Saturday, February 01, 2003
With many moons passing since my last entry, I thought it time to venture back in. The editing has finished, the book has headed into production, and I received my first blurb (is there a nicer word for this? There must be, but I've never heard it.) It came from Jeffery Lent, Author of In the Fall and the excellent Lost Nation. (In the Fall might well be excellent also, but I haven't read it):

Advance Praise for The Rope Eater by Ben Jones

“With The Rope Eater, Ben Jones has produced not simply a novel but an entire world both fabulous and mythic, a world rendered in prose both stark and lovely as the landscape and characters within.  Although set in the not-so-distant past, this account of the dreams and harsh realities of humanity serves as a clearly distinct fable for our times.  I cannot recommend The Rope Eater more strongly – Ben Jones enters the ranks as a storyteller of first note.”

– Jeffrey Lent, author of In the Fall

This is immensely wonderful and thrilling (he also noted in a letter to my editor that I was not someone he'd want to go camping with, which I think is very funny--especially if you'ver read Lost Nation--I don't think either of us will draw many camping companions for our fiction).

I've started working on other projects also, but neither of them is baked enough to begin to share, so I thought I'd steal an idea from Tracy Chevalier's web site, and keep a running list of what I've been reading and a simple rating, with notes if the spirit moves me. If anyone wants more on a book, just shoot me an email. Eventually this will be chronological, but I'll start with what I've been reading over the last 3 months:

The Piano Tuner by Daniel Mason--4 stars (out of 5)--A lovely book, beautifully written, very rich

six nonlectures by ee cummings--4 stars--This is the Norton lectures that cummings delivered at Harvard (1953). In many places they are infuriatingly cummings-ish, but they really sparkle in other places, and it's always interesting to hear him ground himself and his directions in the writings of others--you begin to get a strong sense of his erudition, and the connections between the strengths of his work and that of others

That led me in turn to:

The Craft of Verse by Borges-- 3.5 stars-- This is Borges' Norton lectures at Harvard (I wrote and asked if there was a collection, or plans for one (Emerson's Norton lectures are also worth reading), but they said no). Borges offers (surprise!) deceptively simple advice and insight--some of which resonated for me very strongly and some of which fell flat. Still, a strong read.

That'll be enough to start with--and I'm always looking for suggestions, if you'd care to pass them along. I just started Hershel Parker's bio of Melville--don't expect that to show up here for a good many months....


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