Saturday, August 30, 2008


I didn't find any blogs which begged what books people were going to read over the holiday weekend. Hence - I am reading Georges Perec's Life: A Users Manual.

Erik satie

I feel as if it is criminal to write about books. I have been haunted by NYTBR back cover advertisement of a new book by Gene Simmons.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


It would be blase to state that Absurdistan is simply the most hilarious novel I have likely read since Lucky Jim. The humor of Kinglsey Amis arrives via the collision of middle-class manners and arid academia; douse in gin: repeat, por favor. Conversely the humor of Gary Shteyngart is precisely moral; it is the first world and its fantasies of appropriation and daring which fuel this blistering triumph. True ingestion of this masterpiece must be of a steady bent, I would suggest a pounding pace, actually.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Thus Enjoyed

I'm not sure it is possible to describe just how hard it is acquire a reputation as a drunk in Russia. -- David Remnick, Lenin's Tomb, p. 454

Erofeev stunned everyone by dying of throat cancer rather than cirrhosis of the
liver in 1990 -- Posted by Idle Words

For some reason no one in Russia knows why Pushkin died, but how to refine furniture polish --, that, everyone knows. -- Venedikt Erofeev

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


There is a reference in Erofeev's Moscow To The End Of The Line concerning Toulon to Helene; I believed it to be classical and consulted a number of volumes to no avail at the library this a.m. It was only tonight, upon consideration of the Siege of Toulon that the latter reference was elucidated - St Helena. I am slow.

Monday, August 18, 2008


Towards evening, yesterday, I did locate my copy of the Penguin Collection of New Russian Writing, which is actually 10 years old now. It is edited by Victor Erofeyev and I read the story Typhoid Quarentine by Sharamov, which is perfectly grave, as chilling as the taiga it depicts. I was hoping to find Erofeyev's Russian Beauty in the basement but I couldn't. Filling the shelves upstairs with history will lend access that jagged range of texts which occupies the entire south-eastern corner of our basement.

How odd it was then to find a marvelous copy of Vendikt Erofeev's Moscow To The End of The Line, a novel I have desperately wanted to read for years now, but was too cheap to pay $18 for a 170 page novel. My copy was $3.98 and i am elated.


Cursing the library taking its summer Sundays off, I hefted my various birthday gifts throughout the day, finding the greatest purchase, and likely enjoyment in Everything Is Cinema. I have reached the collapse of his marriage with Anna Karina and refractive experience of filming Contempt with Brigitte Bardot, Jack Palance and Fritz Lang: how he abandoned Moravia's novel to implicate and crucify his doomed relations with Anna, implicating Hollywood and all commercial compromises as the true saboteurs. I would be lying if I said that this wasn't sublime, following the feral professor, I am filling my knapsack with anecdotes, remaining charmed all along.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Enough, Then

Perhaps the surface temperature had risen because of our following the Games on late night television, I simply didn't find it engaging to follow the exploits of young Frederic, making cow-eyes at Mrs. Arnoux -- so I put down the Flaubert.

I picked up Trinities by Nick Tosches and read it in two days. Yes, it is a mob novel, but an eloquent one which baptizes with viscera and soothes to slumber with the disparate languages and rituals of the ancients. I love Tosches. he is poet and a scholar. I will likely read Cut Numbers this week.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


I prefer exuberance to taste, the desert to a pavement, and a savage to a hairdresser. Sentimental Education, p. 46

The above is yielded in the throes of irony, Flaubert appears unwilling to eschew all cafe chatter, the slashing temper of that particular piece delivered a welcome smile.

Monday, August 11, 2008


I have made enjoyable progress through the Godard book, Everything Is Cinema, which Joel bought me for my birthday. I have also begun Sentimental Education and am around p.30.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Hadji Murat

Such was chosen and completed today because of its relevance to the weekend's alarming news from the Caucuses, it proved a compelling echo to Kim. Is should go without stating, that I much prefer Tolstoy to Kipling.

My wife completed City of Thieves last night and we agree that it is a sound novel, rife with life but lacking scope and scale of Vasily Grossman and W.T. Vollmann.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

The Rud

Before reading Kim, I always imagined the protagonist as being Oliver Twist saddled with the White Man's Burden. How wrong, yet again, I have been proved to be.That said, I have enjoyed the novel immensely.

I have also made serious progress into History of Histories by John Burrow. This samizdat selection has fostered an earnest interest in Xenephon, though again, my imagining of him as a Turgenev is likely not a sound estimation. Edmund Wilson noted T's ancestors and their penchant for animal cruelty to serfs, still Ivan Turgenev didn't have to lead a mission back from the spas at Belsen.

My birthday trove has been arriving and I am a rich man in friends and conceptual pursuits.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Deja Vu

I bought City of Thieves a few weeks back after hearing a review on NPR and my wife commenting of interest upon another critic's take in the NYTBR. The demand of the house has kept my wife way from such, other than a reading fo the first chapter and so, yesterday, I read the entire novel. I found myself scratching my head at a host of instances during the reading which sounded distinctly familiar. The afterward affords Benioff the space to thank Harrison Salisbury and Curzio Malaparte for their seminal books The 900 Days and Kaputt: two works which have deeply affected me in recent years.