fact that this is only a sketch: the bare bones, we might say, of a picture.  And this is to say nothing of the quasi-blasphemy of giving Christ’s job (conquering Death) to a bald-headed barber-wrestler, howsoever fine his physique.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Gregory of Tours’ History of the Franks

Posted by Adam Roberts on 12/04/08 at 07:43 AM

Splendid, splendid: this is what you want from a history: viz., interminable lists of battles and meetings by people you’ve never heard of but whose names you find a constant delight, interspersed with theological debate and the occasional Sign and Wonder. Most of it, then, is like this:

While King Chilperic was still in residence at Nogent-sur-Marne, Egidius Bishop of Rheims arrived on an embassy, with the chief notables of Childebert’s court. A conference was arranged and they made plans to deprive King Guntram of his kingdom ... Lupus the Duke of Champagne had long been harassed and despoiled by those who were hostile to him, especially Ursio and Berthefried.[328-9]

It should be law: any booksellers selling a history book be required to ask ‘do you want Berthefrieds with that?’ The Cs alone are worth the price of admission: the son of Lothar I is called ‘Chramn’; the King of the Alamanni is ‘Chroc’ and Chilperic (a major player, is Chilperic, which is ... you know, great) has a daughter called Chroma. I shall never need to invent a SF or Fantasy name, ever again.

The signs and wonders sometimes live up to their name (snakes falling from the clouds, loaves of bread bleeding when broken etc) but more often than not Gregory relates things under the ‘signs and wonders’ heading that seem to me less than wonderful, and significant only of ordinary winter weather: ‘great signs and wonders ... floods devastated parts of Auvergne. The rain continued for twelve days ... in Bourges there was a hailstorm’ [295-6]; ‘signs and wonders ... that year the wine harvest was poor, water lay about everywhere’ [483].

But by far my favourite intervention is when Gregory stops his narrative in Book VII in order (chapter 41) to tell us about a giant. Understand, the whole of this (admittedly fairly short) chapter is given over to this.  ‘One of the servants of Mummolos was brought to the King. He was a giant of a man, so immense ...’ Yes you’re excited. A genuine giant. You’re thinking, what, 40 or 50ft tall? You read on: ‘so immense that he was reckoned to be two or three feet bigger than the tallest man ever known. He was a carpenter by trade. He died soon afterwards.’ [425] So, to recap: Gregory stops his history to tell us about a man two foot taller than a Frenchman. Isn’t that splendid? ‘Never mind the battles and councils, look over here! A fairly tall person!’ Chramn it, I’m two foot taller than a Frenchman. Which leads me to believe that I ought to be in the history books.

This isn’t snark.  What makes this so wonderful is the way Greg-de-Tours’ history begins, quite literally, at the beginning (’in the beginning God made the heaven and the earth in His own Christ’, 69) and rattles through Adam, Eve, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Solomon, David, Christ (all this within 12 pages), then the Roman Imperium, the invasion of France by the Alamanni and King Clovis (in about another dozen) Thus the entire history of absolutely everything and everybody is covered in a couple-dozen pages, and the dynastic squabbles of four of the sons of Lothar I and the other goings-on of Greg’s own time fills the rest of this (in the penguin ed) 700 page tome.  In other words, it is precisely the glorious mismatch between the global prospectus and the fantastically niggly, parochial, particularism of the actual history that is so winning.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Tribute Band

Posted by Adam Roberts on 11/28/08 at 09:29 AM

Friends and I have been thinking of setting up an Adorno tribute band, to be called The Doornos.  Signature track: ‘Come on Baby, Dialectic of Enlight my Fire’.  Also on the playlist: ‘‘Riders on the Sturm und Drang’’, ‘(Horkheim) So Lonely I Could Cry’, ‘You Kant Always Get What You Want’, ‘(Frankfurt) School’s Out for Summer’, ‘Fromm Me to You’. ‘Polly Wanna Krakauer’ and, for the encore, ‘ I Just Wanna Be Your Teddy Bear’.  Conceivably we might cover Boney M’s ‘Ma-ma-ma-ma-Marcuse’.  Thank you, we’re here all week.  Try the veal.  Also available for weddings and bar mitzvahs.

Saturday, November 15, 2008


Posted by Adam Roberts on 11/15/08 at 04:52 AM

I want to second Joe’s endorsement of Andrew Seal’s excellent Biographia Literaria blog: definitely worth your time.  But more specifically I want to pick up on Seal’s recent post ‘Some Advice on Reviewing From John Leonard’.  In the iterative down-the-rabbit-hole mode of blog links, this is to direct you to Seal’s link to Leonard’s review of Dale Peck’s collection of reviews (Seal calls the volume ‘execrable’) Hatchet Jobs.  Leonard mislikes Peck’s ‘smashmouth’ approach to reviewing, picking fights, calling authors who are trying their best ‘the worst author of their generation’ and so on.  Leonard wants more respect in reviewing, and Biographia Literaria agrees, quoting Leonard’s mild peroration:

First, as in Hippocrates, do no harm. Second, never stoop to score a point or bite an ankle. Third, always understand that in this symbiosis, you are the parasite. Fourth, look with an open heart and mind at every different kind of book with every change of emotional weather because we are reading for our lives and that could be love gone out the window or a horseman on the roof. Fifth, use theory only as a periscope or a trampoline, never a panopticon, a crib sheet or a license to kill. Sixth, let a hundred Harolds Bloom.

Seal: ‘I’m not sure what all of these mean, to be honest (horsemen on the roof?), but I understand the sentiment, and it is a corrective one, a valuable one, and an honest one.’ Is it, though?

Continue reading "Reviewing"

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Michael Crichton

Posted by Adam Roberts on 11/08/08 at 03:09 PM

So Michael Crichton died on November 4th.  I find myself a little surprised by just how many of his (to be honest) workmanlike and often plodding novels I’ve read in my life: a lot.  He was enormously successful, of course, despite being not a very good writer.  I feel comfortable calling him ‘not a very good writer’ now that he’s dead.  Doing so when he was alive was a more precarious business, as the following story makes plain.  [I quote from this account in the Fordham Law Review]:

In 2006, New Republic columnist Michael Crowley authored a critical profile of author Michael Crichton. Shortly thereafter, Crowley noticed a strong resemblance between himself and the character “Mick Crowley” in Crichton’s latest novel, Next. In addition to having nearly identical names, both Crowleys are graduates of Yale University and political journalists in Washington, D.C. In the novel, Mick Crowley’s appearance is brief but notable. He is a pedophile on trial for sodomizing a two-year-old child and, Crichton writes, his “penis was small.” Crichton [had] apparently resorted to employing the small penis rule, a “sly trick” used in publishing to ward off defamation lawsuits. Assuming no man would come forward claiming to be a character with a small penis (or would invite such an inquiry), the scheming author simply depicts his target as less than fully endowed. The author then defames as he pleases and hopes his subject forgoes legal action due to the possible embarrassment of coming forward. Thus, the small penis rule is not really a rule, merely a tactic for discouraging litigation. In the end, Michael Crowley [was] disinclined to file suit. Although “grossed out,” Crowley says that he was “strangely flattered” by his “sliver of literary immortality.”

So, ladies, gentleman, if you learn nothing else today, at least take this to heart: the small penis rule is not really a rule.  A precept to live by, we can all agree.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Three Very Short Kurmanji Stories

Posted by Adam Roberts on 11/04/08 at 05:22 AM

They’re below the fold, each no more than 80 words long, and I think they’re lovely.  But before we get to that, some context: on a whim I bought a copy of E B Soane’s Elementary Kurmanji Grammar (1919) from the Oxfam in High Wycombe for 59p.  Kurmanji is a main Kurdish language; and this little orange-bound book is, according to its preface ‘intended primarily for the use of officers and others whose duties leads them to the southern districts of Kurdistan.’ The British military presence in Iraq, 1919—one year before the official establishment of the British Mandate of Mesopotamia—is one of those ghosts of history still very actively haunting the present. And what a weirdly vivid through-the-chinks portrait this book provides of the sort of world a British officer stepped into (or expected to step into) amongst the Kurds. By way of ‘common idiomatic phrases’ and verb tables Soane offers us not pens of aunts or postillions lightning-struck, but rather:

akuzhim it I will kill you.
(but) dabe bikuzhim it I shall (probably) kill you.

diz le kewda hatin a khwarawa Thieves came down from the hills.

rutit akam I strip thee
rutim akai Thou strippest me
rutian akan They strip me

lai imda I strike
lai imda I struck him
laim ida He struck me
la’ian manda We struck him
laiman ianda They struck us

Of course it’s amongst other things a way of interpellating a whole country, a whole people, as violent and barbaric. In that respect it feels, oh I don’t know, rather modern; as a primer in the ways in which Western Europe continues ideologically to construct a notion of meso-oriental existence. Laiman ianda, indeed.

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Monday, October 27, 2008

Sentiment and irony

Posted by Adam Roberts on 10/27/08 at 01:17 PM

In his poem ‘The Definition of Love’, Bernard O’Donoghue suggests love is not what has previously been suggested (not sex, not wishing someone else’s welfare, notcetera), but is rather fingers touching fingers across a linen tablecloth. The last nine lines of the poem are given over to this little narrative:

A young curate of a parish in West Cork
Was told his mother was seriously ill
And he must come home to Boherbue
(In fact she was dead already; they had meant
To soften the blow). He drove recklessly
Through mid-Kerry and crashed to his death
In the beautiful valley of Glenflesk.
This was because he fantasised in vain
About touching her fingers one last time.

Nicely handled, this, I’d say: the use of plain language and the plain measure of blank verse, the vocabulary titivated by the expressive use of Irish place names; the way the syllabic count contracts (11, 10, 9; and then again 11, 10, 9) until the punctus is reached at ‘death’, whereafter the lines are all regularly decasyllabic. It is properly touching poetry. More, its the kind of dramatic irony (as in Greene’s Heart of the Matter) that is both surprisingly resonant and surprisingly rare in contemporary literature. Why should this be? I’ve been thinking about it, and I wonder if my first reaction—that it is too sentimental for modern tastes (although ‘sensibility’ is not a criterion of aesthetic dispraise, in my book)—hasn’t got it the wrong way about. What I mean is I wonder now whether the definition of sentimentality isn’t, as it is often taken to be, grounded in affective response; whether sentimentality isn’t more radically the iteration of a certain sort of dramatic irony.

I’m not sure about this.  I think the idea would be something like: affect is affect; babies are cute; young love is young and lovely, kitties are ‘aww!’, but none of these things (or the representations thereof) are sentimental exactly.  That articulation of sensibility in the fullest sense needs irony.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Bleak Dorrit

Posted by Adam Roberts on 10/20/08 at 10:07 AM

Bleak Dorrit is, as you can see from that link, the title of a posting on the course blog for the Royal Holloway University of London MA in Victorian Literature and Culture on which I teach.  Last week I wandered into a two hour seminar on Little Dorrit with a copy of Bleak House in my hand, just because, well sometimes I’m dozy like that.  This year’s group happens to be a good one, and they saved my blushes with some on-the-ball discussion of a variety of aspects of the novel: anticlimax, financial and other hollownesses; flattened or empty characters, the representation of alienation.  But, as I note in the blog post, I started to wonder whether both their and my praise of the novel carried a sort of latent assumption that its virtues put it on a par with Modernist novels rather than those loose, baggy, Victorian sentimental confections the academy finds it so easy to patronise.  ‘Hey, hey, maybe Old Curiosity Shop is kinda gooey, but, but look here: Little Dorrit is practically a Modernist masterpiece of alienated and fragmented subjectivity!  Just look at Mr F.’s aunt!’ I wonder whether the drift of our judgment, in other words, was predicated on a tacit belief that Modernist art is in some sense more worthwhile (more relevant, more sophisticated, whatever) than Victorian art.  That’s not something I believe, actually.  Indeed, last year the seminar on The Portrait of a Lady specifically discussed how we might respond to James’s novel if we were to take it not as a proto-Modernist text but instead precisely as a High Victorian boiling pot.  What’s going on here?  Is it that my bias takes the Victorian to be more lively, comedic and rounded; and reserves the hollowed, the alienated, the flattened affect for the Modern?  Hard to justify that position.  Or maybe my doziness goes deeper than I realised.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

2008 Nobel Prize for Literature: Jean-Marie Le Clézio

Posted by Adam Roberts on 10/11/08 at 06:04 AM

So, Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clézio wins the 2008 Nobel Prize for Literature, and across the anglophone world there are joyful, rooftop-to-rooftop cheers of ‘who?’ and ‘why have I never heard of him?’ Speaking for myself, I was sufficiently ashamed of my ignorance to at least rootle around online a little, to see (for instance) which of Le Clézio’s many books might be worth picking up.  Because, yes, I had never heard of him until I heard the news yesterday; and, yes, I’ve never read his books.  The first thing I discovered was that despite promising-sounding titles like Le déluge (1966), L’extase matérielle (1967), Les géants (1973), Voyages de l’autre côté (1975), Mondo et autres histoires (1978) and Gens des nuages (1990), in fact Le Clézio has never written a science fiction novel.  Imagine!  Not even one.  But, I’m not one to allow prejudice to get in my way, and I shall give him a go anyway.

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Saturday, October 04, 2008

McKendrick’s Fisheye

Posted by Adam Roberts on 10/04/08 at 05:10 AM

Here is a poem I currently have a crush on, from Jamie McKendrick’s Ink Stone.  McKendrick is a poet I’ve only recently encountered (this collection came out five years ago: he’s published a newer collection since).  He was born in Liverpool in 1955, says Faber’s cover-blurb; and he has published various things, and he has won the Forward Prize for poetry.  Good.  But ... he has no Wikipedia entry which means that, in a very real sense, he doesn’t exist.  The poem is called ‘Fish Eye’:

Hours of nothing biting on the lugworm bait
the twins had shown me how to catch—then suddenly
this spiny monster gurnard face appeared
banging about on the floor of the rowboat
like a fist or a heart.  Way too scared
of its hackled gills and crest of spikes
to unthread the hook and heave it back
we froze, and watched its will to live abate
while a fog like a tide of opal stole
over the oily surface of the eye
extinguishing an eerie Borealis.
Were the cells desiccating in the iris?
Or divulging the inky depths to this new hemisphere
of air too thin, too dry and bright to bear?

It’s the four lines 8-11 (from ‘we froze...’ to ‘...borealis’) that make the poem, I’d say: exquisite nape-hair-stirring poetry.  Of course the slightly rocoso flourish of their effectiveness depends upon the way they are framed in a series of deliberately downtoned, plainer lines (plainer, although not without their own punchily vivid imagery: ‘banging about on the floor of the rowboat/like a fist or a heart’).  What I mean is that the poem starts by positioning itself as a mundane piece of storytelling (’I went fishing with my grandchildren one day, and we caught a fish...’), human experience articulated in ordinary vocabulary weighted towards monosyllables (line 5, say), but then it orchestrates a shift in register ‘up’ (as it were) to capture the awe--if that’s not too pretentious a way of putting it--entailed in being a witness at a dying.  In other words, the extravagently polysyllabic line 11 works in part because its situated amongst a clutch of deliberately less extravagent lines.

I’m a little in love with the whole collection, actually: there’s a carefully worked and very resonant pattern of recurring theme-work throughout, about eyes, and about ink (two necessary premises of the poet, we might think; and two things imagistically strangely close).  This poem is about seeing, and the passing of sight, and about recording the sight in an inky medium (the inky depths).  It is about the uncanny, and it achieves a neatly uncanny effect.  Dying is a freaky business.  I consider the eerie Borealis of my own consciousness.  It won’t last forever, I suppose.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Booker Prize shortlist

Posted by Adam Roberts on 09/29/08 at 11:41 AM

I don’t know how the judges feel, but I’ve now come to the end of my slog through the Booker longlists and shortlists, and I’m pooped.  It’s a gruelling and rather depressing experience to trawl through so many books in a relatively short time: it irons out many of the specificities and the savourable qualities of the individual texts and leaves an impression in the mind that all contemporary fiction is more-or-less the same.  That, in part, is because there is a samey quality to this year’s Booker Shortlist; or to be more specific it possesses a two-tone quality: half rather earnest Britain and Ireland a few decades ago, and half postcolonial eastern, far-eastern and far-south-eastern colour-splashes.  Oh for a single science fiction work.

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