Since finishing my dissertation I have felt the perhaps-predictable urge to immerse myself in literature unrelated to the 1950s, or to McCarthyism. Less predictably, I've had an odd predilection for the detritus of high culture. Usually when traveling I go straight for the worst trash to read on the plane; I'm talking Clive Cussler and Us Weekly. Flying to Nashville? I scarfed down The Unbearable Lightness of Being. Usually, when driving to work the Mary and I listen to nothing but Lil Wayne and Katie Perry; now I can't turn the dial off of WXPN. I've been scouring concert listings, looking for interesting Curtis recitals. A few nights back, when preparing today's lecture on baroque opera, I began to watch a DVD of Dido and Aeneas, and an hour later found myself still glued to the screen. Inspired by the recent Nation review of her correspondence with Robert Lowell, I just bought Elizabeth Bishop's collected poems, and have been devouring them a few a day, like vitamins.
Such strange gluttony! But anyways, Elizabeth Bishop: fascinating. My favorite poem in the collection is one the editors found written in a Fannie Farmer Cookbook she gave to her friend Frank.
You won't become a gourmet cook
By studying our Fannie's book--
Her thoughts on Food & Keeping House
Are scarcely those of Lévi-Strauss.
Nevertheless, you'll find, Frank dear,
The basic elements are here.
And if a problem should arise:
The Soufflé fall before your eyes
Or strange things happen to the Rice
--You know I love to give advice.
5 days ago