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Monday, April 18, 2005

The Library of Zembla 

On the principle that if one lefty blogger sticks his head in the oven, then all lefty bloggers must stick their heads in the oven, our damnable colleague Rorschach at No Capital has strongarmed us into helping him disseminate what used to be called a chain letter and is now called, with rather less accuracy, a "meme." The chain-letter/meme in this instance is the one that has to do with favorite books, and although we are colluding in this seamy endeavor only because we want to keep pinching Rorschach's stuff (and because we hope to avoid the dire fate that befell a Mr. Hesiod Theogony of Counterspin when he broke the chain), we were nonetheless quite stunned, upon reviewing our answers, to realize just how clever and fascinatingly well-rounded we were:

You’re stuck inside Fahrenheit 451; which book do you want to be?

We want to be the book that gets us invited out to dinner, and then invited out to dinner again because we were so entertaining the first time. A spooky book might do the trick; over the long haul, however, funny is probably more welcome at the table than spooky, especially if wine is being poured, as we most fervently hope it is. Likely candidates? Perhaps one of the fatter Wodehouse collections -- The Most of P.G. Wodehouse and The World of Jeeves both contain lots of stories, and by the time we'd performed twenty or thirty of them our hosts would naturally want us to recite "The Purity of the Turf" again. Or Ed McClanahan's The Natural Man (we could do all the accents), or Roy Blount, Jr.'s Crackers (we could do all the accents), or Chas. Portis's Norwood or Masters of Atlantis (we could do all the accents). We are also quite taken with Harry Crews's A Childhood: not only could we do all the accents, but we feel that when we came to the spectacularly gruesome bit in which six-year-old Harry falls into the rendering vat and his entire epidermis slides off, we could acquit ourselves quite nicely. Kyril Bonfiglioli's Charlie Mortdecai books (Don't Point That Thing at Me, etc.) are another obvious possibility, but we don't think we could handle the accents.

Have you ever had a crush on a fictional character?

Yes. Because it was unrequited, we will say no more.

The last book you bought is:

A stack of five: Kazuo Ishiguro's science fiction novel, Never Let Me Go; Like a Rolling Stone, by our idol Greil Marcus; serial blasphemer Matt Taibbi's Spanking the Donkey; The Men Who Stare at Goats, by Jon Ronson, author of the excellent Them; and The Italian Secretary, a Conan Doyle pastiche by Zemblan patriot C.C.

The last book you read is:

Based on the following question, we take "read" to mean "completed," in which case the answer is The Ancestor's Tale, by Richard Dawkins.

What are you currently reading?

A couple or three dozen titles at any give time. The two we carried into the, shall we say, "throne room" a short while ago were The Disappointment Artist, by quisatz haderach Jonathan Lethem, and The Man Who Lost the Sea, by T. Sturgeon. (Parallel Worlds by Michio Kaku was a strong contender, but seemed, in the final analysis, inappropriate to the occasion.) Earlier today we polished off the last of three superb uncanny tales by Zemblan patriot J.F., which may or may not appear in his upcoming collection The Empire of Ice Cream.

Five books you would take to a deserted island:

1.) The Iliad and the Odyssey. For purposes of this exercise we consider them a single book, even though they may have been written by multiple Homers. Object if you will, but know that we will not embark on any journey that might conceivably deposit us on a deserted island unless we have a written assurance that we may count both volumes as a single pick.

Translation? The Fitzgerald or the Lombardo. If Christopher Logue lives long enough to complete his multi-volume rewrite of the Iliad (which runs, so far, from War Music to All Day Permanent Red), we would certainly like to have it in the satchel.

2.) Evgeny Onegin, in all of the six translations we own, in order to facilitate our master plan of translating Pushkin's chef d'oeuvre into colloquial English without learning a scrap of Russian;

3.) Pale Fire, by V. Nabokov, for sentimental reasons. Better yet, the Library of America Nabokov, vol. 2, which also contains Lolita, Pnin, and (anticlimactically) Lolita: A Screenplay. Don't tell us it's not a single book. It's in our hands. We're looking at it. It's a single book;

4.) Mrs. Bridge, by Evan S. Connell, a poignant reminder of what we left behind when we set out for the island;

5.) Collected Poems, by Philip Larkin, a poignant reminder that we were already on the island long before we set out.

There is a 200-book tie for sixth place.

Who[m] are you going to pass this stick to (3 persons)? And Why?

1.) Rorschach's firstborn, and his firstborn's firstborn, and so on unto the seventh generation, as an expression of our deep and abiding gratitude;

2.) Paperwight. No, wait, forgot: Paperwight on Wednesday threatened physical violence if we tried it, and although we have a marked advantage in height and heft, Paperwight is wiry and full of guile. Hence:

2.) Our distinguished colleague Chuck Dupree of Belisarius and Bad Attitudes, who was nowhere to be seen on Wednesday, and therefore missed out on the opportunity to defend himself; and

3.) The anonymous proprietor of What Alice Found, who lists no e-mail address on his/her site; has never enabled comments; and is thus unlikely to learn of the awful burden that has devolved upon him or her, unless he or she has the misfortune to visit this site in the next couple of days.

Coming soon: the 250 American movies we love the best. What's YOUR opinion??

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