Marginal Footnotes

John McGahern,
April 27, 2006, 9:00 pm
Filed under: Literary, Uncategorized

one of the greatest (Irish) writers of the last fifty years, died at the end of March.  That day was the day we discussed his novel, Amongst Women, in my course on Irish prose.  Having not heard about his death, we noted that he was probably the greatest living Irish novelist. 

He wrote a piece for Granta before he died.  In it, he examines autobiographically one of the major preoccupations of his fictions: the Church and its role in Irish society.  But this ostensibly provincial interest is, as is typical with McGahern, a spring-board for a larger discussion of the human condition. Check it out.       



God Bless Jim VandeHei
April 27, 2006, 8:20 pm
Filed under: Media, Politics, Uncategorized

Who is possibly one of the best writers at the Post and funny, too


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Debate on Iraq
April 27, 2006, 8:13 pm
Filed under: Politics, Uncategorized

The Hill's Alexander Bolton is reporting that House Majority Leader John Boehner (Ohio) is calling for a 'full and lengthy floor debate on the Iraq war'.  Seventeen hours, even. Well!  That's very inspiring but one has to wonder if the moment has passed.  I suppose there's always time for pretending to do the nation's business, which may or may not included oversight of the executive branch and its ingenious policy decisions.

Or not.  Apparently Congress will 'debate a resolution produced by the Republican-controlled House International Relations Committee'.  The committee staff responsible for drafting such a resolution know nothing of it, which suggests the level of seriousness which Boeher is attaching to this proposal. 

But really, the choice quote in Bolton's peice is from Steve Buyer, a Republican from Indiana: 'The House floor is reserved for productivity'.  What a kidder! 

God Bless America, and the black farce which is the running of our government. 


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High School Journalism
April 27, 2006, 7:49 pm
Filed under: Media, Politics, Uncategorized

I'm all for it.  Patrick Fitzgerald gives an interview to his old high school newspaper (I ripped this off from Crooks and Liars). 


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Shafer on Plagiarism
April 27, 2006, 7:00 pm
Filed under: Literary, Media, Uncategorized

Jack Shafer in Slate has an article on this Viswanathan plagiarism scandal.  He says what I said two days ago, which either means I'm supersmart or the captain of the obvious. Probably the latter. 

'Viswanathan tells the New York Times that the 29 cited instances in which she lifted from another novelist's language for her novel were "unintentional and unconscious."

Please! Pinching one or two phrases from another book in the course of writing a 320-page novel might be accidental. But by the time a novelist does it 29 times, the effort is transparently intentional and conscious. Unless, of course, Viswanathan composed her entire novel during Ambien-induced sleep-writing episodes.'

But, of course, Shafer, being much smarter than I am, does a whole funny run-down of plagiarism, which you should read, because Slate is great.  He does not, however, reckon with my 'influence' defense.  His peice deals almost exclusively with plagiarism in academia, non-fiction, or journalism.  Jack, what about fiction?     


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Blasts from the Past
April 27, 2006, 2:49 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

So, George Allen is (or was) a confederate flag fan, according to Taegan Goddard quoting The New Republic.  That's not interesting because it's wholly unsurprising, and differs in no significant way from Bush's position in the flag in South Carolina during the 2000 election.  It's interesting that Allen's response to the discovery of the photograph of him wearing a confederate flag pin on his collar expresses zero regret and suggests no fault.  I'm not calling him a racist, just dense.  I can do this because I'm from Georgia, where until three years ago the confederate flag was the, uh, motif of the state flag.  But let's be serious.  The point of interest here is Allen's response, which exposes a deeply incurious mind (remind anyone of anyone).  He'll probably say it's a 'symbol' of the 'rebel' 'heritage' of the South.  We've heard all that before.  Concede it but why stop the analysis there?  What kind of heritage does it symbolize, and what exactly were the rebels rebelling to defend?  Everyone knows the answers to these questions, but someone should ask George Allen next time they see him. 


P.S. If George Allen becomes the president, I'm leaving the country.  Again.  

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Everyone is not Stupid
April 26, 2006, 3:40 pm
Filed under: Literary, Media, Uncategorized

The New York Times has Steve Ross, publisher at Crown, rejecting Viswanathan's apology as 'disingenuous' and 'an act of literary identity theft'.  Whatever that means.  Usually this is called influence.  The Times also alluded to possible disciplinary action by Harvard.  Why?  It's not a test.  Clearly Viswanathan was being dishonest, not to mention unclever, but I think this hoopla is not a whole lot more than the result of the post-Frey apocalypse.


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