Is the allure of fiction, its infinite horizon of narrative possibility? When I had even less time on my hands—those moments between books that called for immersion into the quotidian —I found time to peruse two so called reference works as if they were portals to an imagination in disarray—Atlas of the World (Oxford University Press) and Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations (Little Brown). Maps and words. yes indeed.
Atlas of the World 19th Edition (Oxford University Press
The Atlas of the World is updated every year—such are the changes and permutations that take place on our home planet. Well over 400 pages and weight in at eight pounds this tome is chock a block full of vital and
intriguing information—color maps of all the world’s regions, Gazetteer which includes more than 80,000 place names, a fold-out world reference map, pages of beautiful satellite images of specific places on the planet including Antarctica, London, and the Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania, maps of 69 individual cities, 45 pages of thematic information and maps about such varying topics as the Solar System, landforms, water, population, energy, agriculture, and air travel and “Regions in the News,”a featuring a collection of maps including such places as Darfur, Kashmir, and Iraq.
Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations (18th Edition) Geoffrey O’Brien, General Editor (Little Brown)
Published intermittently since mid 19th century Bartlett’s 18th iteration has been revised and updated with 2500 new quotes including bon mots from a widely diverse gaggle— Warren Buffett, the Dalai Lama, Bill Gates, David Foster Wallace, Emily Post, Steve Jobs, Jimi Hendrix, Paul Krugman, Hunter S. Thompson, Jon Stewart, Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, Barack Obama, Che Guevara, Randy Pausch, Desmond Tutu, Julia Child, Fran Leibowitz, Harper Lee, Nassim Nicholas Taleb, Patti Smith, William F. Buckley, and Robert F. Kennedy to name a few. Under the able guiding hand of Geoffrey O’Brien who among other of his auspicious credentials is the editor-in-chief of The Library of America, the newest Barlett’s offers a singular collection (only the Yale Book of Quotations. a one-off comes close) of the wisdom of the ages.
And in a bow to modernity Little Brown has created a Bartlett’s Application retailed at remarkably low price. Cheap at thrice the price.
Ah yes, in the words of John Kenneth Gailbraith, “It is far better and much safer to have a firm anchor in nonsense than to put out in the troubled seas of thought.”
Currently reading Overture by David Slavitt (OP19)