Stochastic Bookmark

abstruse unfinished commentary

about correspondence



I rarely reread fiction. Not that I get everything out of it on the first pass, attentive though I may be, but subsequent passes extract little more of substance, less than I can get from new material. Often not the fault of the book, rather of my obtuseness as to what's in it, no less marked in the second go-round.

Over the past decade, the only fictions I've reread are Tristram Shandy, vol I of Peter Weiss' The Aesthetics of Resistance (in prep for vol II), and, recently, Gilbert Sorrentino's Mulligan Stew (prompted by the impending 3% Two-Month Review podcasts, though I may not tune in. Much.), and Hemingway short stories. Also, new translations of Calvino's Cosmicomics, two Musil novellas, Kafka shorts, and Witold Gombrowicz's Trans-Atlantyk, though that shouldn't count as a reread as such.

The blog bears testimony to fruit borne of prior rereadings: Borges, Poe, and especially Nabokov (who insisted rereading was the only reading), the most reread being Pale Fire, my favorite book. But any correlation between frequencies of blogging and rereading is coincidence, not causation. Most of my rereading preceded blogging anyway, much of it self-motivated, some related to literary forum group reads (in which obtuseness could be ameliorated by other perspectives, or simply by finding something new to say) (esp the late lamented NYTimes Book Forum) (and yes some overlap between).

So, my Bookshelf of Good Intentions currently includes a number of rereads I hope to address in the not too distant future (but then I was saying that 15 years back*):
Herman Melville, Moby-Dick, last encountered in college, but I wanted to get through the rest of his work before returning to (well, except for Israel Potter and Clarel, and I still haven't gotten to Billy Budd) (and rereading The Confidence-Man, a better candidate for the Great American Novel, rerewarded).
Umberto Eco, Foucault's Pendulum, so underappreciated you'd think there was a conspiracy or something.
Thomas Pynchon, Mason & Dixon (prior rereadings were The Crying of Lot 49 & Gravity's Rainbow), and maybe Against the Day down the road.
William Gaddis, The Recognitions ...  

* finally cleared Geroge Eliot's Daniel Deronda off that list


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