Tidbits du Jour

First bit of tid is from Slate, covering the health front:

It’s been a great week for coffee drinkers: 1) “Data from 10 studies … suggest that people who drink coffee may be reducing their risk of liver cancer.” 2) “Drinking more than three cups of coffee a day helped protect older women against some age-related memory decline.” 3) “Drinking three or more cups of coffee a day may cut the risk of colon cancer in women by half.” 4) “Exercise and moderate caffeine consumption together could help ward off sun-induced skin cancer.” Unauthorized conclusions: 1) Go pour yourself another cup. 2) And don’t forget the chocolate.

Second morsel comes courtesy of Nick Hornby, who writes a column called “Stuff I’ve Been Reading” for The Believer. Herewith, an excerpt:

Here is the best definition of a good novel I have come across yet—indeed, I suspect that it might be the only definition of a good novel worth a damn. A good novel is one that sends you scurrying to the computer to look at pictures of prostitutes on the internet. And as Michael Ondaatje’s Coming Through Slaughter is the only novel I have ever read that has made me do this, I can confidently assert that Coming Through Slaughter is, ipso facto, the best novel I have ever read.

I love Nick for not painstakingly expositing his reasons why this is the best definition. He’s writing appreciation here, so let’s not get all frontal-lobe on him.

It’s far too late to natter on about the joys of coffee and Michael Ondaatje’s books (I’ve read Coming Through Slaughter, and The English Patient), especially since I’d have to invoke a comment by New Yorker critic Anthony Lane, which has haunted me for ages. He once said of The English Patient—though not, exasperatingly, in his review of the movie—that the book was so perfectly written as to be unreadable.

And just like Hornby, he tossed off this comment en passant, while discussing something else. Damnable cryptic critic.

Not sure if I agree with him. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to finish reading a novel so I can test the hooker-effect.

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