Sunday, December 26, 2004


Authors and Alcohol: Together at Last

If drink is the bane of writing, it still has its rewards. The ancient (and still very much alive) London pub Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese was once responsible for the Cruikshank-illustrated volume of literary gossip The Book of Cheese: Being The Traits and Stories of Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese, which went through at least 11 editions from the 1890s through the 1930s. (It's still possible to find nice old copies cheaply.) Now it may be San Francisco's turn: the Geary Ave hangout Edinburgh Castle has published its own literary anthology, featuring such Grotto standbys as Po Bronson and Mary Roach.

The bar least likely to produce a book? Mr. Bing's. I've never witnessed any literature spewing forth from there, but I have seen its urinal filled with vomit.


Too Broke to Die

The Globe and Mail list of Canada's literary orphans of 2004 includes two books on "our ailing health care system."

What could be worse than an ailing health care system? Oh, wait -- I know! None.


Art Bandini, Future Bush Appointee

The Sydney Morning Herald gives a year-end wrap up of its own The Best Book You've Never Read column. The most intriguing listing -- a book which I indeed have never read -- is for John Fante's The Road to Los Angeles:

"Written in the 1930s, it was considered too provocative and did not appear until two years after Fante's death in 1985.... The novel's delusional narrator is Arturo Bandini.... He shoots crabs with a BB gun while imagining himself as a great military leader. 'I was dictator Bandini, Ironman of Crabland,' he proclaims."


Depends on What You're Reading

The Christian Science Monitor duly notes the existence of a Book Lover's Edition of Trivial Pursuit, which "promises 'as much fun as reading, and maybe more!'"


It Takes Money To Make Money

The Guardian reports how former landscape gardener and current antiquarian thief Peter Bellwood primed the theft pump while in Copenhagen: "The Danish library knows that Bellwood first visited on January 29 2001 -- records show he signed in under his own name. He appears to have allayed suspicion early on by handing in a 500 Kroner note, worth £46, which he claimed to have found 'lying around'."


Insert Penny-Pinching Scotsman Joke Here

The endless haggling continues over the archive of London publisher John Murrary, which includes priceless materials by Darwin, Byron, and Sir Walter Scott. It has been offered for sale to the National Library of Scotland at a steeply discounted £33 million. Not steep enough, says one malcontent in The Scotsman.

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