Stochastic Bookmark

abstruse unfinished commentary

about correspondence


nos petits cretins

Kenzaburō Ōe does not play fair.

A Quiet Life is narrated by Ma-chan, daughter of a novelist who, grappling with depression by accepting overseas posting in the groves of academe, leaves her to look after her mentally afflicted but musically gifted elder brother. As with previous novels the situation parallels Ōe's, but unlike them here the role of the father's father is limited. So far, so fair. The last chapter doesn't quite come off, and so (however formally necessary) diminishes what precedes it. Only fair. My problem is that, Ma-chan writing her graduation thesis on Céline (in college I read Journey to the End of the Night in an all-niter, but Death on the Installment Plan took longer, the title being the etymological definition of mortgage; finally put paid to it), gives specific attention to Rigadoon, and to the American author Mr. K.V.'s championing of it in its preface: So, completing this novel I pick up Rigadoon to find that Vonnegut's intro insists on the necessity of reading the trilogy (of which this is the third) from the beginning -- clearly the implication is that I should have already read Ōe's prior work on this subject (of which I'd read only Teach us to Outgrow our Madness). Not fair. (Vonnegut too was college fodder, but I never put Slaughterhouse 5 together with Céline.) So, to temporize, I'm reading Robert Graves' Good-bye to All That, which had been on my list since Cummings' The Enormous Room ...

I bought A Quiet Life at the same time as The Silent Cry, but the first-person section of Pinget's Passacaille features an adopted cretin, so it seemed the time was ripe for the former. Of such loose associations is my reading trajectory made. Pinget and Salvayre, both chanced upon, opened my eyes to the fact I'd just scratched the surface of the nouveau roman in exhausting Alain Robbe-Grillet, so now Claude Simon, Marguerite Duras and Michael Butor await (the latter's Mobile seems timely to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the Interstate Highway System*); Céline now precedes them. I've also been dipping into Most of the Most of S.J.Perelman (prompted by the maths guy [pdf] of the same surname, whose declining of the award overshadowed the stochastic Itô's Gauss prize) and Borges' atypical but archetypal The Book of Imaginary Beings (which I'm being careful not to rotate π/2).

Note to TEV: I'll look into RSSing after a brief hiatus (I know, lapses between posts are long enough as it is); meanwhile, I'm amongst the Raybotted.

* (from an old post-election egroup post): [In 2004 Bush/Kerry by county,] the blue overlay uncannily tracks the Interstates, especially I-5, I-55, and I-95 north/south, but also I-20 through the Deep South, I-25 in the SW, I-94 ... one can even see traces of I-35 and I-90 cutting through red territory, and short routes like I-79 in western PA (I'll spare you the New England list). Of course one would expect the urban/rural split to correspond, but major routes of the interstate network are excluded (I-80 or I-65 quite red for example) or ambiguous (I-40 a red on blue sandwich, I-10 a dotted line) ... it's as if Democrats fall prey on a handful of highways to the old gibe: "You're from New Jersey? What exit?"


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