Liked “A Second Rabadash” — C.S. Lewis and Dangerous Leaders by Matt MikalatosMatt Mikalatos (

here’s my hope for myself and all of us:

May we, like Susan, have the wisdom to recognize if we’ve been deceived by a leader who appears wonderful in one context but has “another face” when he gains power.

May we, like Edmund, remember our own failings and be generous with our enemies, and hopeful that true change is still a possibility even for a traitorous fool.

May we, like Lucy, see clearly into the hearts of our leaders.

May we, like King Lune, be kind-hearted and compassionate with our enemies.

May we, like the people of Calormen and Archenland and Narnia, find peace in the years to come.

In the meantime, friends, let us each be faithful in the things we are called to, despite what our leaders may do. Vote, speak up, and do what’s right. Aslan’s on the move—let’s keep our eyes open for him.

Liked The Life in The Simpsons Is No Longer Attainable by Dani Alexis Ryskamp (

For many, a life of constant economic uncertainty—in which some of us are one emergency away from losing everything, no matter how much we work—is normal. Second jobs are no longer for extra cash; they are for survival. It wasn’t always this way. When The Simpsons first aired, few would have predicted that Americans would eventually find the family’s life out of reach. But for too many of us now, it is.

Liked Roald Dahl’s Anti-Black Racism (

Recently, the family of author Roald Dahl family apologized for anti-Semitic remarks he made. But Dahl, most famous for the children’s book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, also brought young readers anti-Black racism in his original depiction of the Oompa-Loompas.
Dahl drew on his own life f…

Liked Why I Read 'King Lear' in Advent by Mark Labberton (

Since it was finished in 1606, it has never not been relevant. Contemporary stories can be urgent and often compelling, but the seasoned crisis of Lear pierces more primitively, at a deeper and more elementary level. That is one reason it rings as it does.

I have been reading Fiona Hardy’s How to Write the Soundtrack to Your Life with Ms 9 and am really intrigued by the space created. There is a part of me which keeps on questioning various actions and activities, wondering if they would really happen. Would kids write songs so quick? Would they really have access to a video camera … at lunchtime? However, I also wonder if the problem is me? Maybe, I am not the intended audience? Maybe such books are not about being true, but instead about dreaming in an alternative universe?
Liked John le Carré, author of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, dies aged 89 (

The consistent love of his life was writing, “scribbling away like a man in hiding at a poky desk”.

“Out of the secret world I once knew I have tried to make a theatre for the larger worlds we inhabit,” he wrote. “First comes the imagining, then the search for reality. Then back to the imagining, and to the desk where I’m sitting now.”

According to Wikipedia,

A simulacrum is not a copy of the real, but becomes truth in its own right: the hyperreal. According to Baudrillard, what the simulacrum copies either had no original or no longer has an original, since a simulacrum signifies something it is not, and therefore leaves the original unable to be located.

When it comes to fiction, space is a simulacrum. For example, Ian McEwan’s novel is set during the Second World War. This conception of space is an imagined one that comes to stand in the place of any sense of reality.

Discussing John Baville’s Quirke series, Charles McGrath touches on the way in which space can act like a character in itself.

Banville, who is 74, grew up in County Wexford, which he thought boring and provincial. As a boy, he loved visiting an aunt in Dublin, which seemed much more vivid and exciting, and some of that romance lingers on in the Quirke books, in which the city itself — its sights and smells, its atmosphere of secrecy and repression, especially where matters of sex are concerned — is practically a character.

This is something that Leigh Sales’ also touches upon on the Chat 10, Looks 3 podcast in regards to the representation of the Northern Territory in Trent Dalton’s novel All Our Shimmering Skies. It is interesting to contrast this with the ‘best books set in each country‘.

Liked The D. H. Lawrence We Forgot by Frances Wilson (The New Yorker)

Essays like these further suggest that Lawrence invented the genre we call autofiction, though genre was irrelevant to him. Everything he wrote, as Dyer puts it, was a “kind of story,” and his stories, like Lawrence himself, were shape-shifters. His essays on writers, Dyer writes, “are also essays on places; essays on places are also pieces of autobiography.” In the same way, Lawrence’s poems are dramas, his dramas are memoirs, and his memoirs are novels. This last form was key: though Lawrence found stories everywhere, the novel was, for him, the “one bright book of life.” Four of the five essays on the novel in “The Bad Side of Books” were written in 1925, the year Lawrence was diagnosed with tuberculosis. As such, they are partly about the future of the novel and partly about the future of Lawrence.

Liked Revealed: the best book set in (almost) every country by Ellie Walker-Arnott (TimeOut)

Looking for a way to expand your horizons without actually leaving your flat? We hear ya. International travel isn’t on the cards for a lot of us at the moment, thanks to travel restrictions, quarantines and general 2020 anxiety. But there are still ways to explore our planet without getting on a plane.

This literary world map – a bookshelf made up of the most popular books set in (almost) every country on Earth – is a good place to start. It’s been compiled using Goodreads user ratings and reviews, and makes for a fascinating tour around the globe.

Bookmarked Chapter Books Rewritten to Reflect the Catastrophic Effects of Climate Change by Charlie Dektar (The New Yorker)

Charlie Dektar offers up satirical versions of children’s chapter books like “Harry Potter” and “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” adapted for the age of climate catastrophe.

Charlie Dektar rewrites some classic texts in light of the current pandemic. My two favourites where Charlie and the Chocolate Factory:

Augustus Gloop is an awful child,
Whom we would normally body-shame through song,
But what we’re more concerned about
Is land degradation and desertification,
Which led to the collapse of global supply chains
And drove Willy Wonka out of business,
Leading to our acquisition by Amazon,
Which renamed us “Amazon Sugars”
And only lets us make hard, salty nut rolls,
So enjoy the rest of your tour, led by Jeff Bezos,
I’m sure that it will be a lot of “fun,”

And Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe:

Once, there were four children, named Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy. They were all consumed by a plague of ancient diseases unleashed from the melting Siberian permafrost.

The end.

They go with some of the other literary responses associated with COVID-19.

Liked Jane Austen Was Not Fucking Around about Home School by Sarah Allison (Avidly)

Mansfield Park is both Exhibit A of white complicity with racist violence and a demand to recognize it. Fanny Price gets richly rewarded for being a person who kind of gets it. The victory of Fanny, who is introverted, unathletic, and often silent (except for occasional bursts of enthusiasm about nature), affords a different satisfaction from Elizabeth Bennet’s.

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Congratulations Fiona
Liked Resistance through Silence in Camus’s The Plague (

The chronicle of Oran, besieged by rats, relates the travails of Dr. Rieux, a quiet hardworking medic during a time of a plague in “194–.” As Rieux’s job takes on broader public engagement, he befriends another taciturn man by the name of Tarrou. Together they take on the tasks of fighting the faceless bacterium, caring for the infected, counting the dead, sanitizing the city, and testing a new vaccine.

Underlying the actions of these two silent men is a greater philosophical point—one that is only made clear when Tarrou suggests to Rieux that “suppose we take an hour off—for friendship?” As they sit, the “silence returned” to the city, Tarrou extends the notion of the plague from a faceless, amoral microbe to the idea that people are its carriers; that in an epidemic, human actions have devastating, and mortal, consequences.

Bookmarked Pluralistic: 13 Aug 2020 by Cory Doctorow (

When people ask me how I became an sf writer in the hopes of following in my footsteps, I’ve got bad news for them: I became an sf writer thanks to an utterly unique set of extremely beneficial circumstances that have never been replicated, and more’s the pity.

In light of his induction into the hall of fame, Cory Doctorow reflects upon his origin story. It makes me think that every origin story is unique. What stood out was that although Doctorow had support from a number of people his development involved keeping on going.
Bookmarked Mary Trump and the most shocking family secrets (BBC)

From Capote to Houellebecq, BD Hyman to Margaret Salinger, these are people who wrote not just their own stories but other people’s stories, sacrificing their family lives for a writer’s pleasure in getting published. Yet it doesn’t seem, in most cases, to have made them happy. Did they get what they wanted? To borrow the saying of St Teresa from which Truman Capote took the title of his scandalous work, more tears are shed over answered prayers than unanswered ones.

On the back of Mary Trump’s tell-all memoir about her family, including Donald, John Self explores a number of other past exposes involving JD Salinger, Bette Davis, Michel Houellebecq, Truman Capote. AS Byatt and Margaret Drabble