Thursday, 10 December 2009

two kinds of reading

Last week, 3rd December, I did a 2nd launch of Haiku Of Five Decades at Joel Segal's excellent secondhand  bookshop in the high street of Topsham, that very attractive if somewhat dormitorial estuary suburb of Exeter. This proved very enjoyable, and though the rain was lashing down (it's rained almost every day and night this month, so far!) about 40 people showed up during the evening and quite a few bought quite a few books. Good to see some old friends among the new faces, some of whom hadn't been able to get to the earlier event in mid-October. And I managed to confirm what my late poet friend Patricia Beer, a stickler for proper West Country pronunciation, once told me years ago, that it's "Tops-Ham" not "Topshum"!

As for the second kind of reading, the kind one does by and for and to oneself, I caught up recently with Edward W. Said's last and alas posthumously published book, On Late Style. This wonderful collection of essays on music and literature, is as stimulating, wise and concise as you'd expect from such a prolific, perceptive and committed writer. The concept of 'lateness' in art that Said tries to define and describe includes the likes of Richard Strauss, Glenn Gould, Jean Genet, Cavafy, Adorno, Beethoven, Mozart, Visconti, Lampedusa and others. Said, as Palestinian, polymath and insightful cultural critic, was a truly impressive figure who will be much missed. This unusual book is part of an enduring and properly provocative testament: highly recommended!

1 comment:

  1. "Tops-Ham" not "Topshum"

    I try not to take sides on that one: the choice is a very complicated mix of issues (etymology vs. custom-and-usage, social class, "insider" vs "outsider" pronunciations), and the story has been repeated in any number of towns and villages - see Placenames: prescription vs description at JSBlog.