Stochastic Bookmark

abstruse unfinished commentary

about correspondence


Closing the books

... or the year-end accounting: 2010 I will be glad to have put behind me. Not that the year was without its felicities, but these were set against a ground of ongoing adjustment to a surplus of defelicity. But enough of that; no open book, I only broach personal matters here to lend context to holding forth on my varied interests. Suffice it to say that circumstance has not been conducive to more enthusiastic pursuit of these interests, and less so to blogging about them. This is but a transient state of affairs, just longer now than I'd expected, and blogging being a peculiar form of persistent ephemera, I'm willing and able to endure some dormancy.

Meanwhile, filling in on especially noteworthy reading this past quarter:
Fernando Pessoa, The Book of Disquiet: a reread (sort of), Richard Zenith's version, including an olla podrida of loosely associated pre-Soares writings.
Carlos Fuentes, Terra Nostra (Margaret Sayers Peden): Juan Goytisolo's backcover blurb gets it exactly right, one of the great monuments of the Spanish-language novel; a bit of early Melville & Poe pastiche in Part II fully exonerated by later use made of them, but the future bracketing is less well executed (not the opening but the closing parenthesis). Though this is more ambitious, still I think Donoso surpassed it with Obscene Bird, albeit on a narrower canvas.
Shusaku Endo, The Samurai (Van C. Gessel): And the missionary. Caught in history's closing door.
Henry James, The Ambassadors: Not sure how I let this one get by me for so long. A bit much of the wonderful and magnificent, floating and pulling up, but remarkable in its proportion; I can see why HJ thought it his masterstroke. Brought to mind by Cynthia Ozick's latest, Foreign Bodies (still to be read), as well as by recent reading of Wharton's The House of Mirth, and Howells' Indian Summer; Updike describes the difference: James' expatriates are seeking and losing their souls abroad; Howells' are on holiday. Somewhat relatedly, currently in the midst of Aidan Higgins' Balcony of Europe, an excursion through an expatting zoo.
Honorable mention: Michal Ajvaz, The Other City: dingbatty lyrical surreal gnomic nocturnal quest; Dalkey followed up with The Golden Age and so shall I.

Also, more throwaway lines binned into prior catchalling down the scroll.