Saturday, April 30, 2005


This fixation continues. I was glancing through a bio of Ms. McCullers and found a drunken quote: I say more than Hemingway and, God knows, I say it better than Faulkner. Faulkner, for his part referred to Carson as his daughter, whereas Papa Ernest defiantly said she was a phony.

Anyone thristy?

Friday, April 29, 2005

At A Standstill

I have consumed 40 or more novels a year every year of my adulthood and I am well acquainted with the cathartic. Steve Powell used to smirk that my life had been changed innumerable times and thus had drifted far outside the verdant shrubs of recognition. Perhaps Steve was right but i have been in a daze for a few days now over The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter. There is something both manic and terminally solitary about the book. Its pages practically weep and not with panting ideology of youth, (Ms. McCullers was but a pup when she penned the epic) but with a timeless urgency towards that unspeakable alienation which creeps towards us all in repose, besmirching our veneer of self-respect.

I am supposed to be reading Collapse with my mates but I sense myself looking inward for traces and whispers of Mick Kelly, Biff and Singer. Carson had nerve even if she was a lush, lord knows few do, though I shan't draw attention to the Vessels of Rage text once chanced upon by Brother Joel. My friend Ed said that he is bound to reading fiction these days, I can certainly empathize.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Natasa's List

The objective of this weblog all along was to preserve the course of reading, in lieu of unreliable memory, and establish a proper continuity. N thought it prudent to list her readings here as well.

1)Politics - Thurwell, Adam
2) The Incident of the Dog at Night Time - Haddon
3)Magic Mountain - Mann
4) the Newton Letter - Banville
5) Doctor Copernicus - Banville
6) Kepler - Banville

N has expressed discouragement as of late pertaining to the dearth of her reading. I counter that she has mastered, to a degree, the ability to construct furniture, grow herbs and bake bread with her bare hands. i am adroit, conversely, with smoking good cigars, swilling cheap lager and reading pointy-headed literature while listening to obscure music.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Seven Stabs at Stupidity

I finished The Ambiguity novel by Perlamn the other night and was greatly disappointed; how often in the po-mo's stab at social fiction do we need to have the sister not only have an affair but a lesbian affair. how much trauma and dysfucntion can layer each page? Sister Carrie on crack with flip-it animation from Safren Foer. I am stressed.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Spring Mill

My wife and I wnet to the State Park in Mitchell this morning and my thoughts curled back to the early fall of 1992 when I took my grandmother there for a picnic lunch of KFC and then we enjoyed the afternoon as I sat reading The Brothers Karamazov while she chainsmoked and browsed the paper. It was strange today to enjoy the sun and a lengthy hike only to retire to our books in the shade. This glyph of life is bent with penchant, so mercurial. I possessed a certain innocence that autumn, a time when the UN Embargo was making its presence felt in Belgrade,a time when Sarajevo was preparing for its second winter of siege. How naive I have been, how molified by opportunity! I recall the almost sacred splendor of Dostoevsky that season. I was so quick to absorb, to partake and I shudder to fear whatever posturing accompanied such.

I continue to read Seven Types of Ambiguity by Eliot Perlman. I originally associated with Danielewski's House of Leaves or A.L. Kennedy's Everything You Need, both are expositions of style, of exercise. This is astrange bed for me. I have since begun to recognize its similitude with The Corrections by Franzen.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005


I have wanted to peruse a notebook I kept as reading diary for soemtime now. The journal began in earyl 97 and concluded soemtime in early 2001. It is rathe rinexact and doesn't approach directly any of the trainwrecks which constitute my life at these times. It is sadly more abstract than I thought, there are few direct citations though the below is from Ulysses which I was reading the day I visited the Vatican. I have never completed the novel, though in '94 I made it past the midpoint.

My soul walks with me, form of forms, so in the moon's midwatches I pace the path above the rocks, in sable silvered, hearing Elsinore's tempting flood. (p.44)

I noted on samizdat about my impressions of the Catton, how he is a Hemingway to Foote's Proust. It is upon Antietam that Catton unveils his verve:

As the line reached this high place the officersback at headquarters got anothe rlook at the deceitful pageantry of war: broad, oderly linesof infantry going on in the sunlight, tiny puff balls of smoke appearing around the house as the Rebel skirmishers went into action, battle flags making high lights of gay color, officers posturing on their horses with glinting swords, a battery of artillery riding up fast and unlimbering dramatically; all very fine and bloodless looking, just like the colored lithographs. (290-291)

My reading has been too skattered thus far this week. I have been reading from Vollmann, his collection Atlas and some Diamond here and there but i need something to demand with with white-knuckled urgency.

Sunday, April 10, 2005


It has been some time since I last read Mr. Fuentes. I believe that The Death of Artemio Cruz was the last selection, likely in 2002, just before I went to San Francisco. He was an immense influence throughout the mid-90s at that time when I was seemingly constantly dazzled by the Boom and all its rank and file. Change of Skin and Terra Nostra remain cherished epics and while Inez didn't reach such heights (I thought of Diana throughout, a similar meditation on passion and art) it was enjoyable.

Tmorrow will likely see return to Collapse, the silence of my friends shan't deter my interest within.

Resplendid Bedamned

What a wonderful weekend, a sprained back has ahd tiem to heal. There has been much sun, much walking undersuch and much reading. I finished the Catton yesterday morning. The evening afforded splendid dining at Sheba with friends and the evening melted to a quiet close. this day has seen a leisurely readingof the Times and Hitchens' review of a bio of Malraux. More sun was featured on the menu and further walking. I have decided to read Inez by Fuentes today as I can manage it in a single day. It is a piece of rather baroque writing, with a central experimental twist or spiral, but i am enjoying it, though for the past few hours I have been relegated to timeouts and halftimes.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

An Update

I have completed 17 books thus far this year. It is almost disconcerting to ponder that passage of time, the tumult of the seasons, the labrynth of each specific day floating into the undifferntiated. here's the list:

1) Civil War Narrative Vol 1 - Foote
2)Plot Against America - Roth
3)The Newton Letter - Banville
4) Cubano Be Cubano Bop
5)Men at Arms - Waugh
6)Cloud Atlas - Mitchell
7)Shiloh - Foote
8) Wild Berries -- Yetevshencko
9)Conversations with Shelby Foote
10)Kafka On The Shore - Murakami
11)Line of Beauty - Holinghurst
12)Incredibly Loud and Terribly Close - Foer
14)Correspondence of Foote and Percy
15) Rose garden of Martyrs
16)Magic Mountain - Mann
17)Final Solution - Chabon

It appears that Mr Foote has featured heavily in this year's program. It is also certain that I am reading much more nonfiction than is normal. The three books that I am reading at this exact moment are all nonfiction: Mr Lincoln's Army by Catton, Gulag by Applebaum and Collapse by Diamond. I would also say that the Mitchell and the Murakami were the best novels I have read this year, with Thomas Mann appearing regal with the bronze. Once I finish the Catton (today?) I will try to focus on the Applebaum. the problem with her text remains that while Martin Amis wrote a similar book 3 years ago (Koba the Dread), he is a masterful author and the ongoing issue is that both texts rely so heavily upon Robert Conquest and of the survivor's memoirs. Why not read Conquest and the memoirs? Somehow Mr Foote and the fate of Gettysburg has drifted out of focus. Collapse is proving to be an adroit text, but one that I fear I am blazing through, like his oft-studied conflagrations of late summer.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

William T Vollmann

This Northern CA explorer of the soul continues his manic, prodidgious, output, having his latest novel Europe Central receive a rather glowing review in the NY Times. Vollmann's prescence has hovered over me for years, almost haunting. His industry mocks me. It appears that he pens a 800 page novel every year, all of which bifurcate into either an exploration of the base end of the human spectrum or veer outward into his smoldering history of the North American continent and its subsequent populations whether indigenous or immigrant. What has been most tempting was Rising Up Rising Down: his six volume meditation on violence and terror. While the price alone was daunting, the seduction continued. I bought a collection of the best travel writing of 2002 last year at the Goodwill because of his 30 page story about canoeing on a polluted river in southern CA. He then surfaced again recently with a wonderful review of a biography of Pol Pot. Vollmann has explored Cambodia for years and speaks with a subtle confidence of such. The margins of society appear to always attract him, whether it be a Californian crackhouse, a Bangkok brothel or anywhere in Central Asia.

Europe Central appears to bridge a narrative about Shostakovic (my favorite composer) and his personal affairs during the Terror with a story of moral composure featuring several figures of the Wehermacht and the invasion of the USSR. Oh, to dream and ponder this grand nightmare?

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Into A Void

The Final Solution by Chabon was swallowed in an afternoon. It was quite agreeable and noticeably respective of maintaining a distance between the logic of Holmes and the incomprehension of the Shoah.

The time since has witnessed a laungch into Catton's Army of the Potomic trilogy. I find Catton alert and his prose adroit, It is also a pleasure to read it in tandem with Roger. My nocturnal travels in the Applebaum contiue. Today an ague has left me prone the entire afternoon. I devoted such time to 200 pages of the Applebaum. I have also began a rereading of Koba The Dread by Amis. The Great Terror was bought used online and my friends will begin our reading of Collapse in the immediate future.