Friday, 29 January 2010

here goes

here's what our calendar looks like today:


Going in to the library now with my laptop, my data stick, and my Giant List Of Things To Look Up In The Oxford Latin Dictionary (and elsewhere). By the time I come home again, the book should be f... f... fin....

... no, I can't say it.

(What do you think of this for the author photo?)


Wednesday, 27 January 2010


I love some good marginalia, me. Even when it was me that wrote them, ages ago, and then forgot.

Heidegger: We say that an equipmental contexture environs us.

me [in margin]: Do we indeed Martin

(But honestly, though. Honestly. An equipmental contexture environs us, indeed. Maybe it's better in German.)

Saturday, 23 January 2010

you know what?

The Aeneid is really good. Just really good. Even outside of the whole crazy edifice I have made for it, the Tower of Song in the Underworld where Vergil lives with Lucan and Dante* and Roland Barthes drops in for tea,** it is just completely brilliant.

I am going to make myself a TEAM AENEAS t-shirt like those TEAM EDWARD ones. (Though I guess it should really be TEAM DIDO... Ooh, also, I should make a TEAM BELLA t-shirt!***)

Or possibly I should go back to fixing my damn footnotes. Okay, see you in a week--

*as in 'Jenny lives with Eric and Martin', except I guess Lucan would be the sulky teenage son here.

**from the Tower of Theory. He invites Derrida along every week, but Derrida is too reclusive (Oh, you know what, maybe next time, Roland...)

***Hooray! Lots of people already have! I like this one.

Friday, 22 January 2010

actually it wasn't very good

I haven't quite finished it yet, but A Question of Love turned out to be fudging/pulling its punches on the grief stuff, and to have some very odd misogynies scattered through it. Alas.

Thursday, 21 January 2010


Yes, hello, ten days till the deadline, I have five meetings tomorrow and a new semester's teaching starts on Monday, WHATEVER. The point is that I am planning (for February, when a utopian world of time-having and headspace and sunshine and tweeting birds will open up ahead of me) a post on chicklit, because I like chicklit and I don't want that giant post on Linda Green to look like I am dissing the genre. (In fact, LG claims to have invented a new genre called 'chick-noir', presumably on the basis of a strand of the plot I didn't talk about in which her heroine's behaviour is shown to result from a bad experience in her past - she had a miscarriage - which is an absolutely standard chicklit plot - I've read two others dealing with it in the last week or so, both of which handled it much better and, indeed, more noirly.)

Anyway, though, this is not that post, it's a reminder to myself/teaser trailer to that post, in that I have just opened another sugary-pastel novel with a scribbly cover picture of a dreamy girl, described by Sophie Kinsella* on the front as Pure feel-good escapism and summarized by Heat on the back in the words A resigned singleton, Laura's world is rocked when her first boyfriend appears... and it appears to be about the process of grieving your husband's suicide.

Which, again, is the thing about chicklit. It tends to deal with big, complicated emotions. It has big themes: love, death, birth, grief, pain, joy; how to build and rebuilt a romantic relationship; how to be a good friend. But for some reason, it gets painted sugary pink or acid green and described as being escapist, feel-good, charming, and/or exclusively about the 30-something hetero-dating scene. I can't decide whether this is camouflage or outright lies.

Anyway, I am only 13 pages into this book (Isabell Wolff's A Question of Love), so I will tell you how it turns out.

(Yes! Obviously some chicklit is very bad! But have you read a literary novel lately? Sturgeon's Law, people, Sturgeon's Law. Either of them.)

*I really, really like Sophie Kinsella. The Shopaholic books go off the rails quite quickly (though I really like the P J Hogan movie - remind me to tell you about P J Hogan as a critical reader of popular novels one day), but all the others are great, especially the amnesia one whose title I quite genuinely forget.