Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Sammler To Bed

It was refreshing book about a weary man, a capable man left only with an attempt to be good. I am a weary man this evening: the humidity took its toll.

I should read history now.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

If It Wasn't For Borges

I like the cadence of that title.

I am but a breath away from finishing the Bellow, which was exemplary. I am curious what Amis thought of it.

Espositio has become self-conscious per Bolano.

I have not.

I did feel awkward that the second day of my reading The Savage Detectives it was featured on NPR. I had a very mixed opinion of his stories and have proved too cheap to buy the other novels: perhaps I am waiting for 2666 en ingles. Perhaps I am suppressing my rage towards 2/3rds of my coworkers.

It often sucks to care.

I read a good deal of Toynbee last night, my truncation of a Study in History.

I enjoyed such.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Actually, No

Only a few minutes had passed after that last post and I strolled through our library. I wasn't sure if the Grimmelshausen was exactly what I envisioned.

I fell upon Mr. Sammler's Planet by Bellow. I read forty pages and was struck. If I had been on holiday, I would've read most of the night. Its universality and reach for concepts were akin to Thomas Mann. Sure it had its neuroses, much like Herzog or Augie March: who can claim it doesn't after the black pickpocket shows Artur his penis?

I am around page 110 now and the force of such hasn't lessened. Crackpots, hppies and the over-rich and oversexed crowd Sammler's world. He wakes each day trying to gather a handle on it all and promises to bequeath just such a handle to his nutjob daughter.

Saturday, August 25, 2007


I read Goytisolo’s Quarantine today. This may have been my third reading. I was seeking confirmation per the Virgil and I imagined that the I would benefit from the often strophic prose commingling Dante, the first Gulf War and the Muslim belief that the recently dead walk in a dream state for forty days. It proved successful and now I am considering reading of Grimmelshaussen’s masterpiece of the Thirty Year War.

There is an element of considerable frustration that I can’t simply sit for three days and devour Moby Dick or the Mervyn Peake trilogy.

There is something invaluable when I am at my sharpest. It remains so rich.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

A Time To Consider

I pushed through the first section of Death of Virgil this evening, lighting an Arturo as I have to stay up late to drive. I am whipped but I appreciated the pervasive theme of darkness in the Broch. The question of waste and regeneration reappears steadily but it was the becalmed dreams and the woolen silence which shields however ephemerally the tempests and privations of waking reality.

I just read in the Guardian that a recent Gallop poll suggests that most Americans don't read. Most who do, read shit and, again, not very often.

I am very indifferent to that at this moment. I am mad as hell that no one at Samizdat appears to give a shit.

The thought of taking Blue of Noon with me this evening is a curious one. There was a mention of it in the Godard (In Praise of Love) I watched Monday night.


It is easy to laugh at the idea of torture on a sunny day. -- Graham Greene

I am going to borrow Mr. Esposito's motif and offer an essay of sorts. It was a languid Sunday afternoon, sunny if I recall, the phone rang and it my friend, apparently quite drunk. (bit early for that, I thought)

He made some meandering inquiry into whether we would like to go to Louisville later that evening, given that he would be either blind drunk or passed out by that future time, I passed. he then asked my advice about his father. I know that my friend and his father have lived a few thousand miles apart for almost a decade and appeared comfortable with such. I said sure. he asked if I had ever heard of the ACT and some Middle Eastern lady who was an advocate "against terrorism." That concept much like "human rights" always gives me pause. What theoretical person would oppose an equally generic construct as "anti-terrorism" or "Human rights"? The long and short was that my friend's father had forged strong bonds with the organization and their spokesperson. he wanted my friend to compose music for their informational dvd.


Google helps in these matters and I soon found a quote from this charming Lebanese-American courtesy of Wikipedia: the difference between Israel and the Arab World is the difference between civilization and barbarity, between good and evil.

I told my friend I would have nothing to do with these people. He appeared puzzled. But why, they're non-violent. When qualifying your opposition as barbaric and evil, I screeched, you've paved the way for others of more convincing means to solve the equation with more formidable means.

I completed the Greene this evening and hopefully I will speak with my friend at length tomorrow. I have thought of buying him the Fisk.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

I own two, have read the one that Sucks

Sunday, August 19, 2007


I have spent considerable time this weekend launching deep into both Our Man in Havana and The Death of Virgil. One serves as relief from the severity of the other. Greene remains his sardonic self, conflating issues of espionage with infidelity and drowning both in a potable predilection.

We went to the library sale yesterday and picked up 5-6 plays, a handsome two volume set of Wells Outline of History, a fascinating Cuban novel about the disappearence of Caruso and the Mano Negra, the Jennifer Egan novel which inspired my interest in the Woman in White and another Paul Bowles novel.

as usual, there was nothing of interest in the NYTBR.

I believe I will postpone my nocturnal reading of Wilkie Collins until the Greene has been completed.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Chugging Into Charnel

I finally finished the Bowles last night. I do stand corrected, the immensity of the Sahara is crucial to the denouement. I did find the meandering madness of Kit while being the alabaster love slave of the swarthy Bedouin a bit lurid.

I now have many books on my plate, samizdat is again room temperature after a flicker of life. My wife is in the second chapter of Greene's Our Man In Havana and I must catch up.I had hoped to read Wilkie Collins but we shall see.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

It Might Just Be

I appeared mired this Sunday in the traction of Edward Crankshaw and his penchant for the phrase, putting too fine a point on it. Escaping the Birthday week, there is a certain humor of self-discovery. You gradually understand what you are comprised of and what you won't accept. Whether this bread and cheese or cinema or the ongoing cultural erosion of imagination and comprehension, you learn to pick your spots.

I am nearly finished with The Sheltering Sky and it is a commendable examination of 1st World, middle class neuroses in an Orientalist context. That said, it could've been situated in Burma or El Salvador with the same effect.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

more authors

There are sublime times when the blinding speed of the internet reveals access which is nearly divine. Does God know Dutch novelists?

I just discovered two more: Willem Frederik Hermans and Gerard Reve


Wanting exertion before it became infernal, I walked to the library taking back the Ackroyd and the Wiesel. It was a lovely if sweat-drenched walk. I was struck by the arrival of a biography of Ho Chi Minh, translated from the French no less, in the New Holdings section. I read 20 pages or so walking back and laughed upon Ho's first arrival in Marseille where he noted the drunks and whores and pondered, "the French should civilize themselves and stop worrying about civilizing us."

I fired off another round of inquiries into Marrakesh lodging and then hunkered down to read another 40 pages of the Bowles.

Elder Mania

The birthdays passed tightly wrapped in joy. I have noticed that as my work week was again ratcheted to maximum output my interests began their own itinerant lunacy. Jennifer Egan was on NPR talking about her novel which I will never read and she cited with stern exuberance Woman in White by Wilkie Collins. I thus checked it out from the library. I thought of Dickens. I ran across an omnibus edition of Golding's To The End of The World: I did not buy it. I did decide that the McEwan wasn't the one I was interested in at the moment and then it was gone. The planning for the Morocco trip infected and now I am reading The Sheltering Sky.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

My Birthday

In these times I don't, in a matter of speaking, know what I want; perhaps I don't want what I know and want what I don't know.
--- Marsilio Ficino, letter to G. Cavalcanti c. 1475

I keep thinking about Milton after the Ackroyd novel. Strange but I also imagine him in the form of Ian Holm. It is also an odd coincidence that samizdat is about to read the Broch, yet another novel approximating the guise of the poet in uncertain times.

I have read some Hugh Trevor-Roper as of late and this a.m. I began Black Dogs by Ian McEwan. I am steadily being dazzled by Ian, such a strong departure of the invective I hurled after his Amsterdam won the Booker. Oh, I hated that book. But now as an elder idiot, I am entertaining the thought of a return visit.

I am now 37. I look forward to reading The Death of Virgil with my friends. I will also be reading Our Man in Havana w/ N, a treat which we have postponed for too long. I am still thinking Middlemarch and the Rebecca West for the Morocco trip. I'd like to read more Dickens. Sigh.

Sunday, August 05, 2007


I awoke rather rested and recovered, it appeared, oh praise thee wonderous medicines of this satanic age! Barcode me and ciculate my t-cells as some supernummery currency for a post-World Order.

I did read 30 pages of Kundera's Life is Elsewhere, inspired in part by an aside from the Crankshaw, drawing too-fine-a-point, in my estimation of the role of poets as agents of dissent under Alexander I.

I went to the library afterwards and picked up a stack of books. I read Wiesel's The Time of The Uprooted, which I enjoyed, especially the range of characters, not simply The Storyteller, who was saved from the camps and now must wander with survivor guilt.

This surfeit of sleep has kept me awake and alert into the wee hours and I then read 200 pages of Ackroyd's Milton In America, which begins in a stunning fashion, an insight into the blind poet, his "ringing the bells of Language," the anachoristic decision to flee the Restoration and settle in New England. The book hasn't lived up to the opening sections but i will finish it this afternoon.


If I access my blog from either the normal URL or the links from samizdat or roger's blog the last two post don't appear.


If I go to the Complete-review's catalog of liblogs it reveals my latest postings.

I don't understand.

I did finish another book today and made progress into another.

Saturday, August 04, 2007


The Old Testament refers often, I'm told, that prophets and old men eventually reach a point when they are full of years, I like that phrase. Approaching my birthday, I find myself repeatedly taking to task my twenties, what I didn't do and why I was such an ass accomplishing what I did. I feel confident about my thirties, nearly over now.

I read the other day that if you take all the wisdom and self-criticism from the writings of Nietzsche, that what remains is the work of Ayn Rand. I saw a young chap reading The Fountainhead at the library today. I smiled.

Absent a Rearguard

Twisting an adage, I have been throttled by the weather as of late. Decomissioned is too neat a fit for my collapse. I am improving and i have enjoyed reading all of Edward Crankshaw's book on the preconditions of the Russian revolution. It was both popular and snide, reflecting its mid-1970s hawkish pose. I did enjoy it, especially comparing several historical episodes from Crankshaw's perspective as well as contemporary historians Niall Ferguson and Orlando Figes.

That said I have been errant especially as of late. Over the last three weeks, the Grass memoir is the only book which has both captivated me and kept me for its duration. Perhaps declining health and spiking stress led me to abandon Angus Wilson, John Cowper Powys and Mervyn Peake before completion, I can't say for sure.

Some minor research aroused an interest in genre writing in translation. The poster child remains Boris Akunin, whom I discovered is actually a pseudonym, B -- Akunin: interesting, no? Also, the author is a professor of Japanese studies in Russia and that Akunin means bad guy in Nipponese. I looked at numerous folks including Fred Vargas, a female medievalist from France -- I can't do it: not now.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007


These past few days have been elsuive as my sinuses are terminal and samizdat's schism has grown to an imagined spiritual shootout.