Monday, March 30, 2009

Under A Lash

The gnout of work has resumed, though the differential between that and my holiday, per se, remains minimal. I was ultimately disappointed in Ascherson's Black Sea, the text teetered between travel literature and an unusually jumpy approach to the migratory dynamics of the Black Sea region, which by its size dismisses quick generalizations.

I am almost 300 pages into Book of Memories and remain at about p.150 in the Pope's Rhinoceros. One of recent acquisitions has been whispering to me. George Gissing's New Grub Street continues its beckon.

Saturday, March 28, 2009


I read last week that Yevgeny Zamyatin was working on a novel at the time of his death in exile in France; the novel concerned the time of Attila, which he found similar to the conditions of his own age.

A week of hard labor was punctuated with a trip to Cincinnati and a side effort at Ohio Books. While there, i purchased Henri Pirenne's Mohammed and Charlemagne which, strange enough, I proceeded to read in two sittings. My attractions to history have always been on its fault lines, its mutations and its enkindling of ideas and virtues. The Pirenne satisifed those criteria quite well.

I have bought nine other books this week, though Poor People by W.T. Vollmann has proved heartbreaking during the half hour i devoted to it this afternoon. I have been reading Neal Ascherson's Black Sea all day and will likely conclude such tonight. WE are having a carpenter work on our bathroom and thus any and all agendas have been duly circumscribed.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Well Now

Our holiday has unzipped slowly. I have begun a pair of novels: Book of Memories by Peter Nadas and Our Mutual Friend by Dickens. I decide to prowl in the samizdat archive to sense my responses to the Nadas back in January of 2001. Apparently the Inauguration of Bush 43 and my own personal neuroses kept me from writing with any substance about Book of Memories.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

After Tranquility

The title is also pun on my own blues in light of aborted holidays. I hope to exhibit further maturity over the next week. Chad Post certainly ruffled a few feathers with his selecting Tranquility as the best translated book of 2008. Leaving any dispute behind, I will establish that I marvelled at the structure of the novel and I have never had had so many folks inquire about borrowing a book in the future. Despite its sheen, I would hesitate to term this text as "only" a novel of the Warsaw Pact, as except for lingering subplots involving exile and state sanctions, Tranquility remains a strident portrait of a family of artists and the tension within.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Oh Well

The same wheel which allowed an unexpected joy has spun again to the sour. We aren't going to the beach and I am not planning on reading anything next week but Nadas' House of Memories. I still have Tranquility to complete, only some seventy pages to go. I am kind of pushing for a few days in St. Louis or elsewhere, I think disconnection may be crucial these days.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Upon Consideration

Congestion holds me at a stalemate. I can't find the lithe step to outflank such. I have enjoyed the morning, Madredeus and Sigur Ros, while making further progress with Lawrence Norfolk. I believe I will defer a second trip to the new Bank Street Brewhouse tomorrow and continue to heal and perhaps finish Tranquility.

An unexpected turn of events has brought a beach holiday back into action and I am planning my chest of texts for time by the sea. I am definitely taking The Kindly Ones and Book of Memories by Peter Nadas. The latter is to continue this Magayar vibe from Bela Tarr as well as to settle a humiliation dealt by my good friend Roger and only postdated by eight years. I was also thinking of taking the Danzig Trilogy but we shall see in that regard.


Perhaps Nietzsche was the philosopher of illness, my own stake has acheived an observation: there are two varieties of illness, those which allow reading and those that smother such. While hardly a encompassing contium, the reason stands that I tumbled home Thursday and slept for 18 hours and was unable to lift anything, much less an eager tome. I awoke on Friday and decided that I couldn't make it out to my truck, which may have been an exaggeration, so I looked for fare within. I decided that samizdat be damned, I was going to push into The Pope's Rhinoceros and thus I did.

Monday, March 09, 2009

A Somewhat Skid

Recently I made overtures to acquire Norman Sherry's three volume biography of Graham Greene: I asked my friend Ed to look for it while in Berkeley and then actually loaded it in my cart at Better World Books (hey, it supports literacy programs and is in Indiana) but alas I never consummated such, always the maid, perhaps Henry Green was pulling my punches and loving my trigger. Last week's brouhaha about DFW and his unfinished novel in the New Yorker prompted me to stand attention and read this harrowing account of a troubled man. I may not be the same for a while.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

What Hell Was Owed

I finished The Conqueror today. Miles to the north and south tornadoes created havoc, I wish we had more Mayan terms for use. I likely won't search out the other parties of Kjaerstad's trilogy, but i thoroughly enjoyed machinations of this self-diagnosed mediocrity. He deals a fair hand to his native land and I was impressed with the somber world view.

As to guesisng my next plans I think I will grasp both Young Stalin as well as Tranquility by Attila Bartis: I dented both today and felt rewarded.

Friday, March 06, 2009


My congestion has slowly ebbed, been hacked away largely in the inky depths of night. My wife was pondering her next novel and I brought down a number of suggestions, one of which was V by Pynchon. She didn't pick that one but i wound up taking it to bed to read all of four pages before collapsing asleep. I awoke thinking that maybe samizdat would've benefited from another Pynchon as opposed to the marble dome of ideas in Norfolk's historical set piece of ideas. No worries. I did pick up a copy of Young Stalin today at Half Price and this could alter my schedule for a while.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

My distraction

this is but a taste.

A Gauntlet

My reading week has suffered. My health also took a hit from a freakish cold which ravaged my workplace. Ordinarily this would boost my reading opportunities. Such wasn't the case this week. The culprit is Bela Tarr; his device was Satantango: all seven hours and fifteen minutes of it.

I came home this evening still weedy from congestion and was greeted by my lovely Mrs. - who informed me that she has finished Bolano's Amulet. I do hope to read further tonight in The Conqueror.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Grabbing A Bounce

I found considerable spring in The Conqueror yesterday, even as my mood was pillaged by feeling congested. It is a bad habit to associate authors by geographical origin. Such presupposes national "Forms" as it were. I still ponder such, especially with respect to Scandinavia. The protagonists of Nooteboom's Rituals and Kjaerstad's Jonas Wergeland suffer from a dire ennui, a black dog with a potential lethal bite. The lead characters in Omega Minor also ponders his own conception, much like Wergeland a she takes his wife to Istanbul to explore the very spot.

My wife is reading Bolano: Amulet - which I haven't yet explored. Samizdat is revving up for The Pope's Rhinoceros. I will be spending the rest of this week with Kjaerstad, though The Kindly Ones officially arrives tomorrow.