Brandywine Books
Sunday, September 28, 2003
Summer reading results coming this week. If you haven't sent me the title and author of a good book you read this summer, speed it to me at the Brandywine Books address. I plan to publish all submissions soon.
A Song in Four Parts, Four
Now what is Love, I pray thee show?
A thing that creeps, it cannot go;
Aprize that passeth to and fro;
A thing for one, a thing for moe;
And he that proves shall find it so.
And this is Love, as I well know.

from The Lied and Art Song Texts Page
Saturday, September 27, 2003
A Song in Four Parts, Three
Now what is Love, I pray thee fain?
It is a sunshine mixed with rain.
It is a gentle pleasing pain;
A flower that dies and springs again.
It is a No that would full fain.
And this is Love, as I hear sayen.
Throughout the Great Wide World of Blog
Should you have missed or ignored some of the writing I saw in the Blogosphere yesterday, let me point your attention to it now. Friday's guest writer for Terry Teachout, going by the phrase "Our Girl in Chicago," wrote on her distaste for literary readings in that venerable art blog, "About Last Night."
". . . I decided to attend a neighborhood reading by a certain torrid young writer whose first book was pretty great and who just published her first novel. Here I relearned my lesson. . . . It was the sort of thing that could put you off readings for life."
In "The View from the Foothills," Will Duquette and Deb English have two interesting, personal posts on Homer's Iliad and it's translations. The first by English here and a followup by Duquette here.

Writer and Editor Seth Shafer stepped in for Maud Newton yesterday to write about his love and annoyance with literature and popular writing.
"I've always had a love-hate relationship with writing, and the larger literary world in general. On the one hand, there's not much that beats reading/writing amazing, engaging words. It's an incredibly valuable thing, reading/writing. A high, noble pursuit worth any amount of toil, any amount of sacrifice. And then there's the other hand. The hand that I keep staring at, wondering hmm."
Shafer touches on what may be a huge problem for literary authors, condescension of non-literary writing and obsession with the importance of their own work. I wonder if that obsession is what makes a lot of literary writing boring.
Friday, September 26, 2003
A Song in Four Parts, Two
Now what is Love, I pray thee say?
It is a work on holy day.
It is December matched with May,
When lusty blood in fresh array
Hear ten months after of their play.
And this is Love, as I hear say.
Thursday, September 25, 2003
A Song in Four Parts, One
In flattering imitation of Mr. Teachout's serializing an O'Connor story, I give you the words of a beautiful song I heard this morning on my local classical music station, WSMC.
Now what is Love, I pray thee tell?
Is it that fountain and that well
Where pleasures and repentance dwell.
It is perhaps that sauncing bell
That tolls all into heaven or hell.
And this is Love, as I hear tell.
Wednesday, September 24, 2003
Reading What the Children Read
Deb English posted an entry on reading the Jerry Spinelli book, Maniac Magee, so that she could know what her daughter was reading. It's a good bit of blogging, and it looks like an interesting book, though I must say that I wasn't sure how good it was by reading her post alone. I searched for the book elsewhere.

From Carol Hurst's Children's Literature Site, "[Jeffery Magee] ends up in the town of Two Mills, two hundred miles away from his aunt and uncle. Two Mills is a town divided by race into East and West End. There Jeffrey becomes "Maniac Magee", the subject of legends that have lasted ever since. In his search for a place to belong, he eventually succeeds to some degree in uniting the town by forcing at least some of the Blacks and Whites to know each other. . . .

"[Magee] has a strong sense of justice, a thirst for knowledge and an amazing lack of fear. The only time he shows any fear is near the end of the book when he cannot walk out on the trolley trestle where his parents were killed, not even to help a frightened little boy. He is patient, determined and loves to laugh. He wants to be loved and understood, but for most of the book, it is he who must understand others."

Banned Books Week: School Age Children

In an article for KCRA TV, University of California, Davis English Professor Don Abbott says, "You want to encourage students to read good stuff because it helps good writing. And most of the stuff on the top 10 list of challenged works are well written books." As a lover of English and good literature, I agree that reading “good stuff” helps us write “good stuff,” and since I have not read 9 of the 10 on the 2002 list of challenged works, I can’t argue over the quality of the writing. But I will argue for the parental right to refuse art and books which offends. Depending on the depth or type of offense, that right includes the freedom to complain to a school librarian.

Look at the top ten list of challenged books for 2002. Harry Potter, Alice, The Chocolate War. I’ve looked into a couple Potter books, and I’ve read something of Challenged Book #7, Huckleberry Finn, but I know little about the rest of them. When you read the reasons these books were challenged somewhere by someone (sexual content, offensive language, satanism), I hope you can understand why a parent would think their children in elementary school should not be exposed to such things at their age. Regardless of a book’s wordsmith quality, if the content is unsuitable for the age group, why not pull the book from the shelf?

In a brief search, I found with reader reviews on the Alice books. They appear to be funny girl stories about a pre-teen heroine. One review warns of sexual material too racy for the reviewer’s fourth grade class, specifically “what to do with whipped cream besides putting it on a dessert.” Another review complains about parents who believe their girls don’t think about these things already. Should one of these views prevail? Must 9-year-olds be exposed to material uncomfortable to their parents for the sake of intellectual freedom?

I hope that in my previous posts I’ve written clearly about my conviction that if judgment calls are allowed at all, they should be allowed for content or moral reasons. The ALA’s promotion of banned books takes a good principle too far by implying that parents should expose their children to everything for the sake of intellectual freedom. I suggest that grade school children should be exposed only to the truth we understand and to the excellence we can discern. Parents and teachers should guide their children toward sound logic, responsible living, rationale communication, and loving others as you would yourself.

But we disagree on those things, don’t we? All the more reason to guide children with sound judgment. I remember a TV show about a family that preached to the eldest daughter on her responsibility to listen to the guidance within her. Would she lie about cheating on the test and keep the scholarship, or would she confess and face the consequences? Only her heart could guide her. Of course, she confessed, which was right, but she could have kept quiet about her lie, apparently with her mother’s approval. What would have happened then? Perhaps, a more realistic story. How would the child know what is right if no one tells her or shows her how to live it?

I should say that parents need to think reasonably and be tolerant (to use an ugly word) of the world in which they live. Did you see the Red Riding Hood story linked below? I would encourage those parents to avoid trying to sanitize the world for their kids. I don’t want my girls to smoke when they grow up, but I won’t avoid telling them that Bilbo and Frodo Baggins enjoyed their pipe weed. The world is a big place, and stories help us live in it; but description is not influence.

Description is exposure, however, and exposure to some things equals a loss of innocence. That’s why sexually explicit material should be kept from innocent children. Sure, they think about sex in 8th grade. That doesn’t mean they need to know much about it. Does that violate their intellectual freedom? How much intellect do 8th graders have to be free with? You can’t be free with resources you don’t possess, so teach the children well and caste them adrift on the seas of error, under the sail of intellectual freedom, when they are 18 or more.
Personal thought
In other news, I found a fat, orange spider on my car this afternoon. He was as big as my thumb, and though he shows sufficient fear when I poked at his legs, he dispatched him to the underworld. He was scary. I thought his bite would hurt, should he decide to stake a claim on the car's interior and run out trespassers. But I'm not heartless. I took artistic photos of him so he could live in immortality, which is more than any spider could hope for.

Driving home this evening, I had my window down. The Autumn Equinox has encouraged me somehow. My evening commutes are more heartening than they have been lately. While stopped at a light, a honey bee landed on my arm. I turned to look, and he was inches from my nose; but I blew him off and continued waiting without even a rise in blood pressure. He wasn't scary.

Is my reaction a trait of my temperament? Why am I afraid of the fly-catcher and not the honey-maker? Maybe since I haven't stroked the back a fat, orange spider while he was gathering pollen from a dusty lawn weed, I haven't bonded with one like I have with a bee. Touching the back of honey bee like you would a baby's nose may have magic to it. I am a friend to them now. They let me walk in peace. Whatever it is, I don't fear them like I do some other bugs.

Banned Books Week: Campus Censorship Condoned

Professor Erin O'Connor of Critical Mass wrote this last Saturday:
Every year, across the country, there are regular dust-ups on campus about what the student newspaper decides to print. Every year, across the country, individuals and groups take great offense to the tone, or the content, or the editorials, or the photography, or the cartooning, of the student paper, and raise hell in their insistence on restitution. The form this insistence takes can range from demands for apologies to demands for punishment and censorship. It's common practice for outraged groups of students to steal entire press runs of papers that print stories or opinions that offend them. It's also common practice for university administrations to look the other way when that occurs.

The periodic, almost ritualized outrage about the politics and ethics of students newspapers expresses the tense standoff between the advocates of free speech and the would-be censors who populate every campus. When print runs are stolen or when a coalition of outraged students demands that a paper be shut down, or insists that its staff be forced to apologize--or even to attend sensitivity training--for causing offense, student publications become a lightning rod for clarifying one of the defining schisms on campus today. The gap between those who see the campus as a bastion of unfettered inquiry and those who see it as a utopian experiment in social re-ordering, between those who believe in free expression and those who believe in protecting sensitivities, is uniquely and disturbingly visible in such moments, not least because student publications are one of the few campus entities that will publicly and vociferously defend freedom of speech and freedom of the press when the sensitivity police set about trying to censor them, or even shut them down. (more)
She goes on to describe a specific bit of irrational outrage and links to a previous discussion of this common campus phenomenon. Isn't this the very idea the ALA is fighting with the Banned Books Week campaign? Maybe they should conduct university tours and sponsor special editions of campus newspapers.
Tuesday, September 23, 2003

Banned Books Week: Are Judgment Calls Bad for Libraries?

Sunday’s Sun-Sentinel of South Florida has a story on the ALA’s Banned Books Week, beginning with an anecdote about parents wanting the Red Riding Hood story removed from school libraries because Red carries wine in her goodie basket for Grandma. That’s how promoters of the campaign to “open your mind to a banned book” want us to think about the parents who complain that their children shouldn’t be offered certain books during the library time at school. The parents look like uptight whiners in the opening illustration; but several paragraphs down, you get a better picture.

“According to the American Library Association, there were 6,364 attempts to ban books between 1990 and 2000. Seventy-one percent of those challenges were to books in schools. Most were children's books, challenged by parents. Sexual explicitness was the main reason, followed by offensive language, material unsuited to a particular age group, and occult themes.” Sexual explicitness, which is also unsuitable for particular age groups, is far down the road from tee-totaling, and that touches on the point of error in ALA’s promotion of banned books. Some material is unsuitable for school-age children, and parents should have be encouraged to set their own boundaries. Why should a parent or group of parents feel public estrangement for voicing their objections to have a book in their school library? Why can’t the librarians take their complaints into consideration like the reasonable adults they should be?

Forgive me, but I’ve already stepped ahead in the argument. The argument over including and removing books from school or public libraries begins, not with parental complaints, but with librarian choice. School libraries can’t have every published book on their shelves, for space and money reasons if nothing else, so they must choose which books they want to offer their patrons (in the case of public schools, I should say, captives). Now, I’ll admit that I’m not a librarian and may be naïve about this, but I assume the librarians I know will try to choose good, interesting, popular, or valuable books over those which are shoddy, disreputable, or badly produced in general. That choice requires judgment. A librarian or team of them must decide that a King James Bible is worth offering or it isn’t, that Marx’ Kapital is worthwhile or it isn’t, that Willhoite’s Daddy’s Roommate is a good book or it isn’t. When it comes to a school library, I assume those decisions are adjusted for the age of the patrons. Am I wrong on this?

So, I’m guessing that many libraries reject many books in cost, space, or value judgments. Some would call that censorship, wouldn’t they?

Then there’s secondary rejection, pulling a book that has already been offered in the library. The Sun-Sentinel article offers two examples of books pulled from the Broward County Libraries, which I assume are not the school libraries mentioned elsewhere in the article. One book was pulled “because it was physically assembled in a shoddy, hand-made fashion;” the other was deemed to support animal abuse. I want to know how the first book made it onto the shelf if it was so poorly published. Did a librarian not choose that book for distribution? Did someone donate it unofficially by leaving it behind them? And what about the judgment call on this second book? Is that not the same thing as a parent’s complaint? Some would call that censorship, wouldn’t they?

The ALA’s website defines intellectual freedom as “the right of every individual to both seek and receive information from all points of view without restriction. It provides for free access to all expressions of ideas through which any and all sides of a question, cause or movement may be explored.” I guess Broward County makes at least one exception to this; but I don’t care about hypocrisy at this point.

The bottom line is that librarians making judgment calls about which books to offer is not censorship nor is censorship a parent’s request for a book’s removal, especially in a school library. Judgment calls on the content of a book are not evil and do not promote ignorance, because children should not be exposed to anything without guidance. We don’t teach our classes by mixing lies and errors with truth and sound reason, telling students to figure out what they like or what works for them. We teach them the truth as we understand it. That’s how it should be. That’s why some parents complain about some books.
Sunday, September 21, 2003
Having successfully returned, he left the room
I’m back from an enjoyable vacation week and still have a few things to wrap up, not to mention the completion of a web design project. Thank you for the emails regarding your summer reading choices. I’d love to collect a few more (see earlier post), so please email me the title and author of a book you read this summer (or one that your friend read), and next week, I’ll post a real summer reading list, giving you what respondents actually read, not my recommendations.

Federal Thought Police?
This week is the American Library Association’s Banned Books Week. I want to give you some thoughtful analysis of the rationale behind it and whether it is worth anyone’s time; but before we get into that, I’ll start by relating a conversation I had with my wife this Sunday afternoon. A couple radio co-hosts were discussing their distaste for the federal government’s ability to detect which library books you have checked out under the new Patriot Act of 2001. It has resurfaced in the news with the Attorney General saying that no libraries have been snooped under this law, and law-abiding people are not to worry about it.

After hearing the radio guys decry the possibility of federal book searches, my wife said that grocery stores and other retailers track our purchases all of the time, so why should tracking library loans upset us? “Good question,” I said. I know that some of us guard our privacy like a mother hen (or shark or nondescript fierce, maternal beast), but apparently most of us are comfortable with grocery store discount cards and credit cards, both of which allow the main company to track our expenses. I was recently awarded (if that’s the proper term) with a coupon for Javana coffee, because the store knew I had purchased coffee before. Of course, I thanked the stocky man in black, loitering by the exit, on my way out.

Should it bother us that the feds may look at the books we’ve purchased from any number of stores or the ones we’ve taken out of our local library? Laws like this must be considered in worst case scenarios where authorities abuse their privileges. You could be walking your dog and be approached by a man who says, “So, I understand you’re a history buff. Middle Eastern history especially. You know, I’ve found that people you read up on certain un-American topics don’t keep their pets for long. I’d be worried about your little dog, if you keep reading history books. You know what I mean?” If you are among those outraged at the Patriot Act’s library snoop privileges, is this the kind of scenario you imagine?

I don’t think allowing the feds to learn what I’m reading will lead to this more than any other investigative privilege they already have. I don’t believe I will be harassed more by a government thug who knows how many Faulkner books I have on my shelf than by one who doesn’t. Thugs have their thuggish ways. Hopefully, other laws will allow me (and you should they find you walking your dog) a recourse for a just accounting of their harassment. But if they learn what I’ve read from the library, well, I don’t think my privacy has been fundamentally compromised. Moreover, if the feds have to make the case that someone is a terrorist solely from his reading list, they aren't going to win. A library borrowing record will accomplish only one thing, the confirmation of a suspicion. If the feds think you are suspicious, your library habits may give them more reason to watch you; but I can’t imagine how it could go farther than that until laws are written to censor specific information. And that's what Banned Books Week is about. More tomorrow.
Friday, September 12, 2003
At the Tone, Leave a Message
My little family and I are going on vacation for the week, starting tomorrow Saturday, 9/13; so thank you for stopping by today, and I'll see you again next week. Be sure to tell your friends about Brandywine Books. If they are as decent and interesting as you are, then I'm sure they'll enjoy reading with you.

Until the next, let me pass on the words of literary writer Will Duquette of "The View from the Foothils." He wrote, "Somewhere I read that the difference between a reviewer and a critic is that the reviewer is writing for people who haven't read the book and want to know whether they should, and a critic is writing for people who *have* read the book and want to know
why it does or doesn't work.

". . . I've always figured that the value of a good reviewer isn't that you always agree with him; it's that you learn where his taste differs from yours, so that you can use him as an accurate guide even while disagreeing with him. From that point of view, even negative reviews are useful.

"What I take from Lewis' comment is that, if a book turns out not to be my kind of thing, I should confine my critical remarks to 'I didn't like this, but then it isn't my kind of thing, so I'm no judge.'--rather than making a fool of myself in print."

The comment from C.S. Lewis to which he refers was quoted in his worth-reading blog.
Wednesday, September 10, 2003
No Mo’ E-books from
Barnes& (which is supposed to be a separate, but closely related, company from the Barnes and Noble near your local mall or tailgate party hangout) is no longer selling e-books. Users of Microsoft’s eBook reader have until December 9, to download their purchases. That means if you wrapped up an eBook purchase for the husband’s Christmas present, you won’t be able to wait for him to download it December 26. In this article from C|net’s, Senior Analyst at Nielsen/NetRatings Robert Leathern, said, “Sales have been pretty minimal. E-books for a long time have been something that people have said will lead to a spike in adoption, but the technology hasn't really been there yet." He said that readers in the future may turn to electronic paper or TabletPCs for business reading, but they probably won’t read anything real that way (I paraphrase).

A Microsoft e-reading product manager is quoted saying (again, I paraphrase), “We hate it for them, and no, we won’t tell you how well our software has done.”

Plenty of online reading is available at the excellent site (may its servers never fail), Also look into the Christian Classics Ethereal Library, hosted by Calvin College, for an almost countless amount of very old works.
from The Sacred Wood, T.S. Eliot, 1922
Accordingly, Mr. Whibley does not disappear in the jungle of journalism and false criticism; he deserves a "place upon the shelves" of those who care for English literature. He has the first requisite of a critic: interest in his subject, and ability to communicate an interest in it. His defects are both of intellect and feeling. He has no dissociative faculty. There were very definite vices and definite shortcomings and immaturities in the literature he admires; and as he is not the person to tell us of the vices and shortcomings, he is not the person to lay before us the work of absolutely the finest quality. He exercises neither of the tools of the critic: comparison and analysis. He has not the austerity of passion which can detect unerringly the transition from work of eternal intensity to work that is merely beautiful, and from work that is beautiful to work that is merely charming. For the critic needs to be able not only to saturate himself in the spirit and the fashion of a time—the local flavour—but also to separate himself suddenly from it in appreciation of the highest creative work.
Tuesday, September 09, 2003
Wasn't Life Simpler When We Weren't Arrogantly Stupid?
“Once upon a time,” writes Columnist Suzanne Fields, “. . . young men and women longed to read the great books that addressed the universal spirit.” But now the tyranny of experts from practical fields has dominated college study schedules. Fields, who has a doctorate in English Literature from the Catholic University of America, says literature is being disparaged “as mere anecdotal insights of amateur observers who lack rigorous discipline when compared to scientific reports and surveys. This is nonsense, of course. Many college students, nevertheless, are buying it. Literature is not high on their list of majors. Nor is it a priority even as a single course for those studying hard science. Pre-med, engineering, architecture, computer science and business majors graduate from university without taking a single literature course. (Woe, in years to come, to anyone seated next to one of them at a dinner party.)”

This is her summery of a Myron Magnet essay called, “What Use is Literature?” in City Journal’s summer issue. Her column is a brief, well-written report on what she calls this academic debate, so for an introduction or for quick reading, it serves a purpose. But Magnet’s essay has the teeth Fields’ article only photographs. After describing the problem of college experts reducing literature to mere illustrations of the “real data” their sciences provided, Magnet writes:

"Can anyone think that there is more understanding to be gained about the human heart from Freud than from Shakespeare—that the studies of Dora or the Wolf Man approach anywhere near to the profundity of understanding embodied in Macbeth or Lear, with their unflinching elucidation of man’s (and woman’s) capacity for evil? . . . Does the sociobiology of E. O. Wilson or Richard Dawkins tell us any more than we learn from Homer or Virgil?

"An exquisite little poem of Tennyson’s, called '1865–66,' sums up this point infinitely better than I could do:

I stood on a tower in the wet,
And New Year and Old Year met,
And winds were roaring and blowing;
And I said, 'O years, that meet in tears,
Have ye aught that is worth the knowing?
Science enough and exploring,
Wanderers coming and going,
Matter enough for deploring,
But aught that is worth the knowing?'
Seas at my feet were flowing,
Waves on the shingle pouring,
Old Year roaring and blowing,
And New Year blowing and roaring.

"What’s wanted is wisdom: the ability to see into the heart of things. This is the kind of knowledge that Plato describes so poetically in that most literary of all philosophical passages, the allegory of the cave: the knowledge that sees through the world of appearances to the Truth, of which the appearances are but an emanation—a knowledge that requires a lifetime of reason and study to attain but that comes finally in a flash of intuition, because the Truth is in us, in an inner nature we can glimpse by introspection and intuition, as well as in the world. And this is the knowledge—a knowledge, one might say, that resides in our souls as well as in our minds—that great literature embodies.

"It is a knowledge that has its practical uses, too, no less than scientific knowledge; for if it doesn’t build computers or space shuttles, it builds civilizations."

“The Truth in us” could be called common grace or natural law as described at the beginning of Romans, and I suggest that is exactly what it is; but I’m only guessing that Magnet is referring to the same idea when he capitalizes “truth.” He probably is.
Thank you to everyone who has emailed me a little of his summer reading. If you haven't done this yet, drop me a note at my Brandywine Books address. If you don't know what I'm referring to, pass through this magic text portal. And now, a legitimate web log update.

Creativity, Chess, and Pizza with Extra Grease
Because I’m a slow web writer and slow at many related things, you’ve had plenty of time to read this article or illustrative story from Ernie Schenck, published in Communication Arts, May/June 2003. It runs in an advertising column, but don’t let that turn you away before giving it a scan. Schenck relates what he calls a dream about Chess Master Bobby Fisher delivering pizza to him on New Year’s Eve and staying to teach him an impromptu lesson on creative thinking.

More to the point
Also in that Com Arts issue is a brief review of Alan Bartram’s 500 Years of Book Design, a criticism of several much-praised books which he believes are not well-designed. From the review: “’I’m not trying to say that those guys didn’t have a clue,’ writes Alan Bartram—‘those guys’ being ‘classic’ book designers and printers of yesteryear, like Aldus Manutius. What Bartram, who’s written previously on book design and vernacular lettering, is trying to say with this oddly-sized (6I" ¥ 12"), heavily-illustrated book, is that perhaps those guys, or, at least, their book designs, should not be so frequently cited as stellar examples of their day, or any day.” He does praise some design and recommends further reading, so he isn’t completely negative.

Personally, I love good writing and good design, so I’m often tempted by literary fiction with appealing cover and interior designs. Maybe that’s twisted thinking, but art, even the common, humble art of book design, can be wonderful to see. It can redeem a poorly written book in my mind. My sweet wife may complain, “This is a terrible book,” to which I reply, “But it looks so good.”

Private’s First Book
I may have heard that Pvt. Jessica Lynch will have her story told by award-winning journalist Rick Bragg. The book, I Am a Soldier Too: The Jessica Lynch Story, comes from Knopf in November, shortly after a HarperCollins’ book on life under Hussein and Pvt. Lynch’s rescue holds down a few shelves in October. That book, reportedly called Rescue in Nasiriya, but here entitled Because Each Life Is Precious: Why an Iraqi Man Came to Risk Everything for Pvt. Jessica Lynch, felt heated controversy over reports that the rescue was a controlled story from the Pentagon. I thought those rumors were bogus from the start, and I suppose nothing substantial has come of them since Harper hasn’t canned the book. But hopes for the sale of either of these quick reads isn’t too high. The publishers have definitely published stories and whatnot which are several degrees lower in taste or quality than this one.

In a side note, if Pvt. Lynch were to ask me for advice, I’d suggest she avoid reading any reviews and devote herself to her next goal, hobby, or interest. I’d encourage her parents to do the same.
Wednesday, September 03, 2003
Calling Your Summer Reading
I hope that with the Labor Day weekend behind us I will not shock anyone by acknowledging the impending end of summer. Yes, summer is almost over, and so whatever summer reading hopes will be summer reading memories, if not regrets. Plenty of places offer suggestions on what to read during this time, but how many ask for follow-up? Well, that's the kind of [not-so] innovative thinking you get here at Brandywine Books. What did you read this summer? Send me the title and author of one book you read this summer. Feel free to add any identifiers you feel necessary, but send at least the book's title and author along with any kind and thoughtful notes you wish to share. It could be the best book you read this summer. It could be the most recent. Whatever you send, I'll publish the results here after enough time has passed.

What did I read this summer? Well, I just finished Homer's Odyssey, which was great in parts. I plan to write about it soon, but as you can probably tell, I have a little life to conduct of which web writing on the blog is only a small part. Send your summer books to dnifriend at
Following the Leader into the Bag
The admirable art critic and daily web writer Terry Teachout has begun playing a game his calls, "In the Bag." Let me explain the game in brief. Imagine you have a bag. Not a dull paper bag big enough to conceal your 20 oz Snapple, nor a cheap plastic bag that has already begun to tear. You have an ACME-FROBOZ Magic Take-Em-N-Run Bag. It can take anything you decide to put in it. Now, imagine that you must choose five art-related things to grab and stuff in your handy bag. With these five items, you will spend an undetermined period of time on a desert island. The men are knocking on your door. You must grab five things now and abandon life as you know it between now and the next commerical break. Choose the first things that come to your mind. No second guessing; no time for that. What things will you take?

My list (off the top o' me 'ead):
Book: The Lord of the Rings
Movie: Hitchcock's Rear Window
Painting: Chagall's I and My Village
Term Paper: No, I'll take Thackeray's Vanity Fair instead
Classical Music: Dvorak's Ninth Symphony

There I did it. Feel free to email me your list or write it in your blog. The address to reach me is dnifriend at
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