Sunday, June 14, 2009

the song of the snark

Benj is reading Barbara Tuchman's history of the fin-de-siecle-before-last The Proud Tower, which I thought I had begun and not finished. But every time he tells me something new from the book, I realize, "Oh, I read at least that far." Hm.

Anyway, one of these exchanges took place when Benj got to the part about Strauss' opera Salome. And this, combined with other factors caused me to buy, immediately, my own copy of of Alex Ross' The Rest is Noise, which I am now reading. Beach reading is no joke, because I go to the beach a lot.

Ross uses the phrase, "for whatever reason," which a lot of people don't like. But I like it. It's more palatable in polite conversation than saying something is overdetermined. And it's kind of respectful. As in, you know the reasons as well as I do.

We still haven't renewed our New Yorker subscription. But I picked up the fiction issue and I read Louis Menand's account of the history of "Creative Writing." Smack dab in the middle of it, he uses the word "snark" in the old-fashioned Lewis Carrollian sense of the word.