Monday, May 29, 2006

Those Anytime Adjustments

Such is life this holiday morning. The heat already is fearsome. During the hustle of yesterday I managed to slip by Half Price, ostensibly for travel information about Marrakech, but with eyes ever alert for structure.

Dr J is teaching a genocide course this fall and I was asked to trawl the stacks for anything which could be incorporated. I had thought to tackle one of the larger surveys, whether by Shirer, Arendt or even the contentious Hitler's Willing Executioners. It was thus a significant surprise when I discovered Siegfried by Harry Mulisch. I recall the review. I had read Mulisch before, his novel The Assault - I recall discussing it with Roger a few years back. Needless to say, it was grabbed for a dollar and I plunged into it once back at home. I finished it in four hours and it is a remarkable exploration of character, history and philosophy. Its conclusions are abstract, as needed, but humane and the sketches of diary entries in the penultimate section are truly an aesthetic windfall.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Out of (the) Gass

The novel ended with a whimper, perhaps an appropriate denouement, I can't say with any authority. I must admit to a relief. I am back from a ride and am whipped.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Grappling for aptitude

I finished the O'Neil, appropriately while Wagner was playing. It floored me, reading 120 pages in a clip, the steady grinding of familial gravity reached marrow. I hope to ponder such at length, sometime this holiday weekend.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Updates and Afterthoughts

i realize that given the staple of time which has been devoted to The Tunnel, I haven't related my usual corps of commentary, influences and other such debris. There is, as always, no real excuse. The fun fair at Samizdat has had signs of life as of late, my wife has also been more interested than usual in the Playoffs and we have thus spent the past two evenings observing such. That said, allow us the taxonomy.
I think it was J barry or someone in the early 90s which either owned any Gass or referenced such. There were reviews of essays sometime in that decade which I read and then forgot. He appears largely to returned my attention via the Gaddis and WHG's Introduction to such. I think it was then the interview in The Believer whihc consumated the desire. It is dense and messy. It is an academic novel, it is a confession, it is also an instance of an unreliable narrator. It is thus like many books, notably Pale Fire, Lolita, all of Thomas Bernhardt, Angle of Repose and the dire doldrums delineated by Prose and Lucky Jim. I am nearly at p.500 and there are but 150 to go: I lobng for its conclusion as it apes Joyce through morning rituals and is infested with puns, it spikes towards a proto-fascist ontology, a Kafka confession in mid-transformation.

Well, there it is then.

Monday, May 22, 2006

My Five (cross-posted on samizdat)

The cover article on yesterday's NYTBR prompted the questiuon to the somnabulists at samizdat: not surprisingly, no responded. I pondered such, the list - I mean, for five minutes and this ungraceful act was the result. cheers

5)The Human Stain - Roth; likely my favorite by Philip: enjoyed the
concurrent discussion on this site nearly as much: the film sucked,
but, then, most do.

4)Europe Central - Vollmann; it may be prematrure placing a text I read
last autumn in the top five of the past 25 years but I thought it
deserves a glance, nonetheless.

3)Blood Merdiean -- While I think I liked Suttree more, this is an
amazing carpet bombing of the mythic West, its conquest, it cruelty,
its need to justify its avarice.

2)Infinite Jest - So good, i read it twice, it is bursting with brain,
a satire of unbelievable proprtion.

1)The Gold Bug Variations - Much like the above in terms of breadth and
erudition, but this one has more heart, more fuzzy optimism clinging to
the jackboot of reality

Note to self: I should read more Updike and, maybe, Beloved.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Upon Consideration

The harsh light of day has offered breathing space to such quick condemnation. Though I can't quite retract the assertions made, just as I think Roth coasts for much of the time being Portoy (again) in a contemporary melodrama. I know that Joel has found much more within than myself, but while I liked Goodbye, Columbus I didn't care for the Zuckerman Bound trilogy (though my reading of such followed my first reading of Mason and Dixon and Gravity's Rainbow). For the life of me, I have never found entry into Sabbath's Theater but i have masticated the sinew of Roth's later works, from Operation Shylock through the latest trilogy and unto Dying Animal and Bush's Plot to Cap Wilkie. It strikes me as wearied conversations and not an emulsion of ideas, only a man gone flacid.

I have finally begun O'Neil's Journey and am impressed 40 page sor so within. My Burton has not stalled but paused upon a ridge to agtehr its breath. Perhaps its his present concern with evacuation that has tugged at my heartstrings. Tendrils keep extending to other areas, the Nazis, Richard Burton, the Arabian Nights and whatnot. I still wish to read The Recognitions and Doktor Faustus this summer. Though travel plans have also paused, I would like to push that direction, though the Carey would need be processed elsewhere, of course. The Powell remains visible and I am seriously considering Tour de Proust come autumn.

Here's to scarecrows and growing self-disgust.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006


Is it me? I am quite tired and thus the terse verdict; as a rule I am not amongst the greatest fans of Philip Roth. There have been occasions of magnificance i.e. Human Stain, but so much . . .well, it sucks. It isn't vibrant but easy to internalize: its Netflix for the Soul.

Monday, May 15, 2006

No Real Excuse

It was an aridity of time for composition this weekend, ironic given the downpour. Friday was spent finding my feet philosophically and cooking a sardinian casserole. Saturday a.m. I chose to work, though I enjoyed the IMAX and the Rover, it was still a prime situation put to alternative tasks. I have documented the accolades of Saturday on samizdat and that evening was spent with the Playoffs.

My reading never suffered from this weekend of bypath, conversely, I found great pleasure in a few urgent side reads, notably Borges on the Arabian Nights (from his Seven Nights collection) and the long-neglected London by Dr. Johnson. I have made steady progress in the Gass, finding it Joycean in its ambition but ultimately abject in its moral constructs, the Shoah only crystallized the latent reptile. The Burton will be expounded upon in Samizdat as I am quite tardy in charting its progress.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006


My reading life, as prolific as ever, has settled into a copse of nettles. One can't abandon the Pickwick Papers as it were, given its episodic nature, one only sets it aside. It is a cluster of stories and all are rife with character and humor. The same trek across the Borges Monday night gave pass this past evening to Nabokov's study of Gogol and then finally to Vasily Grossman: A Writer at War.

It must be admitted that the Grossman isn't exactly a book either. It is selections from notebooks couched with context by Anthony Beevor. I can't say it will be followed to its conclusion. It may be premature to leap towards Gaddis or Mann, I do need narrative nonetheless.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Joys Divine

There is much to be said for serenity. last night was unwrapped sans any movement towards television nor computer. It was a quiet evening rife with thought, reading and music. I enjoyed A.S. Byatt's introduction to Burton's Arabian Nights, though found it unduly playful and overly cozy to her friends, who likely shouldn't be mentioned in discussions involving the timeless. I read a healthy (wink) section of the Anatomy though I have yet to post my findings on samizdat. I then turned to Borges, as my music shifted from Ellington's Far East Suite to Neil Young's equially seminal Harvest. Borges was fond of both Burtons. I am fond of Borges as well as the Burtons. I should Borges more often.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Inexplicable Fatigue

How odd, how offsetting, whyen a sublime day is undercut by waves of yawning and a haze of muddled half-thoughts squirming just below formation. Given the inertia of the Burton and the Dickens, i elected to read something slim on the sabbath. The Foillowing Story by Cees Nooteboom was a delightful meditation, his work often appears to assume the fluidity of philosophical prose poems, both enchanting and ethereal.

I have bugged my friend Roger about reading another of Nooteboom's texts and I shall return full-force to the Pickwick Papers. The 1001 Books text has left a bruise upon my pride and I will be reading both Gaddis and Doktor Faustus by Thomas Mann this summer. Huxley and Henry Green will also be explored.

I was browsing about last night on the Words Without Borders blog and I saw a name I thought familiar. It is some Bosnian writer and my biomom sent me a collection of his stories Sarajevo Marlboro six years ago. That fostered the thought of listing the books she has sent me. We aren't speaking these days, as I am difficult, and I prefer peace and quiet. As my wife noted, I am VERY difficult to buy books (or cds or clothes etc) for and i replied that she did her homework.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

St. Jerome

Modesty hesitates to express metaphysical concepts directly; if one take tries, one delivers oneself up to jubilant misunderstanding. -- Theodor Adorno

I have been quite oblique as of late myself. Cycling and festive matters have absorbed much of my weekend, it also stems to silence that my current reading is occupied with two rather weighty tomes and whikle I have thought a great deal about Dickens and have considered an angle of thrust per such, the Burton is being handled towards the samizdat, where it belongs

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Technical Adjustments

Such isn't a reference to the roulette experience of Blogspot as of late. I returned home early today after work and voting, strnage this dearth of a third spot (smirk) and saddled up on the front porch with the Ackroyd bio of Dickens and the pickwick Papers. I haven't answered my own query but did learn that Dickens understood th need to end a serial midway through a chapter near, but not at, the apex of drama. There is much else to say but i am on the phone.

Questions of Space and Time

It isn't Stephen Hawking, but rather a puzzled guess at what sequenceing was used to serialize Dickens' work: I checked out the Ackroyd bio from the library this a.m. but am somewhat confident that it can be measured by the structure of the chapters. The Pickwick Papers is a delightful farce, one that succeeds without the need to be harsh, though every 35 pages or so we are reminded that poor people die miserably. The Burton has also sprinted ahead, though it crystalizes the error of premodern science, a noteworthy vocabulary nonetheless.

My head was better today. I read for a brief period outdoors as winds rattled for gales that weren't to be. The sky grew grim albeit briefly and the Dickens found its stride.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Robert Burton

"but if we give reins to lust, anger, ambition,pride and follow our own ways, we degenerate into beasts, transform ourselves, overthrow our constitutions, provoke God to anger,and heap upon us this of melancholy, and all kinds of incurable diseases, as a just and deserved punishment for our sins."

Another Effort

(presently having technical issues actually posting)

I have wanted to write about my magazine reading as of late, narrow as it might be. There was an excellent article in the New York Times Magazine about Juan Goytisolo and his self-imposed exile in Morroco. He has long been a hero of mine. Yesterday's Magazine included an interview with Carlos Fuentes and it was steeped in sorrow, quite touching.

The latest believer is amongst the strongest yet. There were fascinating interviews with Zack Brock from Modest Mouse and with Israeli author Etgar Keret. Javier Marias achieved his best article yet IMHO and the article about Susan Sontag's treatment post mortem is amongst the strongest pieces I have read anywhere.

The Oxford American surprised me (do they still care about books at that wayward periodical?) with its Southern writing issue, especially the Roy Bount Jr. piece about politics and the South. The article about New Orleans was especially moving and i enjoyed its dig at Richard Florida.

New Month

Same headaches, drainage and other nasty rot. I am home today, much like yesterday. I had thought of continuing the Vollmann vein begun on Friday evening and explore Fathers and Crows. This appeared to be a conducive time, especially givent he overlap of the subject matter historically with that Burton's Anatomy.

That was washed away in the form of 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die. This was dropped off by my friend Frank and it threw me for quite a turn, absorbing me with anger and awe largely through Saturday evening proper. My concentration obliterated and my attentions shifted away from what I thought wanted to read and towards what I should be reading (this whole shift recalls a conversation i had with Eric Summers about ten years ago. that in itself is now sow overconfigured with irony and switchback allusion that I need not bother with such contortions nor the memory thereof) and alas I am now plunging ahead into the Pickwick Papers. This may be a surprising endeavor but 2006 is standing towards a distinction of the year of English Literature given my involvement with Barnes, Burton and Boswell - thus far, anyway. I do suspect a return to Burgess (to maintain alliteration, anyway) and Eyeless in Gaza by Huxley. Perhaps Durrell will also be explored. I am thinking of only taking British novels abroad this summer, perhaps Powell.