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Sunday, August 31, 2014
Assorted and sundry links for your enjoyment on this fine holiday weekend:
- Selections From H.P. Lovecraft's Brief Tenure as a Whitman's Sampler Copywriter - Luke Burns channels Lovecraft rather well, to humorous effect:
Peanut Butter Cup
Yum. (via file 770)
In 1856, a fisherman from a tiny hamlet on the New England coast made a terrible pact with serpentine beasts from beneath the sea, that he might create the most delicious sweet seen upon the Earth since the days of the great Elder Race. Thus was forged the satanic pact between peanut butter and chocolate that resulted in the mutant offspring you see before you!
Chocolate Cherry Cordial
You must not think me mad when I tell you what I found below the thin shell of chocolate used to disguise this bonbon’s true face. Yes! Hidden beneath its rich exterior is a hideously moist cherry cordial! What deranged architect could have engineered this non-Euclidean aberration? I dare not speculate.
- Breaking Down the Hugos: Careful Like - Justin Landon has the most thorough breakdown of the Hugo Award results, complete with statistical analysis and general commentary.
- Detecting the Writer - An intriguing post by Doctor Science about the tropes and patterns of mystery novels. The title of the post is derived from this Dorothy Sayers quote:
The mystery-monger's principal difficulty is that of varying his surprises. "You know my methods, Watson," says the detective, and it is only too painfully true. The beauty of Watson was, of course, that after thirty years he still did not know Holmes's methods; but the average readers is sharper-witted. After reading half a dozen stories by one author, he is sufficiently advanced in Dupin's psychological method to see with the author's eyes. He knows that, when Mr. Austin Freeman drowns somebody in a pond full of water-snails, there will be something odd and localised about those snails; he knows that, when one of Mr. Wills Croft's characters has a cast-iron alibi, that alibi will turn out to have holes in it; he knows that if Father Knox casts suspicion on a Papist, the Papist will turn out to be innocent; instead of detecting the murderer, he is engaged in detecting the writer.
(Emphasis mine). It probably has a broader application, but anyone who watches any of the gazillion police procedurals out there (Law & Order, CSI, Bones, etc...) will be intimately familiar with what Sayers is talking about. Also of note in this post is the excellent "One Body Test", and something close to my own lament that so many mysteries are so focused on murder. As Doctor Science mentions, "death isn't the only thing worth investigating."
- The Great Unread - Joseph Luzzi explores that age old question: Why do some classics continue to fascinate while others gather dust? To do so, he looks at two Italian classics Alessandro Manzoni's novel The Betrothed, popular in Italy, but not anywhere else, and Carlo Collodi's The Adventures of Pinocchio, which is universally beloved and continually referenced all over the world.
Manzoni's novel promotes a Christian faith whose adherents are rewarded for submitting to God's providential wisdom. Collodi's story, beyond exploring the plight of Italians in their newborn nation, describes how children learn to make their way in an adult society, with all its strictures and codes of behavior. Manzoni's legacy in Italy is so strong that his book will always be read there. But outside of Italy, those same readers curious about Collodi's star-crossed puppet are likely never to give Manzoni's thoroughly Christian universe a second thought.
This contrast, between a celebrated and largely unread classic and an enduringly popular classic, shows that a key to a work's ongoing celebrity is that dangerous term: universality.
That's all for now...