Susan Howe, My Emily Dickinson [NDP]: I prefer hers to Helen Vendler's (whose selected poems and commentaries, close readings opening into variants, possible sourcings, philologies, construction etc, which I found [in Apr'13] informative and frustrating even exasperating but I needed focus and argument; still, a slog [Vendler in '96 Paris Review: "I don’t think I’ll ever write about Alexander Pope, and I don’t think I’ll ever write about Emily Dickinson [...] They are not on my wavelength as much as some other authors, and life is short. [...] I’m much more drawn to authors that I feel close to by temperament. I feel close to Stevens by temperament. I feel close to Keats and to Herbert by temperament. They are indolent and meditative writers. I don’t mean indolent in personal character, but they like to roam freely in their thinking about a topic, so that Herbert will come back and back to affliction and Keats will come back and back to the sensuous life. Emily Dickinson cuts things off very short, and that always seems to me rather shocking. She ends poems too soon for me." Spoke too soon. Well before Poets Thinking. Anyway, no, it's not Glenn Gould playing Mozart.]), Howe gets there firstest with the mostest, but both augmented my own (cf). I wonder at how poorly Dickinson was received even by the New Critics (who should have known better), how well read she was, and how T.W. Higginson was instrumental and crucial to her. Not that there isn't room for quibble, but Howe guides the reading rather than imposing it. (And I'm glad I read The Midnight first, for added context.)
Edouard Levé, Autoportrait (Lorin Stein) [dalkey]: High artlessness I didn't take to as MAO did (nor do I think I'll take to the more recently translated Works [excerpt], but he rightly complains how little attention he gets [I account for some of the hits]) (and in related attention economy news, he [and Scott Esposito, who also rejected my input] take exception to Tim Parks, though nobody mentions the difference between international and anglophone sales). It does whet my appetite for Perec's I Remember though [1Sep].
Bohumil Hrabal, Dancing Lessons for the Advanced in Age (Michael Henry Heim) [nyrb]: Pure palavering, his first novel in this voice, nonstop, but less (or mostly) of interest than (or because of) what followed. (Currently reading Saramago's Raised from the Ground on the same pretext though with higher hopes [thx Miguel!])
César Vallejo, The Complete Poems (Clayton Eshleman) [U California]: "Trilce" is amazing, as is its translation; "Human Poems" varied and surprising, but what brackets these, "The Black Heralds" feels dated and "Take This Cup From Me" too polemic to be poetic.
Andrei Bitov, Pushkin House (Susan Brownsberger) [dalkey]: Yet another romp through Russian literature, this time from a late Soviet perspective. Think I'll hold off a bit on his latest, The Symmetry Teacher (and as for the Nabokov deep dive into Pushkin, well ...)
Maurice Scève. Emblems of Desire: Selections from the Délie (Richard Sieburth) [archipelago]
Louise Labé, Love Sonnets & Elegies (Richard Sieburth) [nyrb]
16thc Lyonnaise reponse to and transmission of Italian Renaissance (which I got to hear Sieburth read from and comment upon) and which prompted a revisit of John Ashbery's "Fragment" (from Rivers and Mountains).
Salman Rushdie, The Satanic Verses [Viking]: Long a resident of my Bookshelf of Good Intentions. His Pynchon is showing, moreso than in what else of his I've read (Midnight's Children, The Moor's Last Sigh, Haroun and the Sea of Stories), and which I've generally preferred; Shame is the next (and perhaps only other) thing of his I must read.
William H. Gass, Life Sentences [Knopf]: A mixed bag, willing to stretch the essay form ...
W.G. Sebald, A Place in the Country (Jo Catling) [Penguin]: Yes his trademark style, but in these essays it loses something of what makes the novels so compelling, but what? obliquity? can't put my finger on it.
César Aira, Conversations (Katherine Silver) [NDP] Critical discourse talking the talk on a tightrope with the cameras rolling (on the floor, laughing).