The MacLamity

The News That Stays News, Reported Live

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

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The art of quoting devastatingly, ctd.: "Weinstein, a professor of comparative literature at Brown University, clearly knows what he is up against. "These books have long been misconstrued as esoteric, elitist and inaccessible," he concedes, before slapping on his made-for-the-Oxygen-channel grin and maintaining, "I think they can be seen as a magic but intimate script whose strangeness testifies to all that is strange, unknown and unlabeled in ourselves." Fair enough — although that "magic" should caution the wary. Before you know it, Weinstein is managing to make Marcel Proust, James Joyce, Virginia Woolf, William Faulkner and Toni Morrison sound like the editorial staff of Self magazine. "At the center of this long book about long books is a simple truth: we want to recover our story," he writes, and, "These novels tell my story as much as I tell theirs. My life and my thinking . . . are inextricably, even frighteningly intertwined with their work," and, "These great writers depict our inner life as no one else has ever done" and, "My sights are on what these books might mean and deliver to the hungry reader, rather than to the expert."

By the time he announces that " 'Ulysses' is no less than a self-help manual," the reader half expects Jim Joyce himself to amble in from behind the curtain and get in touch with his inner Lestrygonian, or Ginny Woolf to share (you go, girl!) how conflicted she felt about gaining those 500 pounds." ... more ...