Wednesday, July 30, 2008

No Clear Decision

Dinner, downspouts and work upstairs deferred my next selection; we shall see.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008


The Figes reformed to a degree my estimation of Gorky, that is an accomplishment in itself.

I likely read After Dark too swiftly, but couldn't help myself. I cannot launch a likewise caveat for The Lemur. I am presently in limbo, pondering the "geographic expression" of both Mother Russia and Albion. The Golden Hordes of my imagination have allowed me to read deep nests concerning the Byzantines, the English Imagination and the Great Game.

Towards the novel, I am still half-cocked for a third reading of Gravity's Rainbow and am also considering Memoir of Hadrian.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Banville's Lemur

I finished such late last night, defiant in my distance from the locker room chortle echoing from the reunion (why, Joel, why) and being muffled via the ambered stillness of middle-class mediocrity: my terminal location, I'm afraid.

The Lemur struck me as a Dostoevskyan wager: much like The Gambler, it was as if Banville was challenged as to whether he could switch the locale of his crime stories to contemporary NYC and hash out a tale with a maximum of 24 hours of effort. The distance from murder to denouement is literally a few dozen pages.

I don't know what is next, though I have considered a third reading of Gravity's Rainbow.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

People's Tragedy

I finally finished it. I have to say I grew knackered with the repitition, with the internal citations to material printed ten pages later, and with the boggy disorganization. I will likely read The Lemur by Benjamin Black next, quite possibly this evening as it is humid and I am not going to the reunion.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

After Dark

I enjoyed the polished flow (one would find "ease" oxymoronic, no?) of Murakami's novella -- consisting essentially of three conversations and a few set pieces. It would be redundant to opine on the effect that M has wielded upon my life, the refreshing grounding his prose has applied to my wondering nature: I have read Murakami in four different countries, though, sadly, only in English (wink).

Monday, July 21, 2008


The Figes has brought me to the eve of the October Revolution, and some nightmares as well. There a photograph of a prisoner during the Civil War after being tortured and lynched. It caused some night terror over the weekend.

I used my gift card to buy After Dark by Murakami and then stumbled into some new books dirt cheap at the library sale and at half price: The Lemur by Benjamin Black (John Banville) and Personal Days by Ed Park, a novel first brought to my attention by Levi Stahl.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Finland Station 27.3.1917

Many of the workers who came to greet Lenin may have turned up on the expectation of free beer. -- Orlando Figes

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Geographical Expression

This remains a sensitive issue for me, though I have always afforded myself a shaded endeavor of being post-national as it were. I had ambitions of reading People's Tragedy and then The Whisperers by Orlando Figes, though a quarter of the way through the prior, I sense some hesitation on my part of reading the second volume, at this chaotic time, anyway. There aren't any novels in my immediate orbit, though Kipling's Kim, strange enough, has been on my mind a few times this past week.

I have acquired some finds this week, including that massive novel by Charles Palliser, a book on the Spanish Civil War by Beevor and another text on the Great Game, which likely explains the allure of Rudyard.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Adjusting For Wind

My reading drifted away from a second Flashman to the comforting complexity of Braudel's Mediterranean. Retracing my steps through my prior reading, I have made it to page 200, the section section of the massive text. An earlier section caught my eye with its candor and philosophical crackle:

This directs attention to the coherence of the historical areas within the peninsular boundaries. These boundaries were by no means impassable. It is mistaken to talk of 'electric' frontiers, such as Ramon Fernandez imagined surrounding Spain. Such frontiers never existed, along the Pyrenees or the Alps, any more than along the Danube, in the Balkans, or on the mountains of Armenia, an outstanding region for roads and ethnic mixtures, the Taurus mountains, the Atlas and the Sahara, south of North Africa. Nevertheless, the peninsulas are bordered on the mainland sign, from which they project, by obstacles that have hindered relations and exchanges. This in turn should not be underestimated. Paraphrasing Metternich's famous remark, Augustin Renaudet said of Italy in the sixteenth century, with its many divisions and uncertain contours . . .that it is merely a geographical expression. (p.164)

That distillation of ideas and space recall Benedict Anderson's whimsical suggestion that what if those unknown soliders, in those national memorials worldwide, aren't of their supposed nationality?

Monday, July 07, 2008


The move is now complete, the unpacking and fashioning now ring immediate. I finished Royal Flash and enjoyed it, as not previously. I cannot admit to being ready to fly into another Flashman, not just now, anyway.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Being Bjork

Not to be confused with Bejing Bjork, which would divulge our collective contradictions, alas I will wait for the film adaptation of the Kite Runner of Tibet and then likely ignore that as well. It is so good to be moral.

I am tired. I have been busy and this may be one of the last postings ever from Vincennes Street. I left Quicksilver on the porch at the new house early in the week and then read a short biography of William III. It was penned in the 50s and some of the extrapolations between W's Glorious Revolution and the then current Cold War environment appear somewhat forced with some historical hindsight, though the partisan hiring procedures of the CPA in Iraq have a historical linkage to the abortive measures employed by James II.

I have since been bitten by the ague of Flashman. It isn't fair to suggest that it is great literature but edifying and hilarious without a doubt. This vein may continue through the holiday weekend.