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Thursday, July 30, 2020

All the Wrong Moves by Sasha Chapin

The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman

Marvelous, surprising book. An international English-language newspaper headquartered in Italian is peopled and dissected, both from its origins in the 1950s and from its current failing situation.

Funny, moving.

The Stand by Stephen King

Taking the plunge after years of disparaging everything about Stephen King. So far I'm LOVING IT. Is there no end to my self-education, and fundamental stupidity?

Thursday, July 09, 2020

A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

Long. Intense. Stunning so far. An immersive experience into the connected lives of four college friends over three decades.

 Too long a slog. Compelling but grotesque.

My sister gave it to me with a note that it was "pain porn." That's exactly right. Makes me feel dirty but can’t stop reading.

The problem seems to be that Judes afflictions are the main character. Even Jude is minor compared to them. His course of affliction is also most of the plot. Only Wilhelm's death is an action that changes people. And not much and too late for a “twist.”

Yanagihara can certainly write. But the preciousness of how precocious all the central characters are- the Manhattan gilded class - smacks of Tom Wolfe and worse.  The four friends start as scrounging clueless college freshmen - and in no time are at the pinnacle of their careers: litigation lawyer, movie star, painter. Jude is memorialized in enough paintings by his painting buddy to fill a Museum of Jude.

It's an ahistorical narrative that touches up nothing that's happened in the past 30 years -- even its NYC locale seems stodgy.

 I’m ANGRY at the book!

Monday, July 06, 2020

Machines in the Head: the Selected Short Writing of Anna Kavan

Kafkaesque re-un-discovered speculative fiction sort of writer.

A Burning by Megha Majumdar

Was fired up by the reviews of this debut novel by Megha Majumdar, but less impressed reading it myself. Certainly she writes very well, and the rotating pov between the wrongly-accused young woman, the heji woman she tutors, and her and her old grammar school phys ed teacher PT Sir is deftly handled. But I didn't feel any drama.

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Cosmiccomics by Italo Calvino

How can I not love short stories where a narrator named "Qfwfq" affectionately and seriously recalls events in the history of the universe, like when the moon was within jumping (or at least laddder) distance of the earth, or the first sign ever created as a galaxy revolved around the universe and anxiously waited 200 million years to return to his sign and see if anyone had noticed it?

Confessions of an Irish Rebel by Brendan Behan

Dusty, cheap, falling apart paperback of Behan's 1965 swan song. Stinks of my father's bookcase.

I suppose at heart I am a daylight atheist, for I would not like to die without a priest.

I would not go within an ass's roar of her.

narrator gets in trouble for reading the following to his sick sister, from an olden book, not realizing that the s's looked lik f's ... remarkable for steeling eggs and fucking them ...

Lord Waterford is dead and the devil make his bed,
With an oven for his head, say the Shan Van Vocht.

[snuggling in an armchair with a girl] ... no two people ever slept in each other's arms ... I was as cramped as the crucified

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Hopscotch by Julio Cortazar

... a chess world where you moved about like a knight trying to move like a rook trying to move like a bishop...

...and the irritation of thinking about all this and knowing that since it was always easier to think than to be, that in my case the ergo of the expression was no ergo or anything at all like it...

La Maga did not know that my kisses were like eyes which began up beyond her, and that I went along outside as I saw a different concept of the world, the dizzy pilot of a black prow which cut the water of time and negated it.

Wong summing up Morelli's passage: "The novel that interests us is not one that places character in a situation, but rather one that puts the situation in the characters."

voyant vs voyeur - a seer vs. a spectator of others' pleasure

genius lies in choosing to be a genius and in being right

instead of obstinately connecting with a non-existent tunnel, as is the case with so many poets leaning halfway out the living-room window late at night

In some corner, a vestige of the forgotten kingdom. In some violent death, the punishment for having remembered the kingdom. In some laugh, in some tear, the survival of the kingdom. Beneath it all, one does not feel that man will end up killing man. He will escape from it, he will grasp the rudder of the electronic machine, the astral rocket, he will trip up and then they can set a dog on him. Everything can be killed except nostalgia for the kingdom, we carry it in the color of our eyes, in every love affair, in everything that deeply torments and unties and tricks. Wishful thinking, perhaps; but that is just another possible definition of the featherless biped.