Thursday, October 29, 2015

one man's treasure

There's never been a better time to invest in excellent editions of good books. The reason? Fewer people value them.

I've been buying up gorgeous editions at prices I'd be embarrassed to share — wonderful sturdy children's books, finely printed and illustrated, classics and first editions, including a first edition of In Cold Blood and a superb printing of Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde from a run of only 1000 — all because people are selling them to used bookstores at an unprecedented rate (and, less directly, because the people who valued and bought them in the first place are dying and their relatives sell off their libraries for pennies).

Just the other day, a new treasure came in the post: Doctor Dolittle's Circus, in a 1952 printing. I've been collecting all the Dolittle books for a couple of years now, one at a time, as I see ones come available at a good price. This one is absolutely a gem: it's in perfect condition, with pristine pages, black-as-black-can-be printing (including Lofting's wonderful illustrations), and the attention to typography typical of the best of the era.

It's just a pleasure to read!! Can't wait for our girls to be able to digest these.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015


Wednesday, October 14, 2015

writing by hand

A friend showed me this article, entitled "What's Lost as Handwriting Fades," which unveils some research about writing by hand as opposed to using computers or tablets (or, for that matter, voice-to-text, which I use all the time).

It's something to keep in mind for other disciplines as well. I've been amused at the number of people who've forwarded that video of the new music software that allows you to write on the tablet to create a music score: invariably, it's from a non-musician to a musician, saying, "You'll be interested in this!!!"

Of course, actual musicians have been using music software for decades, far quicker and easier than this. It's like telling a professional author they can now use a tablet to write a book in longhand. Hate to pop your enthusiasm, folks, but typing *really* is easier.

On the other hand, articles like this show that there's a neurovalue in doing it by hand — one that we shouldn't ignore. I remember reading a thesis that compared bestselling novels from the age in which a manuscript would be written in longhand (Austen, Dickens) to ones from the 20th century written at a typewriter (Hemingway, Steinbeck). The idea was that using both hands, connected to both hemispheres, somehow affected the type of writing and even the subject matter, as compared to using just one hand. Not sure that was a great thesis (knowing what we now know about the hemispheres not being quite so divided as all that), but still interesting.

And here we have evidence that the connection of writing to the hand, making a mark on a page, is somehow deeper than we'd thought.

Catherine still writes longhand in journals. I confess that I even write digital thank-you notes now!! Ah well, maybe that'll change.

Friday, October 9, 2015

a mother's kitsch

Somehow, it's comforting to know that others besides evangelicals are capable of this.

I call her the Virgin of Guadalalaloope.

Monday, October 5, 2015

pressure off

Really great pop music artists who have a flowering of creativity in their youth sometimes come out with something decades later that's kind of a renaissance — the old spark is back, this time with a lifetime of mastery behind it. (Willie Nelson's "Teatro" is a prime example.)

Right now I'm listening to Duran Duran's "Pressure Off," a song that has all the Duran gestures and an infectious energy. Delighted!