Stochastic Bookmark

abstruse unfinished commentary

about correspondence


Books of the Month

So what, have I been reading? Yes but. Time has become scarcer, as more of it has been allocated to my dayjob, which has become every day (but not, thankfully, everyday), weekday, anyway. Thus the increasing infrequency with which I post, not only as it takes longer to accumulate material, but also insofar as reading time is more precious than writing time. So, aside from Guest, this month's reading:

While I don't always fully agree with the Complete Review's assessments, they're not far off, and cover territory not elsewhere charted; one could do worse than to select from their cream of the crop. Still, with my hesitancy compounded by Musil fatigue, I needed a spur from Gotham staff to pick up Hermann Broch's The Sleepwalkers. It got off to a slow, somewhat unremarkable start, but picked up momentum (and narrative complexity) without let-up as it progressed, though I think The Death of Virgil ultimately superior aesthetically. It's primed me for another massive trilogy, mentioned in the above-linked review, Peter Weiss' The Aesthetics of Resistance -- but I'll have to wait for a full translation.

Pinget's Mahu, or The Material didn't live up to its advance booking, paling by comparison to all the proposed superlatives (FO'Brien, GSorrentino, Queneau, especially Queneau); even the DBarthelme blurb seems overgenerous. Shan't give up on him just yet, but this work is slight, disappointing, a few good riffs but the rest raff.

Tadeusz Konwicki's The Polish Complex was, by contrast, better than expected, worth queueing up for. Integrating Polish history and literature (including a missive from, presumably, Gombrowicz, whom I think Konwicki outshines) into a statement whose aesthetic goes well beyond the political, which the vignette form serves well, like a multicourse meal, which is what Poland had been, historically.

I'm now into and out of, 28.2, Mati Unt's Things in the Night, which has gotten short shrift in the reviews I've seen; it's not as unstructured as claimed, having some relation (distant, familial) both to OBrien's At Swim-Two-Birds and to Nabokov (Ada's L disaster, second person address ... Thulean aside: does Pale Fire's Conmal nod in the direction of Georg Meri?); so far, and in the end, it works, for me, at least (though the popscience errors [intentional, not translational] distract). (The afterword mentions Marju Lauristin's 2004 tribute, "Mati Unt's Blogosphere", but it's not available online, in English anyway.)

I've also been dipping into the Oulipo Compendium, recently revised, and must-have for anyone as interested in this as I am (Derik Badman has this well covered, though he seems to have since moved on); and the poems of Karl Shapiro, in an older edition much broader than that repackaged by LoA. (Almost forgot, but I'd mentioned Kawabata's Palm-of-the-Hand Stories in prior addendum.)


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