Passing the time

I’m re-reading the Marsh-Marlowe Letters. Once again I savour every line of this wonderful book. And yet, I can’t recommend it, since I honestly can’t imagine any person on the planet besides me enjoying it. The author, too, is mystified by its following. He (one Craig Brown, or, as it was in my original edition, “Brown Craig Brown”–hah!) explains in the introduction to the new edition that, whatever one might say of its original reception at home, it makes no sense for those unacquainted with the British Arts scene of 20 years ago (those who, like me, have never heard of folks like Hermione Lee) to find it remotely funny. So, don’t be reading this marvelous book.

Meanwhile, Z has just finished Richard Russo’s Straight Man. He hands it over, saying in its favour that “it doesn’t contain too many balding old men dating young women with large breasts.” Being a satire of academic life it naturally contains some, but if there are fewer than usual I’ll give it try. After all, I put up with this sort of thing in Zadie Smith’s On Beauty. I have my limits, but I can put up with a lot in an academic satire.


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