Tuesday, January 13, 2004

Is the ASO a Cover Band?
Classical fans have been fuming for some time about compilations like Best of the Millennium: Top 40 Classical Hits although they're still preferable to Shacking Up to Chopin. (As one person pointed out, we'll soon get "Haydn the salami" and "
Jacking Orff." Here in Atlanta, though, we don't need CD's because we can get the bloody hit parade live. This season ASO performs Saint-Saens' Third, the Rite of Spring and Mozart's 40th and 41st, all of which they've performed in the last three years. We also get Beethoven's third and fourth piano concerti and his sixth symphony. The only Sibelius symphony this season is his greatest-hit fifth, which nicely complements his greatest-hit second, which was performed last season. In addition, we get Vaughan Williams's Sea Symphony (heard last season) and Britten's Sinfonia da Requiem (heard three seasons ago). On a positive note, Pierre Ruhe, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution critic, noted that Mozart's 41st is "on the edge of overexposure."

Wednesday, January 07, 2004

Sometimes I Wish I Didn't Read the News
An extremist Hindu mob destroyed historical books and manuscripts at the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute in my hometown, Pune.

Friday, January 02, 2004

Best of the Best of the Books of 2003
Thanks to fimocoulous for compiling the canonical best of 2003 list, which includes the best books. He'll add the Telegraph and Independent articles shortly. I didn't dump these lists into an Excel spreadsheet, but from a quick scan I gleaned that the best of the best, i.e. the ones with cross-list and cross-continent appeal, are:

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime. By Mark Haddon

The Fortress of Solitude. By Jonathan Lethem

Ultimate Punishment: A Lawyer's Reflections on Dealing With the Death Penalty. By Scott Turow

Gulag: A History. By Anne Applebaum

Brick Lane. By Monica Ali

Eats, Shoots and Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation. By Lynne Truss

An honorable mention goes to "Random Family: Love, Drugs, Trouble, and Coming of Age in the Bronx" by Adrian Nicole LeBlanc, which also ended up as contender for John Wilson's Worst Book of the Year. But that prize went to Philosophy in a Time of Terror: Dialogues with Jurgen Habermas and Jacques Derrida, by Giovanna Borradori.

If you review books on your blog, you might enjoy allconsuming's Top 100 most frequently mentioned books of 2003, produced from a purely numerical analysis of blogs.