Tuesday, October 30, 2007

My Baggage

I am just taking The Moonstone (at p. 180) along with Middlemarch and The Charterhouse of Parma. No Eco.

Monday, October 29, 2007

So It Seems

It has been a gradual emergence from the realm of the infirm. Coinciding with this accumulation of health and spirit has been an ineffable angst about the complexity of the impending holiday. Upon orders, my wife selected a squad of texts for the trip

Difficult Loves by Italo Calvino
State of Siege by Juan Goytisolo
Sultry Moon by Mempo Gairdinelli
The Mirror of Ink by J.L. Borges

The first of these was a gift from Misty some years ago. A friend asked about her today and I had no news. N actually bought me the Goytisolo and the Gairdinelli.

I read a good deal of The Moonstone today and will likely continue this evening.

From Right-On To Neo-Con

I hate to spend so much effort merely linking to more intriguing posts than I can scaracely manage, but this was spot on, pardon the britishism.


Sunday, October 28, 2007

A Few More Curiosities

There is a conversation below between Cormac McCarthy and the Cohen brothers.


I also read the brief interview in NYT about Pierre Bayard and his book about the essence or irrelevance of reading and how to to discuss books you haven't read. I found the subject fascinating.

Highlights of a Year thus struggled

2007 has been defined more by books on the Middle East, especially the notable Robert Fisk, than upon many works of fiction especially the highly anticipated Against The Day by Thomas Pynchon which proved titanic in scope and thus beyond the haggard layman mining it for pithy insights into an economic history of the west between 1880 and 1914. If I was one to wager a novel for the year it would likely prove to be Voss by Patrick White. This was a stunning display of narrative across time and blistering inlands of Australia which kept reminding me oddly enough of Texaco by Caribbean novelist Patrick Chamoiseau.

Peeling the Onion by Gunter Grass will last in my memory for myriad justifications, most notably the heartache I felt when wrestling with the master's confession and then that memorable meeting of the minds when Grass encountered Joel Vessels (and not vice versa) and what remains to be said?

There was a trio of books by Peter Ackroyd which inspire but do not overwhelm. I suppose that was also my interest in Neal Stephenson and my second reading of Quicksilver. Anthony Powell proved flat and Graham Greene wasn't. I loved Mr. Sammler's Planet but felt undercut by the cheapness of Humboldt's Gift.

Both Tree of Smoke and Wizard of the Crow were overrated. Conversely, The Savage Detectives was actually greater than its surfeit of press could establish. Their were other infatuations and rereadings, a nod to Bartlby as I prefer not to dwell -- not extensively, such only proves to depress. I hope to anchor myself to the weighty carcasses of that distant age of novels, a melding of dear Hobsbawm's Capital and Empire. I don't wish to be glib, not under these circumstances but it does prove difficult to decide and then to execute.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Braiding the Dough

These days have proved sparse, contending with the weight of the phlegm and the often stony burden of the workplace, there has been little time for expression. The course of reading, conversely, has sought a genre route of a few novels by Boris Akunin. It is questionable whether I benefited from reading the third novel Turkish Gambit first as it is nearly unique in its understatement, its dearth of cliche. I have to admit enjoying it. I finished the first novel Winter Queen this evening and it proved to be shit. I loathed its serial twists and its inane improvisations of contemporary surveillance through the prism of a 1870 context.

I have gathered a rasher of books for our trip and it appears to be a largely 19th Century offering. It is difficult to form expectations for this trip's reading as I don't possess a ready estimation of North Africa. The template is bare. I am sure that the rolling continuum of time spent in airports across the three continents will yield a number of novels. Certainly Stendhal and Eliot will be pursued and I am partial to taking a few Dickens and perhaps a Dreiser.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Two Years Ago

I read Child of God and posted upon this brilliant novel.

Elder Drainage

I continue to be bottled by a sapping sickness in my sinuses and lungs. I did finish Wizard of the Crow the other night and felt, to a degree, that it would've benefited from a 20 percent reduction, a mitigation of the serial chases and internments which while typifying the Ruler's regime did little to actually establish a Logos of the post-colonial nightmare.

i thought about reading Thomas Paine after hearing Christopher Hitchens yesterday on NPR. I may.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Canadian Celebrity Exposes

Whatever cyber-flu I contracted from Joel has left me grounded all weekend. Actually it hasn't been such a bad direction as I have slept almost 14 hours a day and I have read 350 pages, who's to say if I don't find sleep with any facility, perhaps I will consider what to read next.

The character's name is actually Machokali, which portends a third element, I suppose. The middle of the book explores the rivalry between the various ministers and leaders and it isn't as engaging as the sections devoted to the Wizard in "his" two person form.

Saturday, October 20, 2007


I sat outdoors for over a hour on hold last night, smoking a Punch, and pondering the queue for customer service. I came inside after becoming quite cold and was browsing my Oxford Illustrated when my wife asked if it would be prudent to try as well with those elusive bastards at ATT. She called and seven minutes later had related the issued about the lowered line outside our house. I felt stupid and hung up.

This a.m. I awoke feeling rather congested. I spent the a.m. outdoors reading and have reached p. 200 of the book. If for nothing else, the book is fantastic in its use of names like Machiakali, that addendum of intrigue and destruction

Friday, October 19, 2007

A Stillness

Too meager progress this week: soul-stbbing stress and poor time management. Hope to read 200 pages this weekend. Typing one handed while waiting for ATT helpline to report storm damage to the exterior line.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Storm Watchers

Sometimes I just need Dickens. Life has been in an uproar these past few days and while I have sought to read Wizard of the Crow, I have not always found the succor at hand. Two weeks or so ago while lost between books I again picked up Dombey and Son and enjoyed an intermittent segue further into this bejewelled tale which I hope can maintain its placement in my truck. The first chapter ends on a moribund note, one that manages a ripe measure of being and applies the appropriate poetry thusly.

Thus, clinging fast to that slight spar within her arms, the mother drifted out upon the dark and unknown sea that rolls round all the world.

I have gasped a few times when encountering that unassuming sentence. I have needed such throughout this week.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Release Me

I finished The Golden Compass last night and it proved apt. As noted tirelessly before, the genres of science fiction and fantasy do little but irk me, even from under the gown of it being so philosophical, man.

My experience with Philip Pullman began two years ago when I bought the New Yorker Holiday fiction issue and was drawn to this iconoclast who incredibly penned his anti-clerical tales of hedonism and sub-atomic particles for children? Fast forward to the present and if it weren't for the impending release of the first film installment of the His Dark Materials trilogy I likely wouldn't have gambled. As it is, I did. My recent drought has to be considered pivotal to this decision as was the tardy delivery of the Economic History of the Reich.

That said, the brief holiday has spotted me not only the chance to read the text in multi hour blocks but a chance to reach out to the suburban wares of the local Half Price outpost. I bought Wizard of the Crow among other things and I have forestalled all other wagers to try to finish this by our departure. I would really like to read read the Dylan Thomas play but Ngugi Wa Thong'O will have primacy for the time being.

Thursday, October 11, 2007


I tip my hat to Doris Lessing and will be taking The Golden Notebook along with a selection from Philip Pullmann and a play by Dylan Thomas.

Off to Chicago

Monday, October 08, 2007

Gaucho Vino

I finished Fiasco on Saturday, reflecting on a situation rife with failure and how, paradoxically, it is impossible in our "free-est" society we can't debate corrective measures to such a dilemma.

It simply isn't done.

Perhaps Seymour Hersch is right and we should pull out tomorrow. There would be retaliations and killing sprees but simply at normnal speed as opposed to the frame-by-frame crescendo of terror which we are witnessing today.

I don't know what I want to read next. I have spent considerable time with Trevor-Roper and Arendt these last few days.

I wasn't implying that either Mr. Parish nor Mr. Wimp were brownshirts. I supplied the Foucault to address the myriad queries as to why "Ordinary Men" always fill the ranks for the death squads.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Ed and Lloyd

"The strategic adversary is fascism... the fascism in us all, in our heads and in our everyday behavior, the fascism that causes us to love power, to desire the very thing that dominates and exploits us." -- Michel Foucault, in the introduction to the philospohical masterwork Anti-Oedipus


I think I am going to take Maximum City with me to Chicago next week. As for the overseas bit, I am thinking of taking along Braudel's study of the Mediterranean as well as Middlemarch by Eliot.

Joel once cautioned me against reading Braudel, I am quite eager to hear an update of his objections, should he maintain them

Upended Honor

I am right at p.225 in Fiasco. My shock has been softened by Ricks' frequent contributions to Frontline as well as the gauntlet of NPR forums.

I have surmised a number of other institutional failures and such is near to keeping me awake at night. I am going to attempt a short-term ban on buying any books before we leave for Morocco.

Monday, October 01, 2007


I did conclude the Ferguson last night. It was an enjoyable if puzzling text. The greatest emphasis was upon appeasement and the relative economies of the subsequent war's pivotal nations. The text also featured a stilted epilogue with hovered over the drift towards thermonuclear war during the Cuban Missle crisis and then, oh yeah, bad things happened in both the Balkans and Rwanda, but hey, we aren't as eager yet to kill one another by the millions.

I have read nearly 100 pages of Ricks' Fiasco today, a gift from my wife. It is disturbing but not nearly as much as the Fisk. Ricks is a journalist and quite the capable one. He doesn't have vision of Fisk but Fiasco remains an engaging text.