Dead Men Left

Monday, May 23, 2005

The Black Spot

Lenin handed me the black spot some time ago, with the threat that, should I break the chain, my mother would be taken by gypsies. That'd probably make a nice change for her but I'm not going to let such concerns overwhelm blogging narcissism. Ok then:

You're stuck inside Fahrenheit 451, which book do you want to be?
I read Fahrenheit 451 years ago. My memory of the book is so hazy that I’m not quite sure what this question is asking: it’s either what book would I like to be turned into before I’m burned alive, or what book would I like to memorise in order to preserve civilisation. Presumably it’s the latter, in which case See Spot Run is a literary classic, all ten pages of it.

Have you ever had a crush on a fictional character?
No. That was easy.

The last book you bought is:
Rationality and Freedom by Artmatya Sen, Blair’s Wars by John Kampfner - I’d unaccountably failed to read Kampfner’s incisive account before now, despite frequent recommendations - The End of Poverty by Jeffrey Sachs, some tome on European social democracy by a Greek professor whose name currently escapes me, and Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome to replace a copy that disappeared around the same time my old housemate did.

The last book you read:
The End of Poverty by Jeffrey Sachs. "Happy-face neoliberalism," I said elsewhere. Extraordinary absence of contrition regarding Russia and somewhat insubstantial regarding theory, even if careful in its presentation of facts. Ignore Bono's introduction.

What are you currently reading?
Antonio Gramsci, Selections from the Prison Notebooks; Forging Democracy: a history of the Left in Europe, 1850-2000 by Geoff Eley (Eley’s basic premise fits well with Foot’s last book, incidentally); Growth Fetish by Clive Hamilton; The Glass Bead Game by Herman Hesse; Modernity and Self-identity by Anthony Giddens; and Rationality and Freedom. Hours of fun. Can't read them all at once, though.

Five books you would take to a deserted island:
Difficult. Best to aim for very lengthy volumes, in which case I'd go for Isaac Deutscher's Trotsky trilogy; the predictable Capital by Marx, with the intention of reading all of it this time; Vanity Fair; [updated: seems Roth has met with a certain amount of scorn in the comments boxes; I don't agree with the octopus, but Victor S has a point about the crap ending of The Plot Against America. Am mildly tempted to invite further derision by modestly suggesting Houllebecq's Atomised, on similar grounds to Trotsky's appreciation of Celine's A Journey to the End of the Night, but I won't. Catch-22? Three Men in a Boat? Memoirs of a Revolutionary by Victor Serge? Wuthering Heights? - never read it, y'see, got forced into Jane Eyre at school and took against the Brontes. Ach, I give up. This is truly the mark of someone who doesn't read enough fiction.] ; and maybe something incomprehensibly modern like The Sound and the Fury or Finnegan's Wake, given that I'd have plenty of time to attempt either. (I can almost see just how much I would regret that choice later. Also, if this was a proper desert island - rather than just "deserted" - I'd have the Bible and Shakespeare as of right.)

Who are you going to pass this stick to (3 persons) and why?
Seeing as half of Blogland has already completed this thing, I'm left with a drunken oaf whose narcissism probably needs no encouragement; an aggressive left-wing mollusc just out of curiousity; and "Pablo", whose new blog needs a plug.