Wednesday, February 28, 2007

No way, Norway

My brief infatuation with the Undset vanished predictably. I found a nice copy of Flaubert's Parrot the following morning and i started such last night before collapsing into early slumber. I had a copy of this novel 12-14 years ago and I recall reading certain portion and then discarding it, only to lose it later, seemingly bereft at the time of a true intimacy with either Julian Barnes or Flaubert. Fast forwarding to my slacker present, I feel comfortable with the work of both these authors and the dozen pages I absorbed were readily appreciated last night. I read the Dostoevsky today and have made it to p. 200, still behind my wife, but enjoying it even without finding an ideal velocity. I will read the Barnes oin Friday buring and after the dentist. I will then hope to read Coast of Utopia by Stoppard on Monday in anticipation of our trip to New York and seeing such upon the stage at Lincoln Center.

Monday, February 26, 2007


I am not sure about this. This past weekend I was browsing about on Conversational Reading and I saw that Mr. Esposito was thinking of reading the Kristin Lavransdatter trilogy: The bridal wreath, The mistress of Husaby, The cross. I wasn't familiar with such but thought, hmm - what's this about? I explored and before considering any purchases, after all I have bought roughly 5000 pages of history books in the past month (and 1300 pages of Patrick White) I did see that the library has such in stock. I will swing by today and grab it. I will have to abandon the Conrad as my friend Lesley broke my book. It was an old copy and the spine was on its last legs. I did read 15 pages of the Dostoevsky today, Mitya waxing self-deprecation and citing Schiller at every turn. Damn, that's good.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Porcine Crawl

In most cases, people, even the most vicious, are much more naïve and simple-minded than we assume them to be. And this is true of ourselves too.
- Fydor Dostoevsky

It has been an ill-focused week on the reading front. This may concern the return to work after the holiday but a growing futility and resentment of self-awareness may remain at the fore. Ed and I went out on Saturday and I bought a half dozen books, one of them People and Empires by Anthony Pagden, I read in a single session on Sunday. It is more of a survey of the nature of empire from Alexander through the EU and it was certainly appreciated. My interest in Patrick White lost momentum, largely self-inflicted, though its hovering over the notion of loss and redemption brought Absalom, Absalom to close to bear. I had not thought of the associations between White and Faulkner before, but there is something present. Much as I read Atonement, finally, by Ian McEwan in two days later in the week. McEwan captures the sizzling link between thinking and writing on an almost impeccable level. As was the case with Saturday, Atonement was nearly a brilliant novel, in my estimation, yet a clumsy linchpin in both novels failed the illusion, as it were. The imagery in Atonement, which may be that in the murky plagiarism dispute was absolutely haunting. If it was cribbed from Vera Brittan, then I need to move from off of my ass and read Testaments.

The trouble with the Greeks is that they have no idea how old the Earth is. They seem not to realize that everything has already happened that will ever happen, save the end. In India, they think that the end has happened over and over again, as cycles of creation burn out – and rekindle.

- Gored Vidal

Thoughts remain concerning what to do next and I waiting for N to read p. 200 or so in the Karamazov and I will rejoin the parade. I have thought of some other intermediary selections but I would like to immerse myself in some theory or history. I am not sure at this juncture. I did read 50 pages of the new Mailer today but will abandon it. As it continued to sleet I then read 100 pages of Lord Jim. There have been ample references to Conrad in my life recently, it appeared as an almost muscular election.

Friday, February 16, 2007


Certainly the week didn't conclude with industry witnessed earlier. I read at the barber shop this frigid morning. Somehow images from White's Sydney felt at odds with single digits of wind chill outside.

Throughout my day which stretched through myriad locales, a constant was registered: Ackroyd's attention to revue, that demi vaudeville of the cockney streets was affected throughout. Only Roger has an ear for the penny melody and I am intrigued if somewhat removed from the immediate.

The bio of White also arrived today, sadly just as the holiday was dismantling its tent.

Thursday, February 15, 2007


My anticipated charity parcel arrived, ladenw ith three Patrick White novels. It has the wash of it being a distant enterprise, given the foaming elapse since. I think I'll choose Riders in the Chariot first.Not only is the newest copy of the parcel, but it is a NYRB Classic with an introduction by David Malouf.

This week has been quite odd.

The Detours of Augie March

It has not been a week for Bellow, only an allegory. Tuesday was so dank and cold that I remained indoors all of the day. I stepped aside from the Dostoevsky and read all of Ackroyd's The Trial of Eizabeth Cree. It certainly wasn't the most challenging material I have evr encountered and yet it wasn't a genre potboiler either. It certainly didn't belong in the library's mystery section. Like much of Ackroyd's fiction it was historically based and this layered treatment of London in 1880 featured a pantheon of the period's major figures, most notably (and enjoyed by myself) Karl Marx and George Gissing. It was a diversion and I don't regret it.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

A Digested Mailer courtesy of

'I'm a megalomaniac in my 80s who can write any old crap and know my craven people will take it seriously.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Self Help

(my musical choices over the past 95 minutes have ventured from John Zorn's Naked City to Chant D'amour by Cecilia Bartoli to Time The Revelator by Gillian Welch, such may clarify what I am attempting to expound)

To borrow a phrase from Carlos Fuentes, my own customshouse of concepts readily pounces upon efforts at ontology, sweeping theories that explain everything. God, I hate even typing sentences like that. I am rather moody today. I am also on holiday. Joel Vessels is my closes friend, by that I mean that I am closer to him than anyone other than those: a) I'm married to (or) b)is blessed with profound disabilities. It shouldn't be surmised that I am close EVERYONE profoundly disabled, only two of them if fact, cultivate this strength of bond. Joel has a PhD, he's smart. He said recently in associating literature to politics that Tolstoy is to Lenin as Dostoevsky is to Rasputin. I admire that. I am rereading the Brothers Karamazov with my wife. It has been a solitary day. My thoughts were previously imbued morose, more in a self-deprecating manner. I feel better now. It is impossible to return to that gauze of mind that I was equipped with when I first read this novel. That 1992 and I had just met Roger Baylor and imagined myself a Hamlet, perhaps a Mersault hoping to avoid sunny afternoons at the beach. Now I am old.

I felt rather insipid to discover Patrick White. I understand the scope of the world and the written word. I felt a Joycean urge just now. I have enjoyed this afternoon smoking and reading about Father Zosima. I had forgotten the parts of the novel where he is actually still alive. My friend Ed lamented recently that Harold's decision to sell his store and retire has left a gap. I concur, though I regard it as a gaping wound.

I discovered a genre writer today named Jeff Noon. He is from Manchester and apparently wishes a change in the world, at least of how we read books. His ideas are cool, but ideas at the end of the day.

Russia may be a land of holy fools and despots. Fuck Martin Amis. There is a certain longing in that land's prose: I can't readily speak for the tongue or its verse. My plan for the week is to reach p.150 or so in the Dostoevsky and then read one of the incipient White novels upon their arrival. I aim rather high, you see.

Sunday, February 11, 2007


It was noted that White listened to the Berg violin concerto constantly while penning Voss. I can see why. I listened to the entire Monk on Blue Note boxed set yesterday while reading the final 140 pages, a fusion of excellence. I must admit that the concluding structure of time cuts was remarkable. I am sure that nearly every reader likes to imagine themselves as being of Laura and Voss' caliber. I doubt few of us are.

It was an early evening last night. I can't say I felt better per se. I spent the final hour exploring well into chapter 5 of the Dostoevsky. This translation appears to crackle, quite a departure from the Garrett which I cut my teeth upon. The chap's name is Andrew MacAndrew, how deliciously odd, hmm Humbert Humbert, Jean Valjean?

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Voss and Influenza

This will lack even the pretense of verve. I believe I have the flu. I ache and shiver. It has been variations on this theme all day. I did finish Voss and await the titles I rodered online. My wife wants us to read Brothers Karamazov. I read ch 1, marking over 14 years since I read it that first time. Lifetimes ago.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Patrick White

Has the title of post never been more fated? Even fatigue has not soured the majesty. I read an article this evening in an Aussie lit journal where a few years back a sample of a novel by an up-and-comer with a moribund name was sent to all the major publishers down under and it was rejected across the board; it turned out to be a chapter from one of White's midstream novels, the ones hwich found him the Nobel. The opacity, the incomprehension, as determined by the publishing community was alleged to have been a succor to the local readership, absolving them from not having broached the titan. I feel as if i have slipped off a well-used path to locate personal faunt of the most fascinating toxin.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

A Measure of Arrest

I feel I am on the mend. I stayed home again and have slept another 12 hours. I am forcing fluids and remaion doped on over-the-counter. My musical medium has been exclusively Arvo Part. Joel often remarks that he and i were born in the wrong century. Musil quips that many in the decaying Hapsburg Empire were convinced of their own genius, it was the sordid times which prevented acknowledgement of such. Ed noted upon my last cold, that 100 years ago, bereft of antibiotics, I would've lapsed into pneumonia and died. What a blooming bustle of concepts and images!

I am only reading Voss today and I cannot begin to stress how important a novel this is. Before retiring into medicated slumber I saw Amis and Mailer on Charlie Rose. As calculated as both are in terms of phrase and metaphor, both appeared to be bozoes and Mr. Rose appeared to shuck along with both of them:contemptible, utterly.

I just went to Better World Books, some nonprofit which benefits literacy programs worldwide and bought three of White's other novels. Their warehouse is in Ft. Wayne and I hope to enjoy one of which along with wrapping up the Pynchon in the near future. This mania recalls my viral need to purchase every Vollmann book I could locate a few years back.

Monday, February 05, 2007


I am often humbled but why I read. Such established without a hint of hesitation concerning Voss by Patrick White. It is but a story about an explorer Voss who will lead a small group on foot across Australia. It is grounded in a minor historical note, but it is the liberty of perspective not the situation itslef which affords it magesty - if I may term it as such. This is prose of the highest order, dense as any brush or thicket (bnoth of which feature predominately in the early chapters) , yet gilded and precious.

It marks a certain counterpoint to the biography of Speer. Perhaps it is the fact that Voss is German in a foreign land and that Speer lived to narrate as an almost ambassador to a parallel humanity or absence thereof. Sereny admits to a crusade for children in need, she thus labors her observations with incessant analysis towards childhood trauma. She is also Hungarian writing and living in an English-speaking world. her maneuvering of guises and portals must be acknowledged. When the author first met Speer in 1978 it was the time of a reunion of sorts in thehousehold. Speer relates that it only the youngest of his grandchildren who would speak to him. He recalled that meal was austere until he retired to his bedroom at which time he heard wales of laughter from the family still below.

Time Towards

I have cobbled this missive together over the past few days. It has been stitched and altered within my suffering brain as I braved the elements and volatile games of Scrabble to both buy as well as ascertain what it is I want to read at the present. my debt has been my health as I have finally been overtaken by a headcold. I hope this translates into some colorful reading but i am aware that my faculties have been bruised and blunted.

I finished the Isherwood last week and regarded it with rather mixed opinions. As an example of detail and offering more than mere threads of comic character study, Mr. Norris was a success, at leas for its first sixty percent or so. It did appear towards its second half to immerse itself into the blood trough of German politics circa 1930-1933. This wasn’t keenly realized, in my estimation: I actually kept waiting for the Communists and Nazis to fall out of their chairs (a la Cary Grant in Awful Truth) and for Norris to sacrifice his toupee to the greater good: neither of which occurred.

My relations with Isherwood were then never consummated. I grew t appreciate his work without actually being moved by such. Inexplicably, I then picked up Vidal’s Creation: A Novel. My reasons for such are somewhat murky even to myself. Earlier I was eager to read mailer’s Armies of the Night. I soon discovered that I no longer had the text, or perhaps I simply could no longer find the text. Perhaps it was a subconscious need to stand these two titans of the 60s-70s together, but I elected to read some Vidal and I recalled the interview in last month’s Bookforum where Vidal admitted that he thought that Creation had been unfairly neglected by posterity. I read over 100 pages last Wednesday and I had similar conclusions as to when I finished Mullisch’s Discovery of Heaven. If I was 20, I would have considered it profound. As it is, the didactic nature of such was certainly unappealing. It did inspire at least local continuity and I eagerly read Burgess’ story Hun about Attila. It was a well conceived with only a few areas of obvious pasting. His collection of stories The Devil’s Mode wasn’t well received but I admit to appreciating at least two of the stories and I look forward to at least one other.

Saturday took a carload of us up to Plainsfield, IN where a three story bookstore awaited. An exciting three hours were spent crawling, often with the aid of a flashlight and I am kicking myself for allowing my Mrs. to buy me biography of Bulgakov (what could I have been thinking) it was decent haul and here I must admit capital ignorance. It was not until Friday evening when I was browsing on The Common Review that I discovered who Patrick White was. So goes my shame. I picked up a sterling copy of Voss which I am read in chapter-long snatches and enjoying immensely. The White is sharing billing with a biography of Speer that I became intrigued with a week ago, Albert Speer: His Battle with Truth by Gitta Sereny. Masochistic it may be, I am considering reading Joachim Fest’s Speer: The Final Verdict afterwards. Any delineation of the predisposition for such would require a posting all its own.
Oh, the Michael Chabon serial in the Times magazine is stunning.