What’s New with Getting Right with Tao

It’s been a few months since Channel V Books and I got together to publish Getting Right with Tao, a print edition of my modern adaptation of the Tao Te Ching, and it’s been exciting to see how the book continues to strike a chord with readers—like a post earlier this month at the American Taoist blog, which looked at three chapters in my version to consider the neutrality of Tao. I’m particularly excited by a new project that’s taking shape at The Rambling Taoist: a line-by-line analysis of the Tao Te Ching that juxtaposes my version with more established translations by James Legge, Derek Lin, and Gia-fu Feng and Jane English—this last likely being one of the most well-known apart from the Stephen Mitchell.

I read through a lot of different translations of the Tao Te Ching as I was writing my adaptation, but that was a long time ago… and, in any event, it’s very illuminating for me to see what somebody else who’s spent much more time than I have thinking about Taoism thinks of my effort, and how the message I was trying to impart holds up against Lao Tzu’s original wisdom. This line-by-line approach is clearly going to take a while; it’s nearly two weeks in, and we’re still on the second chapter. But I’m looking forward to what I might learn from the Rambling Taoist as his exegesis unfolds.

22 August 2010 | uncategorized |

Stieg Larsson Was a Bad, Bad Writer

I was on vacation last week, and since it involved spending one day flying across the country and another day flying back, I decided to bring along the galleys of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played with Fire, and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest that had been taking up space in my bookshelves since the first one arrived two years ago—reading and shedding, that was the plan! I was ready to see for myself what all the fuss was about… except, as I quickly discovered just a few pages into the first volume, the Millennium trilogy is the worst batch of fiction to reach #1 on the bestseller lists since—well, I don’t know how long it’s been. If you’ve known me for a long time, you know that I don’t think much of Dan Brown as a prose stylist, so when I say that Stieg Larsson isn’t even remotely as good a writer as Dan Brown, you have some sense of exactly how bad I think he is.

But let’s make it plainer: I don’t know how the editors at Alfred A. Knopf expect me to view a novel in which the narrator uses the construction “irrespective of whether [A] or [B]” as resembling anything like a display of literary prowess, and frankly if it weren’t for having read Carl Hiaasen’s excellently satirical Star Island just before going on vacation, I would have to seriously consider the possibility that the publication of Stieg Larsson was evidence of a lack of literary discernment on Knopf’s part.

(I am emphatically not blaming “Reg Keeland,” the translator of the three Larsson novels, for the atrocious prose, because Steven T. Murray has been quite vocal about how the British editors tampered with his first pass at the material, and enough British English remains in the Knopf editions that I doubt they spent much time or energy on making things better.)


20 August 2010 | uncategorized |

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