Stochastic Bookmark

abstruse unfinished commentary

about correspondence


Mo' odds & sods


cultivating solitary arts
I alone reaped the mow
and would as soon disown what I'd sown
losing patience with words
mightier the ploughshare than the pen
though both are double-edged
the better to overturn raw ground
and cut a truer line
so the final cut's a single swath
nothing left now but to
gather meagre gleanings from the sward


Lest it be thought that this fallow field might revert to Nature, more gleanings from the fictional woods ...

Much of my reading time of late has been spent in stats (thx again Cosma; Fan & Yao a worthy successor to Box & Jenkins as time-series text), but I've fit in some remarkable literary stuff as well. While the latest Aira and Bolaño available in English weren't up to the usual high standard (though Antwerp may be Bolaño's Eleuthéria), many Nobelaureates also underdelivered, but not Yasunari Kawabata's The Old Capitol (translator J Martin Holman's second pass, '05), but then Kawabata never disappoints; the surprise was Fumiko Enchi's Masks, (Juliet Winters Carpenter) exceeding Tanizaki and approaching Kawabata. Other outliers:
Shiva Naipaul, North of South: An African Journey: '70s poco travelogue, Orwell comparison justified.
José Donoso, The Obscene Bird of Night (Hardie St Martin & Leonard Mades): a monstrous unrelenting shifty labyrinthine pile (unjustly eclipsed by the Boom's headliners).
Romain Gary as Émile Ajar, Hocus Bogus: I love love love a good literary hoax and this one has greatness written all over it. David Bellos' translation is true to the spirit (cannot be to the letter, but the freedom's constrained), and his intro sets it up well; Barbara Wright's translation of Romain Gary's "The Life and Death of Émile Ajar", dishing the posthumous dirt, is included afterwords. (These two translators are responsible for the bulk of what put Perec and Queneau among my top 10 20c authors; the latter approved Wright's renderings for again being true to the spirit.)

(looking forward to Melville House's release of Mahendra Singh's rendering of "The Hunting of the Snark", can't wait to see how it turns out despite wishing it would never end ...)