Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Eclipses and Gratitude

The week at work was truncated and I have found I am marshaling my time better. I have also been more disposed to lengthy reading in the evenings. My wife finished Broom Of The System on Monday and she was surprised that I hadn't finished it. She asked and I replied that I wasn't geared for satire after his demise and how, strangely, I found a perfect measure in Coetzee's Waiting For The Barbarians.

Following this joint outpouring, my wife stared down my Christmas book to her: What Can I Do When Everything Is On Fire by Antonio Lobo Antunes.

I have been elated in turn with Byatt's Possession and have also take a spell to consider a tandem book for us to share. My heart rate escalated as I considered Gormenhast Trilogy by Mervyn Peake. My wife went with my other selection, The Intuitionist by Colsin Whitehead.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Winter Nights

My wife stayed home sick today. This evening there was simply jazz and reading. I have started Possession by A.S. Byatt. I have no ready explanation for this, but I am enjoying it. I suspect this was what Ackroyd wanted Chatterton to be, possibly not, I suppose. The grump wouldn't admit such by any right. It is a narrow approach.

My wife noted that I took the Desai upstairs and returned with both Possession and The Woman In White. I haven't determined if i simply like surrounding myself with tomes or if I sensed my sloth and indecision and was simply larding the hamper in any case.

Inheritance of Loss

I finished such this evening. Its solace was of great benefit since yesterday. I feared middlebrow EthnoLit, or even Oprahdrivel, but was impressed by the detail and pacing, though the regard for exclamation was somewhat jarring.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Whatever The Coin

A beholden sun greeted me this morning. Drifting through the NYTBR, waffles and the first of many double espresso, I arrived at a perch, a perfect mate to that of my wife who is reading The Broom Of The System. I am noting this partially as a mnemonic device for future reference. Listening to Rosemary Clooney and then Mingus, i finished the Nero Wolfe and I was impressed. Perhaps not fulfilled, but pleased. This leads us to this familiar shore: what next. There remains a 100 pages in the pekic, though my cohorts there haven't been blazing with erudition as of late. I have found the Pepys bio likewise compelling. Since it is Sunday, I suppose i should strike out. I have the library's copy of Cross Channel by Julian Barnes in front of me. I have yet to open such and i now need to consider what cd to play next. Such decisions.

With another four day weekend immanent, I was thinking of a big push. The P and V translation of Anna Karenina appeals, greatly.

Saturday, December 27, 2008


Christmas proved relaxed yet grand. Boxing Day went to excess. I awoke and tended to a flat tire and then went to the Y. I read deeply in both the Rex Stout and the Borislav Pekic. I don't believe I will finish either of the novels today. I keep yawning, you see.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Snug With Our Books

i had a bout of malaise this afternoon, 24 hours of rain and the seasonal expectations apparently outflanked my better angels. No, I don't belief in angels elves or much else from the astral plane. I still cling to that optimism disease, so sung by Sir Salman in his Midnight's Children.

I buy a number of books for folks: it is my gift of choice. I usually buy books that I think people should read, adjusted accordingly, to their skills and focus. the exception to this is my wife. I do look for books that I think she'll like. I'd like to note what bought her now, but that will have to wait. I bought many books for friends and none of them figure in any scheme for a samizdat selection. That is a first, most likely. We had party of sorts at work today and I spent 90 minutes reading Pekic's How To Quiet A Vampire. I think I have nearly caught my friends. I do wish all a lovely holiday season.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

My Year

Our buying a house this year sent matters into a spin, at least during the summer. As ice continues to fall from the sky and I think of Orwell, my glances survey our cozy abode and I am pleased with our tree and my pint of stout. I suppose that 2666 and Life: A Users Manual were the zenith of my reading. I would place samizdat heavyweights Postwar by Tony Judt and History of Histories by John Burrows in those ranks as well. I suppose there was an element of me that wanted to dislike the Bolano, I simply couldn't nor can't imagine an objection. I attribute disappointment to the Burrows concerns samizdat and not Dr. Burrows.

Redemption Falls by Joseph O'Connor and Black Mass by John Gray both proved to be remarkable fun. I will likely imagine moving in as sweating profusely only to pause, read a novel by W.G. Sebald and then resume lifting, hauling and sweating. I read three novels by J.M. Coetzee in a little over a month and i am grateful.

There is much left to attend and discuss.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Yams and Bile

It is now the month of December. . . Loose reins are given to public dissipation.
-- Seneca the Younger (1C a.d.)

It is our good fortune that the exigencies of birth and training furnish all of us with opportunities for snobbery. -- Rex Stout

Given it is but a gob of spit north of 0 F, my head appears encased today, though I have found time to dabble in both Fer-De-Lance and the Samuel Pepys bio. My friend Roger has yielded sufficient exegesis per the Borislav Pekic and i should attend to counter-punching, though I fear that once I return from the Y I may just retire, though Archie Goodwin is developing a fast friendship with me personally, I trust to appreciate those who crack foxy, especially those who have time to ponder in the mornings and at the cinema.

Sunday, December 21, 2008


Despite the Arctic howling outside, my thoughts have clawed along today. I finished The Lemon Table earlier today. Such was an impressive collection of stories, though I considered it front-loaded. I had read the last story before, 1-2 years ago. It is strange how I found the tome impenetrable at first approach.

Levi Stahl has cited the Nero Wolfe series from Rex Stout as of late. These references endeavored a grin, as my friend Roger has sworn the appeal of such for the near 20 years that I have known him. That stated I picked up a few of his books from the library and am a third of the way through Fer-de-Lance. I also bought a copy of Claire Tomlain's biography of Pepys (Mr. Stahl also mentioned this the other day). I have read the first chapter and cringed on occasion when the author leans towards suppositions which I find outside of reasonable authority. That said, I find her approach akin to that of Peter Ackroyd and thus worth the time in terms of pleasure, if not absolute edification. That trip to the shop yesterday also netted gifts for friends: Donald Kagan's book on the Peloponnesian War for Mark and Stones of Summer for Steve, who really liked Stone Reader.

While gathering my rasher of of Nero and Archie novels i also grabbed the Cross Channel collection from Julian Barnes; on impulse I checked to see how many uses his Nothing To Be Afraid Of had accrued since I read in October. Alas, this pithy memoir which was recently named one of the 10 notable books of the year by the NYT hasn't been checked out since I did.

Thursday, December 18, 2008


I went to the Y for the fourth time this week, that is six hours total. I am curious as to why I haven't found any traction toward a new novel. I don't believe it is time on the stair-climber which mandates this haze. This evening I read the first story from The Lemon Table by Julian Barnes. Such was an immediate success.

There has been a great deal of tension at work, though such appears to be over. I have to cancel with my parents for Saturday as I would rather discuss The black Swan and Post-American Globalism with Mark as we search for Orthodox trees amidst a firing squad of Guinness pints. Sorry, dad, I don't care much for Republicans on the best of event profiles, much less late December. I think i will continue with the Barnes and crack the cover of Freeman's epic bio of Bobby Lee.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Thus Far

My week has been chewed by work, what wasn't gnashed was covered in ice and left me less than acute. I have been reading Black Sea by Neal Acherson, it was time I read some nonfiction, and I was struck last night about migrative influences as my wife and I viewed Globetrekker on Goa. To his credit, Ascherson has delivered some stunning observations, a few of which dovetail with similar sagacity by Joel. I haven't really decided upon a next novel, though I have been working hard with the Pekic for another flurry of postings.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Le Clezio

I printed and read his Nobel Lecture last week. Aspects of such have floated to the surface over the last week. I think such was bearing on my decision to check out Junot Diaz's novel for the second time. I did read the first five pages and was impressed.

I think I will read Victor Serge next, although I was thinking of Will Self's Book of Dave just now viewing a film with my wife. Pekic deserves attention and it appears likely that work will begin late tomorrow because of the ice.


The winter has left the outdoors crystalline. Because of such I was home early for a Monday. Listening to Franck and Massive Attack I finished Pelevin's Sacred Book of the Werewolf. I enjoyed it, as a homage to Nabokov, but found it somewhat light overall.

My silence was not the penumbra of 2666. I finished such Wednesday night and was thoroughly impressed. I still love Vollmann's Europe Central but nowhere within such is there such brilliant prose as that which adorns the final section of Bolano's masterwork.

I also finished a provocative little book titled How The Rich Are Destroying The Planet. This slim volume is by Herve Kempf and it was given to me by Republican friend Tim, a pilot, who had purchased such in Cologne, as it was the only book in English appearing interesting. Such appears to have been culled form magazine articles and it offered little that stands outside of my beliefs in these concerns. I find it puzzling still that Tim would purchase such.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Finding Focus

The people who throng the streets shout at each other, their voices rising from the mass of heads and floating upwards towards the church spires and the great copper bells that clang the end of the day. Their words, rising up, form a thick cloud over the city, which every so often must be thoroughly cleansed of too much language
-- Sexing The Cherry

I will likely conclude 2666 this evening. I noted to my wife last night that I wasn't prepared for the serial shifts in the final section. Impossible to summarize justly, the incandescence is throttled by the despair.

Monday, December 08, 2008

True To Form

I finished Sexing The Cherry yesterday afternoon, finding myself awed as I swept through the layered novella, rife with both poetic insight and edicts of utility and hope. Here's to an ambition for more of both.

Sunday, December 07, 2008


It is a splendid, sunny, Sabbath here in the Dead Zone, the temperature is a few degrees south of freezing and I just returned from a constitutional. Reviving a tradition, I have elected to read an entire book today. The present fare will be Sexing The Cherry by Jeanette Winterson. I first heard of the novel and author last week when browsing the blogs of those us involved with the Gaddis Drinking junket of a few years past.

A friend of mine recently wrote and inquired about Rabelais. Such confidences in the world overjoy me. I am reminded of the Frenchman in Ms Winterson's tale of a giant and her son living in London shortly after The Restoration. There is a paragraph early in the work describing the fascination of a child being enveloped in a fog bank. This recalled the opaque clouds rolling in from the Atlantic at dusk and swallowing the Moroccan coast.


Somewhere between Kind of Blue and My Man Godfrey I finished V. II of 2666. My thoughts have been obviously akimbo, recalling, certainly, the virtual brothel of Vollmann's Royal Family.

Friday, December 05, 2008

A Queue

It has proven an early xmas.

I will likely read the Pelevin after finishing 2666.

Thursday, December 04, 2008


Perhaps I should read more about motorcycles. I can't begin to differentiate between rice rockets and hogs, aside from empirical swathes of color and lines of longitude. I am out of sorts. I was able to to walk a good deal this afternoon, both at work and once at home. It is cold and bright, not a bad arrangement.

I read a great deal as well and am now past p. 500. The litany of discovered corpses leads me to thoughts on the disposable. Why not free associate amongst mulching, needle exchanges and the NAFTA of online exploitation?

Wednesday, December 03, 2008


I have a hatred of habit and routine. And what dogs love is just that. They like regular everything, and I don't have regular anything. I have a timetable, but no routine
- Lucien Freud.

I read great deal before work. The thematics of this middle section, an icy analysis of each murder victim punctuated with the quirks of those interior characters involved in the aftermath has left me exhausted. I am also battling the first footholds of a cold.

My new copy of War and Peace arrived today.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008


I don't care much for end of year lists. The Guardian's bent remains an exception. The premise is todetermine a heady roster of notables and then ask them what books influenced them most over the course of the year. While there remains a common cluster of fascination over new releases, there is, more importantly, a peek into which books, however obscure, are regarded as meaningful by intellectual elites. For instance, I learned this week that Monica Ali loves the HBO series The Wire, and has endorsed the novels of Richard Price along similar lines. I was also pleased to discover that Simon Schama was moved by the tales of Alvaro Mutis.

My reading has been slowed these past two days, I haven't felt well and work looms hectic and i had leaves to rake this afternoon. Still, I found the below profoundly affecting:

A Salvadorean immigrant found the body behind the Francisco I School, on Madero, near Colonia Alamos. It was fully dressed, and the clothes, except for the shirt, were intact. The Salvadorean was accused of the homicide and spent two weeks in the cells of Police Precinct #3, at the end of which he was released. When he got out he was a broken man. A little later he crossed the border with a pollero. In Arizona he got lost in the desert and after walking for three days, he made it to Patagonia, badly dehydrated, where a rancher beat him up for vomiting on his land. He was picked up by the sheriff and spent a day in jail and then he was sent to a hospital, where the only thing left for him to do was die in peace, which he did.