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Domestic Adventure

That I liked one of the Domestic Adventure books that I mentioned last Tuesday much better than the other is not really of interest. I could try to explain why Stephen Clarke's A Year in the Merde tickled me, while John Grogan's Marley and Me: didn't (it did make me cry, though), but in essence I would just be talking about myself, not the books. Just.

What is "Domestic Adventure," you ask? The titles give some clues. Both tell stories that are purportedly encounters with something alien. In keeping with the promise of the Adventure genre, the adventurers present self-portraits that have been truncated to permit the peaceful co-existence of characteristics not often found in harmony in human nature. Sensitivity and "manliness," for example. (Each writer is politely but insistently heterosexual.) Both men are evidently mature and responsible adults, but they never miss a chance to let their inner adolescent make an appearance. The candor of true autobiography is deftly avoided, and neither guy is on the couch. Or, if he is, his feet are on the coffee table. That is at any rate what he wants you to believe. In fact, both men are professional writers, more clever and probably more complicated than their literary stand-ins.

In A Year in the Merde, the writer recounts his abbreviated year of ...

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Dear RJ,

Just back from a conference on Wagner. It was great fun: you and Kathleen might enjoy such an experience. I wrote about it on my blog. There were people from New York there.

Is Parzival manly? My paper on Trollope is about manliness and masculinity in Trollope's novels.

So we are both on the same wavelength and in this year 's zeitgeist.


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