Paul Fussell

Just finished choosing hymns for Sunday. I did this before blogging this morning so I’m writing a bit later than usual. The jazz trio (Jordan VanHemert, Nathan Walker and Drew Belanger) invited me to sit in Sunday when they play at Grace, so I guess I am playing Sunday.  Anyway I don’t have to prepare the prelude and postlude other than meet with these players tomorrow afternoon.

Recently finished reading Fussell’s memoir, Doing Battle: The Making of a Skeptic. It’s an odd little book. It has a strong beginning and middle. But nearing the end as he works himself closer to the present it gets weak. The weakest moment is his dispassionate description of his divorce. He talks about it very matter-of-factedly then throws in a sentence saying it was as messy and hurtful as those things usually are.

My copy of his BAD or the Dumbing of America arrived in time for me to immediately begin reading it after the memoirs. It’s even weaker. Much of this is due to its novelty structure (Each chapter is a BAD something or other like BAD behavior or BAD banks).  Written in 1991, it is very dated in its criticisms. Fussell is sometimes witty but this book is a disappointment. Not sure I’ll even bother to finish it.

My copy of his Class: A Guide through the American Status System also came in the mail. I received both it and BAD from my Book Exchange Web Site that I belong to and participate in (You agree to enter titles of books you are willing to mail to others. When you are called on to do so, you earn a point for each book which allows you to request other members’ listed books. I like this.)

I am very interested in America’s class system. Fussell’s book is probably dated and a bit superficial but I’m still interested despite some disappointment in his other books. I am also planning to read the book that made his name.

The Great War and Modern Memory seems to have been influential in informing the discussion of war with a reminder of its horror and madness from the point of view of the soldier, something I think America has forgotten.

In his memoirs, Fussell describes sitting in a British research library and going through thousands and thousands of personal letters and documents of soldiers from WWI, most of which had not been looked at since they died.

I think it’s worth looking at. Thinking of reading it as an ebook though.


The North West London Blues by Zadie Smith | NYRblog | The New York Review of Books

I am a fan of Zadie Smith’s writing. This article is about the plans to tear down the library and bookstore in her hometown in England and put up housing.


Yoko Ono talks to Simon Schama –

Schame and Ono. Short but worth reading.


The One,’ RJ Smith’s Biography of James Brown –

Rev Al Sharpton reviews a James Brown bio. The review is kind of like listening to him talk…  lots of purple prose and bias. But what the heck, I love Brown.


Jonathan Lethem on Talking Heads’ ‘Fear of Music’ –

Bought this book as an ebook after reading this review.


This Republican Economy –

What should be done about the economy? Republicans claim to have the answer: slash spending and cut taxes. What they hope voters won’t notice is that that’s precisely the policy we’ve been following the past couple of years…

So why don’t voters know any of this?

Part of the answer is that far too much economic reporting is still of the he-said, she-said variety, with dueling quotes from hired guns on either side

Paul Krugman quoted from the article linked above


Music, Books and Online Piracy –

This doesn’t prove that music lovers are crooks. Rather, it shows that actually selling things to early adopters is wise. Publishers did this—unlike the record labels, which essentially insisted that the first digital generation either steal online music or do without it entirely.

quote from article linked


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