Friday, December 30, 2005


My library
Originally uploaded by Lachlan Hardy.
I credit Joel's generous gift of the Atlas of the European Novel as influencing my decision to read The Way To Paradise by Vargas Llosa instead of returning to the Gulag. My logic may appear warped to the outsider, to the untrained mind, but alas I maintain that mario is the greatest novelist ever in the spanish language.

Thursday, December 29, 2005


Originally uploaded by best77.
Tuirkish officials admitted that the ongoing proceedings against noted author Pamuk have tarnished Turkey's image worldwide.

Life is good, gents.


Singing out loud
Originally uploaded by Mike from Zurich.
See, my son, time here turns into space. -- Richard Wagner, Parsifal

Into this wild abyss the wary fiend
Stood on the brink of hell and looked a while,
Pondering his voyage. . .
Milton, Pardise Lost, Book II

This week has been but an envelope of time, with the space occuring inuslar angle of approach. It is a week of whispers and fiendish self-questioing. I read The Films of My Life by Alberto Fuguet yesterday. Fuguet is one of the leading representitives of McOndo ( a pun on the mythic region of Garcia Marquez's Cien Anos) which is known for being hyperviolent, bilingual and self-referential. The book started strong, noting the mindest of the seismologist protagonist. It has an unconvincing turn and then the subsequent narrative appeared under-developed. That said, I remainc urious about this contemporary movement. I am unsure where to proceed next. The Pullman books were rec'd from the library but I don't think I can stomach fantasy, even erudite attempts. Who Knows.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

No Justice

I finished Where Dead Voices Gather by Nick Tosches this afternoon. I had more issues with this text than any other bydeft stylist. I was reading deep into last night, when I took out Carter Family disc I bought myself recently and replaced it with an early Gilian welch (my wife rose from her slumber and deadpanned, there she is again, my rival.) Tosches assumes a nod that the cathartic of song has beenw ith us eternally, like some airborne Dutchman, yet the idea of minstrelcy is being vilified by sentimentalists and academics who don't understand anything. I was not impressed. There may not be anything scientific about race as a designation, Tosches proudly points to research in that regard. There still is a concept of human history, and, no, no one alive withstood slavery. That doesn't mean that such and all its subsequent hooror has not had an implacable effect upon people of color.

Tosches needs to cease his incessant blowing of Dylan as well. It isn't becoming. cheers.


What most impresses me about my friend Roger's blog and his writing in general is his ability to extrapolate an entire essay from only a newspaper article. That ability does not come easily to me. I thought about such on Monday night as I finished Outer Dark by Cormac McCarthy. There is a scene towards the conclusion where one of the characters is looking for work, walking through the southern countryside and he encounters a herd of 100 or so hogs being led to the market by a trio of drovers. The character falls along, asking about employment, when suddenly the hogs panic and in their fright stampede off of a bluff taking one of the drovers with them. The physical gravity and horror of the situation are delivered with almost medical precision: these were the just words as opined by Flaubert.

Sunday, December 25, 2005


At a time when CS Lewsi hovers and even Tolkien appears through the maw of Kong, I discovered yet another Oxford-bred writer who pens fantasy for the young at heart, thoughPhillip Pullman's girst is much meatier than the famed. His philosphical (read atheistic) penchant is examined in this week's New Yorker and I bought it yesterday at carmichael's, essentially because it hosted a Nabokov story, published for the first time in English. Laura Miller, chief lit crit for Salon, wrote the piece and as I masticated the lengthy piece, i was struck -- as I so often am.

Be well, friends!!!

Monday, December 19, 2005

Sunshine Esperanza

Life rose to its usual heights last night, striving to overturn the pickets of despair which blocked most of the sabbath. We mert Mark and Stany and went to Vietnam Kitchen. The food was excellent, ranging deep in flavor accopnaied by Rumsfeldean flame to demoralize resistance. Mark rec'd his copy of the Lawrence and pledges were made to continue reading. We also broached the historical value of Gen. Longstreet and this made for an interesting exchange about pragmatism and daring.

Ed and I corresponded this morning and we will continue with the Solzhenitsyn.

It is a lively day of freezing temperatures and magnificent sunshine. Pray it continue.

Sunday, December 18, 2005


The day has been exacting, a grave strain has perched upon me like a vulture of convenience. Efforts to shrug it away were but smoke. I had a beer. This appeared to help. I likely won't have another until tonight, but I found the capacity for a lengthy walk. While walking I thought of boxing, not as a sport but as the subject of some dazzling writing. I don't really prefer to watch pugilism but rather read about it. It commands a grit. I enjoy Papa or Tosches on the sport. Apparently Liebling's Sweet Science is still revered in the genre, nearly 50 years after its publication. My grandfather liked boxing. My earliest memory of the sport is an Ali fight from the mid-70s. I think it may have been against Spinks or Holmes, I don't command the sequentiality of succession. My grandfather was not a literary man. He worked on cars and was henpecked by his wife for most of his life. She was a good woman, only an insecure one.


His daughter was a bitch.


My grandmother and I used to read for hours together in total silence. I have seen my adoptive mother once in the last 15 years: we didn't discuss any theories of the novel. My grandfather was one-quarter Native American. he was interested in the encounters between the Europeans and the indigenous. I am not sure whether he would have liked the Vollmann. He was also interested in both Civil War and WWII. He spent the latter working at the ammunition plant in Charlestown. His best friend was black. Otherwise, he claimed to be a racist. I don't really know. I know he hated politicians, particularly Republicans.


I am not sure whether this remembrance is cathartic. It feels trite. It was good to think while walking. I have so many doubts. The utility of this composition is one of them. I still don�t feel like reading nor watching Kurosawa. It will soon be time to go out to dinner. Maybe I'll have a beer.


Mingus Morning

But a week before matters meltdown into that stretched longing known as Christmas evening, no Boxing Day on our shores. Alas, I am off work the entire week until the 2d. That said I have taken yet another brief hiatus from the Gulag. I read The Current Woman, a polish novel by Jerzy Pelch, on Friday. It is a delightful book about infidelity, memory and animal husbandry.
I hope to post more today.

Friday, December 16, 2005

The Library at Lubyanka

There hasn't been much success on this site during the week. It has been a strange, nearly awkward time of riptide expectation. I have continued with the Gulag, taking a two day break to read some William Hazlett, notably his Pleasure of Hating. There isn't a considerable amount of his essays availible. His radical stance has been eclipsed, evidently, by subsequent generations.

Solzhenitsyn has taken the reader along, through the schedule at the Lubyanka, prior to the inmate's deportation (or liquidation) and has now unrolled a linear, if anecdotal, history of Law in the Soviet Union. What I have found interesting, is both the vicitimization of both the Church and the intelligentsia during the Civil War and the early 20s, as well as how the magnitude of the Civl War itself has been obscured by bookend atrocities of the Great War and the famines of Collectivization.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Robert Fisk

The cover review in this week's NYTBR astonished me, a vast history and appraisal of the Middle East laced with autobiography and an anti-american stance: how fascinating! The tome's excessive size (1300 pages, I think) was also an enticement. Time will tell whether the book floats my direction, I have serious doubts that our local library will order such a volume, though I long to be surprised.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

2005 (so far)

List 2005

1) Civil war Narrative Volume 1 by Shelby Foote

2) Plot Against America by Philip Roth

3) The Newton Letter by John Banville

4) Cubano Be, Cubano Bop by Leonardo Acosta

5) Men At Arms by Evelyn Waugh

6) Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell

7) Shiloh by Shelby Foote

8) Wild Berries by Yevgeny Yevtuschenko

9) Conversations With Shelby Foote

10) Kafka on The Shore by Haruki Murikami

11) Line of Beauty by Alan Hollinghurst

12) Incredibly Loud and Terribly Close by Jonathan Safren Foer

13) Chechnya by Andrew Meier

14) The Collected Correspondence of Shelby Foote and Walker Percy

15) In The Rose Garden of The Martyrs by Christopher de Bellaigue

16) Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann

17) The Final Solution by Michael Chabon

18) Mr. Lincoln's Army by Bruce Catton

19) Inez by Carlos Fuentes

20) Seven Types of Ambiguity by Eliot Perlman

21) The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers

22) Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy

23) Provinces of Night by William Gay

24) Father and Son by Larry Brown

25) Member of the Wedding by Carson McCullers

26) Why Orwell matters by Christopher Hitchens

27) 1984 by George Orwell

28) Mysterious Flame of Queen Leonna by Umberto Eco

29) Suttree by Cormac McCarthy

30) The Certificate by Isaac Singer

31) Collapse by Jared Diamond

32) Call It Sleep by Henry Roth

33) Letters To A Young Contrarian by Christopher Hitchens

34) Malice Towards None by Stephen Oates

35) Rubicon by Tom Holland

36) Follow Me Down by Shelby Foote

37) Yellow Dog by Martin Amis

38) The Children At The Gate by Edward Wallant

39) No Country For Old Men by Cormac McCarthy

40) Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

41) Nowhere Man by Aleksandr Hemon

42) Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis

43) Natural History of Disaster by W.G. Sebald

44) Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser

45) The Good Solider by Ford Maddox Ford

46) Keep the Aspidestra Flying by George Orwell

47) Henry Roth by Kellman

48) How Soccer Explains The World by Franklin Foer

49) Homage To Catalonia by George Orwell

50) Question of Bruno by Aleksandr Hemon

51) Why I Write by George Orwell

52) Rising Up, Rising Down by William T. Vollmann

53) Politics by Adam Thirwell

54) Commisar of Enlightenment by Ken Kalfus

55) On Beauty by Zadie Smith

56) Foundation Pit by Andrei Platonov

57) The Faculty Of Useless Knowledge by Yuri Dombrovsky

58) Child of God by Cormac McCarthy

59) King of the Jews by Nick Tosches

60) Europe Central by William T. Vollmann

61) Civil War Narrative - Volume Two by Shelby Foote

62) The Ice-Shirt by William T. Vollmann

63) Hellfire: The Jerry Lee Lewis Story by Nick Tosches

It intriguing to ponder this, not as hubris but as time spent and its myriad paths. There were only five books formt he library which I completed, an odd indication times, supporting local commerce as well as the specificty of my interest this year, though it is as likely that I simply needed to own the materials in question. The affable aspect of Hornby's column in The Believer is the comparison between what books he bought each month as to what he read. One can surmise by my own statement about the juxtaposition within. Now back to signing fucking xmas cards!!

Friday, December 09, 2005

Peaceful Valley

N purchased me a sub to The Believer and contrary to my expectiancy I rec'd a collected tome of intervues from the periodical, no Nick Hornby here. such is life. There is much to muse to upon the Lubyanka. Soon coming, Godspeed. cheers

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Robert Kaplan

During the frigid tempest, I was proffered a chance through work to trek downtown and pick up an ordered text as well as a travel book which captured my interest, the book Mediterranean Winter by Robert Kaplan struck notes in simultaneous keys: broaching the historical significance of Dalmatia, Tunisia and Sicily. Gibbon and Rebecca West are amongst those conditioned for the odyssey. It also exudes a balmy charm on these blighted days.

I was first introduced to Kaplan almost ten years ago when I read Roger's copy of Balkan Ghosts. I had no idea how personally that region would one day encounter my won travels. Revisiting the etxt, I now argue with many of his assertions , his conservatism about the developing world and a Foucauldian reading of Slavic history. It was of considerable assistance, however, for many years. I read another text about threatened regions of Central Asia and Sub-saharan Africa in 2000 with little residual affect.

I am now weary, the strain of the day is whispering for respite, yet I think a good cigar, some Earl Gray and a few hours Solzhenitsyn with work relative miracles.

Inclimate Weather

Such will likely foment reading this afternoon. It is the anecdotal nature of the saga which grips one so tightly.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Finished Ch. 4

There sia digression upon Evil, whether there is an independant terra firm for such, or is it a chemical possibility, achieved at variable thresholds? It recalls Foote at the end of his first Volume and his ethereal questions as to what was being achieved, how hollow had rhetoric become awash ins o much blood. Solzhenitsyn fears for the future of Russia, a nation that he fears will not only accept atrocity but embrace it as a means to prosperity.

The Wolf Actually Laughs

Wherever the Law is Crime can be found. -- (p.67)

It is difficult to approach these pages without being plagued concenring my motivations. Perhaps it is not a stylistic qualm but rather a struggle with the conceit of Solzhenitsyn, not for HIS suffering nor his account of OTHERS in peril and ultimately lost. It is from a near-religious arrogance that satins his pages. Few will argue against the iniquity of Soviet Experiement but I feel that to accept unabashed is just as gullible a human response.

I certainly feel for the father of six who tripled his quotas at the factory and when presented with a medal, said this award is very nice, but I'd really like a bag of flour. All seven were deported East.

Unlike A Vulpine Chortle

Long hours and tundric winds conspired to keep me out of commission yesterday, little reading and not a word posed in earnest. This a.m. aside from incessant hacking and the forever flowing discharge, it was back to the saga of the bluecaps, the unchecked power of paranoia and a reflection on the holy fool. Most of the effective symbolism concenring the Purges, Personality Cults and the Soviet Question has been religious (Bulgakov, Dombrovsky and Pasternek) yet what is at issue here?

It isn't the atheism of the Comintern, its the supplication of the Gaping Soul to the Treason of the Enlightenment. Joel once asked whether AS was a man who felt that human application of Socialism was at fault, not the Historical Imperative. I see AS as rejecting not only Marx but taking the Enlightenment to task as well, with only the Divinity of Grace to save humanity from itself.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

More on the Killer

As far as recent Tosches scholarship is concerned Hellfire is orthodox and linear. It isn't a parable about Evil or the commerce of one's soul, but rather it is hinted indictment. It follows an almost Faulknerian taxonomy of the blighted region where the unnamed spectre of Race lingers like toxic angel over the soil. Muted screams and tainted legacy abound in the Louisiana of Lewis' youth. The fact that he is cousins with Jimmy Swaggert and Mickey Gilley is underdeveloped my Tosches, but perhaps the mere coincidence is sufficent for high drama. The oscillation of the kIller between full-bore debauchery and the hesitation of Milton's Lucifer, this is the integral paradox, these mechanics aren't cellestial but biochemical, lurking submerged in the measure of men.

His enkindling his piano after being snubbed in defference to Chuck Berry (follow that, nigger - Lewis growled) is a portrait in minature. It was a fascinating read, haunting in its allusion.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Hellfire (for a change)

Today is the first anniversary of this endeavor and as I awoke, i was tinged with ambition. I then began to read Hellfire: The Jerry Lee Lewis story by Nick Tosches. In almost a single sitting i read the book, enjoying six double espressos, a large cigar, two eggs (w/ bread) and several hours of outstanding music, including Bix, Blind Boys of Alabama, George Jones, James Carter, Charlie Parker and Ryan Adams. I am finished, refreshed, bewildered by the world in its torrent.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Chapter 3

Such was finished this morning, an appropriately frozen one. Perhaps it isn't; as so far the text has only concerned the interrogation and all its insidious variation.

I agree with Ed about the gallows humor.

His indictment of Russian character strikes me as unneccesary. Name a blood of people who haven't cowered and followed?

Thursday, December 01, 2005

My Progress

Continuing to tunnel and remain enthralled. The qualification remains that I am overwhelmed by the autobiography of the text, but the systemmic contextualization is arousing my cynical response systems in effort to trade punches with my idol. It is a collsion, perhaps, of messianic tendencies. I appear both exasperated and in awe that A.S. is attempting a taxonomy of an ignominious system from within. Such are my double-binds. Cheers

Ice-Shirt Coda

I finished the Vollmann Tuesday night and feel that my appreciation was tempered by an interview statement where Vollmann admitted that he didn't feeel the novel's conclusion was sufficient.

Last night N and I watched Jarmusch's Dead Man and I appreciated his delicate handling of the encounter between indigenous and Other.

The Creation myths explored in the Ice-Shirt were engaging nonetheless.

Fathers and Crows will be next for my Vollmann exploration, that will likely be a week or so, as determined by the ongoing enjoyment of the Archipelago.