Sunday, December 31, 2006


The past several days were spent diurnally reading Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar by Simon Montefiore. It is difficult to accurately depict the pleasure I derived from this text. While i disagree with certain central assertions - it was the suicide of Stalin's wife which spiralled his paranoia to the manifestation of the Terror - the text was rich with detail and I found a rare depth of appreciation for it.

I am now enjoying another holiday gift, Kaputt by an Italian writer named Malaparte about his time as a journalist on the Ostfront. Harrowing - to state the obvious.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Not So Lofty

This is apparently post number 350/ I haven't posted for two weeks. I can't say that I feel troubled by this lapse. I did have an intestinal bug a few weeks back and read The Emperor's Children in two days. It used an epigram from Anthony Powell. It didn't measure to his cycle. Actually, it sucked. Many folks have raved over this. Apparently caricature and soap opera are ready in demand. There was no sex and the characters were vapid and didn't deserve acclaim in their own world much less empathy from an infirmed reader. I hated it - if you didn't surmise as much from the above. I have halted my Pynchon reading as my friends have all apparently stopped to craft ginger cookies with the winter fairies. Margaret Atwood advised me to reread Richard Powers and I did for a few days. I will return to that huff of a topic at some point.

For now I am reading about Stalin.

Monday, December 11, 2006

No Shortage of Sighs

I bought the Iraq Study Group Report yesterday and I found myself frustrated to an intense degree. Given the authors, I imagined that the reasoning would be cogent and that balme would be dispensed to characterize the reasons behind the present hellish failure. I was mistaken. The only blame charted is towards that of the Iraqis themselves. Abu Graib the sweep missions and the unchecked support for the IDF this past summer are not given much more than brief mantion but the failure of centralized Iraqi Oil Commission and the lackluster embrace of Iraq's citizens to create their own destiny is repeated, supposedly so that the authorsd will believe it eventually. I'm sorry, but when a fellow straps on explosives, he's very involved in his own destiny. Why - STILL - is this so prolific? These questions are avoided as is - gasp - the possibility of an independant Kurdish state. we wouldn't to upset Turkey. It doesn't matter that Iraqi flags were removed from all state offices in the Kurdish region almost half a year ago.

I should return to the Pynchon and calm down.

Saturday, December 09, 2006


The Pynchon has proved itself an uphill endeavor this week in the quaking silence from my peers. No worries. I just finished the play Voyage by Tom Stoppard, the one we will be seeing in New York come March. It is intricate and cynical. I like it. I may read the others in the Coast of Utopia series. Who Knows?

Monday, December 04, 2006

Restless Recording

Most often I hate this site. I feel obliged to record what I've read but nothing stirs me as Samizdat so often achieves. That said, I spent most of the evening home along last night. I was browsing articles and interviews and found a number of snarky situations. Orlando Figes, famed historian of Russian matters, was both dismissed and accused of plagiarism by another academic and then swiveled to harpoon Mart Amis for his Koba The Dread book. How very interesting. Was Joachim Fest the only honest postwar German historian or did he perpetrate an alkternative reality where the Wehrmacht acted appropriately but were held in the vise of the SS? Such conjecture and disagreement is quite stimulating. I ordered Figes' book on the Russian Civil War in the Volga region, I am looking forward to it.

Sunday, December 03, 2006


It has been two years since this fraud was first engendered. I have read many books in that time and managed, barely, to note a few reactions to such.

A toss of sorts

It has been a conflicted time, rife briefly with discussion over the Pynchon and then relative silence. Throughout I haven't been sure if i wanted to read Against The Day exclusively or maintain a diet of side projects. It has been the former since Thursday or so. I had read a great deal from a text titled Balkan Wars which is largely a discourse on conflict in the region from 1389 to 1999. It is of merit, situating the Battle of Kosovo Plain as having more meaning to Serbs as a symbol than any historical significance. It was neither militarily nor economically conclusive to any element in the region. It simply didn't decide much.

I bought a Serbian novel, the Chinese Letter by Basara, a week ago and upon its arrival I persued it without any real purchase. It will need to wait.