Wednesday, May 30, 2007


I see that Gunter Grass has an explanatory note in the upcoming New Yorker, it is likely an excerpt from his now infamous autobiography. I look forward to printing the article and reading it at my leisure. Speaking of which, I was rather fatigued last night, but the Bolano I ordered last week had arrived. There was but the slimmest twinge of disappointment as it was a collection of stories, given my impatient for the truncated form, I took quick consolation that Bolano, at least in the contours of Savage Detectives, prevaricates any nominal distinction between Novel and Story.
I have now read six of the stories and I find the majority rather moving, listless figures for whom Literature remains fire. I envy such. Books remain so crucial yet I feel that so much effort is exhausted , such mighty expanses of compassion released that it is but a loan-lease arrangement through life's corridors. perhaps if there was job where you didn't need to care so DAMN much. perhaps if the world operated in a somewhat sane semblance.
I need to climb on board the Kinglsey bio, I fear that Roger is surfing along, chuckling all the while to himself and that should I remain tardy, my pointed rebukes will be of small significance and well-passed vitality.

Monday, May 28, 2007


It was quite the treat to complete the novel on this bejewelled day. I closed the book just minutes after Ed arrived, laden with Pilsner. It all appears compact and content. It was a remarkable novel and I am toting both End of the Affair and Alistair Horne to work tomorrow.

Whiskeytown and thirty packs

Such lend themselves well to sublime holiday. I was rather bothered by Mr. Esposito's shrug towards the latest Murakami. My wife concured with Scott's estimation that Haruki has established a certian bandwidth; But What A Bandwidth!! I rejoined.

I will likely finish the Greene this afternoon over roasted flesh. Following its echo I may explore Powell, Henry Green or even more Graham -- End of the Affair?


It was a free-fall of a day after completing the Pears. I did read 40 pages of the Lane Fox about Alexander and TWO pages of the Gibbon. My thoughts drifted, ever the dilettante, and I decided to pursue fiction. My wife bought me a new Penguin reissue of Ryunosuke Akutagawa's stories for Xmas, largely, I'm sure, because of an introduction by Murakami -- whom, of course, we both adore.

The person delineated in the introduction was of a conflicted, ultimately tormented, man. I read the last story of the collection, titled Spinning Gears, which Murakami depicts as an absolute distillation of despair. He is correct in his assessment. I was terribly moved. Hell, I wanted to throw the book out into the street and erase its images from my memory.

I bounced around, read most of the Oxford American and after a lengthy, needed, bike ride I picked up the long anticipated Brighton Rock. I have now read nearly 100 pages and it is a captivating story, alive with detail and the slippery wake of all matters human.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

To Africa?

The title is from Cabaret. I finished the Pears this a.m. A semblence of breeze and Hank Jones an ideal sum. The novel is better than I feared though I remain suspect as to its utility to the Roman History. I will now go and read the review on Complete review which I believe afforded it a B+. While I cringed at the cameo from Picasso, it was certainly a refreshing take as opposed to Quicksilver, with which I share the sentiemnts of Brandon.

I will begin the Amis bio this week but as for now I may occupy myself with either Lane Fox (I bought his bio of Alexander yesterday) or perhaps that book on Verdun. I can't say for sure.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Savy Vessels

My best friend keeps aware. Whereas I imagined it would be Turkey that host the next constitutional bloodbath, Dr. Joel quietly quibbed that it would be the Ukraine and that folks would be massacred with nary a thought to the Orange magic of recent memory. Perhaps it was Chernobyl.

I am over half way through the Pears and while I admire the thrust of his novel, questions of Civilization, Morality and Action are better handled by others. The maintained theme of Juden is intriguing as well. The novel will likely be finished over this long weekend with thoughts of Kinglsey and Gibbon to follow.

Thursday, May 24, 2007


He compromised. He chose not to acknowledge after any threat peristed. I consider it rather human.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Roberto Bolano

Hysteria abounds and I bought another of Senor B's novels. I am looking forward to such. These heady days will likely witness a Roman bent before conofrming to the samizdat standard of Kinglsey Amis.

Smitten Ideas

Life often inloads downhill, one is woozy with wind and taken for the free-fall of uniform months: 40 is just around the corner. I have been thinking about Ken Burns, the trouble with his latest project and how in the aftermath of the war Gore Vidal and Shelby Foote wrote 12 novels between them in less than a decade after VJ Day.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Rostopovich with a rifle

Such remains my favorite image of the Remnick, a book I have pondered almost daily since i finished it. The fissures of Empire are also the recurring theme of The Dream of Scipio which I must admit to enjoying immensely. The books is erudite without question, though character development appears to be a minor crusade. Such were also my concerns with The Inicdent of the Fingerpost, the other work by Pears that I read some years back and having been told that it was "just like Eco." I still recall the smirk that Harold gave me when I shared this information.

Friday, May 18, 2007

I do this as well,,2081401,00.html

Finished, Finally

The decidely (intentionally) blue collar Empire Rising was finished this afternoon perched upon the unseasonably chilly front porch. I really didn't care for the novel, but i think I appreciate the author's ambitions. I am going to read the Scipio now, playing water tag with the folks at the roman history books club. I should also think that Becket would be a grand and portable selection for the weekend.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007


I picked up the new Jim Crace on Monday but i haven't afforded it any serious attention, actually it has been an uphill sort of week thus far. The Sutcliff has been lowered as it hasn't been leveraged by any work relativity. I have pushed ahead in the Kelly andam eighty pages from the novel's end. I also own The Rackets but I have to admit it is doubtful the circumstances which would advise its reading. My friend Roger has next on samizdat and he is considering either the bio of Kingsley Amis or the new memoir from George Konrad. I would be excited about either. I have a pair of novels from the Hungarian and I feel as if Amis were a family friend anyhow.

I was goofing off eysterday with my typical Gibbon and Blog google and I found

which appears REALLY interesting. I may join up for some of their briefer, read non-Gibbon, works this summer. The discussion about the Pears appeared fruitful (bad pun), a novel nonetheless I had considered reading during my prior encounter with The Fingerpost.

Monday, May 14, 2007


As mentioned, it was a slow Sunday. Family and friends shoved aside any actual effort and I was content to catch up on the NYT, The Believer and Bookforum. The latter contained a review of Sarkozy's teastament of sorts, an outline for a Gaullist future. Maybe I should afford him some slack?

I did enjoy a cluster of articles about Simone and Sartre. I must admit to dearth of interest in both the new Hitchens as well as the Chabon. There isn't much pushing me towards the immanent Delillo either. I did read a few more chapters of the Sutcliff to clients at the Center today, it did inspire a series of Roman related projects. It is certainly geared towards teens but it sustains a poetic sparkle throughout. I am still debating whether i will continue with it or not.

Sunday, May 13, 2007


The fecindity of yesterday has been lost. I had hoped to finish the Thomas Kelly today, but as it stands, I may not even read a line. I had begun one of the Rosemary Sutcliff novels yesterday, The Lantern Bearers, and was enjoying it. So much so, that the wife and I sped over to Half Price where I looked for copies or others of that vein from Ms. Sutcliff. Alas there were none, though I did find Brighton Rock and a few other books of interest. I think I am going to read fiction this week. I will likely finish the Sutcliff and the Kelly and then I am entertaining the idea of rereading Rings of Saturn by Sebald. The lengthy essay by Moody in The Believer has conjured such. It has been nearly nine years since I read it and I remain curious how the passage will affect a second reading.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Joseph O'Connor

I was impressed with a recent Guardian review of a novel titled Redemption Falls about the Irish experience in the American Civil War, a brutal meandering spared the maudlin tones of Cold Mountain. I told Ed and some other folks about, noting the recent spike in Civil War novels see The March and Amalgamation Polka, and that it would be published here in the fall. Quick research revealed that the library had his most recent novel and I just read a page or two -- all of which was punctuated by this stubborn thought that I know this bloke from somewhere. Thanks god for wikipedia.

He is the brother of dear Sinead and I recall an interview with him a few years back. Memory and history can be bastards.

Lenin's Tomb

I finished the Remnick last evening, the gloaming being a suitable situation for the book's conclusion. The afterward is in Vermont, the fenced estate of Solzhenitsyn, as the author and his wife preapre to return to Russia, a counterpart to Remnick and wife's move to the USSR five years before. I truly enjoyed the book, but it offers no portrait of Yeltsin. It does reflect extensively upon Gorbachov. Who is to say?


I was reading the Rick Moody piece on W.G. Sebald in the Beliver earlier. I considered an unusual fact about Sebald; I bought different books by this author a few members of that flexible set known or understood as family. I have since reclaimed them all. I am not proud of such, but it happened.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Wary of Stirring

Everytime I type now I must confront the image of Jean-Luc Godard hunched over his typewriter, delicately manipulating the cigar in his mouth, and pecking away at the keys with two fingers. I have watched four hours of Godard's Historie(s) Du Cinema and impoversihed in my desire to depic this truly overwhelming work, a meditation on the history of cinema. It is rife with chieseled lines like, cinema was a factory of dreams and communism wore itself out by dreaming of such factories...of course, there was Howard Hughes.

Yes, that is one sentence.

N went ahead and bought whole set for me, so I will be returning the rental to Wild and Wooly tomorrow. It has been a long day of political pondering. I am near the end of the Remnick. I do enjoy it but hastily suggest some editing here-and-there. I became aware today of an author for young adults named Sutcliff today. She wrote largely of Roman outposts on the British Isles and the haggard transition to Saxon soverignty. I am tempted to stop by the library tomorrow. I also need to explore these Central American meditations.

Oh, and fuck Sarkozy!

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

New Post

It has been an odd, elongated day. I awoke early to go vote, the process was punctuated by a geezer behind me in the queue grumbling about the request for his ID. Fortified by espresso I would have been snide as I escaped if such were the case but alas, instead, I gave him my incredulous stare.

A few hours lated the espresso was divine and I read hungrily about the May Day of 1990 in the Red Square. I read of a burgeoning oligarch who bought Nabokov's childhood home. I thought about Bach and second-guessed Yeltsin. The day proceeded with a flurry of stunning work concepts and the hopes, this evening, for peace and aesthetics. I am listening to Wayne Shorter. I may go to the bistro for a pint when the polls close. I will buy salad and tonight we will view Godard.

Monday, May 07, 2007


I continue to truly appreciate the weight of the Remnick. His attempts at creating a composite from a dizzying squall of entities in flux are to be commended. Apparently while Martin Amis could only spend an hour on Roibert Conquest, he could at lease loot Remnick for an anecdote about a pavillion of poorly made goods circa 1986. Remnick also has issues with Yevtuschenko, many do, but I find it interesting that he cites Y's instant creation of poem commemorating Sakharov (in both Russian and English) for immediate dissemnation in the West as bad taste, whereas I listened to Remnick reel off his own litany of anecdotes about Boris Yeltsin two weeks ago today.
Leaning into the second half of the text, I maintain no plans for what's next. I did read 40 more pages of the Thomas Kelly before shuffling into slumber. I read Joe Queenan's essay on bad literature yesterday (and then had Joel mail it to me today) and I can't empathize. My standards make me surly when violated and the Kelly is borderline.

Sunday, May 06, 2007


I slept quite well. I was able to read until late. I still have no problems with Remnick's comprehension of the late USSR, especially his having penned such just as the door closed. I had thought of reading an entire play today, specifically Becket by Anoulh. I am soft stepping away from such presently.

Scott Esposito recently read and reviewed the new novel Jamestown. I was intrigued initially but todays NYTBR has a review and much like thoughts of breezing through Becket, it is gone. I honestly don't see any "new" books on the immediate horizon which beg urgent attention. Last week's Times had a few I would read concurrent with Samizdat but nothing which screams like the Bolano.

Saturday, May 05, 2007


The intensity and moral nature of my work have weighed heavily this past week. My reading likely suffered. I did spend considerable time with Wedgwood and Arendt as well as a 125 pages of Thomas Kelly’s Empire Rising which I am reading with samizdat. This mist of uncertainty was burnt away by the barrage of thought and journalism which dominates Lenin’s Tomb by David Remnick. As noted previously, I bought the book while in Ohio largely after hearing Remnick eulogize Boris Yeltsin on NPR the day before.

I remain a slavophile with particular bent for the Civil War and the horrific excesses of Koba. That said, the sweep of Remnick’s tome is simply dazzling. His interviews with dissidents and scholars are remarkable, an even-handed survey of dark times

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

An Assessment

Make no mistake, my second reading of Quicksilver was enjoyable. It is imperative to acknowledge the benefit of having recently read Ackroyd's London. That said, while I thought Waterhouse sections of the book would constitute an impressive novel ideas, the other 450 pages were actually rather annoying. Hence my groan when I opened The Confusion to disocver Jack Shaftoe, still, alive and bereft of the pox. His station of being in a slave quarters in Algiers along with a gnostic Jew, a repentant Conquistador, an African linguist and a Japanese Lutheran jatching some plot which would make Lee Marvin wince.