On December 21, 1950 in a letter to Burroughs Mitchell of Scribner’s , Norman Mailer declared that the title to James Jones’ great war novel –From Here to Eternity –was  an “awful title.” If you agree or disagree with Mailer’s assessment give yourself 150 points. If, however, you are asking: Who is James Jones? Who is Norman Mailer? What was Scribner’s? What war is being referred to? – then perhaps publishing is not the best choice for a profession for you.   **


Why didn't I go
Into demolition and carting?
Unfortunately, my readers
Believe I did.

LIT CRIT #87986954
Some readers adore it,
Some readers abhor it.
I mean by it,
Charles Dickens’ Little Dorrit.



The following sentence (perhaps spoken by a young child to his or her mother who has brought a book to read) ends with 5 prepositions:

Why did you bring that book I did not want to be read to out of up for?

The following sentence contains the word had 10 times in succession:

Jane, where her classmate had had ‘had’ had ‘had had’; ‘had had ‘ had a better effect on Jane’s teacher.


   Every word in this line is authentic.


Is it possible that you knew beforehand that this sentence would not contain your name?

 How will you know that this sentence will ever end unless you read it all the way to its conclusion?


If I ask myself what single piece of literature gave me the most pleasure in 1961, it was an article in the Scientific American called “Cleaning Shrimps. W.H. Auden. London Sunday Times (December 24, 1961)    

“What was the best book you’ve ever received as a gift?”            “The Collected Stories of Isaac Babel,” which was given to me on the 17th birthday. It opened a door in my mind, and behind that door I found the room where I wanted to spend the rest of my life.”   Paul Auster   from THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW (Sunday, January 15, 2017)  

I don’t know if I wanted to be a writer, which is why I liked Jo March, or Jo March was a writer so I wanted to be a writer too. But I did the thing you can only do with books as a child, where your own autobiography and the contents of a book merge.   Greta Gerwig in TIME (December16, 2019)

In the decades since “Little Woman”was published, children’s novels with black girl heroines have also been published –- “Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry; “The Bluest Eye”; the works of Virginia Hamilton and Octavia Butler. But they do not possess the assumption of lingua franca that “Little Women” is given in cultural conversations. I do not know many who ask, for example, “Are you a Lauren?” in reference to “Parable of the Sower.”   Kaitlin Greenidge. “The Bearable Whiteness of ‘Little Women” in The New York Times (January 19, 2020)  


Everybody’s a critic. Right before coming to trial, Adolf Eichmann Remarked to his jailer    That Lolita was  “Quite an unwholesome book.”  Nabokov had offended  Eichmann ’s high moral standards.  

Louis Phillips      “In 1981 two books, Hemingway’s Reading 1910 –

1940 and Hemingway’s Library  gave scholars their first systematic view of Ernest Hemingway’s lifetime of reading. The two books, which overlapped at points, listed over nine-thousand titles which, at one time or another, passed through Hemingway’s hand.”   Michael S. Reignoel. “A Supplement to Hemingway’s Reading 1810-1940” in Studies in American Fiction, volume 14 (Spring 1986)  

hProbably the most seminal thing in my life was growing up and discovering the OZ books. I was about twelve or thirteen before I finally had to face the fact there was no way to get OZ. Ronald Johnson (poet)   One reads in order to ask questions.       Franz Kafka   Quoted by  Alberto Manguel. A History of Reading (Viking Penguin, 1996).              

“The experience of reading it for the first time is hard to describe. It’s like driving all night deeper into Georgia and finding yourself in a well-lit room with fantastic and familiar shadows on the walls, with an illuminating liquor sliding down clean inside you, telling things about yourself.”                Patricia Lockwood describing what it is like to have read Carson McCuller’s novel THE BALLAD OF THE SAD CAFÉ:        

Reading is a form of pleasure. Pleasure seekers, of course, take their pleasures in different ways and with different styles. The reading of an obsessive person differs from that of a hysteric. They produce different texts. Using psychoanalysis, we can differentiate classes of readers: the fetishist, the obsessive, the paranoiac, the hysteric.     Vincent B. Leitch DECONSTRUCTIVE CRITICISM. Columbia University,l983. P.113.            

The novel’s ability to seduce readers with its alternate, and invariably more attractive, versions of reality was much lamented in the 19th century. Thomas Jefferson blamed literature for encouraging “a bloated imagination, sickly    Book Review (April 2, 2017)    

A man lay dying, a vet recalled. He knew, or must have suspected, it was all over for him. From his trouser sidepocket he removed an ASE (American Services Editions) copy of Betty Smith’s A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. As his life ebbed away, he read the novel: the bullets and shells whizzing overhead, the dead, dying and soon to die all around him. ‘It was so strange, so strange.’   John Sutherland, describing a veteran’s report of observing a soldier dying on Omaha Beach on D-Day.  Magic Moments (2008)    

A friend of ours traveling tourist on the Flandre decided that he would like to make Stendhal’s “Le Rouge et le Noir” his shipboard reading. accordingly , he repaired to the tourist-class library, where he found Balzac, Diderot, Pascal,  deMaupassant, and, any another eminent author, but no Stendhal. When our friend asked the librarian about this, he was informed, “Ah, monsieur, Stendhal is where he belongs –in first class.   “Talk of the Town,” in The New Yorker (April 11, 1959).  



I believe it was admitted by Scott
That some of his novels were rot.
How different was he from Lytton
Who admired everything he had written.
E. C. Bentley 

The initial C stood for Clerihew. Bentley's middle name became the name of
the 4 line light verse form that I am quite attracted to). In addition to Clerihews,
Bentley wrote mysteries, such as TRENT'S  LAST CASE.  Reading that mystery,
T. L. Baker observed:

...Bentley varies the 'verbs of saying': Thus avoiding monotony, but it also makes 
the writing more crisp in character. Examples of the device are: ' hinted';
'urged';' persisted'; 'grumbled'; 'observed'; 'inquired'; 'resumed'; 'reasoned'; 
'suggested'; 'admitted'; 'chuckled'; 'amended'; 'interjected' 'ventured'; 'ended' --
each appropriate to the context.
T. L. Baker, "E.C. Bentley: Trent's Last Case" in Notes on Chosen English Texts
Interjecting myself into the conversation about Trent's Last Case, I grudgingly admitted that I had chuckled, grumbled, and observed, but I admitted I had not
reasoned. Some listeners hinted, others urged that my manners be amended.

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Thisprominent member of British Parliament and the
author of Reflections on the Revolution in France (l790) , once said,
"Strip majesty of its exteriors (the first and last letters) and it
becomes a jest." Who was he?


1. “Hearts that don’t beat very much?(5  letters)

          by Timothy Polin

2. “Home squatters? (4 letters)

        by Ross Trudeau

  3. Group that’s on the take? (6,4)

             by Jaeh Pahk 

4. Most things on it might be taken as a

Matter of course. (4 letters)

        by Frank W. Lewis

5. hairstyle for a gunslinger?

         by Andrew Zhou

6. Helps for short people, for short

             by  Ori Brien

   7. What a historical librarian might do?  March this way, perhaps. (4,4)

            .   by Frank W. Lewis







 6. ATMS



       The other day I was standing in the gift shop for the American Museum of Folk Art, or some such place, and my attention was immediately drawn to  two new cookbooks on the market: THE GONE WITH THE WIND COOKBOOK and THE CASABLANCA COOKBOOK.
     Unfortunately, I was with a friend who was famished for lunch, and so I had to abandon the store before I had the opportunity to scan the recipes therein. I can only imagine titles such as  Tomorrow is Another Salad or Play It Again, Spam (and, yes, I know the line "Play it again, Sam" is not in Casablanca, but legend is always better than reality). What's next I wondered -- THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS COOKBOOK?  No, that was, even for my bizarre sense of humor, too shocking to consider.
     Still, all through lunch with my friend, I could not help but think that the fad of creating cookbooks to go with famous movies has not yet been fully explored. 
   In the near future, the following cookbooks are certain to go on sale:
l. THE  ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE COOKBOOK -- this book is certain to appeal to those persons who like  to explore the ethical implications of cooking and serving foods.  The dishes appear good on the outside, but are actually not wholesome on the inside.
   For example, "Lobster a la Mode" -- At first glance, the sight of moldy apple pie garnished with juicy flakes of lobster might appear to be appetizing, but further thought will probably warn us away in favor of something more traditional. 
2.  THE MACHINE GUN KELLY COOKBOOK -- This book features foodstuffs shot full of holes. Don't overlook "Up Against the Wall Swiss Cheese Fondu" -- a particular favorite on Valentine's day.
3. THE WAR OF THE WORLDS COOKBOOK -- or surprising things you can create with bacteria.
4. KRAMER VS. KRAMER COOKBOOK -- He cooks a dish one way; she cooks it another. Lawyers are called in to decide which of the two recipes will be served. Fun for the entire family.
5. THE GODFATHER COOKBOOK -- imagine the thrill your houseguests will feel when they wake up each morning with a baked horse delicately served in their bed.
6. THE HOME ALONE COOKBOOK SERIES -- recipes even a twelve year old can whip up. Amazing surprises for the unwary adult eater.
7. THE E.T. COOKBOOK -- In this cookbook, you have to call home to get the ingredients and the directions.
8.  THE JURASSIC PARK COOKBOOK -- Bring dead  foods back to life.
9.  THE TOWERING INFERNO COOKBOOK -- Unfortunately, to properly cook anything in this book you have to set entire high-rises on fire. Hence, most of the recipes  are too expensive for middle-class families. 
l0.  THE JOHN WAYNE COOKBOOK -- Everything you ever wanted to know about cooking  true grits...
11. THE LTTLE WOMAN COOKBOOK—actually a reprint of Lilliput’s favorite collection of Civil War recipes. It recommends the same recipes for larger women, merely serve smaller portions.
Anyway, now that you've gotten the idea, perhaps you can come up with some ideas of your own. I am, as they say, open to suggestions.
Maybe, with a burst of imagination, we can revolutionize the cookbook  publishing industry overnight.

3 thoughts on “BITS & PIECES OF A MISPLACED LIFE -#8

  1. Maybe an Atlas Shrugged Cookbook – where no one takes responsibility for the recipe with 40 pages of ingredients?

    Your blog, as always, is fun and thought provoking!

    Liked by 1 person

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