Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Yes, well, I'm usually a week late for everything only this time I have an excuse because the books hadn't arrived yet (and they still haven't, but I've changed supplier!). It is (was) BAFAB week, otherwise known as "Buy a Friend a Book Week" as envisioned by Debra Hamel. The idea being to give a friend a book "for no good reason." A nifty idea, I think. Although I never need much of an excuse to add to my own burgeoning shelves, it is always a good thing to pass on a book or two to others. So, I have chosen Anne Fadiman's EX LIBRIS: Confessions of a Common Reader to give to a friend, and I have an extra copy to give away to one of you lucky blog readers out there too. Dovegreyreader has a novel way of selecting her BAFAB winner by making her cats walk across post-it notes! My selection process will undoubtedly be more mundane (names in a hat?!), but equally fair. So if you'd like a copy of EX LIBRIS, do say so in the comments or send me an email and I'll add you to the pot (where you are in the world does not matter, I will post anywhere).

Here's a taster; Fadiman has just tried out a list of words she doesn't recognize on family and friends in the hopes that they too will not recognize them, so she won't feel so bad. A few correctly identify the occasional word (she refers to them as Wallys after Wally the Wordworm from her childhood - you'll have to read the book to discover the delicious details of this story):
All the Wallys could remember exactly where they had encountered the words they knew. The English professor said, "Mephitic! That must mean foul-smelling. I've seen it in Paradise Lost, describing the smell of hell." My brother, a mountain guide and natural history teacher who lives in Wyoming, said, "Mephitic, hmm, yes. The scientific name for the striped skunk is Mephitis mephitis, which means Stinky stinky." The lawyer, who, incredibly, had bumped into mephitic just the previous week in Carlyle's Sartor Resartus, possessed particularly vigorous powers of memory. When I asked him to define monophysite, he said, "That's a heretic, of course, who believes there is a single nature in the person of Christ. I first encountered it in The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, of which I read an abridged version in a green Dell Laurel edition with a picture of Roman ruins on the cover that I bought with my allowance for seventy-five cents when I was in grade school, at the bookstore at the corner of Mill Road and Peninsula Boulevard in Valley Stream, New York. I read it while walking home. It was springtime, and all the trees on Mill Road were in bud." No man ever remembered the face, dress and perfume of an old lover with fonder precision than Jon remembered that glorious day when he and monophysite first met. (p.15)
Surely you must want to read it after that?! Do you recognize yourself, or someone you know? To add to sauciness around this read, it has recently been linked to plagiarism charges against Ben Schott; you can have a read here.

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Blogger StuckInABook said...

I've just wandered onto your blog, in my "must see all the blogs randomjottings likes" quest... And just wanted to say how much I love this book! As such, I don't want to be enterred for the draw (I already have a copy.. and anyway, I'm a newbie) but recommend it keenly to whoever wins. My favourite chapter is on the courtly vs. carnal readers...

11:38 pm  
Blogger equiano said...

Welcome Simon! Always nice to see new faces. Newbies are definitely allowed to enter the BAFAB draw, but if you've already got a copy...although you can always give it away too! Fadiman is a genius; I highly recommend her THE SPIRIT CATCHES YOU AND YOU FALL DOWN if you haven't read it yet. And her recent REREADINGS is delicious too (although is edited by her, rather than being her work - still good stuff though).

7:00 am  
Anonymous Ann said...

This is one of my all time favourite 'books about books'. I go back to it in times of stress and remind myself that I am not the only person in the world whose life revolves around books and whether or not the one I've selected to carry with me today will last me through every single spare minute I can carve out of my schedule.

8:00 am  
Anonymous David said...

I would like to advise everyone of what a horrible book this is. Reading it will surely result in painful death from brain cancer. You would be mad to enter this competition - you should withdraw if you have already done so. Go away.

(please put my name in the hat)

7:00 am  
Blogger equiano said...

Ann - my sentiments exactly! I find she says a lot of what I feel about books, but better than I ever could - lots of "aha!" moments.

David - I should have known! You have been duly added to said hat but I should warn you that like Rowling's Sorting Hat, this one knows your thoughts...

7:26 am  

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