Saturday, April 30, 2011

More Balzac

Sitting in Chicago pondering the return drive tomorrow and the lapse of my latest holiday. I picked up The Girl With Golden Eyes the other day and completed it this afternoon, while I supervised a yard of meandering children and earned a sunburn in the process.

I have read a great deal of London Fields since I've been here, though the allure of Dhalgren has surfaced since its acquisition.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Jamestown by Matthew Sharpe

It has required an effort to remain grounded during this weather. I bounced about a bit yesterday, which is normal when I complete a book on a Sunday. I elected last night to pursue Jamestown. A plan had been formulated a month ago to pursue a series of apocalyptic novels and call it my Calamity Song Detour. After the tsunami, that didn't sound very clever. Last night, though, i decided to to go ahead sans any acclaim. I completed half of the book before bed and the concluding sections today before lunch. I appreciated the riffs on colonist journals. The pun on the Velvet Underground was especially well-received. That said, I have only hopes for Mr. Sharpe. He will outgrow these antics.

I was then all set to read Journal of the Plague Year by Daniel Defoe. I breezed outside as, imagine this, the sun was actually visible. I saw that Pym by Mat Johnson had been returned to the new fiction section along with the latest by Jonathan Coe. I grabbed both and returned home.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Pale King

A series of events have dominated my Easter. I slept through, at least, the morning rain. Arsenal lost, which overjoyed me, I completed David Foster Wallace's unfinished novel and, oh yeah, it started raining again. The penumbra of the Pale King darkened the rest of my day. I keep plotting the trajectories of the characters that DFW proffered us inchoately. This then engendered considerable thought about the nature of memories. For instance, I submit that there was an occasion last week when I mused that i read Brief Interviews With Hideous Men at Midway Airport. No, not the entire collection, mind you, but that I had read such there, between flights. That can't be true as I was last there in October, 1998, a solid year before the book was published. The memory, though, is weirdly distinct. Upon further effort, I believe I was reading a story by Rick Moody in the Paris Review, the copy I had bought a few days earlier at John King Books in Detroit.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Reading Mr. Wallace.

It has now rained for 24 hours. This condition has left me depressed. I have found solace in Manchester United and the queasy joy of The Pale King. Contrary to my usual bliss with the Latest Hot Novel (see Vollmann, Bolano, Enard etc) I have read within limits daily. I will likely complete the novel this weekend, maybe this evening but i find myself thwarted by its scattered approach. As much as there is to savor, I can't stop my interior voice from muttering, it isn't finished.

Going to Chicago soon, I am struggling whether to take along Our Mutual Friend and tackle its final 500 pages or, perhaps, Mary Barton.

Saturday, April 16, 2011


Odd weather and untimely work currents again curtailed my week's reading. I just completed Austen's Persuasion and I was left under impressed. By now well aware of contrivances and paltry of plot devices, I have to admit I was expecting more, even if that measure remains undefined. Entering contests has never held any fascination for me. It was thus surprising that I spun the wheel this week on goodreads to win a reader's copy of The Pale King. It has to be admitted that I was then somewhat disappointed to discover yesterday that I didn't win. The within minutes I discovered that the Jeffersonville library was processing a copy, I called and the nice lady in the reference department said she would complete the process if I was on the way. I was and I told her she made me day. It is odd but I can't remember actually acquiring Infinite Jest.It was the summer of 1998 and I had actually taken Moby Dick with me on a work trip. I returned home that evening , suddenly, inexplicably, I was reading David Foster Wallace. Yesterday's venture doesn't strike me today as glamorous, my spirits have been dampened by Man U's departure from the FA Cup, but I hope that the reversal of fortune will linger.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Shirley Hazzard

I picked up a pristine copy of The Great Fire last week at a charity shop. Levi Stahl had previously asserted that Ms. Hazzard requires patience and heeding such I spent the week stretching into its expansive world of lush possibility and metal-cold privation. I read a review early on, which included the following passage:
Imagine if Jane Austen had returned to travel the world in the mid-20th century and to read novelists like Henry James, E.M. Forster and Graham Greene. What might she have written? Something like Shirley Hazzard's ''The Great Fire''?

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Crushing Corners

If Georgie Best is to (Sir) Bobby Charlton as Flann O'Brien is to Anthony Powell then the universe is maintaining, if only to mock and distend. It is rather late this week and I haven't finished a book. The placidity of last week was an unlikely collision of holiday, somewhat cold weather and a dearth of league matches. I have spun about for 100 pages in Alexander Waugh's family tracings but it is the spectre of Jacques Roubaud which has indicated my present course. No more Oulipo, mind you, not for the moment but rather Roubaud's penchant for the gloomy insularity of British women; I am extending his trope to the Commonwealth, which he was quick to as well. Shirley Hazzard's The Great Fire simply works for me.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Make It Five

I completed The Great Fire of London yesterday by Jacques Roubaud yesterday. The musings on walking and reading implored by own solitary strolls in the sun stretched afternoon. The consensus was that a general thrust of the "project" was missed by me, without doubt. Roubaud's work proved to be a synarchic triumph, references to Defoe's Plague Journal appeared to even engender an account of Rooney's weekend hat trick, if possible. I have since been involved with Alexander Waugh's Fathers and Sons, a survey of his own family and their accountable Tory greatness. The politics have bothered me without a doubt. I was then misdirected by a friend and bought book i didn't need to. This afternoon, I truly value Martin Amis and William Faulkner. I hoped to read Absalom, Absalom in the next few months.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

As Diz said of Pops

Joel Vessels once said that without a Kipling, there would be no Orwell. I heave a sigh and ponder The Light That Failed, the fourth book I completed this now waning week of holiday. Kipling plunks the strings of myopia which reverberate throughout Literature, not only the legacy of Homer and Borges, the fates of Joyce and Huxley, but the fear of darkness which haunts novelists in certain manifestations like Saramago's celebrated novel of an epidemic and Nabokov's often overlooked (no pun intended) Laughter In The Dark. The fate of Kipling's protagonist may appear contrived, especially given how the novel is largely a survey of light and color. The alchemy of Art, writ proper, is the axis and alas all ambitions can be wiped away with turpentine. I have since occupied myself with Jacques Roubaud's grand project. I will likely finish The Great Fire of London this weekend but may steer away from Oulipo for the time being.