Category: Excerpt

May 09 2015

History is Weird

The second offspring of [Jewish] messianic hopes [in eighteenth century Poland] was Frankism—from the name of its founder, Jacob Frank (?–1791). Frank’s father had fled Poland to escape persecution as a follower of Sabbatai Zevi, and Jacob Frank himself traveled widely in Romania and Greece, where (in Salonika) he met those believers in Sabbatai who …

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May 01 2015

What Work Is by Philip Levine

What Work Is We stand in the rain in a long line waiting at Ford Highland Park. For work. You know what work is—if you’re old enough to read this you know what work is, although you may not do it. Forget you. This is about waiting, shifting from one foot to another. Feeling the …

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Permanent link to this article: http://www.thefrumiousconsortium.net/2015/05/01/what-work-is-by-philip-levine/

Mar 02 2015

Number Ten Ox

I shall clasp my hands together and bow to the corners of the world My surname is Lu and my personal name is Yu, but I am not to be confused with the eminent author of The Classic of Tea. My family is quite undistinguished, and since I am the tenth of my father’s sons …

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Permanent link to this article: http://www.thefrumiousconsortium.net/2015/03/02/number-ten-ox/

Feb 05 2015

The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged) by Adam Long, Daniel Singer and Jess Winfield

This was a hoot. As the back cover says, “the Reduced Shakespeare Company‘s classic farce” presents, after a fashion, all 37 plays and does something to with the sonnets in just over 90 minutes of stage time. They do the comedies all at once, in a bit

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Permanent link to this article: http://www.thefrumiousconsortium.net/2015/02/05/the-complete-works-of-william-shakespeare-abridged-by-adam-long-daniel-singer-and-jess-winfield/

Oct 03 2014

Just Send Me Word by Orlando Figes

From the Preface to Just Send Me Word: A True Story of Love and Survival in the Gulag, by Orlando Figes: Three old trunks had just been delivered. They were sitting in a doorway, blocking people’s way into the busy room where members of the public and historical researchers were received in the Moscow offices …

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Permanent link to this article: http://www.thefrumiousconsortium.net/2014/10/03/just-send-me-word-by-orlando-figes/

Oct 23 2011

The Dervish House by Ian McDonald

“What do I think about the legacy of Atatürk, General? Let it go. I don’t care. The age of Atatürk is over.” Guests stiffen around the table, breath subtly indrawn; social gasps. This is heresy. People have been shot down in the streets of Istanbul for less. Adnan commands every eye. “Atatürk was father of …

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Permanent link to this article: http://www.thefrumiousconsortium.net/2011/10/23/the-dervish-house-by-ian-mcdonald/

Jan 27 2010

The Discovery of France by Graham Robb

Mostly in lieu of a proper review, excerpts from The Discovery of France by Graham Robb, the best non-fiction book I read in 2009. (Tough competition, too: In Europe: Travels Through the Twentieth Century by Geert Mak, Gold and Iron by Fritz Stern and To the Castle and Back by Vaclav Havel were all top …

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Permanent link to this article: http://www.thefrumiousconsortium.net/2010/01/27/the-discovery-of-france-by-graham-robb/

Mar 01 2009

Sentence of the Day

For a small break from Brussels and the economic crisis: Nothing fades so quickly or so tackily as a Soviet resort. One of the lighter observations (on p. 139) from The Spirit-Wrestlers by Philip Marsden, a journey across southern Russia and the Caucasus in search of various religious non-conformists who fell afoul of both Russian …

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Permanent link to this article: http://www.thefrumiousconsortium.net/2009/03/01/sentence-of-the-day/

Feb 19 2009

Aid Worker Shashlik

From Geert Mak’s visit to Sarajevo in 1999: Batinic leans over and looks me straight in the eye. ‘Tell me, Geert, honestly: what kind of people are you sending us anyway? The ones at the top are usually fine. But otherwise, with only a few exceptions, the people I have to deal with are third-class …

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Permanent link to this article: http://www.thefrumiousconsortium.net/2009/02/19/aid-worker-shashlik/

Feb 16 2009

Sentence of the Day

Describing some events in the last months of 1989: Meanwhile, an unknown KGB agent in Dresden, Vladimir Putin, had tried to pile so many documents into a burning stove that the thing exploded In Europe, by Geert Mak, p.718 I’m nearing the end of the book, and it’s living up to my initial impression. More, …

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