Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Sun-swept Afternoons

Not a great deal of reading today, but the early evening is quite promising, given my soon to be actualized visit to the barber shop. Let us ponder Dante and whether i will reread Nausea next.

Monday, February 27, 2006


I admit to having little specific in terms of emotion about this famous image. It appears so distant having been eclipsed by fresher images. When I think of that poor nation I immediately think of flying to san Franciso for my brother Tim's wedding and reading Scott Peterson's account of Somalia, Rwanda and the Sudan as we descended into the Bay Area. It was year almost to the day since I had devoured Farah's A Naked Needle and the stirring aside that there are no longer functioning telecommunication landlines linking to the outside world, the weight of such was stunning.


It was an odd weekend, following DM Thomas I read a play by Lorca with my wife and then a story by Kipling. Uncertain still, I have delved into Narrudin Farah's latest novel Links which I bought last fall off of Abebooks. My guess is that I was drawn now to the Somali because of recent pondering on Haiti. Such conclusions are loose-fitting but satisfy the bricoleur within. I first read one of his novels in 1999 and then bought my first at the Strand in 2002 with Joel. His language is terse, his characters eloquent and the mood remains bleak.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

White Hotel

Given its inspiration for Kusterica's new film project (much as Bulatovic may have embellished Underground) I read White Hotel by DM Thomas this weeknd, essentialy in two sittings. It would've blown my mind had i read at 20 but alas it did involve Freud, Fucking and the Holocaust.So it is. There is much to write and I likely won't enforce the effort.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Nearly There

The Bulatovic has progressed (regressed) from Rome and the Via Serpenti to Switzerland and then across the frontier to France, culminating in an assault on Paris with Antonio meeting Francois Villon whom after a night of serious drinking and commiserating guts the French President underneath a fireworks display, meanwhile Antonio finds his sister, purchases her favors for the evening, consumates the transaction and then pleads, futilely, for her to kill him. The film makers then rescue a rebuffed, but alive, Antonio from hooligans where all three become of a performance art troupe in ascene remniscent of the Tin Drum. Actually, Grass and Bulatovic were good friends. the novel will likely be concluded tonight.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Clean Underwear

"He remembered Montenegro and Bijelo Polje, sunk in dust and dung, the cellars and granaries where he had spent his adolescence and youth, dreaming about bread, clean underwear and equality among men."

Such lines about Gruban malic apparently apply to Bulatovic as well. Doing some spot research I found out that his father was killed by his brother-in-law after a dispute over some property. Then the war came. Bulatovic then spent his youth rather detsitute wandering the war-torn countryside. He was hospitalized several times for malnutrition and was arrested twice for vagrancy. He never read a book until the age of sixteen and then spent his entire artistic career pissing on all that allegedly progressive in the modern world. The War Was Better is similar to Gravity's Rainbow in that both are anti-war yet occur largely in the years of ravaged peace after V-E Day when packs of DPs and former POWs sprawled heading towards normalcy and home. . .to find what?

Infinite Regret

A pledge to the Devil, a sigh of dread, what follows? There is a thread connecting a pursuit of Truth (or is it justice) with an elegiac survey of History. Its soaked scrolls, documenting, detailing delineating the model of progress as being half-checked by simple murder. What wind stirs the flames in Bulatovic's protagonists? Does this arid current contaminate? Why is it essential that there be something "worse than evil." Why allow the theoretic "step outside?"


Muck akin to the sand paintings of the Ganges Valley, the ephemera of deed is lost in relativistic eddies, all aswirl in measureless consequence, Russian dolls in diminishing stature. What then does one prescribe in effort to avoid the proscribe? A discourse of inclusion invariably slams atop the rocks of Valuation, time bleeds all of such imperative. Motes betray degradation. "Eventually everyone eats sand," deadpans one of Soyinka's mendicants. So we will. The length of a frozen afternoon often reveals but saddened lines etched across with no hope, nor intention, of accomplishment or destination, it is a gesture midair.


The cleansing fields of fire are sought by Gruban Malic. He imagines an incinerated equality, a Utopian conflagration blurring all thought and deed into gibberish where a communion of millet and plum brandy will suffice for a rust-belt City of God. His asbestos cloak, his fireman's helmet, his Balkan medals, ejaculating donkey and ubiquitous globe arm his means as Vishnu, destroyer of worlds.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Paths of Shit

The text continues, largely in fits and starts, a rivulet here and the next morning a surge through 30 pages. Its absurdity is both its engine and its obstacle. I suppose I should savor it more, but I was hoping for more digressions and less over-the-top ridicule of nearly every insitution in the post-war world. Bulatovic apparently didn't care much for restraint as peasant women give head to mules, diplomats sodomize refugees, and GIs are looking only for love and cover their heads in shame in the presence of defeat or ideology.

Saturday, February 18, 2006


I was supposed to work this a.m. I didn't. It was no big deal. I was imply a half mile form home when the icy road disagreed with my truck. the road succeeded. I park my truck and walked to the library. I bought four plays at the book sale and walked home. I read Madmen and Specialists by Wole Soyinka. It is the first African play that I have ever read. It is haunting in the extreme, focusing on science and superstition, war and cannibalism. I had hoped to read more Balkan and African literature this year. I remain unsure to quotients for success in that regard. I remain enthralled by the Bulatovic.

I have decided that I will only read fiction in March that I have already read. I think Platform and Ghostwritten will be the first two selections. Time will tell and cliches will flow.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006


Only Marxists and Seventh Day Adventists speak about mutual understanding.
-- Miodrag Bulatovic

Last summer N was doing some research at the library and i was browsing about in a compendium of world literature. I was browsing the literature of the former Yugoslavia and then checking with each author to see if the library carried any titles from such. I was routinely discouraged until I came across The War Was Better by Bulatovic. The Montenegran author was comapred to Rabelais and Gunther Grass. I was immediately curious. I read the first two pages and was struck by its nightmarish images of an red-bearded Italian promising rapturous penetration to his pet turtle while hoping to either be killed or escape the coasts of Montenegro as peasants were torching the countryside. I bought a copy off of abebooks that night and stopped reading.

I resumed my quest on Sunday night and have now read nearly 200 pages of this Absurdist calamity. I believe i posted a few weeks back that I had found another novel Hero On A Donkey at thrift store. Googling about the other day I also discovered a story that the Pentagon included the name Gruban Malic on its most wnated war criminal list during the NATO bombardment. How could a fictional character make its way onto such infamous register(before one quips 'by the same pristine godhead that allowed the Chinese embassy in Novi Beograd to be obliterated' - please continue reading - fuckers)? Apparently a Serbian writer living in exile in Budapest told a (not very) undercover CIA agent to be on the lookout for Malic who has "raped all the women of Bosnia." Apparently the trgeting commission or whatever it is called (somehow I fathom something more euphenistic) preferred Clancy to Balkan literature and thus, apprently, this came to pass.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Bye Bye Beevor

It has been a strange transition, moving from holiday back to work and also operating in a Post-Foote universe. My immediate thought on Friday was to begin Beevor's Stalingrad though I first reread the Foote sections in Horwitz's Confederate in the Attic. I began the Beevor which was actually noivel in that it explored the Soviet anxiety within the diplomatic spehere about the emerging reality of Barbarosa. I read more on Saturday but gave up around p. 100. The autumn of 1942 isn't broached until p. 75 or so and I was left with this impression that the Wehrmacht was almost a hapless athletic endeavor, not unlike the Bad News bears - but with mass reprisdals and ditches teeming with corpses. Sorry for being glib, but Beevor's appeared cushioned and I thought that Craig's book Enemey at the Gates, was superior despite its own tendencies towards the anecdotal.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

It Is Finished

There is much to ponder in this aftermath. It is over, I finished the Foote last night. I found Foote sage in his afterward where he eschews the notion of their being a theis under treatment but rather he wished to flesh out the scope of the conflict away, from what he feared was a narrow, provincial understanding. Perhaps this was the right road, to parahrase Dante, and I felt both intrigued and refreshed by the 14 month experience. I am glad Roger was able to share a similar route as well as his appreciated commentary of such.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Old Cump

I tend to think that Sherman does deserve the antipathy that surrounds him, particularly from Southern sources. I also think placed more emphasis upon a logic than his peers. Much, as Roger noted, those soliders who vouted for lincoln in 1864 were, in effect, hastening many of their own deaths. Sherman understood that by gutting the South such would effective as opposed to the feint-and-roll which was nearly universal amongst the North, especially the paper-collared East. Vollmann may be right in condemning Sherman for introducing a naive yet effective Total War to the conflict.

I am on p. 656

Scampering, Albeit Uphill

I only read 100 pages yesterday. Such shortcomings have already been corrected today, as I have read 105 thus far and there is over three hours before N is to return from work. Atlanta has fallen, Early has been thashed in the valley and amazing sequences has been delineated out on the high seas, across Mobile and even Westward in the relative badlands of the Transmississippi. There is an enornmous weight to this text and it can be stressed sufficently how nimble is the precision of its author.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Oh Bookslut!

Bookslut is a well-designed lit blog (unlike this one) and its principal welcomes comments and questions unlike so many, professional or self-absorbed. I browsed her site this afternoon and was stunned that Vollmann has anew book! Why didn't Amazon tell me? Perhaps because it is a science book, one devoted to Copernicus. I must admit that I am interested but with a full plate will likely wait until i can snag a used or remaindered copy.
p.s. the new Beth Orton is good, really good.

This march of mine

Deep into my holiday, I have plunged through the first section of the Foote, some 420 pages and its progressed from the Red River through the cauldron call of the Forty Days and ended on the banks of the Chatahootchie. My own thoughts followed Sherman as he progresses towards Atlanta. My adoptive mother lived in Rome for most of my life and my sister and i used to visit during the summers, before we had any say in the affair. Backwater bigotry, baby. My fears reside now that such poison has infected my niece Jessica. She may read this blog, I am not sure. Tempering my vanity, the decision to replace Johnston with Hood appears so perfectly human, so political and vile. Is it any wonder that less than half of all Americans believe in evolution?

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Progress and Challenges

I finished Tartuffe last night while stewing marinara sauce and resting my aching knees from the slow-motion assault on the asphalt, remembering crossovers past and Sherman Douglas' running one-handers in the lane. I am growing old but I love shooting ball in church parking lots, contemplating and chasing errant rebounds.

I have made it to the second chapter in the final volume of the Foote. Being on vacation next week, my ambitious goal is to finish both the Foote and the second volume of the Gulag Archipelago, nearly 1700 pages remain betwixt' and 'tween. there are books that I struggle with, for lack of acuity or patience; Diamond, Thomas Mann and John Ralston Saul spring to mind: lots of hard work, but I appreciate the results. Then there are books that I feel compelled to read, Solzhenitsyn and, to a lesser extent, William Vollmann. The there are books that are true bliss to devour: Kluge was a recent discovery and, now again, Shelby Foote. I may disagree with his estimation of Fort Pillow, but his delightful pen moves with such grace that disputation will wait for another day.

My wife said that Moliere has aged, his plays don't have the modern air of Shakespeare or Sophocles. I find that interesting and not able to adequately respond. I did like both the Beckett and the Weiss much more than I did Tartuffe. I have checked out another play by Weiss from the library -- Marat/Sade and N and I did see the film adaptation a year ago before going south for a holiday. I think our next play in tandem will be something by Garcia Lorca, which I know little except for his grisly end in that other Civil War. Perhaps Ed was joking, but he asked what trilogy we will read next together. I must admit to pondering that over the last handful of minutes. We will see.