Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Thus, Ahead

The gentle weather has allowed great passage in Greene's The Man Within, I have proceeded well into the second half. there are some striking similarities with Gun For Hire. The idea of the fugitive meeting a woman and finding a measure of solace in simply the word "friends." Both fugitives also have smallish hands and wrists. Sleeping under sacks also appears to be a common lot for those on the lam. Norman Sherry speculates that the chase thematic in his early novels is important to Greene as it explores his guilt of being bullied as a child. Sherry goes a great distance (I am presently at page 135 in the first volume of biography) to delineate how his father, who was the headmaster at Graham's school, damaged such a sensitive boy with his institutional homophobia. Alas, many feel (friends and family, decades after the fact) that extensive Jungian psychoanalysis salvaged Greene's creativity from the muck of suicidal self-hatred.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Gun For Hire

It was a premature beginning to the Greene marathon. I read this early novel, Greene's effort at a thriller which anticipates Brighton Rock in its icy approach. there is a section towards the end where a group of medical students are involved in hazing and the collective cruelty maintained is another variation on the The Destructors. All in all, I have to admit i was thinking of Jim Thompson as this nihilistic fable ends in bloodshed.

Sunday, June 28, 2009


No, I won't digress on the recent French film where systemic torture is endeavored to achieve transcendence. Instead, I am stating my project for the month of July. I have never been known for literary monogamy. Not since my 20s when Dostoevsky, Pynchon and Alejo Carpentier could keep me riveted for months on end have i been able to execute a sustained presence in the work of any other. I purchased all three volumes of Norman Sherry's biography of Graham Greene. For the month of July i will only read that biography or works by Greene himself.

All The More

Finishing Shadow Country Friday afternoon, I struggled to assess the final third, Mr. Watson's confession, as it were. Opposed to, say, Ahab, Watson always appears to be reacting to perceived injustice. His hand is forced, so to speak, by obstacles to his intrinsically wrought destiny of success, a permanent retort to his humble, abusive, childhood during Reconstruction.

As I noted earlier, I found the Watson section redundant, especially after the crescendo of the prior period where Lucious Watson, scholar and reprobate, is witnessed struggling with the historian's vigilance to discover what remains in terms of his father's (and his own) legacy. That middle section ranks with Faulkner and Warren: bards of the vanquished in this American Dream.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Down From The Summit

Nightmares of Kristallnacht braced for a trying day. I love what I do for a living. The closing sections of Shadow Country remind me of the Brothers Karamazov's concluding court room sessions, where Dostoevsky's brilliant images from earlier in the book are distilled through sparring vernaculars: legalistic and teluric. The devil is in the discrepancies but it can glaze the reader. I will likely finish such by Friday.

Monday, June 22, 2009

All This Listing

The meme of the moment, the whip-quick need to think, quickly, of fifteen books which has reverberated within the reader, affected one's speech and thoughts: this is quite project. Nothing discretionary, no bests thereof.
Such has spread, like Hemingway, gradually then suddenly, especially on samizdat shores. Here's three books i culled form friend's lists which I am not overly familiar with.

Schlesinger’s The Crisis of the Old Order
Taylor’s The Fall of the Dynasties
James Gould Cozzens/Guard of Honor

Here's my list
1)Gravity's Rainbow
2) The Tin Drum
3) Great Gatsby
4) Ghostwritten
6)Brothers Karamazov
7)Infinite Jest
9) Great Expectations
10) Terra Nostra
12) One Hundred Years of Solitude
13) The Sound and the Fury
14)Miss lonelyhearts
15)Fathers and Sons

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Post-Tempest Tippling

I don't recall many weeks of this impressive emotional caliber. It has been a challenge. Throughout such I am, and have been, grateful for the folks who care about me as well as the transportive prose of Matthiessen. I am now in the final section of Shadow Country and a tinge of sadness, perhaps prompted in other realms, has crept into my reading.

There was a bubble of interest on samizdat pertaining to Moby Dick but that was soon swallowed by the magnitude of Joel and Lena's wedding in Greece: bravo, brave ones. Only joshing towards the feral one, but i am pleased about this decision to pursue late-term maturity.

What's on the horizon? Hartley's Go-Between, Orwell's Burmese Days and a pursuit of a summer project through the work and biography of Greene.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

A Sudden Decompression

Seldom anymore is the riveting thrill of a coveted book. Indianapolis provided a few last month. Consequently, I was rather stunned to find the book on the left at a charity shop last week for 77 cents. It isn't the material, I have all the work enclosed but simply the package. I have never been one to collect first editions or leather bound tomes, this one is special, in my estimation
I am struggling right now to be optimistic.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Holding My Breath

It has been a productive time in both the Melville and the Mathiessen. I am thankful and despite my debt to Nietzsche, those productive errors deserve some attention. I find the haunting navigation of Shadow Country to be of specific merit today:

A house can have a bloody rape and murder or shelter folks who live good
churchly lives--either way don't mean nothing to them rats. Gnaw a hole in your
body or your Bible, just depending.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Drain-pipe Skulking

The playoffs are over. There is no margin for idiot excuses. Our summer program at work is functioning and I hope to finish Shadow Country by late next week.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Given To Dry

My dripping appears intermittent, given the relative humidity, though the shelving has proved fascinating. I have only made it to book II in Shadow Country, though that should not serve to diminish this as a work.

Likewise in Moby Dick I read the Quarter Deck section yesterday, impressed as the reader encounters the first mention of the titular nemesis and how, consequently, Ahab bends currency like human will in the wake of the natural and infinite. His proclamation that he would pummel the sun if so slighted retains a gravity that even us, cynical readers, can appreciate

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Ersatz Hubris

I am presently wet. My drenched state relates directly to my shelving efforts upstairs. I am incapable of such actions without concurrent imagining of future reading lists. As noted on that hulking bricolage below, I have thought often of Orwell lately, Greene's travel books as well.

It Is A Drag

The heat and the NBA Finals conspire to pilfer my spirits. I should be able to manage affairs better at this point. Shadow Country continues to inspire, I have used it during the reading aloud periods of our summer workshop, I find it more effective than the E.T.A. Hoffmann that I was previously using. I also simply enjoying reading in vernacular; those familiar with my accent will enjoy the qualification.

I often think that Joel's gift subscription of the Economist has proved to be truly wonderful and debilitating addition/intrusion into my life. Let us keep our pocket sympathies close, for the wolves are just over that yonder hill.

Last weekend I bought a copy of 1984 with an introduction by Thomas Pynchon. Aside from that authorial bonus, I think I would like to reread that novel soon.

When I die, I will see the lining of the world.The other side, beyond bird, mountain, sunset.
--Czesław Miłosz

Monday, June 08, 2009

A Fix

Ministry of Pain was finished last Thursday at Bank Street. It was quite chilly (58 F) and the place was placid. I feel good about finishing a novel there.

I have since made headways with Shadow Country, spending most of the weekend in its wake.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

East of Oakland

The fog bank of hypertension has paused and parted, yielding an unexpected vista. Palpable peace and earnest reflection are just where they were dropped in the heat of labor. Ministry of Pain is an important novel, though its total absorption is contingent, I imagine, upon some sort of proximity to the strife and displacement of the detailed events. It isn't a question of the indigenous, so to speak, but an awareness of the complex issues filtered through the prism of the expatriated.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Quincy Jones

Croats would eat their kruh, while Serbs would eat their hleb, Bosnians their
hljeb: the word for bread in the three languages was different. Smrt, the word
for death was the same.

I read the above passage from Dubravka Ugresic's Ministry of Pain to my wife the other night. Not only did she assist in my pronunciation, she related that as a child, she learned to ask for kruh at the store by her grannie's (Pakrac, Croatia) but to ask for hleb at the market by her flat (Belgrade).

Thus, the book has an awkward relevance for me. The protagonist holding fort over a peer group of myriad refugees in late 90s Amsterdam. Ugresic explores the haunted ease of speaking in a third language, avoiding the implications with one's expatriates. I am midway through the book, the protagonist returns to Zagreb and finds herself in that peculiarly Kunderan displacement, the haggard non-state status relegated to the exile returning home.

I need to climb back on board in Moby Dick. Facilitating such may be a challenge as the NBA Finals begin tomorrow night and my inclinations appears geared towards Balkan history at the moment.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Because of Such

Stress elsewhere has left this arid. i have been reading, finished Measuring The World on Sunday and have kept hacking away at Centology Central flourishing ahead of p. 200 in Moby Dick after some Melville jawing with Roger.

I have been impressed with our local library since the late 1990s, especially their reserves of foreign fiction. Such has dried up in recent years but imagine my satisfaction when I saw that the institution had acquired 2666.