Monday, May 30, 2011

Bridges and the FSB

The holiday weekend has proved fecund. I completed The Invisible Bridge as well as Day of the Oprichnik by Vladimir Sorokin. Julie Orringer's epic proved quite uneven, growing sentimental during the war and losing its grace and tempo. My expectations were rudely injured during the final 150 pages.

Sorokin Week was thus inaugurated, I enjoyed the novel, finding its neo-medieval future plausible and, rather terrifying, as the House of Ruric is restored in Mother Rus and walls are established to protect against contamination from a dying Europe, overrun with Muslims, it appears.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Crossing That (Invisble) Bridge

Forty percent of the way in, Julie Orringer's transportive novel has met but not exceeded my expectations. There is a grim charm in constructing a romance just before the world goes to Hell. This is handled with appropriate pace and so far, at least, only minimal coincidences.

I had hoped that this would be Sorokin Week, but that will need to wait until June.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Friends of the Library Book Sale

I drag myself to these affairs frequently, likely attending eighty percent in a year. It is a quaint experience of acute claustrophobia punctuated with the bliss of discovering a desired book. It is a familiar group which attends these matters, most are visually familiar with one another. My friends Roger and Frank are often visible. It cab be nice but it often appears to be a controlled explosion. Such were the circumstances Saturday when I edged in, exchanged smiles with Roger and then turning ninety degrees saw upon a lower shelf, a paperback copy of Julie Orringer's The invisible Bridge. As I stepped towards the book , another man, a smallish fellow always polite, stepped forward as well, eying something on the shelf above. My lust for acquisition nearly revealed itself in a body check. owing instead to unexpected grace, I contorted myself and cleared the line like Nemanja Vidic. Yes, with book in hand.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Walking To Hollywood

Friday evening, it was thought, however erroneously, that a viewing of Sofia Coppola's film Somewhere would be of benefit as I was completing Will Self's fictional memoir. Despite the centrality of the Chateau Marmont to both narratives, Coppola's effort appeared by the numbers, numbing and a waste of time for everyone involved. Nothing could be more removed from the gripping prowess of Self's triptych.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Leaning On The Sill

It was largely a gray day, not undermining as such. The news crackles like some absurd insect I have given up swatting to keep my focus. Suketu Mehta in his biography of Mumbai, Maximum City, used an interview with Vikram Chandra to an unexpected and debatable conclusions. That concern has adorned my brow today. I shouldn't say I am slogging but find my progress there slight in comparison to the gallop through Self's Walking To Hollywood.

Samizdat is scratching its head presently, though I suspect some Zizek may be on the horizon. It may prove an encouraging time for some theory.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Freedarko Is Kaput

Honestly, I hadn't followed it regularly for years. I need to find an EPL blog of sorts. That entails work, of course.

Divide and Encircle

The last week wasn't as conducive for reading. One could blame the NBA Playoffs and the winding down of the Premiere League. The weather also improved which led to enjoyable time outside.

The weather is cold again. I am slightly rattled by life and I have begun three books in earnest. Vikram Chandra's Sacred Games is spinning with aplomb: I am into the mid 200s, a quarter of the way through that brick. Will Self's Walking To Hollywood was an unexpected surprise at the library. I feasted on 60 of its pages yesterday. What remains is the Ice Trilogy from Sorokin. It must be admitted that I am bracing for impact with that one.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Treading With Tigers

Last weekend I finally completed London Fields and then turned around promptly on Sunday and read White Tiger by Aravind Adiga. It is the protagonist's claim that he is once a generation, whereas Amis created Keith Talent, who is in my opinion one for the ages, he is certainly a contemporary Bloom, innit? Both novel find raw power in fluid language, a harsh language forged from necessity.

I have since moved to Sacred Games by Vikram Chandra, which I initially addressed back in 2008. The present appears well disposed for such.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011


Aside from the already-read Balzac, during my recent trip to Chicago I picked up Dhalgren by Samuel Delany, The Casebook of Victor Frankenstein by Peter Ackroyd and Death and the Penguin by Andrey Kurkov. All of these hover and drone for my attention.

I have to admit I admire Levi Stahl's recent submersion into political biography. My reading has become increasingly nocturnal and likewise novel-based. I would like to halt that trend and am looking forward to a possible development this summer.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011


After the delightful Balzac detour I spent the remainder of our time in Chicago with London Fields. It has been a welcome companion upon returning to work, though global events have been pushing Steve Coll's Ghost Wars in my direction. I also picked a copy of Mark Kurlansky's book about the events of 1968, it cost me a quarter. We shall see.

Today is election day in our hamlet and while Soyinka reminds us that post-election fatalities constitute "the Nigerian way of death," it is but apathy which laps upon our own shores. There was a fellow working the polls this morning with a handsome tome resting on the table. i craned my neck to see the specifics but was unable to ascertain. I wish my friends running for office the best of luck today.