Contemporary Authors

C.S. Lewis was not a fan, witness:

Incidentally, what is the point of keeping in touch with the contemporary scene? Why should one read authors one doesn’t like because they happen to be alive at the same time as oneself? One might as well read everyone who had the same job or the same coloured hair, or the same income, or the same chest measurements, as far as I can see.

“Love is a Flattering Mischief”

So says Izaak Walton when discussing the marriage of John Donne:

for love is a flattering mischief, that hath denied aged and wise men a foresight of those evils that too often prove to be the children of that blind father; a passion, that carries us to commit errors with as much ease as whirlwinds move feathers, and begets in us an unwearied industry to the attainment of what we desire.

RSV Rebound

I just received the second of two of my Mom’s Bibles that I had rebound. It is a Revised Standard Version published by Thomas Nelson. My Dad gave it to her for Christmas of 1969. It had a white cover that of some type of leather. I believe she used to keep it inside a zip cover that she had and used throughout the time I was growing up. It had completely deteriorated externally in the past 41 years. Mom has marked up the interior every which way, but it is in decent shape.

I had the folks at Mechling rebind it again, and I chose a black goatskin. They don’t have white and I didn’t want it anyway. I also asked them to remove some paintings that were in various places and which I thought made it seem a bit tacky. I think the finished product is very nice and has restored it to usability for decades to come. My pictures of it really aren’t the greatest, but I am trying to show the before and after.

Reads, 2010

Not the best year for finishing books. I read too much stuff online. Here are the books I finished in 2010:

The Puritan Dilemma, Edmund Morgan

The Rise of Puritanism, William Haller

Augustine of Hippo, Peter Brown

The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Samuel Pepys

The Death of Adam, Marilynne Robinson

The Bible, ESV {completed}

Rabbit at Rest, John Updike

A Grief Observed, C.S. Lewis

Eclipse of the Sun, Michael O’Brien

Is the Reformation Over, Mark Noll, Carolyn Nystrom {completed}

America’s God, Mark Noll {completed}

The Mines of Behemoth, Michael Shea

 

Google Books on the iPad

Today is a day of rejoicing for me. Ever since the iPad debuted, I’ve wanted a good interface for reading Google Books on it. I was a bit surprised that one didn’t exist right off the bat. In the last month, Google opened up Google Docs for editing on the iPad – a major plus. And now, I can read ancient books on the most modern device! It blows my mind! I don’t think any author 100 or 300 years ago could have imagined that I would be looking at a printed text of their book from back then on this digital device.

I think this will revolutionize certain niche areas. For example, there are hosts of Anglican theological books (and other theological books) that would never have seen the light of day before. To read them would have required travel to a few select libraries, or a publisher dusting them off and reprinting them in a limited run. Now they are accessible, free, searchable, and universal. It really is something.

I’ve come across ancient magazines like Notes and Queries that I can read a century or more after it came out in a way that was unimaginable when it was first published. I don’t like to overdo the “we are living through history” angle on things, but I do think that we are in the middle of something big with the Google Books project, something that future historians will look back on and pull apart for its impact on the world.

Book Binding: Text Block

I was able to learn a little bit more of book binding a couple weeks ago. I folded many sheets of paper into sections. We had previously marked off where we wanted the holes to be punched in the sections. Using a guide, I then punched holes in the sections with an awl. After that , I prepared tapes and attached them to the paper. Then I sewed using a couple different methods through all of the sections. This was not easy and I required help every step of the way. I was getting better at sewing as I went along, but I could use a lot of practice. Here are some pictures of the completed text block:

You can get a good idea of where the holes are and how the sewing works from the next picture. All of this is done to strengthen the final product.

Here is a close-up of some of the sewing and the tapes.

Rebinding a Bible, 2

I received my Mom’s Bible back today from Mechling Bookbindery. They did a fantastic job on it as I thought they would. The Bible is a KJV that she received on October 14th, 1976. It is a Cambridge Bible printed on India paper and measures about 4.5″ x 7″.

Here are some pictures of the final product [click to enlarge]:

The image above shows the two ribbons that I requested, gold and crimson.

This gives you some idea of how it folds open and the stiffness of the goatskin leather.

These are the new endpapers that they inserted.

This is a view of the spine.

And this is the front cover.

I expect this Bible to last for the rest of my life and I will treasure it throughout. I am probably going to send another one – an RSV – and will take before and after pictures if I do.

Rebinding a Bible

My Mom was a student of the Word of God throughout her life. She took notes, underlined things, looked up words, and prayed over the text. One Bible she had was a beat up King James version that she got in 1967 from my Dad. It is red, and I remember her reading it during prayer in the morning. I just sent it off to be rebound, and I’m excited to see what it will look like. I should have taken before pictures, but I’ve had a lot going on so I didn’t. I sent it to this place: Mechling Bookbindery. You can watch a short video about them at this link.

I ordered red goatskin, with a red and a gold ribbon. I expect it to look great and to last for years to come. It’s a Cambridge Bible, so it should be a real treasure. I’ll put pictures up when the work is finished.

Dialog Does Not Ring True

Ta-Nehisi Coates writes:

One interesting technical problem for writers today is how to invent characters who are plausible readers—without writing a campus novel. The problem is bigger than you might think: ever since Jane Austen most fictional characters have talked and thought like people who read fiction. Many basic techniques of the modern novel (dialogue, inner monologue, moral suspense) require characters who think in something like novelistic prose.

You notice the difficulty in a novel like Claire Messud’s The Emperor’s Children, where media people of the early Oughts are forced—ingeniously and enjoyably—to have verbally complicated thoughts about their lives, as if they went home every night and curled up with Edith Wharton. You don’t actually overhear conversations like that at the Waverley Inn.
Others who tackled the problem and made it central to their fiction include: Bret Easton Ellis, David Foster Wallace, Mary Robison, Don DeLillo, Tom McCarthy. They are not writing “pastoral,” they are not writing about people less educated than the reader. They are writing about us.
To overhear an ordinary character thinking deeply, in complex sentences, about his or her life involves a new suspension of disbelief. This is one of the things I love about contemporary fiction at its best—that it makes us overhear, and believe.
The jumble inside our heads everyday sounds nothing like the written page. It would be interesting to analyze this in the Bible, where it seems to me that most thoughts that are expressed are short and terse – i.e. real.