Christmas Books

The Illustrious House of Ramires, by Eça de Queirós. A novel about an ineffectual nobleman writing an historical novel about his heroic ancestors. Queirós has been called the Portuguese Flaubert.

Large Fees and How to Get Them : a book for the private use of physicians, by Albert V. Harmon, M.D. If you practice early 20th medicine and want large fees, this book is essential reading. If you don’t, there are still lessons in its amusing and unsentimental discussion of various topics, like in the chapter “The Bugbear of Ethics”, where Harmon advises “ethics in its place is a good thing...But there is such a thing as overdoing the ethical proposition”.

Histrionics: Three Plays and Over All the Mountain Tops, by Thomas Bernhard. Bernhard once said “I despise actors, indeed I hate them, for they ally themselves at the least sign of danger with the audience and betray the author and completely identify with stupidity and feeble-mindedness. Actors are the destroyers and exterminators of imagination, not those who bring it to life and they are the true gravediggers of literature.”

The Rim of Morning: Two Tales of Cosmic Horror, by William Sloane. In the 1930’s Sloane wrote two exceptionally inventive and elegant horror novels, then for the rest of his life did other things.


  1. I have just put a reserve on William Sloane's book at my county library...unfortunately, someone beat me to it.
    This means that you have at least two readers in Syracuse.

    1. NYRB Classics republishes a lot of interesting books, in contrast to the New York Review of Books journal, which mostly publishes essays by boring geriatric leftoids.

    2. Thank you. I picked the low-hanging fruit a long time ago, like Ambrose Bierce , M.R. James, etc. (Lovecraft was a lot of fun, but he can mix brilliance and silliness in the same story...too bad he didn't have an Ezra Pound-type around to edit).
      I appreciate the suggestion regarding an author I had not heard about . Before.

  2. Might have to read this Eça de Queiroz guy after all, considering how many streets in Brazil are named after him.

  3. I agree with Tom Bernhard's characterization of the uselessness of actors. The fact that Ben Affleck can still make a living confirms that.

    My favorite moment in the history of American drama was when one night at the Dodge Theatre, the comedian Eddie Foy was giving a performance and decided to engage in some impromptu put-downs at the expense of a member of the audience - the infamous gun fighter Ben Thompson. After the show, Thompson burst into Foy's dressing room, his revolver drawn ready to give Foy's performance a critical review in the form of a bullet to the head. Just at that moment, Dodge City marshal Bat Masterson intervened, an impressed upon Thompson to "let the miserable actor live. He ain't worth it".

    A truer assessment of the merits of that occupation has never been made.


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