Saturday, March 31, 2007


Political space has its neutral ground. But does Time? is there such a thing as the neutral hour? one that goes neither forward nor back? Is that too much to hope? -- Pynchon

The pressings of the week have kept my writing quite limited and actual reading somewhat circumscribed. The push has been through the Ackroyd which is quite the mess, much like Sante’s Low Life, but such constitutes its rich appeal. The anecdote concerning Green, Berry, and Hill which serves as neat epigram to Magnolia is explored in the crime section. the fact that the road was named Primrose Hill at the time of the robbery and homicide doesn’t diminish the coincidence. It is a shame that Ackroyd doesn’t cite Gravity’s Rainbow, as I feel that Pynchon’s description of the organic posture of the city and its occult stirrings would appear to irreplaceable to the project of London: The Biography. Nevertheless Ackroyd should be commended for mining some delicious sources and constructing this baroque if rickety tower. For instance, nearly forgotten dramatist Nathaniel Lee is quoted in the “A Little Drink or Two” section with this confession of drunken outrage, “They said I was mad: and I said they were mad: damn them, they outvoted me.” He was interred briefly at Bedlam and then released.

There is surprisingly little of Wilde in the narrative, Lamb, Dickens and Orwell tend to predominate, limiting in my estimation the ballad of London to a materialistic survey. He does cite the observations of Mallerme and Dostoevsky but curtails any ruminations tantamount to the haunted aspects of St. Petersburg, for instance. Ackroyd does versify in a similar vein: “[w]hen the city was described as pagan, it was partly because no one living among such urban suffering could have much faith in a god who allowed cities such as London to flourish.”

Monday, March 26, 2007

Remodelling Babylon

Yesterday my wife spent the day building yet more shelves, this variety must have appeared to be siege ladders as they were nine feet and unpainted as she drilled and cobbled on our front porch. I can say that all of the fiction in our library is now shelved and what a bittersweet exdperience that was. I admitted some time back that the my mnemonic limits had coinced with an assemblage of texts culminating for the first tiem in not being aware of EVERY book we own. This was compounded yesterday as I dusted and reshelved those thopusands of tomes and I was surpised to find that a purge of sorts may be in order and especially for the American section. I suppose that such is logical, that literature translated from abroad would likely enjoy some degree of commercial or critical success, whereas dom,estic letters wouldn't face quite that steep a criteria. My ambitions for the week remain and I will likely rent the Polanski Oliver thsi weekend, quite curious to see Kingsley as Fagin.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Keeping Pace

I am sunburnt from yesterday, remarkable in March. I have read a great deal (150 pages) of the Ackroyd and have enjoyed Oliver Twist, though at a slower rate: 45 pages. The Pynchon conclusion is still forthcoming. My wife has been building shelves all day and I have been moving books, a delightful task, to be sure, but exhausting.

I bought a few books yesterday notably Hobsbawm's Age of Empire which will be my nonfiction choice after I finish Ackroyd's London. My wife likely won't be reading for recreation until after she completes her certification testing for work, hence the Dostoevsky will remain idle. Speaking of which, new blood and an infirmed Roger Baylor will hopefully spur a new choice for samizdat. I also have the Bolano arriving quite soon.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007


A decade back I read Gravity's Rainbow for the first time and then the newly published Mason and Dixon; immediately afterwards I picked up Shame by Salman Rushdie. I finished the novel but was struck by a variety of vertigo, this shift in perspective, if not talent, was disorienting to the maximum. I finished Against The Day on Sunday and as I have spent diurnal element of the week considering, what it all means, I read Voyage Along The Horizon during the evenings. This first novel by Javier Marias was a gift from The Believer. While it contains enormous promise, I admit to not having read any other novels by Mr. Marias, it falls prey to its own Sterneity, echoing the Tristram Shandy in never reaching its subject, Zeno and Alan Partridge heavenly entwined.
I want to write on Pynchon but that will wait. It has been a long day, the sky is rife with sun and I hope to stroll. My reading for now will be Dickens and the Ackroyd biography of London, to which i treated myself this afternoon.

Saturday, March 17, 2007


Having been rather self-conscious these past few days, I have neglected any humble scrawl. it has been time of quiet rumination and i have returned to the Pynchon, having read or reread close to three hundred pages, fidning the fire within and being steadily enthralled throughout. I no longer take the book with me during the day, it simpractibility and propensity for crashing to the ground from my fumbling fingers has resigned it to the kitchen, where I brave odors of the larder as I prepare meager fare for me and my beloved.

I preordered the Bolano.

I amazed myself by my nightly progress through The 900 Days. I would surmise that while Salisbury was also journalist, his survey of Leningrad's siege is detailed and resonant. I am not sure if Vollmann consulted such for Europe Central. I may check that in a few minutes as I haul in the day's finds to the library. I will also need to check any references to Pythagorous in that zero book we read on samizdat. there was an oblique nod to P and beans in the pynchon and I am near certain there is a noted backstory to such detail. I did buy Carr bio of Lady carson this morning, along with Moronic Inferno by Amis, Calvino's autobigraphical writings, Mailer's Armieas of the Night and nice edition of Maugham's Human Bondage with an intro by Gore Vidal.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Brown in My Sorrows

After watching State Fair last night, I though something should be recoverewd before bed and read the first mystery in the Father Brown collection I had received from the libray. I enjoyed its locale in North London, especially the walk from Camden Town to the Heath, possibly intersecting my sister-in-law's morning constitutional. I thought the metaphysics employed by the sleuthing padre to be quite ho-hum and i nearly threw book often concluding the initial story.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

And Yet

The annual frustration of taxation computation has been sated. It has been an odd day, N has worked for six hours on this job training module and i have dithered about, completing the taxes and screaming at the TV, at AI, at the cretins on Freedarko who find Scott Skiles and George Karl to be the true problem with the League.

Upon returning from New York N read the opening article in the Believer about late Roberto Bolano and then emabarked upon a conversation about recent, post-Boom, Iberian-American letters. I am interested in this, especially outside the circumscribed terrain of the McOndo movement. Personally I first heard of Bolano last fall when a number of his shorter works upon translation were reviewed in Bookforum. I recall asking N about him then. It appears one his major works, Savage Detectives, will be published here in April. I am going to buy it. He appears playful, akin to Borges or Kundera, but closer to Mutis in that regard for color and atmosphere: haven't we all seen some of the alleys in Oliver Twist and Dombey and Son? I thank my friend Roger for affording further tribute to Dickens in his latest posting.


I broached the vanguard of daylight savings as I was tucked away with Mutis, adrift in that contemporary facility of the picaresque. It must have slipped my mind, the actual size of this compendium. The text is exactly 700 pages in length which allowed me the ample manuever of 400 pages. As noted, I read until two, which became three and my dreams were of voyages and cinema production.

This day has already been branded with recumbent sunshine and my own awe. I have listened to the Regina Spector album three times through and I went to the library as being bereft of a proper Catholic education, my only opinion of Chesterson's Father Brown mysteries was that the good Dr. Joel routinely cited such. It was the influence of Borges and that popist Waugh which tipped my hand in that direction. I have finished our federal returns and once I concluded the Byzantine state order, I may explore the Chesterson, walk outdoors or wallow in the systemic distension which is the Nuggets-Kings circa 2007. I felt that the fever had passed and it has, yet the lingering rustle in my throat only serves to anger.

Saturday, March 10, 2007


Sometime after the holidays I saw an aged hardbound book at the library's sale: Scott-King's Modern Europe by Evelyn Waugh. I didn't buy it then and predictably kicked myself. A month later, it was still there and I bought it to my measurable glee. I read it this evning as my infirmity waned and while my wife chatted on the phon I read the slim tome in a few hours. It delineates the political adjustments and equivocation which gripped the continent in the postwar years. I was impressed, especially in the aftermath of curling up with the Oxford Illustrated History if English Literature Friday night. It was a placid two hours, leaping from the Victorians to the present (of the publication date, anyway). I was struck that scholar for the world war II period found Waugh lacking in humor and wit. What? Who is this person? Did they never read Scoop, Vile Bodies or the Loved One?

I will be reading the Mutis and Pynchon tomorrow.

Letter B

The house is not this large, he thought. It is only made larger by the penumbra, the symmetry, the mirrors, the years, my ignorance, the solitude. -- Borges

I read the Unknown Masterpiece by Balzac earlier today. I am in the grips of a fever. I wasn't aware of the story until last summer when a synopsis thereof appeared in a Guardian article about Das Kapital. I decided it was then time to read some Borges.

My ague can likely trace its origins to NYC and the sadistic winds which devoured our every step. Don't mistake my verdict, we had a wonderful time, it was just the effects of extended exposure. I bought two books and read three hundred pages of Karamazov in two days, mostly in airports. I am at p. 500 just before the crime itself.

Sunday, March 04, 2007


These past few days have been a surfeit of fury as I have contended with a trip to the dentist and preparing for our return to New York. A ballast of sorts has been the three books I have devoured in the last four days. Bridge To Terabithia by Katherine Paterson was chosen after I viewed the film the week before. It was likely the first children’s book I had entered since likely The Little Prince. Paterson achieved a great deal in this delineation of being an adolescent misfit and finding solace in the power of the imagination. The film proved to a fair adaptation to the novel. I then read Flaubert’s Parrot by Julian Barnes. I truly loved this one. I truly love Julian Barnes and I am forever indebted to my wife for cultivating such.. Funny, Mr Barnes and Mr. Vargas llosa are both enraptured with Gustave Flaubert and have both penned studies of varying degrees concerning his work and his place as the supposed premiere novelist of the nineteenth century. It is likely my deficiency, but I don’t accept such assertions. I have only read Madame Bovary once, such was late in my reading life – I was 29, I think. I have not read much else of his work, though my subconscious sentiment is probably shaded by Goytisolo’s essay on F’s treatment of the Oriental.

My final reading was s econd reading of Stoppard’s Voyage as preparation for seeing such upon the stage. i had thought of reading the other two volumes as well but have halted such, hoping to bide time with a perch upon the Pynchon and continued mining of the White bio