Tuesday, December 27, 2016
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.
Down Thunder Road: The Making of Bruce Springsteen by Marc Eliot with the participation of Mike Appel
Saturday, December 17, 2016
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.'
Monday, November 28, 2016
Friday, October 28, 2016
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
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.
Thursday, September 29, 2016
Monday, September 12, 2016
A heavy book-- the second half really picks up.
It's heavy because it threatens to be so many other books -- an immigrant experience book, a war book, a spy book -- on the way in the end to be a much more philosophical book about existence and doubleness and memory.
And a truly pentrating look at the past fifty years from inside a Vietnamese mind.
Wednesday, August 24, 2016
Friday, August 19, 2016
Tuesday, August 16, 2016
Thursday, July 14, 2016
Sunday, July 03, 2016
Events stream past us like these crowds and the face of each is seen only for a minute. What is urgent is not urgent for ever, but only ephemerally. All work and all love, the search for wealth and fame, the search for truth, like itself, are made up of moments which pass and become nothing. Yet through this shaft of nothings we drive onward with that miraculous vitality that creates our precarious habitations in the past and the future. So we live: a spirit that broods and hovers over the continual death of time, the lost meaning, the unrecpatured moment, the unremembered face, until the final chop that ends all our moments and plunges that spirit back into the void from which it came.[from Under the Net]
Friday, June 17, 2016
Friday, June 10, 2016
|"I guess I wore a plaid shirt, and yes, I played real loud, but Nirvana sounds to me like Boston with a hair up its ass." Paul Westerberg.|
Friday, May 27, 2016
Tuesday, April 19, 2016
Saturday, April 09, 2016
for and after Gwendolyn Brooks
for and after the Kitchenette Building
We meet – sometimes – between the dry hours,
Between clefts in the involuntary plan,
Refusing to think of rent or food – how
Civic the slick to satisfied from man.
And democratic. A Lucky Strike each, we
Sponge each other off, while what’s grayed
In and gray slinks ashamed down the drain.
No need to articulate great restraint,
No need to see each other’s mouth lip
The obvious. Giddy. Fingers garnished
With fumes of onions and garlic, I slip
Back into my shift then watch her hands – wordless –
Reattach her stockings to the martyred
Rubber moons wavering at her garter.
Robin Coste Lewis
Monday, March 28, 2016
Tuesday, March 15, 2016
Saturday, March 05, 2016
And so shall starve with feeding.
Groff writes terrific brainy evocative prose. Seems incapable of less than a shining sentence.
The cabdriver, his nose besponged by pores, looked at her for a long while in the rearview mirror and asked her if she was all right. When she didn't answer, he said soothingly, "You may cry here, cabbage. Cry as much as you wish. It is no hardship to watch a pretty woman cry."
Overwhelming, at times though, in how rich the outer and inner lives of her characters seem. Mathilde, for one: a super-sweet character:
She did mind something she never said out loud: she'd wished her husband was better at what he chose to do.
"And she can fuck herself lingeringly with a white-hot pitchfork. In her dark shit-star of an asshole," Mathilde said.
Wednesday, February 17, 2016
Thursday, February 11, 2016
Wednesday, February 10, 2016
This massive, towering novel – ostensibly about the assassination of Leon Trotsky in Mexico in 1940 by a disgruntled Spanish nationalist – is really about the festering and implosion of Soviet Communism over 50 years.
Three separate storylines cover the 50 years, back and forth, across three continents – a failed Cuban writer who meets a strange ailing man on the beach in Cuba in the late 1990s, the Spanish Communist, Ramon Cortazer, who mortally wounded Trotsky with an ice hatchet, and Trotsky himself, the intellectual original Politburo member who fell out with Stalin in 1925 and was exiled from Russia.
The style – a length, discursive, need I say dialectical style – can be bruising. Apparently the translator took pains to make it sound like the original Cuban vernacular in which it was written, so dialogue in particular sometimes features some whacked-out syntax decisions. Long, long compound and complex sentences.
To me it was an enormously educational book (assuming it’s factual) on the evolution of Soviet Communism, Trotsky’s role in digressing from Stalin’s party-line model (which argued for a Soviet-only communist system) and tacking back to Marx’s original model which called for an international worker’s revolution.
Wednesday, February 03, 2016
Beautiful color illustrations, text is a little baffling, in that Saunders way. Not really enough room for him to make his usual dramatic satirical argument. Suppose it's an allegory about climate change, or political interdependence. Un clear.
Tuesday, February 02, 2016
Saturday, January 23, 2016
Interesting, but not rivetting.
I have reached the limits of endurance. My back is to the wall; I can retreat no further. As far as history goes I am dead. If there is something beyond I shall have to bounce back. I have found God, but he is insufficient. I am only spiritually dead. Physically I am alive. Morally I am free. The world which I have departed is a menagerie. The dawn is breaking on a new world, a jungle world in which the lean spirits roam with sharp claws. If I am a hyena I am a lean and hungry one: I go forth to fatten myself.
Wowsa wowsa wowsa! what a book. At infrequent times irritating and a slog, at more frequent other times a glorious prose poem. The prose is first-rate throughout. As a novel, it lacks a plot, and the characters tend to run together. But the narrator's voice is unimpeachable, a modulated brilliant scream against existence that by its very beauty argues the opposite. It is much a time and place (Paris, 1932-1934) that I will ever get to know. Published in France in 1934 (the year my mother was born) and only published in the US in 1961 (the year I was born), it appeared in bootleg versions around the world immediately and had a great effect. It's not the 1940s Paris of Hemingway -- it's the weak-currency, shit-smeared version of Paris in the early 1930s. And Paris is the star character, in all her glory and decay, her civilization and her madness.
I have taken my time and dogeared many pages and will take care to re-type them here, just for the beauty of the sentences. And the quotes are long: Miller was not an epithet-er, but a spinner of great paragraphs.
"'This fucking business is bad, Endree,' he says. 'But I will give you a word that will always make you lucky; you must say it every day, over and over, a million times you must say it. It is the best word there is, Endree... say it now...OOMAHARUMOOMA!'
'No Endree... like this... OOMAHARUMOOMA!'
'No, Endree... like this...'
...but with that the murky light, the botchy print, the tattered cover, the jigjagged page, the fumbling fingers, the foxtrotting fleas, the lie-a-bed lice, the scum on his tongue, the drop in his eye, the lump in his throat, the drink in his pottle, the itch in his palm, the wail of his wind, the grief from his breath, the fog of his brainfag,, the tic of his conscience, the height of his rage, the gush of his fundament, the fire in his gorge, the tickle of his tail, the rats in his garret, the hullabaloo and the dust in his ears, since it took him a month to steal a march, he was hardset to memorize more than a word a week."
[on Van Norden]: In a sense Van Norden is mad, of that I am convinced. His one fear is to be left alone, and this fear is so deep and so persistent that even when he is on top of a woman, even when he has welded himself to her, he cannot escape the prison which he has created for himself.
You can be brilliant sometimes, when you're drunk, but brilliance is out of place in the proofreading department... Just the same it's hard to talk to a man when you have nothing in common with him; you betray yourself, even if you use only monosyllabic words. He knew god-damn well, the boss, that I didn't take the least bit of interest in his yarns; and yet, explain it how you will, it gave him pleasure to wean me away from my dreams and fill me full of dates and historical events. It was his way of taking revenge, I suppose. [p. 168-169]
One can live without friends, as one can live without love, or even without money, that supposed sine qua non. One can live in Paris – I discovered that! – on just grief and anguish. A bitter nourishment - perhaps the best there is for some people. At any rate, I had not yet come to the end of my rope. I was only flirting with disaster. I had time and sentiment enough to spare to peep into other people's lives, to dally with the dread stuff of romance which, however morbid it may be, when it is wrapped between the covers of a book, seems deliciously remote and anonymous. [p. 172]
So true is it that I am almost tempted to say: "Show me a man who over-elaborates and I will show you a great man!" What is called their "over-elaboration" is my meat: it is the sign of the struggle, it is struggle itself with all the fibers clinging to it, the very aura and ambiance of the discordant spirit. And when you show me a man who expresses himself perfectly I will not say that he is not great, but I will say that I am unattracted . . . . I miss the cloying qualities. When I reflect that the task which the artist implicitly sets himself is to overthrow existing values, to make of the chaos about him an order which is his own, to sow strife and ferment so that by the emotional release those who are dead may be restored to life, then it is that I run with joy to the great imperfect ones, their confusion nourishes me, their stuttering is like divine music to my ears. [p. 232]
This is from the marvelous penultimate scene in the novel, where the narrator has gone to Dijon as an unpaid English tutor at a monastery school: Everything frozen tight as scum, the mind locked and rimed with frost, and through the melancholy bales of chitter-wit the choking gargle of louse-eaten saints. White I am and wrapped in wool, swaddled, fettered, ham-strung, but in this I have no part. White to the bone, but with a cold alkali base, with saffron-tipped fingers. White, aye, but no brother of learning, no Catholic heart. White and ruthless, as the men before me who sailed out of the Elbe. I look to the sea, to the sky, to what is unintelligible and distantly near. [page 255]
Going back in a flash over the women I've known, it's like a chain which I've forged out of my own misery. Each one bound to the other . A fear of living separate, of staying born. The door of the womb always on the latch. Dread and longing. Deep in the blood the pull of Paradise. The beyond. Always the beyond. It must have all started with the navel. They cut the umbilical cord, give your a slap on the ass, and presto! you're out in the world, adrift, a ship without a rudder. You look at the stars and then you look at your navel. You grow eyes everywhere -- in the armpits, between your lips, in the roots of your hair, on the soles of your feet. What is distant becomes near, what is near becomes distant. Inner-outer, a constant flux, a shedding of skins,a turning inside out. You drift around like that for years and years, until you find yourself in the dead center, and there you slowly rot, slowly crumble to pieces, get dispersed again. Only your name remains. (260)
George Orwell on Henry Miller, from "Inside the Whale": Miller is simply a hard-boiled person talking about life, an ordinary American businessman with intellectual courage and a gift for words. It is perhaps significant that he looks exactly like everyone's idea of an American businessman.
Friday, January 22, 2016
Copyright 1967. Thomas Pynchon must have read this book, since Gravity's Rainbow seems to have gotten its central voice from the main character, D.J. Jethroe, the jiving, brilliant, clowning 18 year old consciousness that narrates this psychic hurricane of a novel. Vietnam not mentioned until the very last sentences, it is instead about American male mad lust, violent charisma and energy, seething through DJ's mind as he sits at a farewell banquet, about to ship off to Vietnam (hot damn) and rememebering his hunting trip to Alaska two years old with his best friend and his father.
An experience of a book. A little nauseasting, a lotta bewildering, but a reading that is lived.
Tuesday, January 12, 2016
Monday, January 04, 2016
What a songwriter, what a poet, what a musician, what a presence! It's such a boon, such a gift, when a music-maker and performer as tremendous as Costello also has the extreme page-bent and deigns to write the story of his life in song!
Early on, in my mind, I nit-picked some of his choices of what to tell and how to tell it -- his family history, though relevant and well-written (as the whole book is), impede the pop-reader's progress a bit.
But this is a guy who has spend the last 40 years on stage singing all these songs, and grabbing the time when he's not performing TO WRITE THE MARVELOUS THINGS.
So it's really small of ME to question his narrative arc, as so much of his life was spent in the (for me) higher realm of making music (aka, speaking to the angels).
The book drove me back to some seriously deep cuts-- and I thought I was well-represented, as my 'iTunes" data shows I have 34 albums and 460 songs, totalling '1 day' of total listening, but ECs generous, brilliant writing has shown me I have but scratched the surface of his gift to the world.
Postscript: book gets annoying in last 200 pages. EC begins quoting his lyrics at greater length, as they become less well-known to me. His inserted "short stories" are also baffling. His tendency to narrate his encounter with every celebrity becomes irritating. To me his first three albums tower over the rest of the work, the first album and the next two with the Attractions. Then he enters a "pop" period that goes on forever and ever, that features his voice and heavily arranged music. In the late 80s he has another good string with Blood and Chocolate, and King of America. Spike is half great. Then from the 90s on he becomes bewildering -- classical music, jazz and near jazz, opera music. His album, THE RIVER IN REVERSE, has great Toussaint songs but they suffer as sung by EC-- his voice, which he seems to have grown more enamored with over time, is not very great. he seems to have stopped sounding like himself after King of America, and trying to assume a proto-liberal American voice that was not his own. Just saying.
The narrator, a 40-ish French academic whose speciality is Huymans, spends most of the book in intellectual musing and conversation with other scholars about the political history of France, and its literature.
It's satiric, in that the narrator is a narrow, selfish, bourgeois most interested in lazing about and having sexual one-off liaisions, and finds himself gradually drawn into Muslim conversion himself, when he realizes it suit his rather self-centered, sexually rapacious lifestyle.
In the article for Oumma, Rediger raised the question whether Islam had been chosen for world domination. In the end he answered yes. He hardly bothered with Western societies, since to him they seemed to obviously doomed (liberal individualism triumphed as long as it undermined intermediate structures such as nations, corporations, castes, but when it attacked that ultimate social structure, the family, and thus the birthrate, it signed its own death warrant; Muslim dominance was a foregone conclusion.