(Roughly) Daily

Posts Tagged ‘reviews

“There is nothing so American as our national parks”*…


Oh so many more– Yellowstone, Joshua Tree, Yosemite, Death Valley, to name a few– at “I Can’t Stop Reading One-Star Yelp Reviews of National Parks.”

[image above: Greg Heartsfield/Flickr

* Franklin D. Roosevelt

As we as we rethink the first “R” in “R and R,” we might spare a thought for Martha; she died on this date in 1914.  As she was the last known passenger pigeon, her death meant the extinction of the species.

(De-extinction efforts are underway.)




Written by (Roughly) Daily

September 1, 2015 at 1:01 am

“From my close observation of writers… they fall into two groups: 1) those who bleed copiously and visibly at any bad review, and 2) those who bleed copiously and secretly at any bad review”*…


“This was the absolute second worst book I’ve ever read (the worst being Hotel For Dogs).”

Further to our old friends at You Can’t Please Everyone, a Tumblr devoted to “reviews of classic books, culled from the internet’s think tank”: One-Star Book Reviews.


“First of all, the whole thing is almost all dialogue.”

More critical cruelty at One-Star Book Reviews.

* Isaac Asimov


As we get in touch with our inner John Simon, we might recall that it was on his date in 1911 that Thomas Mann visited the Lido in Venice and hatched the idea for Death in Venice.  Mann’s diaries, unsealed in 1975, tell of his struggles with his bisexuality– struggles reflected in his work most prominently through the obsession of the elderly writer Aschenbach, for the 14-year-old Polish boy Tadzio in the novella.  It was for this work, along with Buddenbrooks and The Magic Mountain, that Mann was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1929.  



Written by (Roughly) Daily

May 25, 2014 at 1:01 am

Catching ’em in the act…


Ever had that sense of deja vu when reading a news posting online?  Well, the Sunlight Foundation has your back: they’ve created Churnalism— a simple search tool that let’s one quickly determine whether what one’s reading is “a product of real journalism or just a spin off of another story posted elsewhere.”


As we root out the sources, we might recall that it was on this date in 1928 that Evelyn Waugh wrote a letter of protest to the Times Literary Supplement.  His complaint wasn’t that they’d misjudged his novel (Decline and Fall); their reaction was, like the book’s wider reception, quite warm.  Rather, he objected to the fact that throughout the review he was referred to as “Miss Waugh.”




Written by (Roughly) Daily

May 17, 2013 at 1:01 am

“It’s the stories, man; it’s the stories!”*…

Zachary Kanin

Readers who are readers will be delighted to discover (if they haven’t already) Narrative Magazine, a wonderful web-based literary review (though there is also a thrice-yearly hard copy edition).  Featuring fiction from the likes of Ann Beattie, Richard Bausch, James Salter, Elizabeth Benedict, and Amy Bloom, essays from folks like Gail Godwin, Larry McMurtry, and Rick Bass, it also showcases poetry and your correspondent’s special weakness:  cartoons like the one above (use the pull-down on the page at the other end of that link to see other galleries).

The love-child of two Bay Area literati, Narrative is a 501-c3 devoted to Letters. It’s worthy of readers’ attention– and, dare your correspondent suggest, of their support.

* Jazz giant Charlie Parker would hang around a jukebox at one of the clubs he frequented, putting his coins in to play country-western songs. When friends finally asked him, “Why do you listen to that stuff?,” he reportedly replied, “It’s the stories, man, it’s the stories!” (source)…  not altogether apropos, your correspondent confesses; but it is an awesome anecdote…

As we luxuriate in good literature, we might recall that it was on this date in 1812, just before he published the first two cantos of Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage, that George Gordon Byron, 6th Baron Byron– aka Lord Byron– made his first speech in the House of Lords…  as it happens, a defense of Luddite violence against Industrialism in his home county of Nottinghamshire.

Byron in 1813, in Albanian dress, as painted by Thomas Phillips

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