Monday, March 15, 2010

The Ides of March

Sounds like a good theme to meander on.  In Lithuanian they call March Kovas, which literally means to battle, and it certainly feels that way with snowy nights and sunny days, with the temperature swinging about 20 degrees from day to night.  But, my wife tells me the month is probably named after the rook (corvus frugilegus), which returns each spring.


  1. Finished A New Life last night. Not exactly what I expected, but enjoyed it none the less. Here's a nice (retro) review by Jonathan Yardley:

    And speaking of Yardley, a friend sent me this review as an example of what may indeed be the worst review ever written:

  2. Hate to say I have not read any of Malamud, although I have long been meaning to do so. I think I have Malamud's The Tenants, although I see the story was turned into a vehicle for Snoop Dog. Ah, the irony!

    In regard to the Jewish American "trinity," I have always liked Saul Bellow, for the most part anyway. Augie March was a bit of a slog. I can take or leave Philip Roth.

  3. I read The Fixer, and remember thinking it great. As for Bellow, I loved Henderson the Rain King -- but that was years ago. I always wonder how these books hold up.

    I've tried a few Roth books with the NY Times group, but have never really figured out his popularity. His writing strikes me as clunky and flat. Really wanted to read The Plot against America, but couldn't get through it. Everyman was okay -- sort of a slim semi-biographical novel of a jerk.

  4. Malamud wrote some really good stories. You can't go wrong with the collection, The Magic Barrel, which won a National Book Award. I also like The Fixer, The Assistant, Dubin's Lives . . .

    Roth I can take or leave, although I think very highly of The Human Stain and recommend it.

    I cherish just about everything Bellow wrote, although Augie March is a slog.

  5. Isn't March named for Mars, the god of war? It's fighting it out here, that's for sure. it was almost 70 here yesterday.

    Here's another book for our consideration at some point:

  6. Received my copy of the taxidermy book yesterday, along with this one, which for some reason appeals:

    And in case anyone is interested in a side discussion, just ordered the Judt book which I look forward to reading. Imagine arguing for the common good!

  7. And the results are in....

    Dysfunctional was my one word for Congress -- looks like I am closer to the mainstream than I thought!

  8. I see panic is setting in among the Republicans. Here they thought they had won the health care debate with the election of the "41st vote," only for the Dems now threatening to get the health care bill through the Senate through a straight-up reconciliation vote. Damn!

    Governor "Butch" Otter's measure is a joke, as the states have no say in this matter, at least as far as it comes to providing national health insurance. I suppose they could "reject" their share of the money earmarked for health care in their states, but that's about it. Are they seriously going to reject those persons who buy into national health insuarance?

    I'm very glad to see Obama finally taking the lead on health care reform after Congressional Dems lost their nerve.

  9. On another note, I saw The Men Who Stare at Goats the other night and really enjoyed it. Kevin Spacey seemed to evoke the spirit of Lansdale and the early psi-ops programs of the 50s, only taken to more absurd extremes in a group of "Jedi" warriors with special psychic powers, which Spacey's character managed to bend to his own purposes. Great to see someone finally have some fun with the Iraq War.

  10. Got clarification on the meaning of "Kovas." The rook is indeed called "Kovas," because of its fighting nature, but then "Corvus" also refers to Roman military boarding bridge on the prow of a ship. So, however you dissect this month etymologically, in seems to inspire the theme of battle.

  11. A total meander:

    Saw Blind Side on the plane home last night. Very moving, but as always I want to know the story behind the story. Particularly since the family was apparently called out by the NCAA as potentially trying to use some poor kid to advance the fortunes of their alma mater.

    Sandra Bullock was good -- didn't necessarily see her has great, though. If anyone deserved an Oscar, it was the young kid who played the little brother. He was amazing in a role that could have just been played as cute.

    I think it was Ishmael Reed who wrote a column in the Times about the dangers of these kinds of movies (he focused mostly on Precious), which show the black community in such a negative light and how it takes a rich white (republican, religious) person to "save" them. But this movie at least had a ring of truth to it -- but then it was based on a memoir, so that could be why.

    And at the other extreme, saw my first production of Henry V at the Shakespeare Theatre in DC, part of a two play performance of this and Richard III. Powerful production, that really used the stage to full effect. Makes me want to go back and read the original now (this is a common theme, I know).