Monday, April 19, 2010

Jane Austen Was a Red Sox Fan

Okay, perhaps that headline was slightly misleading in an attempt to draw attention to some good reading I found yesterday in the Sunday newspapers (see—papers are still relevant!):

First, my Red Sox fan husband would be sadly disappointed if I didn’t link to Joe Queenan’s essay in the New York Times Book Review about the irritation of coming across the NY Yankees in books: “I simply refuse to read any books whose authors or characters have any affiliation with the Yankees.”

He goes on to note, “My revulsion does not end with the Yankees. I also refuse to read books whose characters or authors have any affiliation with the Dallas Cowboys, the Los Angeles Lakers, the Duke University men’s basket­ball team, the University of Southern California football team or Manchester United, the Yankees’ European football evil twin. All of these entities are promiscuously vile.”

The piece concludes with some amusing “original drafts” of Great Works, before they were wisely edited so as not to alienate readers like Queenan:

He lay flat on the brown, pine-needled floor of the forest, his chin on his folded arms, and high overhead the wind blew in the tops of the pine trees, making it hard to pick up the radio broadcast of the Michigan-U.S.C. game.” (For Whom the Bell Tolls)

And, of course:
“In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I’ve been turning over in my mind ever since. ‘Whenever you feel like criticizing anyone,’ he told me, ‘just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had. Like Gehrig batting cleanup.’ ” (The Great Gatsby)

Read the whole thing here.


Jane’s Fame, by Claire Harman, the book I wrote about here, got reviewed this weekend in The Washington Post and the New York Times Book Review:

From the Post:

"After her untimely death (perhaps from cancer), her work had enough of a following to inspire what was called the "silver fork" genre, in which novelists such as Edward Bulwer-Lytton fed nostalgia for the Regency period by describing at length the clothes and utensils associated with its "quality." Ironically, some surviving Austens, who had struck it rich and risen in the world, sniffed at the middle-class milieu portrayed in Jane's books and made no effort to champion the genius in their midst."

From the Times Book Review:

"The strongest arguments come early on, when Harman presents Austen as anything but an amateur. An extremely canny writer, the most talented member of a surprisingly literary family, Austen read her contemporaries and predecessors rigorously, thinking deeply about her own style, about her aspirations for her writing. Amazingly, Austen came up with technical breakthroughs that would take the novel well into the modern era."


DC-area author Leslie Pietrzyk explores the creative process and all things literary.