Monday, November 27, 2023

Skylark by Dezso Kosztolanyi


Liked this, strange novel, about what a father and mother get up to when their unmarried 35-year old daughter goes on vacation to see cousins in the country for a week.

The father's antics at his former Club - his resumed drinking and gambling - are vividly drawn, in the strange male culture of turn of the century Hungary which was completely new to me.

A little Kafka-esque in its descriptive strategies of both external and internal landscapes.

He flung open His arms upon the cross, exalting human suffering in a single, heroic gesture that belonged to Him alone since the beginning of time. But His head dropped, anticipating the number indifference into which it was about to fall, His face already petrified with pain. [175]

Skylark had found it hard to get used to life on the plain, and not a day had passed without her longing to be home again. And now she was glad to be back in the town, which, with all its comforts, allowed people to forget so much, and held a promise of real solitude to those who had to be alone. [209]

Devil Makes Three by Ben Fountain


Good, but ambitious plot involves lots of sociological and political and historical backstory being brought in about the birth and struggle of Haiti. Sort of loses narrative oomph. Well-written as always with Foundation, and clearly a heroic tale (as well as effort).

Friday, November 17, 2023

Caught by Henry Green


Fascinating 1943 novel about an upper class gentleman who joins the Auxiliary Fire Service in London one year before the Blitz. Most of the novel takes place before the bombing but presages it: the protagonist leaves his wife and child in the countryside, and bunks and lives with working class men and men. Green's dialogue is exquisite: the working class phrasings and emphases are illuminating.

Monday, November 13, 2023

Did Ye Hear Mammy Died? by Seamas O'Reilly


Like this in the end, but had to get over my initial dismay that it was no Angela's Ashes. It's a non-fiction memoir of a large family in the north, the narrator's mother dies when he is five years old. It's more of a portrait of his wonderful father.

Wednesday, November 01, 2023

The Passenger by Cormac McCarthy


Hemingway vs Pynchon vs classic Cormac. dash of DeLillo, sprinkle of McGuane. 

Deep sea salvage diving, quantum physics and mathematics, dogged government agents pursuing the main character, who lives off a fortune in gold coins buried at his grandmother's house, a cast of New Orleans barflies that recall an unwritten cast of grad school characters from A CONFEDERACY OF DUNCES. 

Fierce writing, a wandering narrative, confusing dialogue. Interesting and aggravating. 

The sections where Western's sister has long visits with the voices insides her head who present as real character - namely, "The Thalidomide Kid" - are puzzling and never really resolve for me. Even more so when Western himself is visited by The Kid [312].

The long pages of dialogue between two (or three characters) are confusing, not just in typical McCarthy style, but beyond that, as the longer conversations go on, the more the sides of the discussion seem interchangeable: each character settles into a very high-level, ironic, high-diction tone of voice.

Still, McCarthy writes like a fire when he's on.

So if you get the impression from tie to time that we're sort of winging it here so be it. The first thing is to locate the narrative line. It doesn't have to hold up in court. Start splicing in your episodes. Your anecdotals. You'll figure it out. Just remember that where there's no linear there's no delineation. Try and stay focused. Nobody's asking you to sign anything, okay? And anyway it's not like you got a lot of fallback positions. [60-61]

Listen, Ducklescence, he whispered. You will never know what the world is made of. The only thing that's certain is that it's not made of the world. As you close upon some mathematical description of reality you can't help but lose what is being described. Every inquiry displaces what is addressed. A moment in time is a fact, not a possibility. The world will take your life. But above and lastly the world does not know that you are here. You think that you understand this. But you don't. Not in your heart you don't. If you did you would be terrified. And you're not. Not yet. And now, good night. [144]

When the onset of universal night is finally acknowledged as irreversible even the 
coldest cynic will be astonished at the celerity with which every rule and stricture shoring up this creaking edifice is abandoned and every aberrancy embraced. It should be quite a spectacle. However brief. [160]

...having even read a few dozen books in common is a force more binding than blood. [161]

Even the interpretation of the positron as an electron traveling backward in time. [174]

Beauty makes promises that beauty can't keep. [204]

What, you got no questions? I thought it would be fun to have a guy inquiring about his sister's sanity from the sister's own hallucinations. [312]

No matter the magnitude of your doubts about the nature of the world you cant come up with another world without coming up with another you. [319]

Documents they'd no gift to read in a cold to loot men of their souls. [328]

I think the odds are on that we will still be here to see him wet his thumb and lean over and unscrew the sun. [368]

Why can you not bury him? Are his hands so red? Fathers are always forgiven. In the end they are forgiven. Had it been women who dragged the world through these horros there would be a bounty on them. [422]

He said that a Godless life would not prepare one for a Godless death. [434]

But that's not what's at the heart of the tale. The problem is that what drives the tale will not survive the tale. [338]

Featured Post

Buy my books.

Buy the books on Amazon, and watch videos of some readings.   Please.