Stochastic Bookmark

abstruse unfinished commentary

about correspondence


End of June reads

More unevenness (and slower going) in the latter part of the month:

Stig Sæterbakken, Through the Night (Seán Kinsella) [dalkey] family ties unravelling, similar to Grunberg's Tirza though less blatant, though I had similar problems with it, as well as my not connecting with Nordic lit generally (sagas and their progeny excepted), which is itself similar to my not connecting with upper-middlebrow suburban lit (like Updike), as if Scandinavia were itself a big continental suburb ...
Harry Mathews, The Case of the Persevering Maltese [dalkey] essays of varying interest (to me, his personal perspective on Oulipo & Co. the most interesting).
Ricardo Piglia, Artificial Respiration (Daniel Balderston) [Duke] disappearances backgrounding in historical context (including intellectual & cultural [& the Europe hangover], which he teaches, here too thanks to translator's end-notes), taut and compelling: my book o'the month.
Brigid Brophy, In Transit [dalkey] riffey pomo gendrebender, first person singularity and duality.
Julien Gracq, Balcony in the Forest (Richard Howard) [Columbia] strategic withdrawal in the phoney war (I preferred The Opposing Shore, though not by much).
Renata Adler, Pitch Dark [nyrb] more tightly woven than Speedboat and I think suffers for it, though redeemed somewhat in last third.

A-and, even more throwaway lines (queries and theories, lifted from lit-chat):

Is a square meal an entree with four sides?
If language is the medium of thought, what's the angle of refraction?
Where does the time go, and are we there yet?
Now that the weather's broken, who's going to fix it?
... so I was like literally? you mean figuratively and he was like no I was using literally figuratively and so I was like literally? and he was like exactly! and I was like no, more like approximately and he was like literally? ...
To achieve serenity, skip the dip in serendipity.
Striving for wisdom may be vanity and a striving after wind, but whether vain or no, at least it's my own striving, and no one else's smells as sweet. And besides, the Preacher was an old fart.
It's common knowledge that our individual delusions are a rational and effective way of dealing with our mass delusions.
The curé is worse than the diocese.
if you think gaming the system is the system, the system's gaming you.
Inside every fat man are two thin men trying to get fed.
Those advising you to reinvent yourself are the ones holding the patents.
I tried to gaze long into an abyss but it turned out to be only a mirror.


Beginning of June reads

Finished with The Poetry of Derek Walcott 1948-2013 (Glyn Maxwell ed) [FSG], for now, finding his post-Nobel efforts less consistent, perhaps taking license to extend himself or his readers with The Bounty but it feels as if he's trying too hard, before a return to form with Tiepolo's Hound (and The Prodigal a slighter falling off, and White Egrets slight return). Moving on to The Complete Poems of César Vallejo (Clayton Eshleman) [UCal], (still filling substantial gaps in the canonical) ...

But my reading has been interspersed prosaically with other authors I've never before encountered, all worthwhile to varying degrees, many of whom I intend to encounter again:

Dimitri Verhulst, The Misfortunates (David Colmer) [Thomas Dunne/St Martin's] dusting off familial nostalgie de la boue, unconventionally (and Colmer collected another translation prize ...)
Jean-Philippe Toussaint, Monsieur (John Lambert) [dalkey] the effect of affectlessness (people, really) (I also have Running Away at hand).
Svetislav Basara, Chinese Letter (Ana Lucic) [dalkey] existential riffing with a killer ending, other moments too, but somewhat scattered (and more scattered scattering to come with The Cyclist Conspiracy).
Marek Hlasko, Killing the Second Dog (Tomasz Mircowicz) [New Vessel] con-job noir but beyond genre, actors speak louder than writers.
Hilda Hilst, With My Dog-Eyes (Adam Morris) [Melville House] assent into madness (I'm a sucker for poetry & mathematics); more madness to come with The Obscene Madame D (LARB review) (cf Crassus Agonicus via 3%).
Leonid Tsypkin, Summer in Baden-Baden (Roger & Angela Keys) [NDP] the puzzle of Dostoevsky, his fervors, and championing of the downtrodden except the Jews, who in Soviet times esteemed him despite or because (I suspect it colored Nabokov's judgment) and his place among other authors (seemingly unavoidable in Russian Lit; I've got Bitov's Pushkin House lined up next in this category, another delaying tactic on Onegin) (TQC review; Tsypkin's only other work, The Bridge over the Neroch and other stories, just became available from NDP , but it looks as though it's more a warm-up).
Andrej Blatnik, You Do Understand (Tamara M. Soban) [dalkey] short story short (3am review) (Yes I must check out Lydia Davis).
Marie Chaix, The Summer of the Elder Tree (Harry Mathews) [dalkey] love and separation, the ongoing story, with interruptions, and recommencements.

Also, got out to see Italian Futurism at the Guggenheim and Entartete Kunst at Neue Galerie ... wouldn't have bothered with the latter but for the former, or the former but for the venue (which I last visited for Kandinsky 5 years back), but the combination was irresistible (and will be there til 1Sep).

add: finally, WSJblog Q&A with my favorite publisher.