What are you reading?

A weekly look over the shoulders of our scholar-reviewers

January 13, 2011

Tim Hall is lecturer in human geography, University of Gloucestershire. He is currently reading Richard Ford's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel Independence Day (Bloomsbury, 1995). "A novel that matches the brilliance of The Sportswriter, its prequel. Ford offers a masculine but thoughtful world view, and a meditation on engagement and the epic qualities of ordinary places and everyday lives."

John Harris, associate professor in the School of Exercise, Leisure and Sport, Kent State University, US, is reading Jay Scherer and Steve Jackson's Globalization, Sport and Corporate Nationalism (Peter Lang, 2010). "An interesting case study of the New Zealand All Blacks - the most iconic brand in all of world rugby. This is a decent account of how the increased commercialisation and open professionalisation of the national game has reshaped rugby in the country. It also tells a tale of how a small nation can play a significant role in the global sports arena."

Christopher Innes is Canada Research Chair in performance and culture, York University, Toronto. He is reading Steve Waters' The Secret Life of Plays (Nick Hern Books, 2010). "I am no playwright, despite secret scripts hidden in my deepest drawer, so it may be surprising to find a book explicitly aiming to be a manual for playwrights at my bedside. In fact, however, this work sees Waters analyse what makes plays work on stage, discussing - brilliantly - Hamlet and Woyzeck as examples of structure and characterisation, thereby opening new understandings of drama for everyone."

Benjamin Ivry is a poet, biographer, translator and former lecturer in English at the Université de Paris VI. He is reading Marie Ponsot's The Bird Catcher (Alfred A. Knopf, 1998). "Although this is not Ponsot's most recent collection, it is one of her most emblematic. Influenced by James Joyce, John Donne and Mary Butts, she is a modern metaphysical, writing strong, characterful poems that are wittily incisive and gem-like in intensity. If you relish Eiléan Ní Chuilleánain's magical poems, you will likely appreciate Ponsot's."

Willy Maley, professor of Renaissance studies, University of Glasgow, is rereading John Milton's Of Reformation (Thomas Underhill, 1641). "Milton's earliest major prose polemic foreshadows all his subsequent literary labours, arguing for permanent revolution. His sideswipes at the money changers have relevance for today's bankers. Answering the prospect of such 'canary-sucking, swan-eating' greed going overseas, Milton retorts: 'It were better it did: better a penurious Kingdom, than where excessive wealth flows into the graceless and injurious hands of common sponges to the impoverishing' of others."

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