David Lance Goines started out as a student of classical languages, reading ancient texts in the original Greek and Latin.  After being arrested and expelled from the university for participating in student protests in the 1960s, Goines found work as an apprentice to a nearby printer, “becoming in the fullness of time a journeyman of that Art and Mystery.” Goines found a wonderful new calling, using his classical background and his own good taste to design beautiful and interesting…

Roger Shattuck on reading Proust

Roger Shattuck (1923-2005) on how to read Proust:

I believe it is best to approach the reading of Proust as if it were a kind of long-term cure, or an initiation to unfamiliar mental and physical movements evolved by another culture. A steady, leisurely pace, without the tension of fixed deadlines, serves best. Certain habits of thought can thus be laid aside as others are slowly acquired. It may take months, even years. The Search creates a season of the mind outside temporal limits.

Roger Shattuck on reading Proust

Proust and the Squid

Design by Paola Ecchavaria

Saw this on the new books table last night. It’s the latest in this year’s mini-trend: the “book-on-a-book-cover” approach (also seen on The Last Novel and House of Happy Endings). It’s really quite beautiful and elegant in person, and I’ll leave it to those more zoologically inclined to determine if the wonderful spelled-out-in-random-letters creature at the bottom is actually more octopus-like than squid-like.

Buy this book from Amazon.com

Proust and the Squid

Sink or Swim: Managing RSS Feeds with Better Groups

Besides baseball, coffee, and my music collection, I probably obsess over how I read RSS feeds more than anything. Sometimes it feels like I tinker with the setup more than I actually read the news, but I’m making progress. I won’t claim to be completely satisfied with how or why I try to consume so much information from the internet, but lately I’ve been as content with the process as I can hope.

Bailing Out

Trying to stay on top of dozens of feeds can feel like trying to squeeze a river…

Sink or Swim: Managing RSS Feeds with Better Groups

LUST News! Very Exciting Advance Copies!!!

I just drove up to Fantagraphics and got a couple hot-off-the-press advance copies - yay!!! - and I have one in my paws AT THIS MOMENT (…and, that’s a Spongebob band-aid on my thumb).


And here it is, ON MY SHELF! There’s a gold foil on the spine, too. I love a good spine!


Also: Playboy.com included LUST in their 2007 Holiday Gift Guide. Er, it isn’t supposed to be in stores until January. But anyway!

LUST News! Very Exciting Advance Copies!!!


When words and pictures are combined to tell a story, one medium or the other usually ends up doing most of the heavy lifting.

Personally, I prefer art where the picture plays a more important role than the words. But the People In Charge of Handing Out Awards seem to have a different view.  The most honored graphic novels often combine powerful words with weak drawing.

Take for example Alison Bechdel’s excellent book Fun Home, Time Magazine’s No. 1 Book of the Year and a National Book…


Harry, I’m going to let you in on a little secret. Every day, once a day, give yourself a present. Don’t plan it, don’t wait for it - just let it happen. It could be a new shirt at a men’s store, a catnap in your office chair, or two cups of good, hot, black coffee.

Advice for travelers

Stop for a good night’s rest: good advice for anyone doing a long-distance drive this Thanksgiving weekend.

Close cover before striking: good advice for us all.

Wikipedia: Williams, Arizona was “the last town to have its section of Route 66 bypassed.”

My son Ben found this matchbook on the street. Who could’ve dropped it? Someone who just stepped from a time-travel machine?

Other posts on ephemera
Invitation to a dance

Advice for travelers

Goodbye Madame Butterfly

Bookslut’s Colleen Mondor brought Goodbye Madame Butterfly and Chin Music Press to my attention. Like the hardcover of Dave Eggers’ What is the What, there’s no dustjacket – the illustration is imprinted directly on the cover. Check out the beautiful endpapers. And how cool is this: “The full-color illustrations on the cover, the endpapers and the table of contents were found in the musty stacks of Japanese used bookstores in the Jimbocho district” (from the Chin Music site). Wonderful.

Goodbye Madame Butterfly

Emblems from the Pentagon's Black World


CIA paparazzo Trevor Paglen is a thorn in Uncle Sam’s side. Known for snapping telephoto candids of CIA planes and Area 51, the artist also gathers “patch intel,” which he’s collected in this provocative book (main title: “I Could Tell You But Then You Would Have To Be Destroyed By Me”). The fruit of several Freedom of Information Act requests, Paglen’s book proves that classified black opps concoct esoteric team insignias just like other military divisions. The photo-driven work…

Emblems from the Pentagon’s Black World

Audiobooks are my e-books. … Audiobooks take the content from a novel and turn it into something else - something I can use when I can’t read a novel. That’s what these e-book readers seem to miss. I want to search text, transform it, cut and paste it, and listen to it. If I want to sit and read it, I’ll go with the actual book. They’re about fifty times cheaper, more durable (do you think you can read a Kindle if you bury it in the mud for 1000 years?), and far more lovable than some plastic box with a bunch of buttons on it.

Ethiopian Manuscripts

Saint with 2 swords

Saint on horseback stabbing dragon

Mary with baby Jesus

Alwan Codex 2 - Psalter - early 20th century

2 versions of man playing harp

Left: Alwan Codex 2; Right: Alwan Codex 28

Christ on the cross

Saint on horse stabbing dragon

Alwan Codex 28 - Commentary on the Praises of
Mary and Gate of Light, Amharic - 20th century.

man on horseback stabbing dragon

Alwan Codex 27 - Psalter - 19th/20th centuries

seated man with 2 children and page of ge'ez text

Eliza Codex 17 - Gospel of John; Horologium of Abba Giyorgis
for the night hours, incomplete - 16th and 18th centuries (composite)

Jesus flanked by 2 men and page of ge'ez text

Ethiopian Manuscripts

Talk to the face

An editorial in a college newspaper recently suggested that college faculty join Facebook as a way to show their desire “to connect with” students. The editors gamely suggest academic benefits: chances to create assignments that focus on what students are “already interested in” and to find “examples” (of what?) that students will recognize.

I’m always interested in showing the relevance of the works I teach, but it’s a professor’s responsibility to enlarge a student’s understanding of…

Talk to the face

Oh My God!

Diary won the National Book Award!!!!

Sherman accepting the award in NYC last night:


Sherman and I exchanged quick emails last night. Me: “I’m so happy and proud! You must be out of your mind!!!” Sherman: “And to you too crazy crazy crazy”


Oh My God!

How To Use Proportions When Drawing People

“Before you can draw a human figure with clothing, muscles, shading, etc., it is necessary to understand the basic proportions of the human figure. Proportions on a figure are simply how long the major anatomical parts of the body are, in relation to each other.

Let’s examine the proportions of a healthy male human figure. Proportions change based on body type, age, sex and activity level. Our example healthy male figure will be seven heads tall. As a foundation, let’s start with these lengths…

How To Use Proportions When Drawing People