Monday, July 31, 2023

Rogue Lawyer by John Grisham


Another good one. I know a rogue lawyer. 

His philosophy: "Everyone’s awful, lawyers are the worst, cops are the second worst, criminals are kinda fun, I’m also the worst but also the greatest, so show me your tits."

They are entertaining and good company.

Monday, July 24, 2023

Autobiography of Red by Anne Carson


Finally read this after owning it for 20 years. More of a story than a poem. Based on myth but playing out in a contemporary setting in South America. 

Excellent and strange.

Going Zero by Anthony McCarten

Liked this. Recent novel about a contest sponsored by a digital surveillance company and the feds, they select ten random Americans and challenge them to "stay off the grid" and avoid detection for 30 days. 

Monday, July 10, 2023

If This Is a Man/The Truce by Primo Levi


This book (two books, actually) is amazing, a take on concentration camps unlike any other I've read. Levi was an Italian Jew who went to Auschwitz for the last ten months of the war. The first volume, IF THIS IS A MAN, contains his sociological, often clinical descriptions of the prison camp industry is astounding, how even with almost nothing the prisoners still had a "thriving" economy of barter and favoritism which seemed, perversely, to keep the survivors sane as 90% of the other inmates disappeared into the crematoriums. Sane in spite of the sickness, the filth, the freezing temperatures, the backbreaking labor.

The second book, THE TRUCE, follows his circuitous journey home after liberation, a winding trail through Eastern Europe and Russia which took over a year.

Thursday, July 06, 2023

Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card


Annie Dunne by Sebastian Barry


Another great one. Two single women in their 60s in western Ireland care for their grand-niece and nephew one summer, and suffer spiritual torpor. And enlightenment! Barry is a stunning prose stylist. There, I've said it again.

Wednesday, July 05, 2023

Looking at Pictures by Robert Walser


from "The Artist" --

He feels it, that’s all, and that’s how he finds it. He instantly separates the things of the highest importance from the unimportant ones, leaving everything extraneous or illusory to be what it will. He can gather his thoughts in a flash, his mind lucid, his consciousness alert. He is swift to discern what is not a matter of indifference, and for this reason always has both the inclination and cause to be of good cheer. His optimism waxes along with his predisposition to dispense with worry. When others ask: “What now?” and do not know the way forward, he has already found his own. He doesn’t see his path clearly, but also doesn’t consider this absolutely necessary; he strikes out in some direction or other, and one thing leads to the next. All paths lead to lives of some sort, and that’s all he requires, for every life promises a great deal and is replete with possibilities enchantingly fulfilled. He most certainly does not overtax his mind, and rightly so. Not everything needs to be puzzled out, and racking one’s brains does not necessarily result in cleverness. A higher power punishes us when we try to be more knowledgeable than befits us. What is fitting is to trust in ourselves and the world. Who feels this better than the artist? When he was poor, he believed more than ever in his abilities; when he began to grow weary, he was urged on more powerfully still by the image and idea that it is beautiful to pull oneself together. No one understands devotion to life, nor exhaustion, better than he, nor that Nature has willed it so, and that true industry and the heartfelt wish to produce work have their source in seasons of inertia. If this isn’t a natural growth process, what else can it be? Even the fruits of the field require time to grow; enough: he senses his fate, intuits the constraints and unconstrainedness of the destiny chosen for him and makes his peace with them. Does anyone know more vividly than he what it means to be utterly satisfied with oneself while at the same time being filled with numerous dissatisfactions? Both feelings lead him ever further on his path. Finding himself at a standstill once, it occurred to him to believe that all was nonetheless well with him; and when others gave voice to the opinion that he had lost his abilities, he made a point of showing what he was capable of in the loveliest light, giving the lie to the misconceptions of those who proved incapable of sound, calm judgment. He was always cautious when it came to believing or not believing in his journey, and this preserved him from both hubris and capitulation. When his modesty elicited condescension, he still did not falter in his belief that modesty was his bedrock. Space continued to favor him, time was well-disposed, and the world was as faithful to him as he was to it, and that was all he needed to continue in his development. Always he found talent to be intimately linked to joie de vivre, ability to gaiety, and craftsmanship to human flourishing, and he proceeded accordingly, with sometimes greater, sometimes lesser success and skill. If he failed at something, he did not cast it aside, but instead let it sit for a day, then examined it again, and since he returned to it, deeming it worthy of renewed attention, it proved to be serviceable. Over time, he learned to be patient and gentle, both in life and in his workshop. He owed his happiest hours to this circumstance. Once he was great; later, seeing himself diminished, he was on the point of feeling resentment, but the gift he possessed and his need to foster unity within himself prompted him to value even this smallness until such time as he could lift himself up again. As he sat in his room one evening, just as the bells were ringing and the streets filled with people looking forward to Sunday, he made his decision. No one who strives to bring new life to something significant should be too quick to abandon the hope that he will succeed in this endeavor, for that would be a shame; but as things are, all is well.

The Cabin at the End of the World by Paul Tremblay


Doomsdayish, apocalyptic, dystopian novel, about two gay dads and their adoped Chinese daugter in remote New Hampshire, visited by four mysterious individuals who tell them the three must sacrifice one of the three or the world will end.  Tremblay did keep me reading, but the prose is a little overgrown with detailed descriptions of gestures and the air inside the cabin and the way blood appears, etc.

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