–The quarterly literary journal Raritan, published by Rutgers University, has announced that its next issue will contain an article on Evelyn Waugh. This is written by Andrew Bacevich, retired professor of history at Boston University and, before that, retired officer from the US Army. His Wikipedia entry shows no previous literary writing but a good many books and articles devoted to US foreign policy, particularly with respect to the Middle East. He also describes himself as a “Catholic conservative” so that may be a clue.
—The Times newspaper has a story in which John O’Connell takes another look at the book-reading habits of the late singer-songwriter David Bowie. He reports how Bowie’s penchant for book reading surfaced during a US film shoot in the 1970s:
He had, rather ambitiously, promised not to use drugs for the duration of the shoot, so when he wasn’t needed he would take himself off to his trailer and indulge in an altogether less harmful pastime: reading books. Luckily, he had plenty to choose from. As a location report explained: “Bowie hates aircraft so he mostly travels across the States by train, carrying his mobile bibliothèque in special trunks, which open out with all his books neatly displayed on shelves.” This portable library stored 1,500 titles.
Fast-forward to March 2013. The Victoria & Albert Museum’s exhibition “David Bowie Is” has opened in London to rave reviews. To coincide with its subsequent launch in Ontario, the V&A issued a list of the 100 books Bowie considered the most important and influential – not his “favourite books” as such – out of the thousands he had read during his life. The mobile-library story shows how Bowie’s reading had calcified into a compulsion by the time he was world famous. He went about it the way he went about everything, with a kind of manic fervour.
As has been previously reported on this site, one of the books on Bowie’s top 100 list was Evelyn Waugh’s Vile Bodies. The Times’s article includes Bowie’s Top 100 list, with specific comments on some of the choices but not, alas, for Vile Bodies. They might have mentioned that Waugh’s book also influenced some of the songs on Bowie’s album Alladin Sane
—The Daily Drone, a weblog for former Daily Express reporters and other admirers of that journal in its more successful days has posted this brief notice:
EXPRESSMAN Geoffrey Mather, writing on his website about Brideshead Revisited, recalled an amusing anecdote about the book’s author Evelyn Waugh.
Quoting Waugh’s biographer Philip Eade he wrote: “Waugh spent several weeks ‘working’ at the Daily Express. Having been fired in 1927 he gave advice to budding reporters.
“When assigned a story, ‘the correct procedure is to jump to your feet, seize your hat and umbrella, and dart out of the office with every appearance of haste to the nearest cinema’.
“At the cinema the probationer was advised to sit and smoke a pipe and imagine what any relevant witnesses might say.”
We on the Drone reckon this was an excellent policy which was followed 50 years later by eager Expressmen, although at that time pubs were more de rigueur than cinemas.
And the moral? Never take work too seriously.