Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr


Really enjoyed reading this, after some trepidation after reading alot of the review. As a follow up to the stunning ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE, it pales somewhat, as it is more in the line of CLOUD ATLAS, a blurring interwoven text about some humans shared devotion for a fragmentary Greek text. It covers from Ancient Greece until some time well in the future aboard an interplanetary spaceship, and visits the sacking of Constaninople,1950s-to-present day Idaho, a  murderous climate activist, and the Korean War.

Quicksand by Steve Toltz


Shades of PANAMA by Thomas McGuane, one of my favorite novels. Toltz's style is frenetic, brilliant and blinding: he stacks up aphorisms and similes like nobody's business, it's too packed with great lines to quote here with any comprehensiveness.

Now he was saying he was tired of thoughts so self-pitying he believed he could hear God throw up in His mouth. (60)

from The Black Riders by Vallejo: 
There are blows in life so violent-I can't answer!
Blows as if from the hatred of God; as if before them,
the deep waters of everything lived through
were backed up in the soul. . . I can't answer! (91)

"Was it Valery who called music a naked woman running mad in the pure night?" (96)

Liam, I don't know about you, but I am just plain furious that I never ever grew out of the adolescent male mind-set. You know, that if your only tool is a penis, every problem looks like a vagina. (158)

I say, "It's an atrocity."
"What is?"
"Your life."
"Not as bad as some, which in a way makes it worse, because I have to feel guilty for not being grateful for my atrocity." (175)

I'm a talented loser. The worst kind. Talented losers become self-aware madmen. (201)

I had an overwhelming craving for a quick fuck and a long nap. Nothing new about that, your Honor. I've been horny and tired my whole life. (220)

If you can't be great, be vague. If they don't know what you're trying to achieve, they can't see that you haven't succeeded in achieving it. (239)

... and besides, he said, like a true poet, my most redeeming shortcoming was my ability to commit 100 percent to a bad idea. (252)

I say: Don't name a disease after me. Name one before me and see
if I run into it. I say: I've racked my narrative
for signs of hubris. (255)

The future is some kind of newfangled yesterday I want no part of... (304)

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Orientalism by Edward W. Said


The Goalie's Anxiety at the Penalty Kick by Peter Handke


Strange unsettling sort of boring story of a construction worker who used to be a soccer goalie and gets fired and murders a woman. Rest of narrative follows his unraveling sanity - I guess - as language and time become unreal to him and he waits to be apprehended. Sort of remember seeing a film version of it in college.

The World As I Found It by Bruce Duffy


An amazing experience of a novel, about the imagined life of Ludwig Wittgenstein, Bertrand Russell, and G.E. Moore. Duffy's writing seems almost out of another time, recalling Henry James, and even some of the Victorians. It's a dense, moving, obsessive book

The piano wire was humming, and ever so faintly he was trembling, thinking what a thing it was to dread one's own self -- and to see the self as enemy or other, not as companion, guide, sanctuary. (p. 31)

letter from his father:  No doubt you think your work is an obligation, if one patently self-proclaimed. But if you truly had such a vocation, I am convinced, the world already would have found you. This has not been the case, as is evinced by your own telling lack of convictions; or perhaps by a fear that, beneath it all, you may only be ordinary. (You are not, and will never be, ordinary.) (62)

fully nine-tenths of the world's business was pointless lunacy in the cause of general employment (83)

What is mind? - sniff - no matter. What is matter? - sniff - never mind. (84)

More than life separates the dead from the living, and more than logic separates this world from the next: with logic, there is illogic, too. (121)

Grief (121)

... as his mind, like a dog sled, pulled him along, still thinking... (148)

This is not how things are, and yet we can say how things are not. (148)

(p. 306-307)

Here, I would commend Lichtenberg's suggestion that instead of saying, "I think," we ought to say, "It thinks." (479)

Words were like buckets, he was saying. Each word carries only so much, but the odd thing was how a word might carry more than its measure of meaning, so that it spilled over in a flood.

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