Thursday, February 25, 2010

Etgar Keret

There are only a few collections of stories that resound in my memory. Winesburg, Ohio and Dubliners are the most likely suspects. The Girl on the Fridge will likely enjoy such privileged company. There is a seamless sleepy exploration to all the pieces. I finished the collection just across the Indiana border on the drive back Tuesday.

A more surprising comment relates to Sea of Poppies by Amitav Ghosh. I can't condemn it, though I do relish the trashing of a vaunted book. Snarkless, I am left to ponder. Did Ghosh consider the parallels between his planned trilogy and Pirates of the Caribbean? The anxiety of influence must still rule the day.

Opposed to most sequential groupings, I would hardly consider this a stand-alone read. Those prone to frustration should certainly avoid it.

Sunday, February 21, 2010


I slept like the dead last night. Something must be proper in this Illinois air. Weak humor aside, I have spent the morning pondering my disposition. I read 70 pages of Mating by Norman Rush yesterday. Despite Matt Cheney's cheering, I may be losing hope. I have Sea of Poppies in the car and only 140 pages remain. It isn't as if I bought seven books last night.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Uncommon Reader

The above by Alan Bennett was delight and I thoroughly enjoyed spending Friday with it and relished such from cover to cover.

We are in Chicago and I went to the Powell's in Hyde Park this evening. I only found two of the four volumes of Orwell's collected nonfiction but also found a number of novels. It has been a challenging reading week with the Olympics hovering overhead.

We shall see.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

My Occupation

Adrift on the Sea of Poppies as yet another alabaster blanket places our metropolitan area on pause. I recognize that isn't a sound sentence, much as most deposited here isn't really writing, just note-taking for future references and fictive conversations pertaining to, what i read then.

Ghosh is good, hardly great. He has an ear for dialogue and the gray slush between two tongues.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

A Portal

I reread Slowness by Milan Kundera yesterday, at one point listening to Nirvana Unplugged. It appears strange to admit that I haven't listened to Nirvana much in the last decade. I first read Slowness in Indianapolis on a rainy Saturday in 1996 at a small cafe called MT Cup. What a prescient novel! The swarming notions of the dancer and the invisible audience, the fleeting spotlights of History and the piercing notion that only in Humiliation can Contemporary Man find meaning albeit ephemeral: all of this was riveting.

The snow has begun again. I have been occupied with Amitav Ghosh.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Hybridity or Flummery?

I took yesterday off, given the blanket of snow everywhere. I opened and completed two books in the course of a lovely day: The island of Doctor Moreau and Time's Daughter by Josephine Tey. I was supposed to have read the latter in Frank Thackeray's European History seminar in 1989. I don't believe that I completed it. Were any other of Frank's students assigned this engaging albeit queer choice for a survey course? I enjoyed it immensely whereas the Wells sort of hung there inchoate. Today unveiled a thaw of sorts and I was allowed to accompany Dantes upon his escape; his vengeance quickly follows.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010


High tides of alabaster have blanketed this poor city. I am here at work, a skeleton cast on stage, each of us with myriad roles. We have progressed from Bach Cello Suites to The Bends and it isn't even lunch time.

Dantes escaped from prison last night. There is something transportive in Dumas, certainly his characters edge to the wooden, but it is a riveting fire side tale.

Monday, February 08, 2010

A Point Dodged By Dr. Vessels

Every library is autobiographical. - Alberto Manguel

I snatched the above from a recent post by Levi Stahl. Such became tangible when Joel pointed to our shelves and noted, there is a sense of order to this.

Heady Times

Joel was in town, while dampening actual reading time, his presence did prop open possibilities for future endeavors as well allowing our library an opportunity to shine. I need to thank my wife for changing the light in the first room.

Speaking of my beloved, she started 2666 last night. I hope to soon. She coyly inquired as to whether this joint venture is an escape route from the Proust.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Of Ice and Two Stories

Another glazing outside, just another weekend. I discovered the author Elizabeth Bowen the other night. I haven't quite plunged but i am interested. I finished Amulet by Bolano the other day. My devotion was whetted early in the novel with one of the more transportive paragraphs outside of Proust. Unfortunately i felt it lagged after that crest. Perhaps the thematics troubled me. I have a friend much in the straits of the Mother of Mexican Poetry and i worry about her. That leaves only Nazi Literature in the Americas as far as my own cache of Bolano. I have decided, note the the conjugal assurance, that my wife and i are going to read 2666. It has been over a year since my initial reading and i think about the novel constantly.

Last weekend I read The Last Day of Mohammad Atta by Martin Amis. I worry about Marty. The other day I picked up the collection Encyclopedia of the Dead by Danilo Kis and began the title story. My momentary reaction was that it was sloppily culled Borges, then I read another page and was enchanted.

Chateau d'If

Danglars was one of those calculating men who are born with a pen behind their ear and an inkwell instead of a heart. To him, everything int he world was substraction or multiplication, and a numeral was much dearer than a man, when it was a numeral that would increase the total(while a man might reduce it). - Dumas

Tuesday, February 02, 2010


Life has descended. I sit, not exactly poised. I finished The Hound of the Baskervilles this afternoon. I can't say I enjoyed it. Phosphorous and fog couldn't save snubbed heirs and whispers of incest.

I need to post on the Proust progress. A number of projects have crowded the view, but that will need to wait.