Archive for October 2012
I’ve outed myself as a Proust nut (1, 2, 3, 4) and people occasionally ask me how they might best enter that big and forbidding-to-some book. Someone just did that today, so I’ll share two plans that may work for you while you are reading In Search of Lost Time.
Follow the tweets. Patrick Alexander, who wrote the useful companion Marcel Proust’s Search for Lost Time, recently completed tweeting the whole damn Search. Took him two years and 3,000 tweets. They’re very good and very funny. He’ll be starting another cycle on November 1.
Follow the master. William C. Carter’s Marcel Proust: A Life is the pick of the doorstop Proust bios; he offers a self-paced online course covering the novel and its creation. Carter knows pretty much everything there is to know about Proust and the Search, but he doesn’t let that knowledge prevent him from having fun with the work.
The tale of how New Jersey’s method of privatizing jails went so wrong is is not a funny story in any way, but I am pretty regularly in awe of how Gail Collins deploys consecutive sentences for devastating comic and commenting effect. Recently she delivered a real winner:
“The program costs about half as much per inmate as a regular jail. This may be in part because the prisoners keep escaping.” — Political Private Practice
In so many great pieces of writing, each sentence moves off the previous one, sometimes revealing a new truth behind the previous sentence, moving the whole damn thing forward. Bang two sentences against one another and you’d better get far more than each one could deliver separately.