Friday, January 13, 2017

Monday, January 02, 2017

Sleepless Nights by Elizabeth Hardwick

When you travel your first discovery is that you do not exist.

Of course these things are not mine.  I think they are usually spoken of as ours, that tea bag of a word which steeps in the conditional.

...all the destinies linked by a likeness of forehead and nose...

While you are living, part of you has slipped away to the cemetery

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

The Naked and the Dead by Norman Mailer

Mailer's splashdown as a novelist, a WWII novel he wrote when he was 24.   Awesomely precocious, covering about three dozen points of view and beautifully set down.  Gore Vidal prissily panned it, in his usual sharp words:  "...informed by a naïveté which was at its worst when Mailer went into his Time-Machine and wrote those passages which resemble nothing so much as smudged carbons of a Dos Passos work."

It is much, more better than that, although it is remniscient of Dos Passos.  For a 25 year old to have written it in 18 months, it's astonishing.

His gelid eyes were very blue... he was efficient and strong and usually empty and his main cast of mind was a superior contempt toward nearly all other mean.  He hated weakness and he loved practically nothing.  There was a crude unformed vision in his soul but he was rarely conscious of it.

Yeah.  And an anger would work in him.  They had torn at each other once, had felt sick when they close together and other people were with them.  Now, in sleep their bodies intruded; there was always a heavy limb in the way.  And the nights together working on them, this new change, this living together between them like a heavy dull weight, washing dishes and mouthing familiar kisses.

By Night in Chile by Roberto Bolano

Down Thunder Road: The Making of Bruce Springsteen by Marc Eliot with the participation of Mike Appel

"with the participation of Mike Appel" indeed.  Allegedly setting straight the issue of the monumental lawsuit between Bruce Springsteen and his manager-cum-producer Mike Appel, which prohibited Springsteen from recording for two years in 1976-1978,  Interesting, as are all things Springsteen to me, but the thought of Mike Appel claiming some part of Springsteen's mind-boggling career, even if it's just a fraction, is ridiculous.  Keep your money, Mike, and shut your hole.

Ninety-nine Stories of God by Joy Williams

 Meh.  What's the big deal?  The stories are short and inconsequential.  It's like she wishes she was South American or something-- pitched parables that lack magic. So what if she has death in her heart?  Joy Williams needs to cook with a little more gas than this.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Goethe: The Poet and the Age, Vol1, The Poetry of Desire by Nicholas Boyle

For a long time I looked for a wife; I looked,  and found only whores. In the end I picked you up, little whore, and discovered a wife.

Well, I might have loved boys too; but girls are what I prefer. If I tire of one as a girl, I can still use her as a girl.

Wanted:  a small dog that neither growls nor bites; can eat broken glass and can shit diamonds.

When I look at the words of the masters, I see what they did; when I look at my own bits and pieces, I see what I ought to have done.

A quiet scholar once left a large party and went home.  He was asked, 'How did you like it?' 'If they were books,' he said, 'I would not read them.'

The Lime Twig by John Hawkes

startling 1961 novel, more of an extended prose poem than a detective narrative, which is how it's framed.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Faithful Place by Tana French

Another one from Tana French, whose Broken Harbor I also very much enjoyed.

A police procedural that moves into a family history, and the drama of a mystery in the past that slowly unravels and explains alot of the present.

Masterful.  Almost more literary fiction than detective genre.  Would like to see her write outside detective structure -- and maybe she already has?

Friday, October 07, 2016

Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen

Sailed through this, enjoying it all.   That said, the first 150 pages are best: something about his childhood and adolescence, and the Freehold/Jersey Shore years rings more true than his professional narrative.  Maybe he's more guarded, since he became very famous very quickly, and was plagued by fame (without riches) for the first ten years of his celebrity.

I liked his splendid summary about legendary rock stars and their early deaths - "Aging is scary but fascinating."  His summary?  "The exit in a blaze of glory is bullshit."(p. 214)  His analysis about learning the limitations of his own singing voice and transcending them was also great (p.  494)

His wise decision to seek analysis to help him through depression does not make the most interesting reading:  there is a lot of inner-child speak and other junk.

Later in the book, he assumes his more bloviated gospel-preacher voice, and tends to philosophize generally and use some of his more obvious song metaphors, rather than provide details. Still, for a notoriously private individual who perversely gives so much of himself publically in performance, the book showed me important stuff in his life.

the "Chapter and verse" spotify playlist is great - not as much for the Springsteen songs themselves (who hasn't heard them? and a million times?) as for the 100 or so songs by other artists that were crucial to him.