Sunday, September 30, 2007

The Morning After

My anger has mitigated and a taste of actual philanthropy from my fellow citizens has left with an instance that The Road Warrior may not be our inevitable destiny. It was a rich night, where I read deep into the night, discovering a trove of information in a book by Adam Tooze about the economic of the Third Reich and how this book affects Ferguson's opinions on options for the Axis powers. I will likely a buy a used copy of the Tooze soon.

It is Ken Burns season and I have had a few spirited conversations lately about WWII, not least of which was public outburst towards Lloyd. It is a difficult event to avoid, the scope of it as well as the relative proximity to our own endeavored clusterfuck leaves the conflagration as the Penumbra of our times: not a sixty foot Jesus in the buckeye State.

Friday, September 28, 2007

my hatred

“The Bible,” sighed Voltaire, “is what fools have written, imbeciles command, and rogues teach.”

Zimmerman's Death Train

It was good to wield the tropes of Dylan, Trotsky, Pasternek, and Eichmann's golden mean of transport?

I mean, jesus, I may not be in the best of spirits or dispositions, Lloyd, are you serious when you say that Hitler and Germany hadn't been attacked? I am not sure if you mean 1933 or 1939, but it is Europe, there is a strong legacy of historical memory apparently bereft in these city borders. Do the brutal terms of the Treaty of Versailles, does the Depression, the failed experiment of the Weimar, the streets run ragged with Marxists, does any of this account for the shortbus version that WE (biblebred denizens of the Honky Tundra)are ALWAYS right?

I must admit to being mad as hell at this stupidity, this opportunism -- at which history we actually access. Sucking lamb's fat from a straw while touring in our SUV doesn't commeasure with being blindsided: few folks actaually are -- ever.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Falling Flat

It isn't a certain plea for mercy, but my efforts at the Richard Powers have slowed, part of out a frustration at not finding traction and also at the spiel of dialogue which continues to confound me.

I have read a great deal in Niall Ferguson's The War of the World which I admit to enjoying, though its unique thesis is then layered with a narrative survey of 20C bad behavior. I don't have anything on the horizon at the moment: we shall see.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Leaning Towards

The day's business appears logged with the baggage of Blackwater and Burma. Finding traction I can only hope to approach the rare slate of multiple responses to what amounted to a sidelong thought about authority, agency and the ability to remain flexible within.

Coming clean, Hannah Arendt remains my chief architect per understanding of the Dark Times. The recent acquisitions of the Kershaw, Fest and Hohne tomes will likely nuance my opinions. I do believe that a peculiar conflation of the traditions of anti-Semitism, imperialism and the death rattle of Nietzsche's God allowed the preconditions for all such Solutions.

By similar tokens, I think that the novelist Harry Mullisch's attempts to confront this anomaly of excess in his novel Siegfried discovers the same blind alley as that geriatric windbag Norman Mailer. There remain myriad ways to pose the merits and meaning of the autobahn, the ascendancy of medical hysteria and the lethal collision of technology and volition. One surveys Heidegger's idea of the mass production of corpses and what is left to utter?

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Falling Short

I didn't read much today, amazingly busy at work and my lidded eyes were only apt for 20 pages of the Powers upon return.

I know I should be reading Hermann Broch.

Instead, I think about Hitler.

Perhaps people focus upon Hitler vs. Stalin the way that many are predisposed towards either Greene or Waugh.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

As Noted

Just as Ed stated, we likely should have read The Echo Maker on samizdat; he is our author, we read two of his books as a group and Joel and I have read a few others in tandem. I must admit to a reluctance to approach this one. Despite the awards, despite the reviews. Scars linger, just ask Hilary, and my many doubts bubbled to the fore, one person once told me that Powers was a pseud and that it reflected bad upon me to favor him as I do. Funny, that.

I am only 25 pages in and the tropes are all familiar, the displaced, not by death of aptitude but because this whole construct is contrary to our humanity, this midwestern zone -- titled by the late Tristan Egolf as the Honky Tundra - leaves the naturalist, the musician and the software engineer equally estranged. Eh, ennui, how french. Ed cited the finesse employed by Powers in using a female protagonist, I agree, quite early in the book and also implore him to read Gain, where much to Roger's chagrin, his characterization of the contemporary suburban single mother is a marvel.

I do appreciate the blending of the rural images and neuroscience. i do find more comfort in this than when McEwan used a neurosurgeon to establish the rationale agon the emotional as a justification for war.

I read more of the new Believer today and just as the last issue prompted my interest in The Wire, this current issue has a fascinating article about Thomas McGuaine, an author who I know of and own books by, but have never read: like so many, I'm afraid.

Monday, September 17, 2007

The Mind's Mildew

Alas, I am home today. A slight fever and an opaque head left me struggling for sleep all night and i spent the morning in bed gleaning dreams in draughts. I was thinking about E.M. Ciroin, about how Joel once bought me a book of his. Was that 15 years ago? I think he also bought me the Collected Letters of Karl Marx. All of that poetic theory has been abandoned on the beach, the foamy rocks of my memory. I miss J Barry -- his asides to his own agendas: I wonder what he is writing now.

It was about two years ago (or was it three) when I read Tale of Two Cities in Chicago. I believe that Joel read it as well but Roger didn't. Despite all of its convenient coincidence, I really liked that book. It is too easy to lose oneself in the pondering of books read prior, I cannot decide as Melville's Bartleby that I prefer not to.

I started the Echo Maker and I like it but I am quite shaken with my ambitions presently. The floundering of Tree of Smoke left me bruised.

I believe that my wife is going to buy me Fiasco for our anniversary, an interesting twist, or so I believe. I should read more of the Broch but can't find energy. Its all misplaced. Perhaps like Waugh's unfortunate, I'll be forced to spend my days reading Dickens aloud.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Season 2

I feel cheated.

I am about to grill some brats and i may allow myself some crow as Joel was largely correct. I should've read ALL of the review. I didn't want any privy to plot machinations but the reviewers estimation that Johnson was relying more on Joseph Campbell than Joseph Conrad was dead on.

I just rented Season 2 of The Wire so this site may be somewhat arid for a few days.

Friday, September 14, 2007

120 More

Such were the number of pages in Tree of Smoke which I chewed and swallowed this evening as the elbow of a distant storm whipped a few earnest breezes across the Northern Vincennes corridor, but little else. I was finally able to hunker down with the book after piecemeal sniping, much which left me siding with Joel's criticism: a stance, I gleefully note, which is based on a review -- not a reading of the novel.

My humble estimation regards The Quiet American and Dispatches as the most literate, well-grounded approaches to the debacle and catastrophe of Vietnam. I am not sure I would hold Denis Johnson's novel in that esteemed company, but I do regard it well above the ramblings of Robert Stone.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

What a Week!

Actually there is little to report. I read a Nick Hornby interview a few weeks back and due to his enthusiasm I rented the first season of The Wire at Wild and Wooly. It isn't bad, captivating at times.

I have continued to read Tree of Smoke but with hampered velocity.

Some bloke was on Fresh Air yesterday raving about the neglected novels of Derek Robinson. I had never heard of such, his thematic of military aviation may have been a factor in such, but alas. That evening I dropped in the library but couldn't remember his name: it has been a long week.

I was at half Price this afternoon and bought one of his novels as well as Richard Powers latest, in paperback and a Richard Hughes novel that has attracted my interest for some time.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Non Piagnere, Liu!

I am listening to Pavarotti.

Tree of Smoke is here.

Such a collision of the sublime is skill beyond my fuddled fingers.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Just Now

I read a blog titled Langour Management which focuses on translations: essentially Russian to English. The fellow who runs the blog discovered Shalamov and his Kolyuma Tales this summer. For such bitter, bleak stories where the human spirit has been long rendered defunct, there is a resonant echo of the need to tell, to share that I can neither define nor escape.

Joel also surprised with a major site, translating German cultural news from German to English

No Smile for Post 500

I can't explain these last two days. I did abandon the Bellow on Monday evening, read up on my Byzantines instead. I started Johnson's Fiskadaro yesterday, hoping to bridge into the Tree of Smoke and I remain, as Joel noted, leery of a Robert Stone catharsis of the battlefield, man. That reminds of thew glowing praise that Harold attached to Stone's Dog Soldiers; I just didn't see it, maybe it would dividend now, maybe I had to have been of age at that specific time?

I was ready for Tree of Smoke but alas it wasn't in. There much to surmise from this but all shall fall to the ground. I have harbor many such observations as of late. I don't know.

I do know that I have been remiss per the Broch. I really like the vineyard of prose but i haven't performed the work. It has been nearly three years since I began this brittle echo. I still don't know what it means.

Monday, September 03, 2007


I have started the abandonment of Humboldt's Gift twice this weekend but I remain engaged. It is no Mr. Sammler's Planet.

I was truly struck by yesterday's front page review of Denis Johnson's Tree of Smoke. I will begin reading that one after I finish (or eschew) the Bellow.

Little work as of late towards the Broch. I would like to be around p. 200 before next weekend.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Straining Towards Stability

Earlier in the week there was an author's list of favorite apocalyptic novels and I was familiar with all of them except for one: How I Live Now. This rather recent novel by Meg Rosoff is aimed towards a Young Adult audience but the library had a copy and I read it in two days. I was impressed but I gather that the graphic nature of the text will prevent skittish parents and teachers from pushing the book to younger readers.

I assume that my appeal for the Aftermath genre is tantamount to my predilection for Holocaust/Genocide theory and history.

I then spent the afternoon read a play by Edward Albee: A Delicate Balance. My wife had finished it earlier in the week and found it both hilarious and acerbic.

I may spend the rest of my holiday reading some more Bellow. Humboldt's Gift, perhaps. I bought a copy this a.m. at the library sale. I also picked up more history texts by Plumb, Schlesinger and Judt.

Sounds like a law firm.