“Perhaps it is the endless parade of titles from either side of the turn of the 20th century or the frequent allusions to reading as an older pleasure that leads one to feel that the bookman of Dirda’s stripe is an endangered creature, doomed to wander amongst the stacks of forgotten novels until one day the bones between the boxes resemble the much adored paper between the covers.
This could not be further from the truth. A cursory glance at the endless supply of book-themed articles, quizzes, lists and ephemera offered by such a new media institution as BuzzFeed proves the idea wrong. These are typically not reviews, literary criticism or even essays; they often appear to have little to do with the written word at all.
But they are a new generation—a new medium—bathed in books, the browsings of a culture of literary polymaths and ambassadors like Dirda have begot.”
“Thepeloton is the great pack of huddled cyclists whipping around whatever godforsaken corner of race course these animate skeletons have the greatest blessing and curse of propelling themselves through. It is the dangerous, many-limbed, many-wheeled core of the race.
Away from the dramatic ball lay the escape artists, the smaller, swifter packs battling amongst each other to propel one of their own, their chosen one, to victory in the race. And well behind the pushing, heaving mass are the stragglers, the world class made seemingly pedestrian, by virtue of injury, technical difficulty, force majeur, calamity or simply being out of their depth. And finally, behind all of these, there is the lanternerouge.”
“Plagued by sleep paralysis, which chokes the eventide with paranoia and demons, and subject to the same heartbreaks and sufferings of the human condition as any of the rest of us, with Abyss Wolfe puts front and center this darkness and uses it as both a bludgeon and catalyst. The gritty funeral dirges are the album’s sonic trademark and ligament, plodding in the sense that a monster or colossus or god or great machine is plodding, carrying within them the inevitable exigency of any of these; these muscular throes sweep through the album like black rivers, and they are, in their rhapsodic and terrifying immensity, like an Isambard Kingdom Brunel masterwork, miniatures abysses in and of themselves, enormous and horrifying, beautiful and inspiring all at once. They sound like the death rattle of an enormous beast.”
“An Australian expat, he was long and lean, handsome with a brushed sweep of hair, considered de rigueur in the day not only for fashion’s sake, but safety’s; the footballer’s locks were cultivated to serve as headgear, of sorts, to help prevent concussions or riven skulls. O’Dea had an equally perfect athlete’s body, shockingly tall but somewhat slight, and all leg — in the way a model is all leg — with perfectly developed, powerful muscles allowing him an incredible speed and the ability to blast sky-splitting punts and dropkicks that must have reminded the Midwestern boys, with their Scandinavian heritage, of Thor himself.”