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November 11, 2004


Jennifer Jordan

Frankly,whilst reading 'The Sunday Philosophy Club', all I could think about was my near overwhleming desire to smother Isabel Dalhousie with a tea cozy after smacking her around a bit with a copy of Thus Spake Zarathrusta.

The writing was fine but that protag got under my skin like a bad fungus.

Bob might have a case of the envies.


The Iris Chang story breaks my heart. I'd like to know more. Specifically, I'd be curious to know if, as a writer, she had ambivalence about getting treatment for depression. It doesn't sound as if that were the problem, but it's always something I wonder about with a writer's suicide. Especially if the writer is a parent, which just blows my mind.


Re: Iris Chang

Unbelievable. As mentioned by her family in the article, she indeed seemed full of life.


What struck me about the Caryn James article is she seems to have a hard time finding bad things to say about the books other than nitpicky quibbles with the structure. And why bother criticizing the choices if you aren't going to propose better ones? Other than a half-hearted Philip Roth endorsement, she doesn't give specific suggestions about other candidates.

I must confess that I am biased myself, having had Joan Silber as a professor. The Ron Hogan interview captured her personality really well. I haven't read the new book yet, but I've heard good things about it.



Check out the San Francisco Chronicle's story on Iris Chang's death (www.sfgate.com). I couldn't format the link properly, but you should be able to find the story easily.

She was doing very important work, and it's devastating to think that documenting the horrors of war may have contributed to her depression.


I'm no fan of the Times' book coverage, but I have to say I appreciated Caryn James' review of the National Book Award finalists. Instead of focusing on the sales figures, as so many other pieces have done, she took a genuine critical position on the books and made a case for it. It does sound like all five nominees are from the same mold. You'll find a greater diversity of styles in the Edgar or Hugo short lists, for example, than you will here. Which renders the award beside the point.

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