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Robert Altman Week


« In Which It's Called The Western Canon For A Reason »

The Classics


When I started my current job, the first days were much like this, but then circumstances improved. I owe it all to my boss, who is nothing like those individuals you've heard about who masturbate on their employees. This person is, however, deeply embedded in her industry. Since I am a liberal arts major, we don't care about any of the same things, but I have learned a lot from her.

What follows are her reviews of books I asked if I should read.

Jane Eyre

"Too long. Can we cut forty pages and eliminate the age difference?"


"You tell someone you read this, if you must. You never read it."

The Great Gatsby

"Horrendous. Why was he so into that woman? Did she have a great singing voice?"

Let Us Now Praise Famous Men

"If you told me that he tracked down all the people in these photographs afterwards and murdered them, I would 100 percent believe you."

Oepidus Rex

"Seems forced."


"V. long and whiny."

Wise Blood

"If I read authors who used the n-word, I would have to read books by 50 Cent and Kingsley Amis, and I do not care to."

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead


The Catcher in the Rye

"Did you ever see the all-black version of Glengarry Glen Ross. Of course you didn't."

To Kill A Mockingbird

"Can we lose the courtroom scene?"


"A bit condescending and interminable."

Watership Down

"Hop just came out, so no bunnies. Instead of rabbits, could they be kittens, who, as they age, develop slight English accents and early onset menopause?"

The Sound and the Fury


Angels in America

"Not sure what they were going for here, but the target was in L.A. and the arrow was in New York."

Mrs. Dalloway

"The 19th century was entirely devoid of black people, or maybe it just felt that way. Could we lose the last hundred pages?"

The Secret History

"They got high and killed someone? Big deal. Didn't that also happen in E.T.?"

Portnoy's Complaint

"Completely made irrelevant by the existence of the text message."

The Liars' Club

"Could she drink a little less?"

Infinite Jest

"Could we lose the last 800 pages?"

The Fountainhead

"If you're going to blow up a building you designed, at least make sure someone's in it."

The Brothers Karamazov

"One of the brothers was way out of line, can't remember which one. The one that looked like Rutger Hauer."

The Sorrows of Young Werther

"I don't think people care about Germans. People care about real people."

Ellen Copperfield is the senior contributor to This Recording. She is a writer living in San Francisco. She last wrote in these pages about the films of Tom Hanks.

Faulkner on This Recording Timeline:

1897: Faulkner born.

1950: Faulkner receives Nobel Prize.

1982: Will Hubbard born.

2009: Faulkner named No. 1 writer of all time.

2009: Joseph Blotner weighs in.

2009: Eleanor Morrow on The Long, Hot Summer.

2010: Potentially abrasive but verifiably true article about William Faulkner published.

2011: Cursivism published.

2017: Faulkner reappears somewhere in Southern Virginia and asks for whatever liquor you have in the house.

2020: Faulkner makes his debut on Dancing With the Stars.

2044: Alex Balk becomes president of the United States.

How and Why To Write

This Recording explores the possibilities...

Part One (Joyce Carol Oates, Gene Wolfe, Philip Levine, Thomas Pynchon, Gertrude Stein, Eudora Welty, Don DeLillo, Anton Chekhov, Mavis Gallant, Stanley Elkin)

Part Two (James Baldwin, Henry Miller, Toni Morrison, Kurt Vonnegut Jr., Margaret Atwood, Gertrude Stein, Vladimir Nabokov)

Part Three (W. Somerset Maugham, Langston Hughes, Marguerite Duras, George Orwell, John Ashbery, Susan Sontag, Robert Creeley, John Steinbeck)

Part Four (Flannery O'Connor, Charles Baxter, Joan Didion, William Butler Yeats, Lyn Hejinian, Jean Cocteau, Francine du Plessix Gray, Roberto Bolano)

joyce carol oates

"Midnight Coward" - Stars (mp3)

"Barricade" - Stars (mp3)

"Personal (Caroline)" - Stars (mp3)

The Bedroom Demos, the latest release by Stars, came out on June 7, and you can purchase it here.

harold bloom on the toilette

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    In Which It's Called The Western Canon For A Reason - Home - This Recording
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    Good page, Keep up the excellent work. Thanks for your time!

Reader Comments (2)

Wait, I was your boss at one point?

June 16, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterclairedammit

Enjoyed this post immensely!

June 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCarina

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