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Reading

Best Thought, Worst Thought

Though the aphorism already has its pantheon, Scottish poet, editor, and musician Don Paterson adopts the title of aphorist with the release of his new book.

Book Digest Given the titans residing in the pantheon of aphorists—Oscar Wilde, Karl Kraus, G.K. Chesterton, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Dorothy Parker, Mark Twain, Ambrose Bierce—it takes a writer of high self-regard or no sense of history to attempt a book of aphorisms. Or like poet, editor, musician, and Scotsman Don Paterson, who brings us Best Thought, Worst Thought: On Art, Sex, Work, and Death (Graywolf Press), someone who does not take the task all that seriously:
The shorter the form, the greater our expectation of its significance—and the greater its capacity for disappointing us. A book of aphorisms is a lexicon of disappointments. The form’s only virtue is its brevity; at least the reader cannot seriously hold that it has wasted their time.
Or:
The aphorism is a brief waste of time. The poem is a complete waste of time. The novel is a monumental waste of time.
Then there is this:
His corpse was beyond such trifling repose as mere peace. He had left time and I could not help but reflect on the elegance of the move. Even my slow walk from the funeral parlor to the Tube station felt like an epileptic fit.
Or:
I have no more ambition for this book than that some day someone will be lying in bed and read out a single line—and that their companion will turn away from them in silence . . .
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