What I’ve been reading

1. Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania, by Erik Larson.  My favorite of his books, fun and readable as you would expect, many interesting details including what happens to you in water at 55 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. Philip Glass, Words Without Music.  “A lot of Einstein on the Beach was written at night after driving a cab.”  An excellent memoir of both Glass’s early life and the New York creative world up through 1976 or so.

3. Colm Tóibín, On Elizabeth Bishop.  A good example of a book I wish was longer than it was, it is shorter than its 199 pp. might indicate.  As a poet I much prefer Bishop to her correspondent Robert Lowell; their letters collection by the way makes for superb reading and drama.

4. Njal’s Saga.  I just taught this in Law and Literature, and on the re-read I enjoyed it more than expected.  The core model is that arbitration is binding, provided the expected outcome does not stray too far from what violence would bring.  The best way to go through the book is first to master the internal story of sections 121-145, then read to the end, and finally go to the beginning.  A recommended guide is William Ian Miller’s “Why is Your Axe So Bloody?”; yes that is the same Miller who wrote very good books on disgust and humiliation.


"what happens to you in water at 55 degrees Fahrenheit"
As a long time outer Cape Cod vacationer and ocean beachgoer, I don't need to be told. Keep moving, and short durations in the water. Anything more can be deadly

If I keep buying recommended books, this retirement gig might not work out.

But Bishop was so stingy with her gift.

So, a free online link to Njal's Saga, as is acceptable for students of the class - http://www.gutenberg.org/files/17919

A Project Gutenberg link, just like every other time this book is mentioned at this web site. Because for some unexplainable reason, one of the greatest sources of free literature is simply not mentioned, even though it has been in existence since 1971, and is the world's first digital library.

Of course, Project Gutenberg does illustrate the value of the public domain to promote progress, by removing someone's exclusive rights of distribution, so that anyone can do with that person's work as they please. Sounds like the sort of thing that only a bunch of radical revolutionaries would implement, actually.

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