Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Seasonal Bliss

Back in his bachelor days, my best friend Joel once considered approaching a daunting female. I told the good doctor that her husband was crazy , perhaps he should reconsider. Joel retorted that chap likely wasn't sufficiently crazy to drive to New York after becoming aware of the deed. Nothing ever happened and his thesis was left untested, thank God.

I find myself similarly bent today, ecstatic about the weather, singing along with Old 97s while driving back from Louisville and essentially grinning like the proverbial nosher.

Yesterday afternoon I couldn't find our Sigur Ros cd. The arid state of samizdat needed an injection. I though supplying a cache of annotations for House of Meetings would suffice. Consequently I reread all 65 pages up to the point of my previous pause. I've had to revise my opinion; this is a remarkable novel. perhaps it isn't as strong as other Marty matters, but it is quite a voyage.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

First Pitch

Echoing the bliss of last summer's Greeneland Expedition, I have hastily decided to spend the next month with V.S. Naipaul. I ordered the authorized biography The World Is What It Is by Patrick French and a friend and I retrieved such on Friday. That afternoon I went to IUS and established a borrower's account I also checked out A House For Mr. Biswas. Nerdy it might be, but there is a thrill in the churn.

I read Naipaul's first novel The Mystic Masseur in two days and found it a delightful farce, though leaving an acid trail like Kazan's Face In The Crowd.

Two chapters in, French's biography is proving to be well researched and the interviews with N himself emerge like a Leviathan from the very depths, perhaps like the first reel of summer film.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Juno and Juliet

I was not familiar with Julian Gough until I read this screed about six weeks ago. Impressed by the pluck, I was overjoyed to verify that our public library had a copy of his novel Juno and Juliet. there is little explain my recent predilection for smug coming of age novels from the British Isles, but i certainly enjoyed this one and look forward to Gough's literary future.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Not Quite Sure

Sunday afternoon I was out on the front porch reading Jane Eyre when I noticed a commotion across the street. My neighbour approached, which is odd: she seldom waves and will usually turn around if she sees me outside. She asked if I witnessed her dog and another animal interacting inappropriately, she said that her dog was in heat and had escaped from the house. I told her that I hadn't been aware of anything until she began yelling. I then smiled and said, Spring is in the air. I couldn't tell if she was pleased.

It has been an odd week. Samizdat is reading House of Meetings. Judging by its first 25 pages, I gauge it being below the fillet of Amis' work.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Whither Fante

There was a considerable grain tempering my reception Ask The Dust; most notably was its championing by Bukowski: it should be noted that I read Bukowski quite late, prompted by Jake Pfau and amplified by Joel's largess, that said, I can't consider him the highest authority. That accepted, Fante didn't pen a Call It Sleep for the city of angels, no, he sought the tales of the forgotten, the failures, the casualties of life, those demi-people who percolate most noticeably in urban hives. This was shimmering novel of pain, poverty and poetic meditation on the flaccidity of the flesh.

Ask The Dust belongs in an arc which includes Hunger, The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter and Death On The Installment Plan. Like all literature of the hidden and dispossessed, there is a great deal of Dostoevsky active in its pages, especially that of The Gambler. One could note the Americaness of it all, the son of immigrants who resorts quickly to slurs in times of duress. Such is not unique to the novel and it isn't quite prominent within. Fante's painting the locale of Los Angeles as haunted by failure and dust is a worthy achievement.

I want to thank Ed for this selection.

I finished Crow Road Thursday evening and felt that it ultimately attempted a turn of narrative which left me cold, if not annoyed. It materializes that a family drama alebit rife with tension errant subplots becomes a murder intrigue in the final 90 pages with cardboard culprits and serial implausibility. Shame, shame.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Micked It

Its been a grand week. No real writing, but what else is new? I am nearly finished with Crow Road.

My friend Ed surged ahead and finished Ask The Dust. I 'll begin such soon.

I imagined that the book on the Six Day War by Michael Oren would be the first nonfiction book of the year for me, but alas McMafia by Misha Gleny has vaulted it in the queue.

Thanks to my wonky friend Pint i am also considering another grapple with Ulysses.

Monday, March 15, 2010

John Fante

Some weeks back my friend Ed called and expressed interest in Fante's Ask The Dust. We are going to read such this week.

Drifting away from the schedule, I am customarily cutting my teeth on Crow Road by Iain Banks. There is a surfeit of joys in this life.

The Golden Calf

My interest in this comic jewel was fuelled by Lizok's Bookshelf and thus I was pleased to find a copy at Powell's last month in Chicago. The daring adventures of Ostap Bender and his cohorts all across the Soviet Union in the aftermath of the NEP proved to be hilarious, albeit cloaked in irony given the climate of the late 1930s.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Amis and Aging

Perhaps as a counterpoint to the foamy misery of Basara and Antunes, I chose to pursue The Information by Amis. The novel is surprising in its bile, its angle being the perils of turning forty and unsure of what remains, what validation for the graying domesticated, which the world hasn't embraced for his alleged aesthetic vision. The idea of retreating to substances is certainly a familiar one, even if only beer is often my own foxhole. This shelter from reality remains a skewed one.

Not A Review

Since I lack any real problems, only being burdened with emotional issues and heightened complexes (Arthur Koestler anyone?) I was greeted today by my regret of not buying Durrell's Avignon Quintet in an Oxfam in Oxford, UK back in 2004. How's that for baggage?

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Taking Leave

One of the pulsating memories of Edmund White's biography of Genet is that Saint Jean always had difficulties closing a letter.
Funny that I recall that.
Nabokov once almost bragged about his homosexuality in terms of literary tastes. I thought about that early this a.m. You see, I have been reading Jane Eyre for about a week now. I have also started The Information by Martin Amis.

I love both of these novels. As much as my friend Joel loves the Rabbit character of Updike, Amis is light years ahead, I'm afraid. What do I know? I also said that every time I read Bellow I would rather be reading Faulkner. Well, maybe not every time and, lord knows, not just any Faulkner.

The idea of rereading has occupied me for a bit as of late. There is somewhere in an introduction to Scarlet and the Black an aside which celebrates a scholar for reading Stendhal's masterpiece something like 90 times. I have also thought it sage to read a notable tome several times, though in practice there are few books as an adult which I have read more than twice. Too often I am quick to announce that i have read Gravity's Rainbow, The Flounder, Infinite Jest and White Teeth two times each. What was my point of this tangent?

Oh, yeah, my bisexual literary tastes include the aforementioned by Zadie, Mrs. Dalloway, and, of course, everything by sweet Carson.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Oh Joy

Being on holiday this week, the weather actually suggesting spring, I have sweetened my disposition by finishing Chinese letter by Svetislav Basara and Act of the Damned by Antonio Lobo Antunes.

This is the way things are: coats and dresses--they all walk around, lie,
love and steal: and uniforms arrest and shoot. People have minor roles in all

Such is Basara waxing bleakly in this marvelous Serbian novel from 1984. The terrifying novel from Antunes is set at a similar time in Portugal.

Just like that. Absurdity summed up by a travelling salesman--that's what my
father was--in three simple words: no real reason.

Millions of years ago, before we were married, my wife sent me another novella of Basara's Civil War Within and I was struck by its gallows humor. The themes of that book were largely political, not the personal angst of Basara's earlier work. as for Antunes, I see a great deal of Faulkner in his kaleidoscopic vision and Celline's hysteria as a soundtrack.