Gert has been mooching about like a cow in clover munching on this and that. Here are a few tasty things to chew on:
When Andrew O’Hagan met the queen
she simply passed me to her husband, who asked me if a novelist wrote books. As often with the duke, his question lay somewhere between existential brilliance and intergalactic dunce-hood…
LRB 15 Dec 2016
Isn’t that a lovely turn of phrase? Perhaps HM’s government should ask Andrew O’Hagan to supply a more stirring phrase than “London Bridge Is Down” as the code phrase to signify the Queen’s death. (Why do they need a code phrase? I hope poor old Theresa May has a list of the different phrases by her phone. It would never to do mix up “London Bridge Is Down” with “Trafalgar Square Is Melting In The Rain”, which means the sewage system of London is about to overflow, or “Eros has taken off” which means a sex scandal involving a member of the royal family). Gert’s suggestion, for what it’s worth, is “Betty has left the building”.
Here’s another lovely piece of wordage in the same LRB edition, where Jonathan Lethem exactly nails Trump-world:
this doubleness, this randomness, the sheer cascade of horseshit and affronts, of dog whistles and non-sequiturs.
It’s not an entirely random segue from Trump to this comment by Mike Duncan in his addictive podcast series The History of Rome. Comparing the fictional Spartacus in a movie to the brilliant original, he says the fictional Spartacus is about as strategically-minded as a water buffalo on heat.
Our more genteel readers may prefer this article in The Conversation about the spinster in fiction:
Today’s fictional spinsters may not be outwardly covered in boils or carbuncles (or wear pointy black hats on grey hair festooned with cobwebs) but they continue to be cast as fiction’s unnatural anomalies – attired in gauzy pink scarves or frumpy woollen coats, boiling bunnies, peddling arsenic, or running refuges for the world’s unwanted cats.
And to finish up with vintage spite, a couple of quotes about Ulysses from that very unpleasant woman Virginia Woolf:
An illiterate, underbred book, it seems to me; the book of a self-taught working man, and we all know how distressing they are, how egotistic, insistent, raw, striking, and ultimately nauseating.
I finished ‘Ulysses’ and think it is a mis-fire. Genius it has, I think; but of the inferior water. The book is diffuse. It is brackish. It is pretentious. It is underbred, not only in the obvious sense, but in the literary sense. A first-rate writer, I mean, respects writing too much to be tricky; startling; doing stunts.
What a cow!