Monday, April 30, 2007

Buckeye Haul

Despite my misgivings about last week's trip to Ohio I did buy a number of books while there: no surprise. Thanks to Sunday's Times I was inspired to buy Old Devils by Kingsley Amis and I also purchased another copy of Camus' The Fall after another review cited the text and I discovered that I no longer owned a copy. My recent interest in the Enlgish Civil War was greeted with the ourchase of pair of tomes by CV Wedgwood and Hugh Trevor-Roper, this was a bonus given the stunning silence from certain authorities (that's you, Roz). The passing of Boris Yeltsin led NPR to interview David Remnick during our trip north and I was inspired to buy his account of the troubled transition from Gorbachov to Yeltsin, Lenin's Tomb. I also bought novels and stories from Murikami, Ackroyd and Eryofeev.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

George Tenent

My friend Roger Baylor recently bemoaned my tendency to read several hundred pages in a flurry, upsetting rhythmns in tandem readings and often obscuring my (already)wavering focus. This recent episode pertained to Against The Day. Last week I thought I would read all of Quicksilver while in Columbus. I only read 300 pages. These past days have witnessed my reading about 600 pages through the Great Fire and upon shores of the New World. I have numerous issues with Stephenson, much like Pynchon's latest. Who knows? I need to think on this.

Sunday, April 22, 2007


I awoke rather early for a Sunday. I attribute it as some measure of insomnia or such. No bother, actually. A lengthy bike ride and a healthy return enused. I just read the article in the Times magazine about Martin and Kingsley. I contemplate periodically that if I applied myself I could be a literary failure. I think I would enjoy such.

I have read over 150 pages of Quicksilver since my Friday complaint. I do enjoy it, though I grit my teeth at some of the glib flourishes. That said, after Against The Day, I can't say what I favor more.

Sick of it all

I just learned that Andrew Hill passed away yesterday. This depresses me immensely/ There is a need for eloquence and a need for compassion, all appear too stretched and neglected.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

All Rubbish

This week demonstrated a more severe paucity of reading than I can recall, which may allude to the issues itself, my memory felt shot and I never established an appropriate tempo. My last posting was rife with glaring typos and I felt like muttering fuck it. I did miss that Cormac won the Pulitzer and now Peter Ackroyd is planning a seven volume history of England. I bought a half dozen books this week (at a low impact chain) and I am looking forward to an unexpected holiday in Ohio.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

New Plans

Finding frequent frustration in the limited reading of others I have elected to attempt all of Neal Stephenson's Baroque Trilogy. I read Quicksilver a few years back (four!!) but I must admit that I had forgotten a great deal of the specifics. Clive James must be right. I hope to butress such with a reenagement with Dame Wedgwood and possibly Sir Trevor-Roper.

Monday, April 16, 2007


The Sunday Book review was devoted to fiction in translation and was well received on Vincennes Street. I found James Wood's treatment of the Bolano to be just. The other reviews were of equal intrigue and while I would be elated if this was a permanent shift in direction for the NYT, my doubts will remain and I am looking forward to the next Crichton review of Scooter's prison memoir.

As an homage, I paid Billy Pilgrim a private return and i enjoyed it thusly. I also tunnelled 70 pages into the Rotters Club by Jonathan Coe: not really my gear, that's all.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Upon The Bolano

I have been listening to a great deal of James Carter as of late, specifically his Conversing With The Elders, which I purchased aout a decade ago. Carter's deference to his pers and tradition coincide with his typical brilliant reading of the materia and such hasbeen of great comfort this week. I finished the Bolano Thursday night and was moved by its passage of twenty years and across four continents. It certainly inspired a more resounding appreciation for verse.

Scott Esposito wrote yesterday that he was afforded to think about the books he read last year and how a certain few inspired him to think differently. It has been many years since my friend J Barry introduced me to the Boom and Iberian American Literature. It still tingles to consider how enthralled i was by the mention of names like Mario Vargas Llosa and Gabriel Garcia Marquez, how devoted I was lugging around Terra Nostra for the month it took me to appreciate its bulk and splendor. Those days have passed if only that a certain maturity and exploration has withdrew a question of focus away periods, regions and often specific authors. As Great as Patrick White is, I wasn't abale to sustain for very long. I may have read 3-4 Murakami books last year and likely three Graham Greene but these are exceptions. That said a linkage of Mutis-Pynchon-Bolano has left a rather distinct impression, I'm afraid.

No worries, then. I must stabilize myself with history, brace myself for the horizon and consider what we gents of Samizdat are soon to explore.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Shaped Tastes

I feel fortunate to have read the essay in the recent New York Review of Books concerning Hugh Trevor-Roper. I admit to being fascinated by the man's work especially towards the English Civil War and economics. That last comment may prompted clucking from those that know me well, but I am intrigued, despite my wavering attentions. I also read today an essay by Clive James on Isaiah Berlin, rather short in places, in my estimation. Well, there it is, then.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Genre Profiling

Much as I lack the temerity for crosswords I have little patience for detective fiction given my latest rants against Chesterson's Father Brown and arching back to Rankin's Rebus and whatnot. Sunday's essay in the Book review was on historical fiction in the subjunctive mode -- what would Wittgenstein and Duncan have spoke about? I read Ackroyd's mystery of Elizabeth Cree last month and while I enjoyed the overlap of Gissing, Marx and others the narrative itself was of minimal interest.

I first heard of Michael Dibdin last week upon his obituary notice in the Guardian. It was quickly discovered that the local library had a dozen of his books I decided upon his first novel a historical mystery involving Robert browning during his time in Florence. I gave up after 100 pages. This nature of mine plagues me. Should failure indicate character? I have fallen off track with the Bolano inexplicably, I am not sure if I am attempting to prolong the experience or if my habits have become rather crapulous.

Monday, April 09, 2007


It has been an elightened evening even as the constriction in my throat and the rattle of my chest has been a source of preoccupation. There is much of the Bolano that I embrace madly. I am a savant. I bought the NYRB on the same day that the Believer arrived.

I spent a few hours yesterday absorbing Durrell's translation and editing of Pope Joan. It certainly struck me as akin to The Golden Ass. Durrell had incest issues. Graves couldn't keep it in his trousers. Robert Conquest wrote in to say that it was Kingsley that originated the apocryphal subtitle for The Great Terror.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Clive James

The fellow notes the peculiarity of how you can read novel and a few years later forget it. My own humorous encounters with such have been noted here as well as Fenian nightspots in Queens. There is a note in today's Times about Fassbinder's epic cinematic treatment of Berlin Alexanderplatz. It has been ten years since I read the Doblin and I am thinking about a reread. There are a few others I would like to approach before year's end: Closely Watched Trains by Hrabal; Last of the Just and perhaps Semprun's Long March.


The NYTBR was unusually useful today, featuring a number of books which actually appeared interesting, most notably perhaps was Clive James who has so affected my thoughts this year. I thought the latest offerings from Kadare and Farah were also intriguing.

Easter Chill

My fascination with the Bolano is maintained, though an area of deficit has surfaced: poetry. My knowledge of 20th Century verse appears limited to, surprise, Yanks, Brits and Ruskies.The atmosphere of Mexico City is captured brilliantly by Bolano and I remain enthralled.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Giving Ground

That last sentence I penned concerned my qualm about Ackroyd's license as historian. I did check out his biography of Chaucer yesterday from the library. I have yet to crack its cover given my rabid lust for the Bolano.

I should pause here to note the vast engagement i have felt as of late reading Dickens and pondering the palimspest of London. By contrast, there is a geyser of nerdy joy when reading something new and subversive. There was note about Bolano this evening on NPR, it was quite the sensation to have been reading him at just this moment. I am at page 125 as I had to retire early last given a fear of infirmity. I also picked up a copy of Pope Joan translated and edited by Durrell. Such utterly insular fascinations remain a hunger for me.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Bullish Cockney

I truly enjoy Peter Ackroyd's novels, they are delightful melanges of ideas, history and coincidence. I did not find his London book a likewise triumph. This significes that I will likely not buy and read his biography of Dickens.