Stochastic Bookmark

abstruse unfinished commentary

about correspondence


Last of Fall Leaves

A couple of Nobelaurates supply the most recent reading matter:

Czeslaw Milosz, The Issa Valley (trans Louis Iribarne): A couple of themes of my past year's reading converging (poets' novels, Osteuropa Lit) in an incremental coming of age between Lithuania and Poland, with war (and Germany and Russia) in the background. Variously described as poetic or lyrical, what I found more interesting was the way Milosz conveys (and Iribarne preserves) time's passage by a prose that (without syntactic complexity) demands andante tempo through childhood, relenting to allegretto as plot and maturing character are resolved (also echoing sovereignty among the national contenders within community and family), the consequent losses and gains finely balanced.

J.M.Coetzee, Life & Times of Michael K: In being prepared to be disappointed (per last year's wrap-up; this year's to follow), I wasn't, exactly. As with Sebald's Vertigo, it's not the author's best effort, but worthwhile nonetheless: Complete Review gets at some of the difficulty, the change in mode in the middle section constituting a flaw, perhaps necessary for didactic purposes (e.g., institutional rationale from the inside, the bland apologetics of privilege), but even these are undercut (as, in one passage, warning off allegorical interpretation). Meant to be unsettling, there's still a banality that can't be accommodated within the protagonist's context; intended to work like this, it doesn't quite work as intended.


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