Friday, June 15, 2012


Tom Franklin is often brilliant. His novel Smonk is often hilarious, except when it is nihilistic. One can smile at grisly humor. I know I do.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

My Burden

It is time for the Euros, that's the European Championships. I've been enthralled with all six matches so far. It may sound masochistic as Joel has selected The Man Without Qualities as  our summer read on samizdat. preparing for this, I devoured four books last week: Bolano's Skating Rink, Sebald's book of micropoems Unrecounted, James Ellroy's White Jazz and the late Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451. I enjoyed all of them immensely, especially the latter two. Mr. Ellroy is wicked strange, successful in burning the dross off of narrative. I thought  White Jazz suffered when the plot went gonzo towards the end, but Bradbury was masterful in tone and pace,  even if his novel offered few surprises, especially given that I have loved the film adaptation for years.

Saturday, June 02, 2012

No Longer Guessing

London, the crouching monster, like every other monster has to breathe, and breathe it does in its own obscure, malignant way. One would like that to be China Mieville, perhaps, but it isn't. Its Patrick Hamilton, really only known  now for penning Rope and Gaslight, but was also a fascinating novelists and NYRB recognized that rereleased  his major novels a few years back. I just finished The Slaves of Solitude and while it had Pymish elements, one could plot a tradition from Jane Eyre to Bridget Jones, it was the horrifying context that allows this boarding house drama to succeed. Located near Reading, the house is full of inhabitants forced to flee the blitz and endure privations which maintaining an illusion of propriety. Hamilton's protagonist, one Miss Roach, is wonderfully human: insecure, bookish and prone to misunderstanding the motives of others (am I looking in a mirror or what?)Miss Roach lingers, even if she is forced to tote a flashlight during the blackouts and curse the runs of events which have left her - alone, and often lonely.

Earlier in the week, I chewed through Kawabata's Beauty and Sadness and was charmed by the novel's vistas and silences. The subcurrents of the novel were problematic as character motivations appeared glib and authorial.