Monday, November 27, 2006

Holiday Offerings

Having spent the weekend recovering. . .still, I elected to pick up Greene's Heart of the Matter and finished this fascinating novel yesterday at the breakfast table. Much like delightful Delillo's opening scene of the Body Artist, I think one has to be married to truly absorb the tone and temper of Graham's sweltering ordeal. My primary attention remains with the Pynchon, though a dearth of fellowship has annoyed me as of late, though a late barrage from Queens may have broken that stalemate today: we shall see. I believe I am going to read a book I bought used online about the Balkan Wars.

It is the holiday season and my wife asked me for a shortlist of books and books only. I browsed about on saturday eveing and came up with a list of four: two novels and two of a more historical orientation, though all four relate to some aspect of socialist struggle (ether towards or against such)I think she was disappointed that I didn't include anything new, per so - no Richard Powers or Haruki Murakami. I did think about the big Fisk book on the middle east and the Stoppard Coast of Utopia trilogy but thought I'd aim for the obscure on the shortlist.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Recovery rather than Holiday

Below are a pair of shots from the recent holiday. The top is at Korana's palce, note the Ikea furniture. From L-R is is Sloba, Tihana, Dalibor, Korana, Jelena and me. My wife is hidden in that chair to the left.

The bottom photo is at an outdoor cafe on the KM. It is, of course, Dalibor, Tihana and me.

I spent today bleeding and reeling from oral surgery. I suppose matters are improving but I thought most of the day about books - all the while viewing films. It does not appear prudent to pursue any normative course for the morrow and we will likely be hanging out at home, me sipping Thai soup and awaiting the high road of the hale.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006


I remain at home, though less turgid than before. Every eight hours I am struck by twinges of discomfort as the analgesic tapers. Antibiotics remain king. As my friends and beloved have informed me, one hundred years ago this infection would have likely spelled my end. Thoughts of mortality are heartily shoved aside and left to my own pathetic pondering. November has often proved the most masochistic month for me. That is a mouthful, no dental puns intended. I spent a few hours yesterday afternoon reading Natasha's Dance by Orlando Figes. This cultural history of Russia is quite readable and rife with anecdotes. It has shifted my musing to Pushkin and that piercing joy of many years ago, discovering Dostoevsky and reading away days while at my grandmother's.

Today has witnessed my first hard work towards the Pynchon. As noted on samizdat, I have backtracked to reread several sections to maintain the routes of association, most of this book, even so early on in its course, crackles with magic.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Infernal Body

I do feeling as I am falling apart. I have to have oral surgery on wednesday and my mood has been adjusted southward. I did finish In The Hold for the second time, inspired by my sister-in-law. The brief novel by V. Arsenijevic is worth anyone's time. I bought my copy in San Francisco in 2002. I read it in a day while lounging about at a cafe in Alameda. The druggy allusions to a world gone mad were well served by a second reading.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Sampled Accord

The climb into the Pynchon continues gradually. It is an instance of both savoring the page coupled with unusual fatigue -- that in itself being a hybrid of returning from abroad and this meteorlogical pessimism. The narrative is as playful as ever while pausing to circumscribe the gravity of all matters human.

I had thought of transcribing a few selections, vainly gathering handfuls of this gilded fleece, yet all I can muster is a line of Dylan Thomas that I encountered the other day: somebody bores me, I think its me.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Exculpatory Musil

The wages of transcontinental travel continue to weigh heavy upon my soul corporeal. I fell asleep last night after just beginning to broach Pynchon's Against The Day. It is difficult to describe the slanted delight I absorb with every crafted sentence. I thought about that this a.m. and realized my crucial error towards the Musil: I didn't take my time. I was aware that the Pynchon was waiting for me back in Indiana and I pursued the reckless all-or-nothing gambit to receive the new novel properly. Such was my downfall, I'm afraid.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Borislav Pekic

We returned late Saturday night. An Iraqi cabdriver drove us to the murky silence of New Albany. we were knackered. I finished the first volume of the Musil with great difficulty. It is an exhausting, albeit brilliant book, under the best of circumstances, it was not ideal for the flights back home.

The titled author above was a discovery during this trip, one of the few Balkan authors that the Plato carried in English, not that I am critical of such a paucity, their core audience in English prefers Dan Brown. So it goes. I really enjoyed The Houses of Belgrade as well as the corresponding walk all day on Thursday. My wife's friend Korana bought me another title by Pekic and I look forward to reading it soemtime after the holidays. Until then, I am harnessed under the yoke of the new Pynchon which I bought this a.m. I am also looking forward to whatever reveals itself per those wacky chaps at Samizdat.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Liquidation Redeems the Electorate

This marks my first ever post from abroad. It is slightly past midnight here in Belgrade and life is damn fine. My reading this week has been tempered by pivo futbol and the fellowship of many people who don't speak English. I still love them even if such is only communicated with smiles, laughter and hugs. I did finish the Shadow of the Wind before landing in Philadelphia. I must say that book began in an almost narcotic cloud of anticipation. I have since waged war with the Musil for days now, though I did pick up a Srpski (actually Montenegran) book Houses of Belgrade which I have enjoyed even as it has facilitated dozens of questions to the people around me i.e. where was Paris Street circa 1941? My sister-in-law, Best Man and fine scholarly friend Tihana arrived today from London and gave me a soon to be published anthology of stories by Czech women. I read one tonight while curled in a corner at a party.

I have rec'd word that the new Pynchon is in store back in New Albany. So it goes, hvala

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Why I Do This

Self-indulgent as it may appear, this weblog and it thematic are not for attention but rather as a levee against forgetfulness. last weekend within 24 hours I rec'd a phone message from my friend Ed who charmed upon the effects of The Road by Cormac; this was followed by strongly persuading my wife to read Everything thar rises must converge by Lady Flannery. It is awkward to approach the depth of this without sounding maudlin. The torrent of interests that occupy our world are often only pierced by a story. In a simuilar degree, I picked up a copy of the Shadow of the Wind at the goodwill for under seventy cents. I told Ed last night that it had quickly burriowed its way under my skin, becoming an infection of delight, depsite my cringing under a few of its conventions.

Alongside the Spanish novel I will be taking Name of the Rose by Eco and Man Without Qualities by Musil for the Balkan holiday with plans to pick up newly translated titles in English should they appear in Beograd.