Did You Get That Thing I Sent You?

Stuff to make your work day just a bit more bearable.

Two Essays

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– Via Kausfiles (really?): an essay on Nabokov’s Pale Fire, written in 1962 by the late, estimable Mary McCarthy, is available at The New Republic‘s Website.  It’s a bit more scrupulous, and lengthy, than your average major journal literary review, but then McCarthy was not your average critic and Pale Fire is not your average novel.  Reading McCarthy’s explanation of the book (“explanation” really is a better word than “criticism” in this case), I experienced a thrill almost as great as the one I got first reading Nabokov’s weird puzzle a few years ago.  Pale Fire is the rare novel that doesn’t sound bland in description: at the center is a 999-line poem written by a famous (fictional) follower of Pope, complete with footnotes and bookended with a preface and afterword- all written by the delusional pedophile expatriat who lived next door to the poet.  McCarthy’s task in her review is to exhume and explain the various layers of meaning in Pale Fire, for as one reads the novel it quickly becomes clear the book is not really about the poem at all, but is rather the story of a mentall ill man’s strained relationship with reality, which take’s place on the periphery of the “primary text,” the marginal space typically reserved for the innocuous  editor.  If you don’t get a chance to read the book, McCarthy’s essay is the next best thing.

-The other one is also a bit old -2000- and comes from Sports Illustrated.  It’s by Tom Verducci and it’s called The Power of Pedro (Martinez).  The year it was written is significant, because between ’98 and ’03 (his time with the Red Sox, roughly) Pedro was truly Godlike.  In fact, Pedro’s ’99 season may have cemented him as (now hear me out) the greatest pitcher to ever play major league ball, a point Verducci is not shy to argue:

Until last year Curt Schilling and Sandy Koufax had been the only pitchers in history to whiff 300 batters in a season while striking out more than five times as many batters as they walked. Schilling’s strikeout-to-walk ratio was 5.5:1 in ’97; Koufax’s was 5.38:1 in 1965 and 5.28:1 in ’63. In 1999 Martinez went where no man had ever gone before—8.46:1. His totals of 313 strikeouts and 37 walks seem implausible by any manner of achievement other than by joystick.

For example.  The essay is a hell of a read- Verducci is great, if a little bit corny, and Pedro is and always will be a fascinating, contradictory, flamboyant personality.  A must read for baseball fans and/or Red Sox zombies.

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Written by Peter Kelly

April 29, 2009 at 9:23 pm

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