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Read Middlemarch, by George Eliot.
George Eliot’s real name was Mary Ann Evans, 1819-1880
I read Middlemarch recently and posted on its wisdom about sex and relationships (links in bold italics are to other posts on this site).
Middlemarch is also full of splendid epigrams. Here are 25 beauties which caught my eye: (more…)
Which rooftop bar in Vienna has:
- outstanding cocktails
- the best view in Vienna
- total coolness?
Here’s a clue:
Here are some reasons I like the Aurora rooftop bar at Hyatt’s fancy new Andaz Vienna am Belvedere:
- I am picky about cocktails. The Aurora has a terrific Nordic-themed cocktail menu. My favourite is the “Berserker’s Punch” (white rum, overproof rum, orange, coconut, pineapple, lemon, milk, and a cola lolly). To be honest, I can’t see or taste any milk in it. I advise against drinking too many of these;
How a convicted murderer (“‘Killed a man with a pool cue. Judge said it wasn’t premeditated… Just kinda happened”) introduced me to his girlfriend – who despised him. What I thought about love and sex as a student. The lawyer who took me back to his office in Brooklyn. Running out of gas in a Ford Pinto on the New Jersey Turnpike. Soviet statues in Washington DC. Being charmed by Mexican con artists on the Redwood Highway in Northern California.
Welcome to “The Americans”. Who are they? What can they teach us in the 21st Century?
On this page, all five previously-published episodes of “The Americans” are brought together. This is a work in progress.
The first thing I saw were his big butcher’s arms: broad and sheened with sweat. Next, I saw tattoos and a square jaw, thick with stubble, set in a sullen half-smile. A broken six-pack of Schlitz was wedged between his thighs on the driver’s seat.
Schlitz – the beer that made Milwaukee famous. What made Milwaukee famous made a loser out of me.
Heading west on I-40, 1979
Was it dangerous to enter the cab of the old Ford pick-up? Standing by the roadside outside Durango in the cooling evening, I had the usual split second to decide. I weighed contradictory feelings: fear and an urge to keep moving.
‘Where are you heading?’ I asked. (more…)
I am listening to literary folk on the Queen Mary Literary Festival at Sea (links in bold italics are to other posts on this site). After a powerful Martini in the Commodore Club, a well-read literary editor admits he has never read George Eliot’s classic 1872 novel Middlemarch.
This depiction of Dorothea and Will Ladislaw does not make “Middlemarch” look a fun, contemporary read
Like some other 19thC fiction, Middlemarch has provoked negative responses or indifference over the years – yet critics now see it as one of the greatest novels in the English language.
I agree, and I don’t. Middlemarch is a daunting read – over 900 pages in most editions. Not much happens; there is an immense cast-list of characters; and some of the issues with which it deals, such as the 1832 Reform Act, have faded from memory.
Yet the wisdom (more…)
Vienna is full of cafes. But which are best?
The entrance to the Cafe Hawelka – photo Robert Pimm
Many Viennese cafes are rather good. I like the fact that most of them use old-fashioned Viennese coffee types (kleine Schwarzer, kleine Brauner, Verlängerter, Franziskaner) instead of, or sometimes in addition to, the world-conquering Italian descriptors (Cappuccino, Macchiato, Latte & Co).
Some Vienna cafes have a wonderful, unrenovated charm, often accompanied by service which varies from the friendly and efficient to the traditional clockwork stop-motion effect where waiters emphasise by their every action the fact that they will not deviate from their intended, inexorable plan of action under any circumstance.
But then, what do you want? Would you rather, in Vienna, have a traditional-looking Austrian waiter, who maybe doesn’t speak English and isn’t conspicuously polite, or a fast-moving identikit youth who could be in Seattle or Siena?
I even mention the service of Viennese waiters in my novel Biotime.
Viennese cafes also often serve terrific cakes; and other food and drink, from sausages to breakfast and beer. Check the menu; and choose your cakes at the counter if you’re not sure.
All of the cafes reviewed are ones I would to return to. If a cafe does not appear in the list, that means either that I haven’t tried it yet; or that I have tried it and am not desperate to return.
“They come now, the dark angels, the violent ones, their wings black against the sun, their swords unsheathed.”
Does evil exist independently? Or does it arise purely from human beings? To read this quotation from John Connolly’s third Charlie “Bird” Parker novel, The Killing Kind, one might think Connolly believed in a malice independent of man.
At the Erich Fried literary festival
I had the privilege of interviewing John Connolly at the Erich Fried literary festival in Vienna last month. A writer of prodigious output, his recent works include he, a literary imagining of the comedian Stan Laurel, and A Book of Bones, the 17th in the Charlie Parker series.
In preparation for interviewing John I read the first three of the series: Every Dead Thing, Dark Hollow and The Killing Kind. I found Charlie Parker a fine creation: disturbed, vengeful, tough, (more…)