Books ahoy!

Other than my university readings, I’m currently reading a biography on Audrey Hepburn, re-reading Al Gore’s The Assault on Reason, and about to finish (again) The Catcher in the Rye. In a few days, I’m getting delivered a few more books that I’ve been wanting to read. Jon Stewart’s America (The Book): A Citizen’s Guide to Democracy Inaction – The teachers edition has been out for some time, however, I’ve never got around to actually buying it. I’ve flicked through it in stores often enough, and it looks like a good read. Somewhat related, I’ll also have a copy of Stephen Colbert’s I Am America (And So Can You!). It too has been out for a while (not as long a America), though I haven’t gone through it in stores. It’s supposed to be an ‘extension’ of The Colbert Report in that it’s a continuation of his character on the various topics Colbert covers on his show.

In I Am America, there’s an appendix devoted to his speech at the 2006 White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner where he gave a hilarious speech ridiculing George Bush, his administration, and various other media honchos. I remember getting caught up in the wave of excitement the day after the speech occurred, and I was hooked on Colbert from then on. The best part was, Bush was seated right beside Colbert as he was speaking. And it wasn’t a gentle ribbing either. You can find the speech on YouTube easy enough (though in 3 pieces because it’s a tick over 25 minutes long) because it was on public access television at the time. Apparently the person who booked all the speakers had only heard of how funny Colbert was and that he was a right-winger on T.V. No one told the booker that it was all a joke. I read in an interview with Colbert that he originally thought it was a satirical joke, when he got invited, and only accepted thinking he wouldn’t actually get the position. Fifteen minutes later, he was more famous than ever before. It is definitely worth a watch, if only to be part of the phenomenon (albeit 2 years late).

Also arriving is a copy of Keith Olbermann’s The Worst Person In the World and 202 Strong Contenders. Olbermann is a news commentator on MSNBC in the show Countdown with Keith Olbermann, where he discusses 5 news headlines for the day, and has a few other segments, including his list of who he thinks are the worst persons in the world. He’s been very critical of the Bush government, and even more so since it became a lame-duck. I first saw Olbermann a little before Colbert, and have been seeking his videos for some time. I’ve never seen his book in Australia, so I was waiting until I was order many items before I ordered it from overseas.

I’m also getting delivered a copy of Paradise Lost by John Milton. My favourite epic poetry, and one of my favourite stories of all time, I say to anyone I talk to about books that you have to read the 12 volumes before you die. I’ve found it difficult to find a good and cheap copy of it in Australia. Usually I end up tracking down over-priced editions that are the size of desks, and don’t have notations. It’s all about flashy pictures and that. While the pictures are generally good (especially any that come with Gustave Doré), I don’t want to be paying $200 for a single book. So I ordered one from overseas too.

They are all arriving soon, so I hope to be able to write about them (probably not Paradise Lost) eventually. They all fit into the political theme, so it might make for some good posts during the long primary break.



10 thoughts on “Books ahoy!

  1. I tried reading Paradise Lost once. I think I was trying to impress The Evil Doctor Spurr (of study guide fame). Since then I’ve decided to read what I like.

    Neil, Thomas is going to become a public school teacher — BA BEd (Syd). Muhahahahaha!

    I am also going to use this forum to announce to the world that I am moving out of home on Saturday 29 March. It will, then, take me 8 minutes to drive to work.

    This is much easier than having my own blog.


    The Rabbit, BA (Syd) GDipEd (Macq)

  2. Milton was out of favour in Leavisite Sydney U when I was an undergraduate: this was more or less what the Prof, Sam Goldberg, followed: “From as early as the eighteenth century when Samuel Johnson concluded that Milton ‘wrote no language’, to the twentieth century when T.S. Eliot claimed that Milton ‘did damage to the English language’ and F.R. Leavis asserted that ‘Milton had renounced the English language…'” (LANGUAGE IN PARADISE LOST.) Goldberg had a talent for reading parts of the poem in such a way that we were all rolling around laughing before he’d finished. Consequently I never read past Book II. I must correct this…

    Rabbit, indeed indeed!

    Perhaps, Thomas, there may be life beyond teaching, dare I say? (Not that teaching is all bad of course.)

  3. What I have been toying with doing (and I find it hard to believe considering how much I deride university) is enrolling in one of the postgraduate degrees that Sydney University offers with its US Studies Centre. They have three options – Masters, Graduate Diploma, and Graduate Certificate (and they expect an Honors program in 2009) if US Studies, and by obtaining one, you can get access to a special renewable work visa for the US. It’s all on their website.

    The most appealing part of the degree is that while there are core units that everyone does, but there are electives in US Business and Law, US Media Society and Culture, and (best of all) US Politics and Foreign policy.

    There’s a whole lot of hoopla on the website. I expect I’ll be doing one of them eventually. The longest one is a year and a half, which isn’t long at all for an opportunity like that, and something of great interest for me.

    So while I might be looking at teaching straight out of university, I think I’ll probably succumb to my generation’s habit for job changing eventually. Hopefully I’ll be able to gallivant around the world doing so, and find my way into the political realm.

    Mr. Rabbit: Congratulations on the venture out of the nest. You’ll have to host a sojourn event to really break the house in. Will you have as good a host the Ombudsman though? That will be the real test.

    Returning to Paradise Lost though, I first encountered it the Reading Poetry course, of which Barry Spurr was a lecturer. Despite the efforts by Sydney University to turn me off the text and despise it forever, I really did enjoy it, although we only read Book 1 and 12. In what was probably a first, I sort out the text to finish reading it.

    I remember hearing about the criticisms of Milton’s works and wondered how people came to the conclusions they did if they were saying bad words about it. Especially T.S. Elliot. I sort of lost some regard for him then.

  4. I think the point is Milton was writing very Latinate English, whereas Eliot, et al preferred English to be, well, English? Correct me if I am wrong, Ninglun.

  5. That’s about it, Rabbit, along with the idea (promulgated first by Eliot I think) that there was a “disassociation of sensibility” sometime during the 17th century, Milton (in contrast to Shakespeare) being the great marker. No-one (including I believe Eliot) was quite sure what that meant. The other point was that after the Augustans (Pope etc) there was an absolute flood of really boring Miltonic verse, mostly very long and turgid. This went right through the 19th century.

  6. Pingback: Milton, melons, and the Rights of Man « Floating Life

  7. Pingback: Barry Spurr trending on Facebook | Neil's Commonplace Book

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