Thursday, October 25, 2007

my big book

Over the last week I've been stealthily printing out a new hard copy of the Brief History for the only person, probably, who's ever read it that way - in other words, as a real book rather than as an archive that you search online.

It must be five years since the last time I printed it, and in the mean time it's somehow grown from about 100 pages to about 500 pages - forbidding, densely packed pages, too. It took several furtive evenings because I realized that if I was going to bother with this chore at all I wanted to print it double-sided, which turned out to take 17 times longer than single-sided printing. [Other printing tips: make sure you've selected the frame with the text in, not the Geocities advert frame to the right (which you've probably just moved out of the way, so therefore it's selected until you click back into the text frame), then check "Only the selected frame" in Print / Options.]

Holding this book in my hand - well, in my arms, it's a bit heavy for a hand - it's like being reunited with a child that I've unaccountably farmed out to foster-care. It's mine, but I don't feel altogether familiar with its features. Naturally, I couldn't resist a good read of my own prose in the middle of soup-making, so the butternut squash ended up being more baked than usual, but this is fine because it makes the soup come out better.

The most actually useful articles within the Brief Hist are probably the pieces that weren't really written for it, i.e. the articles about contemporary poetry. Of course I never got as far as those, but lingered in earlier centuries. Since all constraints have been blown away and I am being recklessly self-indulgent, the articles that I was most pleased with were the ones about Hester Lynch Piozzi's Anecdotes of Samuel Johnson and Dickens' The Old Curiosity Shop, though of course these are both easy topics.

Update (29/10/07): As of today, you can read my review of Peter Riley's The Day's Final Balance in Stride magazine. Forthcoming: articles on Catherine Daly, Elizabeth Willis, Rob McLennan and John Gay in Intercapillary Space - and in the Brief Hist there will now or tonight be some new articles on Anton Chekhov, Jean Giono, Giorgio & Nicola Pressburger, and probably some others that I've forgotten about.

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