Sunday, December 20, 2009

Julian Fellowes, Zadie Smith; Clever Kiwis

No time for a proper post this weekend, what with Christmas looming and all. I have not even had a chance to photograph that fascinating vinyl toilet seat I so cleverly wrote about last week, much less to unravel the cultural signifiers of the rest of the bathroom. Sorry for any disappointment. I'll have to get back around to that one of these days.

Before I Forget: Recent Reading

Right now, I have Zadie Smith's book of essays Changing My Mind rattling around in my mind next to Julian Fellowes' novel Past Imperfect. I read Smith's book during a couple of insomniac nights last week. I was intrigued with her life story as I was by her talent and (for the literary world) rocket ride to fame. (For some reason I couldn't get a link to the Wikipedia article about her to work, but you can read about her there and in a hundred other places). Fellowes is a wonderful writer, chronicler really, of the current dilemmas of what remains of the former ruling class of Britain. (Did you read Snobs? Or see Gosford Park? If so, you know him already, if not, run and acquire them). Past Imperfect came in the mail yesterday and I was fighting sleep last night so I could keep reading. It's one of those books you are grateful to have on your nightstand. Better than having a cake in a box on the table.

Smith's credentials, as a very young writer and the daughter of a Jamaican woman and working-class English father are, from a prestige standpoint every bit as good as Fellowes', whose origins and social milieu are at the polar opposite of English society. In fact, Smith's cultural credentials are almost certainly better than Fellowes' in this Obama-age. Both are brilliant, of course, and I think they have Cambridge in common. I am guessing they would like each other - probably they have met as the world of genius writers, especially in England, is not so terribly large. I would also venture to guess that they are both too polite to acknowledge that the aristocracy in the mode of Fellowes has given way to the aristocracy in the mode of Smith. They are English after all...

Proof that Human Beings Are Worth the Trouble

I saw this video over at The Shopping Sherpa (see the link on my blog roll). The Sherpa is down under, in Australia, and she finds and shares Internet gems from time to time, like this unbelievable little video from the New Zealand Book Council. Watch to the end (just a bit over 2 minutes) to get the full benefit. It staggers me that someone could think of this and execute it. Bye for now.