Thursday, June 30, 2011


Despite my ostensible opposition to literary trends, I find myself uncomfortably often following in their wake. McSweeney's released a massive novel by John Sayles, an auteur I was introduced to about 15 years ago and who I've followed ever since. The subject hovers about race and labor relations around the US from 1897 to 1902 (I believe), the Spanish-American war, and the subsequent Filipino insurrection against the Yankee "liberators." The NYTBR charged it was guilty of having equal inspiration in both Pynchon (there is a great deal of singing in the novel) and the sentimentality of Harriet Beecher Stowe. I am just under half way through, there can be no judgement, just yet, but I find the novel cares but refuses to simplify or distort, whatever the consequences.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Longer Form

Of the 41 books completed, a few thoughts:

8 were library books, only one from IUS (Polish Complex). The others I owned, though very few were purchased new.

13 were translated, French and Hebrew tied for most popular language of origin, with a sparse three selections each.

Iris Murdoch and Honore de Balzac are the sole authors of whom I have read multiple books. That will certainly change, soon.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

41 Books

That's my tally of texts finished for the year as we near the sweaty middle. The latest was The Ascent of Money: A Financial History of the World by Niall Ferguson. Far from comprehensive and appears scripted for its presentation as a documentary film. Plenty of tag lines and pockets of opaque theory. Oh, well.

There are ambitious plans in order for the holiday weekend and the month of July in general.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Thanks, Pint

My friend Richard Crispin has been heralding Hopeful Monsters by Nicholas Mosley for years now. There was an ongoing reluctance on my part, one common to many historical novels: I grow concerned when every few pages, someone will say, hello Albert Einstein, aren't these uncertain times? That said, the novel is rife with interior rhythms and the characters are exceptionally developed. I am only a third of the way through, but am grateful for the opportunity.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

I.M. Legend

Since Sunday I have breezed through two novels by Iris Murdoch, Under The Net, which I enjoyed, and The Severed Head, which I did not. The latter was an elaborate farce which was effective initially until the partner swapping and permutations of incestuous possibility had been near exhausted.

Under The Net, Murdoch's first novel, was rather enjoyable, especially for its flaws; its protagonist, a struggling translator and philosopher, makes serially incorrect assessments of situations and thus the narratives bobs and weaves. Culpable of such errors myself, I was pleased with the tumult.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

A New Reality

Three books have been completed since my last posting: The Finkler Question by Howard Jacobson, Maile Meloy's Both Ways Is The Way I Want It and Anita Konkka's Fool's Paradise. New hours at work and being abducted by criminal humidity levels has fomented this productive recipe.

I found the Finkler rather dark and more akin to the masculine rivalry of Martin Amis than what may have been expected. It is no shame to admit that I discovered Maile through her brother Colin. My wife picked up the slim Finnish novella last weekend, I was unfamiliar with it, but the skinny tale of a marginalized life incorporating more than a hint of mental illness made an evocative exploration.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Favorite Things

My wife and I had a chance to go to a book sale together this past weekend. My, that was a nice. There is a personal idiom and palette o nods and winks which contain the Infinite and communicate our shared history in reading. we bought a box of books: some Richard Stark, Some Tana French, the collected stories of Elizabeth Bowen (which I have coveted for a year now) and a host of others, including The Finkler Question by Howard Jacobson. I'm reading that now. I finished Rogue Male by Geoffery Houseman on Sunday and found it a grisly charm.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

David Albahari's Leeches

If filing books under themes or more specific categories were a personal crusade, then this novel may cause some hesitation. My friend Roger, who finished the novel two weeks ago, was quick to establish that he thought this was firmly a Serbian novel, one centered upon the dark days of the 1990s. Conversely, I found the novel's themes to be more mystic in origin, particularly of a Jewish orientation and only Balkan in that culturally specific collision of the eschatological and the Absurdist.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

The End of May

I concluded the month with a marathon read of World War Z. Yes, I did confess to completing an apocalyptic book about a zombie epidemic. It is important to note that this constituted consecutive books concerning a future return for Mother Rus to a medieval theocracy, that said, I'll take the prose of Vladimir Sorokin any day over that of Max Brooks. What Brooks does succeed with, is a sociological approach problem solving and what the effects of extensive depopulation would create for our world.

Otherwise I'm half way through David Albahari's Leeches and have struck into Sorokin's Ice Trilogy with very mixed reactions so far. The last two mornings have also witnessed some duly plugging away into Our mutual Friend.