Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Some Good Comment Spam

So comment spam=Bad for the most part. But this one is so charming, I just had to post it anyways.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Maybe the Dry Cleaners Are Just Sans-culottes

The travails of being a member of the Legion of Honour.
For everyday use, chevaliers and officiers wear a special hue of deep red thread sewn in a thin stripe from the buttonhole to the outer edge of the lapel, while commandeurs wear a silver thread. The thread and other legionnaire pins are sold at a store near the Palais Royal in Paris.

These threads might get some attention in France, but are harder to decode in New York. “Every time I take a suit to the dry cleaners they try to snip them off,” said Paul LeClerc, the president of the New York Public Library and a chevalier. “It’s very expensive thread if you have to go all the way to Paris” to get it.

Felix Rohatyn, the financier and former ambassador to France, said his silver commandeur lapel thread also posed problems. “Sometimes if I leave it on and send it to the cleaners, it comes back with the thing off because they thought it was a laundry mark,” he said.
Only France's orders of chivalry could get such sympathetic coverage in the New York Times.

Sunday, May 04, 2008


Not everyone's happy about Gregory Levey's memoir, Shut Up I'm Talking, about working for the Israeli Mission to the U.N. (I wrote about it before.)

The Jewish Week News reports:
Ben Harris, Levy’s predecessor and now a reporter for JTA, writes in a book review: “It’s not hard to read Levey’s memoir as a colossal act of betrayal.”

Harris writes that Levey portrays Israel’s diplomatic efforts as “ferociously inept and staffed by such insipid characters that no one should ever wonder why Israel seems incapable of convincing the world of the basic justice of its cause.”

But Levey defends his book, saying it was a “humorous take” about his experiences.

“I was just trying to bring light and humor to a situation that too often is taken too seriously,” he said. “It’s my own personal story and all I meant to do was to entertain. Everything in the book is true. Every incident is true, at least as I remember it. None of this should be taken negatively at all.”

The Sunday Serial

I've been a big fan of the New York Times' Sunday Serial since Scott Turow started writing for it in April 2006.

The latest is by Colin Harrison, a writer with whom I was not previously familiar. And from the second paragraph he's showing a virtue of the serial as a form: its ability to be absolutely topical, because of the shorter lead time compared to a book.

While they'd attempted this a bit in the past, I don't believe they've done it to this level of immediacy.
It all began the second Friday in April, a sloppy, cold day. People had finally stopped discussing Eliot Spitzer’s many complex urges. Oil had just hit $112 a barrel, but no one was shocked. People were getting worked up about the Olympics in China. The stock market, so recently up after being so recently down, was down again, and everyone I knew was hoping that the Fed’s quasi-legal voodoo might actually work, so that we wouldn’t all be sucked into a giant, cheap-dollared vortex of recession, inflation and coast-to-coast foreclosures. Then again, many of the folks in my firm had been slyly loading up on gold for months and no doubt counted themselves smart for betting against the American economy. Me, I’d done nothing to prepare for the fiscal apocalypse. All I wanted was to go home and have dinner with Susan.
I haven't liked (and therefore haven't read) the last two Sunday Serials. This one has grabbed me from the beginning.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Top Unread Books On Librarything

The rules:

Bold what you have read, italicize books you’ve started but couldn’t finish, and mark yellow books you hated. Add an asterisk* to those you’ve read more than once. Mark red those on your to be read list.

(the numbers (x/y) are x=(the number of people who've tagged the book "unread") and y=(the number of times the book has been added to Librarything)
  1. Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke (236/9048)
  2. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy (211/8957)
  3. One hundred years of solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (183/11981)
  4. Crime and punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky (176/10692)
  5. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte (162/12144)
  6. Catch-22 a novel by Joseph Heller (158/10893)
  7. The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien (155/8794)
  8. Don Quixote by Miguel De Cervantes Saavedra (152/6662)
  9. The Odyssey by Homer (136/10961)
  10. The brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky (136/7179)
  11. Ulysses by James Joyce (135/6258)
  12. Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert (132/6269)
  13. War and peace by Leo Tolstoy (132/5955)
  14. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte (124/13771)
  15. A tale of two cities by Charles Dickens (124/7463)
  16. The name of the rose by Umberto Eco (120/7709)
  17. Moby Dick by Herman Melville (119/7723)
  18. The Iliad by Homer (117/8729)
  19. Emma by Jane Austen (117/8954)
  20. Vanity fair by William Makepeace Thackeray (115/3827)
  21. Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (114/7123)
  22. The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood (110/4810)
  23. The Canterbury tales by Geoffrey Chaucer (108/6167)
  24. Pride and prejudice by Jane Austen (108/18301)
  25. The historian : a novel by Elizabeth Kostova (108/6453)
  26. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens (106/8595)
  27. The kite runner by Khaled Hosseini (106/13582)
  28. The time traveler's wife by Audrey Niffenegger (105/11416)
  29. Life of Pi : a novel by Yann Martel (105/12699)
  30. Guns, Germs, and Steel: the fates of human societies by Jared Diamond (104/7497)
  31. Atlas shrugged by Ayn Rand (102/5988)
  32. Foucault's pendulum by Umberto Eco (101/5621)
  33. Dracula by Bram Stoker (100/6875)
  34. The grapes of wrath by John Steinbeck (99/7817)
  35. A heartbreaking work of staggering genius by Dave Eggers (97/6454)
  36. Frankenstein by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley (97/9130)
  37. Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf (97/5565)
  38. Reading Lolita in Tehran : a memoir in books by Azar Nafisi (96/4406)
  39. Middlemarch by George Eliot (96/4160)
  40. Sense and sensibility by Jane Austen (96/8596)
  41. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas (95/5172)
  42. Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden (94/11623)
  43. The sound and the fury by William Faulkner (94/5047)
  44. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley (93/12425)
  45. Quicksilver (The Baroque Cycle I) by Neal Stephenson (92/3526)
  46. American gods : a novel by Neil Gaiman (92/10333)
  47. Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides (91/8875)
  48. The poisonwood Bible : a novel by Barbara Kingsolver (91/7463)
  49. Wicked : the life and times of the wicked witch of the West… by Gregory Maguire (90/8909)
  50. A portrait of the artist as a young man by James Joyce (89/6649)
  51. The picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde (89/7168)
  52. Dune by Frank Herbert (89/9225)
  53. The satanic verses by Salman Rushdie (88/3252)
  54. Gulliver's travels by Jonathan Swift (88/4861)
  55. Mansfield Park by Jane Austen (88/5363)
  56. The three musketeers by Alexandre Dumas (87/4128) (in abridged version)
  57. The corrections by Jonathan Franzen (84/5066)
  58. The inferno by Dante Alighieri (84/5874)
  59. Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens (83/4381)
  60. The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand (83/5798)
  61. To the lighthouse by Virginia Woolf (83/4608)
  62. A clockwork orange by Anthony Burgess (83/6757)
  63. Tess of the D'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy (83/4736)
  64. The amazing adventures of Kavalier and Clay : a novel by Michael Chabon (83/5963)
  65. Persuasion by Jane Austen (82/6481)
  66. One flew over the cuckoo's nest by Ken Kesey (82/5916)
  67. The scarlet letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne (82/7748)
  68. Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe (82/4440)
  69. Anansi boys : a novel by Neil Gaiman (81/6540)
  70. The once and future king by T. H. White (81/4294)
  71. Atonement: A Novel by Ian McEwan (80/6970)
  72. The god of small things by Arundhati Roy (80/5512)
  73. A short history of nearly everything by Bill Bryson (79/6268)
  74. Oryx and Crake : a novel by Margaret Atwood (78/3978)
  75. Dubliners by James Joyce (78/5534)
  76. Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson (78/5386)
  77. Angela's ashes : a memoir by Frank McCourt (77/6353)
  78. Beloved : a novel by Toni Morrison (77/5524)
  79. Collapse : how societies choose to fail or succeed by Jared Diamond (76/3825)
  80. The hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo (75/2522)
  81. In cold blood : a true account of a multiple murder and its… by Truman Capote (75/5478)
  82. Lady Chatterley's lover by D.H. Lawrence (73/3169)
  83. A confederacy of dunces by John Kennedy Toole (73/6063)
  84. Les misérables by Victor Hugo (73/4695)
  85. Watership Down by Richard Adams (72/6258)
  86. The prince by Niccolo Machiavelli (72/6369)
  87. The amber spyglass by Philip Pullman (72/6647)
  88. Beowulf : a new verse translation by Anonymous (72/6351) (have read previously, but want to read newer Seamus Heaney translation)
  89. A farewell to arms by Ernest Hemingway (71/5125)
  90. Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance : an inquiry into… by Robert M. Pirsig (71/5559)
  91. The Aeneid by Virgil (71/5060)
  92. Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson (69/4629)
  93. Sons and lovers by D.H. Lawrence (69/2563)
  94. The personal history of David Copperfield by Charles Dickens (69/4314)
  95. The road by Cormac McCarthy (67/5108)
  96. Possession : a romance by A.S. Byatt (67/4128)
  97. The history of Tom Jones, a foundling by Henry Fielding (67/2133)
  98. The book thief by Markus Zusak (67/3556)
  99. Gravity's rainbow by Thomas Pynchon (66/3263)
  100. The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells (66/3048)
  101. Tender is the night by F. Scott Fitzgerald (66/3132)
  102. Candide, or, Optimism by Voltaire (65/5085)
  103. Never let me go by Kazuo Ishiguro (65/4321)
  104. The plague by Albert Camus (65/4614)
  105. Jude the obscure by Thomas Hardy (65/2947)
  106. Cold mountain by Charles Frazier (64/4163)
  107. Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak (64/2092)
  108. As I lay dying by William Faulkner (64/3766)
  109. The shadow of the wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon (64/5195)
  110. Underworld by Don DeLillo (64/2613)
  111. Northanger abbey by Jane Austen (64/4521)
  112. The English patient by Michael Ondaatje (64/3334)
  113. The divine comedy by Dante Alighieri (63/2834)
  114. Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott (63/2526)
  115. Bleak House by Charles Dickens (63/3130)
  116. Everything is illuminated : a novel by Jonathan Safran Foer (63/4567)
  117. The house of the seven gables by Nathaniel Hawthorne (62/2052)
  118. The Origin of Species by Charles Darwin (62/2673)
  119. A people's history of the United States : 1492-present by Howard Zinn (62/3839)
  120. The portrait of a lady by Henry James (62/2894)
  121. White Teeth: A Novel by Zadie Smith (62/4320)
  122. The confusion by Neal Stephenson (61/2803)
  123. Snow falling on cedars by David Guterson (60/3780)
  124. The elegant universe : superstrings, hidden dimensions, and… by Brian Greene (60/2791)
  125. The age of innocence by Edith Wharton (60/3128)
  126. The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov (60/4187)
  127. Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood (60/3212)
  128. Midnight's children by Salman Rushdie (60/3486)
  129. Mark Z. Danielewski's House of leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski (60/3405)
  130. The idiot by Fyodor Dostoyevsky (59/3657)
  131. Midnight in the garden of good and evil : a Savannah story by John Berendt (59/3692)
  132. A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court by Mark Twain (59/2386)
  133. Swann's way by Marcel Proust (59/2491)
  134. For whom the bell tolls by Ernest Hemingway (59/4107)
  135. Uncle Tom's cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe (58/2886)
  136. Moll Flanders by Daniel Defoe (58/2028)
  137. Pattern recognition by William Gibson (58/3226)
  138. Invisible man by Ralph Ellison (58/3977)
  139. Cloud atlas : a novel by David Mitchell (58/3184)
  140. The good earth by Pearl S. Buck (57/3139)
  141. Walden by Henry David Thoreau (57/2996)
  142. Silas Marner by George Eliot (57/2350)
  143. The bonesetter's daughter by Amy Tan (56/2420)
  144. Labyrinth by Kate Mosse (56/1748)
  145. The thirteenth tale : a novel by Diane Setterfield (56/3620)
  146. Naked lunch by William S. Burroughs (55/3291)
  147. The system of the world by Neal Stephenson (55/2237)
  148. A passage to India by E.M. Forster (55/3192)
  149. Cat's eye by Margaret Atwood (55/2859)
  150. Twenty thousand leagues under the sea by Jules Verne (55/2852) (in an abridged version)
  151. The plot against America by Philip Roth (54/2828)
  152. Infinite jest : a novel by David Foster Wallace (54/2222)
  153. The mill on the Floss by George Eliot (54/2169)
  154. Tropic of cancer by Henry Miller (54/2359)
  155. The phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux (54/2418)
  156. Baudolino by Umberto Eco (54/2406)
  157. The histories by Herodotus (53/2906)
  158. Lord Jim by Joseph Conrad (53/2159)
  159. The known world by Edward P. Jones (53/2066)
  160. Notes from the underground by Fyodor Dostoyevsky (53/2892)
  161. The Bhagavad Gita by Anonymous (52/3036)
  162. Utopia by Thomas More (52/2793)
  163. The island of the day before by Umberto Eco (52/2168)
  164. The last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper (52/2317)
  165. Far from the madding crowd by Thomas Hardy (52/2429)
  166. The woman in white by Wilkie Collins (51/2484)
  167. Paradise lost a poem in twelve books by John Milton (51/2447)
  168. Of human bondage by W. Somerset Maugham (50/1994)
  169. The mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy (50/2189)
  170. Son of a witch : a novel by Gregory Maguire (50/2159)
  171. The Robber Bride by Margaret Atwood (50/2508)
  172. Light in August by William Faulkner (49/2358)
  173. Unfinished tales of Numenor and Middle-earth by J.R.R. Tolkien (49/2632)
  174. Women in love by D.H. Lawrence (48/1873)
  175. The Decameron by Giovanni Boccaccio (48/2166)
  176. The moonstone by Wilkie Collins (47/2218)
  177. Mason & Dixon by Thomas Pynchon (47/1551)
  178. The Gormenghast trilogy by Mervyn Peake (47/1297)
  179. Villette by Charlotte Bronte (47/1977)
  180. The return of the native by Thomas Hardy (46/2040)
  181. The life and opinions of Tristram Shandy, gentleman by Laurence Sterne (45/2006)
  182. Absalom, Absalom! by William Faulkner (45/1920)
  183. That hideous strength : a modern fairy-tale for grown-ups by C. S. Lewis (44/1938)
  184. The Gulag Archipelago, 1918-1956; an experiment in literary… by Aleksander Solzenitsyn (44/1833)
  185. The man in the iron mask by Alexandre Dumas (43/1167)
  186. The ultimate hitchhiker's guide by Douglas Adams (43/0)
  187. The glass bead game (Magister Ludi) by Hermann Hesse (42/1818)
  188. The mysterious flame of Queen Loana : an illustrated novel by Umberto Eco (41/1651)
  189. Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser (40/1495)
  190. The tale of Genji by Murasaki Shikibu (39/1410)
  191. Nicholas Nickleby by Charles Dickens (38/1414)
  192. The ladies of Grace Adieu and other stories by Susanna Clarke (37/1103)
  193. The ground beneath her feet : a novel by Salman Rushdie (36/1214)
  194. Vellum by Hal Duncan (27/493)
  195. Freedom & necessity by Steven Brust (26/494)
  196. The kite runner by Khaled Hosseini (19/0)
  197. Life of Pi : a novel by Yann Martel (17/0)
  198. The Kor'an by Anonymous (11/0)
  199. The Mabinogion by Anonymous (8/0)
  200. The sketch book of Geoffrey Crayon, gent by Washington Irving (7/0)
(via the LibraryThing Blog and Writing Grandma's Book with an updated list of books from LibraryThing)