Sunday, July 24, 2005

Sunday Online Browsing

  • The NY Times reviews Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince:
    the suspense generated by these books does not stem solely from the tension of wondering who will die next or how one or another mystery will be solved. It stems, as well, from Ms. Rowling's dexterity in creating a character-driven tale, a story in which a person's choices determine the map of his or her life -- a story that creates a hunger to know more about these people who have become so palpably real. We want to know more about Harry's parents -- how they met and married and died -- because that may tell us more about Harry's own yearnings and decisions. We want to know more about Dumbledore's desire to believe the best of everyone because that may shed light on whom he chooses to trust. We want to know more about the circumstances of Tom Riddle's birth because that may shed light on his decision to reinvent himself as Lord Voldemort. Indeed, the achievement of the Potter books is the same as that of the great classics of children's literature, from the Oz novels to ''The Lord of the Rings'': the creation of a richly imagined and utterly singular world, as detailed, as improbable and as mortal as our own.
    If you haven't read the book yet, I'd recommend not reading the review. While they are careful not to give anything away, the perceptive reader you are will connect the dots.
  • Alternet has a podcast available for a free download of George Lakoff's presentation at Tikkun's spiritual activism conference in Berkeley, CA.
  • August 1st begins the group read of the email novel Daughters of Freya in conjunction with The idea is to "create a shared interactive experience."
  • Jane Stevenson writes about her research for her forthcoming book on Latin women poets. Her work took her to the Vatican:
    Going inside the Vatican feels a bit like entering a high-security prison. The main structure, four cliff-like walls of dun-coloured stone, is built round a bleak quadrangle and pierced by an archway: the blank rows of windows stare down at a fountain basin which looks as if it has never in living memory been filled with water. The Vatican City is also the biggest men's club in the world, a place where it is made clear by every nuance of its inhabitants' body-language that to be female is to be both peculiar and negligible. It was therefore a very odd place to be looking for women, a joke that I never attempted to share with anyone within its sacred portals.
  • January Magazine interviews Jasper Fforde about his new book The Big Over Easy:
    Why divert to the "Nursery Crime" series? Why not another Thursday Next book? I can't do Thursday Next forever and a book a year is hard work. Look at The Well of Lost Plots . The density of ideas and concepts is very very tight. A book a year is very hard, so I thought: Let's have a break and move on to something else. You can get reader fatigue as well as writer fatigue. So I thought: Let's get a break and take something I've already written. As soon as I looked at [The Big Over Easy], I realized why it was not published when I wrote it in 1993, 1994. I'm returning to Thursday next year with another idea which I'm working on at the same time.
    Very happy to see that there should be a new Thursday Next book in a year or two.
  • The Christian Science Monitor has an article about Salman Rushdie and his new book, Shalimar the Clown. The book is being published in Brazil two months sooner than in any English speaking countries. Early reviews declare it is one of Rushide's best and even better than Midnight's Children. I read Midnight's Children not long after it came out and liked it very much. So this new book is something to look forward to.