Thursday, 23 December 2010

Web muster

The Louvre raises a million Euro online to help purchase Cranach's Three Graces*

Roberta Smith on the 2010 art year; participation, culture wars, women

David Walsh's MONA (Museum of Old and New Art) is swiftly becoming reason enough for me to go to Tasmania

Carol Fisher Salor is copy editing an e-reader edition of the Iliad and asks whether it's time to stop moaning that digital delivery removes the humanity from the reading experience.

And finally, one of my best reads of the year: a 1969 Paris Review interview with E.B. White (long time New Yorker editor, author of Charlotte's Web, the White of Strunk and White) which is stuffed full of felicitous sentences and unexpected statements:

I was never a voracious reader and, in fact, have done little reading in my life. There are too many other things I would rather do than read. ... In order to read, one must sit down, usually indoors. I am restless and would rather sail a boat than crack a book. I’ve never had a very lively literary curiosity, and it has sometimes seemed to me that I am not really a literary fellow at all. Except that I write for a living.


Delay is natural to a writer. He is like a surfer—he bides his time, waits for the perfect wave on which to ride in. Delay is instinctive with him. He waits for the surge (of emotion? of strength? of courage?) that will carry him along. I have no warm-up exercises, other than to take an occasional drink. I am apt to let something simmer for a while in my mind before trying to put it into words. I walk around, straightening pictures on the wall, rugs on the floor—as though not until everything in the world was lined up and perfectly true could anybody reasonably expect me to set a word down on paper.


I’m not familiar with books on style. My role in the revival of Strunk’s book was a fluke—just something I took on because I was not doing anything else at the time. It cost me a year out of my life, so little did I know about grammar.


If sometimes there seems to be a sort of sameness of sound in The New Yorker, it probably can be traced to the magazine’s copy desk, which is a marvelous fortress of grammatical exactitude and stylish convention. Commas in The New Yorker fall with the precision of knives in a circus act, outlining the victim. This may sometimes have a slight tendency to make one writer sound a bit like another. But on the whole, New Yorker writers are jealous of their own way of doing things and they are never chivied against their will into doing it some other way.

*I can't get over how saucily modern the central figure in this painting looks. I'm totally smitten.

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