I’ve moved…

To an undisclosed location. Email me.

B x

My Kalamazoo Post is Coming…

Be patient, Harvard Law. I’m still on the road. Detroit Rock City is next!

Travel reading

I’ve been on a lot of planes, trains and buses in the past month, which has been great for reading fiction. These are the last eight books of fiction I’ve read:

(1) Miranda July, No One Belongs Here More Than You

(2) Marguerite Duras, The Lover

(3) David Lodge, Small World

(4) Iris Murdoch, The Unicorn

(5) Edith Wharton, Ethan Frome

(6) David Lodge, The British Museum is Falling Down

(7) Jonathan Banville (as Benjamin Black), Christine Falls

(8) Alan Hollinghurst, The Swimming Pool Library

Most favourite: Iris Murdoch, as always. Least favourite: Alan Hollinghurst. But kudos for making me nostalgic for a sexuality and an era I’ve never inhabited. Most surprising: Miranda July.

Sniffing the sauce

I read a thirteenth-century uroscopy treatise at the Wellcome today, which includes a list of  ‘precautions’ to take against ‘tricksters’ who might supply you with false urine or demand pesky ‘facts’ which you don’t know how to supply.

Blowing one’s nose is the writer’s favorite method of avoidance and detection (e.g., ‘you must keep yourself very busy spitting or blowing your nose’). For the detail in describing such a simple act, my favourite is:

‘The eleventh precaution is taken with regard to white or yellow urine. If you have any doubts in this respect, be cautious and put the lid of the urinal down and pour out a little of the content in such a way that the wine in being poured out touches your finger. Then you must give her the urinal and act as if you were going to blow your nose whereby you put the finger that has been dipped in, on or next to your nose; then you will smell the odor of wine, whereupon you must take the urinal again and say to her: ‘Get away and be ashamed of yourself!’

Pride Goeth Before a Racial Consciousness

I’ve been working through the New York Public Library series on the seven deadlies. It’s a wonderful little project that commissioned seven intellectuals from a variety of fields to write an extended essay on their favourite sin. The only thing is they’re quite expensive for little booklets, so I’ve been trying to collect them used. Last weekend, I scored Pride, Anger and Lust in Oxford. Gluttony and Envy I found in Cambridge. Something tells me I’ll have luck with Greed and Sloth in Middle America.

I didn’t quite what I expected out of Michael Dyson’s Pride (I wanted ambition; he gave me race), but he’s an engaging writer. I’ll read more.

Magdalene 2009 Conference

For those poor souls not on the million medievalist mailing list, come! There will be famous people and booze. Registration details coming soon.

Happy Easter


En route to Selma