with intense eagerness since 2012! a channel of the los angeles review of books

Avidly in Review

As the year winds down, we here at Avidly would like to thank you for your amazing contributions and support and enthusiasm. We’d like to end the semester by looking back at a handful of excellent posts you might like to reread as you decompress from a busy fall. Note that this doesn’t aim to be a “top posts” lists in any way–but, instead, just a look back at some posts we haven’t talked about recently, and that WE SHOULD TALK ABOUT MORE.

We’re taking our normal end of term break, and will resume after the holidays.  Stay tuned for more Avidity in 2013.


1: Woman’s Day

August 6, 2012


woman's day“Every time I travel or go grocery shopping, I am inexorably drawn to Real Simple.  Those glossy minimalist pages, the assurance that they know which garlic press or espresso maker is the finest, the step-by-steps for cleaning and organizing.  I never buy any of the stuff they feature, or do any of the projects, or change my cleaning (non)routine a bit.  Well, OK, once I took their tip, which showed up in two issues in a row, to use a binder clip to store my kitchen sponge so it dried on both sides, thereby reducing my chances of Ebola or whatever.  It turned out that the binder clip rusted onto the sink’s counter-thingie, leaving a stain that no amount of scrubbing will remove.  But my usual course of action is to immerse myself in the magazine, on the theory that reading about, say, maximizing the space in your medicine cabinet is akin to actually doing it….” Read More.



2: Octopuses, not Obsession

August 28, 2012


“I’m a real easy guy to buy gifts for. If you see a toy octopus or something with an octopus on it, look no further. I love octopuses. I have a modest tattoo of an octopus on my left arm (I got it in 1992, arguably minutes before tattoos became de rigueur). I wear a silver necklace with an octopus charm on it. My bookshelves are populated with small and medium-sized octopuses made of plastic, rubber, cloth, silver, iron, glass. Pictures of octopuses decorate my walls, including a beautiful Japanese fish rubbing that some dear friends gave me for my fortieth birthday (it was made by applying the paint directly to an octopus’s body and pressing it against paper). I have an octopus tote bag, an octopus key ring, an octopus T-shirt, a ritzy octopus throw pillow, an amazing octopus bowl by the potter Neal Read, an octopus drink coaster, an octopus tentacle finger-puppet. When I lived in Virginia, my license plate said “2 Octopi” (the singular was already taken, I wish I knew by whom). My husband says I definitely don’t need any more octopuses, and I agree. But then sometimes he breaks down and buys me a new one anyway…” Read More.


3: Drunk Historiography

July 10, 2012


I avidly follow the sketch series Drunk History. From the first sketch I felt that shared recognition, that moment of contact that readers of nineteenth-century literature will know as a constitutive in the genre of the novel.

If you’re not familiar with the Drunk History sketches–a deficiency you should remedy right away–the format is this: for each episode a person gets very drunk and narrates a historical event on film. The facts of the historical event are pretty accurate, if colloquialized. As the drunk storyteller proceeds, his or her narrative is acted out, and lip-synched, by well-known comic actors in period costumes.

What makes Drunk History work is the rigor and investment of the wrecked narrators in telling their stories–this series does not condescend to history. Here’s Drunk History creator  Derek Waters on the people who become its narrators: “All the stories they tell, they really love and are excited to tell. Works better that way, rather than some idiot making stuff up…” Read more.


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