“The pursuit of knowing was freedom to me, the right to declare your own curiosities and follow them through all manner of books. I was made for the library, not the classroom. The classroom was a jail of other people’s interests. The library was open, unending, free.”
Between the World and Me
Spiegel & Grau, New York
“From the outset, the young Hamilton had phenomenal stamina for sustained work; ambitious, orphaned boys do not enjoy the option of idleness. Even before starting work, he must have developed unusual autonomy for a thirteen-year-old . . . Hamilton exuded an air of crisp efficiency and cool self-command. While his peers squandered their time on frivolities, Hamilton led a much more strenuous, urgent life that was to liberate him for St. Croix . . . He was a proud and sensitive boy, caught in the lower reaches of a rigid class society with small chance for social mobility.”
Ron Chernow, author of Alexander Hamilton
Penguin Books, 2004
Karl Ove Knausgaard
From My Saga, Part 2, NYT Magazine, March 15, 2015
Translated by Ingvild Burkey from the Norwegian Photo: Marita Algroy
“We drove west all evening. The murmuring heater, the even hum of the engine and the compact darkness outside had a hypnotic effect. It was as if we were no longer in this world, at least I felt that way, and I told Peter things I never told anyone. He sat without moving in his seat as I talked. Normally, it took me years to trust people. Peter, I trusted after a few hours. I had no idea why, but I believed everything my intuition told me; no knowledge seemed more accurate.”
The Black BoxAs well as these poor poems I am writing some wonderful ones. They are all being filed separately, nobody sees them. When I die they will be buried in a big black tin box. In fifty years’ time they must be dug up, for so my will provides. This is to confound the critics and teach everybody a valuable lesson.
‘It’s Hard to Dislike Ewart’
—New Review criticI always try to dislike my poets, it’s good for them, they get so uppity otherwise, going around thinking they’re little geniuses— but sometimes I find it hard. They’re so pathetic in their efforts to be liked. When we’re all out walking on the cliffs it’s always pulling my coat with ‘Sir! Oh, Sir!’ and ‘May I walk with you, Sir?’— I sort them out harshly with my stick. If I push a few over the edge, that only encourages the others. In the places of preferment there is room for just so many. The rest must simply lump it. There’s too much sucking up and trying to be clever. They must all learn they’ll never get round me— Merit has nothing to do with it. There’s no way to pull the wool over my eyes, no way, no way . . . By Gavin Ewart —The Oxford Book of Comic Verse Edited by John Gross
This is an edited re-post from June 20, 2008
My Sunday “Lonely Guy” activity is to read the New York Times and watch C-Span 2 Book TV, muted. If I glance something interesting on the screen — Christopher Hitchens, say, ranting about why we should be in Iraq — I may bring up the sound. That seldom happens. Most Sundays, only the rustle of newsprint is heard in my living room. Sometimes, though, the thing on TV that catches my eye is the shape of a nose, or a hairstyle, or an odd mouth and I feel a powerful urge to draw it — and the rest of the head. So I open my sketchbook, select a soft pencil from the coffee mug on the table by my chair, and set out to prove once again that I’m not only the world’s worst caricaturist, but should also get a medal for being the slowest. Of course, the nice thing about sketching talking heads on TV is they hold still for long periods, which means I can take all the time I need to get it wrong.
I have no idea why I doodled all that stuff on the sides, or wrote “The Other End” at the bottom, but I do enjoy making those little “drop” shadows under the letters. The thing that drives me mad, though, is that I have no memory of who most of the people are. (Memo to self: Keep better sketchbook notes). All I know for sure is that these folks appeared on C-Span 2 sometime in December, 2006. Also, I’m pretty sure the guy on the top left is a well-known newsman, one of the Kalb brothers, but which one? And the blond woman near the bottom of the left column is an expert on world religions. Interesting face, and I loved the informed talk she gave (I have the sound up while I sketch). Of course, all this assumes that I managed a passing likeness of at least those two.