Please use the receptacle provided: What are you reading as 2023 begins?

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The time has come to carve out a dedicated space in ILB for mentioning, criticizing, praising, dissecting, dismissing, summarizing, or simply naming the books we are reading in these first few months of 2023.

The prior WAYR thread can be found here: The (S)word in the Autumn Stone: What Are You Reading, Fall 2022?

more difficult than I look (Aimless), Friday, 30 December 2022 20:00 (one year ago) link

I have four active right now:

Properties of Thirst, Marianne Wiggins. I cannot recommend this enough. Marianne has always been an immensely talented writer, and this is her best book yet. She has really captured the feel of life in the Central Valley. It's all the more remarkable achievement because she suffered a stroke before the book was completed, and finished it with the help of her daughter.

The Widow Queen, Elżbieta Cherezińska. The jury is still out on this one. If memory serves, it's a fantasy/romance I got for free from It's OK, but I have a feeling that the translation (from the Polish) is lacking.

Collected Fiction Part 1: The Novels, by Leena Krohn. Highly recommended by Jeff VanDerMeer, who wrote the foreword. Again, something might have been lost in translation (from Finnish).

Ghost Stories of an Antiquary, by M.R. James. I picked this up on the strength of a reading I heard on a podcast of "Canon Alberic's Scrap-Book." I haven't made it yet past that story, but this kind of horror is my jam.

immodesty blaise (jimbeaux), Friday, 30 December 2022 20:11 (one year ago) link


finished childhood and almost done with youth really liking it so far though as with p much all auto fiction I'm always amazed/ sceptical about the amount of detail people can recall about their childhoods. my memory just doesn't work like that.

oscar bravo, Friday, 30 December 2022 21:08 (one year ago) link

carlo collodi, "pinocchio"

LaMDA barry-stanners (||||||||), Saturday, 31 December 2022 00:01 (one year ago) link

The last few chapters of Howard Zinn A People's History Of America. Or possibly going back over a couple of chapters

Guy Deutscher's Through The Language Glass

Thinking Fast & Slow Daniel Kahneman
may get back to this after Through the Language Glass

Surviving Genocide heffrey Ostler
A history of the contact between indigenous people in America and the incoming Europeans. Xmas present from my brother last year taht I really wanted to read at taht point and now haven't a year later because i did read everything else i read;. & now have picked up again and it is looking really good

How To write About Africa Binyavanga Wainaina
book of short articles by a Kenyan writer my brother sent me for Xmas alongside the Richard Koloda Holy Ghost which I've already finished

The five : the untold lives of the women killed by Jack the Ripper Hallie Rubenhold
feminist author attempts to fill out the biographies of the women killed by Jack The Ripper and stop them being quite as faceless entities.

A history of the world in seven cheap things : a guide to capitalism, nature, and the future of the planet Raj Patel

The Big Blue Book of Bicycle Repair Calvin Jones

a few other bits and pieces since I have my library loans fully occupied with things so 16 books there
& I have been picking up books from charity shops to great degree so have piles of those around everywhere. Probably have several years worth of reading sitting here already and i don't know if i will ever repeat the amount I got through this year.
Oh & also have had one of the main book shops in Galway around the corner from the course I've been studying. Subsequently have been picking things up from there too.

bell hooks The will to change : men, masculinity, and love
which has been traveling around in my bag for months since I bought it

A restorative justice reader : texts, sources, context / edited by Gerry Johnstone.

West of the Revolution : an uncommon history of 1776 Claudio Saunt
the other events around the Americas at the time of the Declaration of Independence since it was a pretty dynamic year for a number of other populations around thanks to other colonising settlement etc and movement of indigenous tribes.

Stevolende, Saturday, 31 December 2022 00:31 (one year ago) link

I have pinnochio started recently cos I picked it up in a charity shop a few weeks back. Saw most of the Guillermo Del Toro animation since picking it up but I think I nodded off for a bit in the middle.

Stevolende, Saturday, 31 December 2022 00:33 (one year ago) link

By Bus, Erica Van Horn, an utterly delightful book that I could have finished today and which I'll probably actually finish before 2023 rings in. I have anxiety about what to read first for 2023 -- there's several Big Books I'm eager to get to, but I'll also be traveling soon, I don't love having to cart a giant doorstop with me while traveling -- at the same time, I'm always traveling, I should resign to it. Will I read Anna Karenina? Or attempt The Golden Horde, even though nonfiction tends to slow me down? Maybe Palace Walk, but do I have the rest of Cairo Trilogy somewhere in the house or not? I picked up Swann's Way last month, I could dive right in, but there's so much else I mean to get to, too -- these Tibetan Buddhist books are really thrilling for me, I'm not used to using that wrestling-thinking part of my reading brain so much as I did when I was devouring old Vaisnava scripture all the time. I could get back into Volodine & his heteronyms, there's a few more of those on the shelf, they're almost uniformly great. Moravia? I've read Morante but never Moravia, I could do that. I'm not sure! I'll finish By Bus tomorrow and then think about it some more!

J Edgar Noothgrush (Joan Crawford Loves Chachi), Saturday, 31 December 2022 03:02 (one year ago) link

Dwight E. Brooks - That's the Way of the World (33 1/3 series)
John le Carré - A Delicate Truth

Malevolent Arugula (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Saturday, 31 December 2022 03:04 (one year ago) link

Don Winslow - The Border
Nyanapoinka Thera - The Heart of Buddhist Meditation

Shard-borne Beatles with their drowsy hums (Chinaski), Saturday, 31 December 2022 10:33 (one year ago) link

I've picked up Delillo's Underworld again over Christmas after abandoning it for a couple of months. It's often frustrating - occasionally quite good!

cajunsunday, Saturday, 31 December 2022 16:16 (one year ago) link

Jane Eyre

ArchCarrier, Saturday, 31 December 2022 18:18 (one year ago) link

Started The Dark is Rising. I don't think that I read past the first volume as a teenager.

Focuses for 2023: probably lots of fantasy and horror, and I want to learn more about French theatre, beyond the handful of things I've read already.

jmm, Saturday, 31 December 2022 18:35 (one year ago) link

Shin, The Cryptopians
Ollier, Wert and the Life Without End
Savage, This Searing Light, the Sun and Everything Else

Happy New Year!

Reading books is a kind of enjoyment. Reading books is a good habit. We bring you a different kinds of books. You can carry this book where ever you want. It is easy to carry. It can be an ideal gift to yourself and to your loved ones. Care instruction keep away from fire.

alimosina, Saturday, 31 December 2022 23:17 (one year ago) link

The Marriage Portrait by Maggie O'Farrell

Dan S, Sunday, 1 January 2023 01:23 (one year ago) link

What are your favorite recently published short stories?

the pinefox, Sunday, 1 January 2023 14:02 (one year ago) link

which should I read?
remain in love by Frantz
book of drugs by Doughty
Echo spring by Laing
crude by Laing

calstars, Sunday, 1 January 2023 14:11 (one year ago) link

Already finished the first book of the year: Hua Hsu's memoir Stay True, about his zine-making, indie rock-loving college years and unlikely friendship with a Dave Matthews Band-loving preppie student who was tragically murdered. Very touching and hits the right 90s cultural touchstones.

Chris L, Sunday, 1 January 2023 15:00 (one year ago) link

Will flip between:

New Juche - Mountainhead
Derek Jarman - Through the Billboard Promised Land Without Ever Stopping
Colin Barrett - Homesickness

bain4z, Sunday, 1 January 2023 15:39 (one year ago) link

picked up The Self Awakened: Pragmatism Unbound by Roberto Mangabeira Unger again. It really is tremendously invigorating reading. I think the critics cited in the wikipedia article have it exactly right:

vintage Unger: exhortative, deeply romantic, full of moral intensity, relentlessly hopeful, marginal to professional philosophy. The work is part essay (after Emerson or the German romantics), part sermon, part political manifesto, and part critical theory. It is a left-romantic-existential-political Wake-Up Call. There is an American optimism and energy about it too. It seems more spiritually akin to Whitman or Emerson than to the "Pragmatists" it celebrates.

inject it into my veins. I’m curious to know what his policy programme when he was part of Lula’s ministry was. Again critics are right to point out, it’s all very abstracted from specifics about practical application in the world so understanding how he applied his thinking in a policy role is of interest.

The Eleven (Les Onze) - Pierre Michon trans. Jody Gladding and Elizabeth Deshays.

It seems an extraordinarily flat-footed translation, clunky and v difficult to read. It’s possible that this book on which Michon apparently spent 15 years working is substantially different from the previous ones translated by Anne Jefferson, but the same elements are clearly there. It just feels like it’s been translated extremely literally with little sense for Michon’s tone and rhythms (something Wyatt Mason seems to imply in his superbly enjoyable NYRB article)

Izumi Suzuki - Terminal Boredom

Interesting and playful experiments in science fiction, gender and psychology so far.

Jacques Roubaud - The Great Fire of London

I take a fairly dim view of what i consider “writers block” novels - writing about your failure to write feels like a failure regardless. However this is quite a lot of fun, with anecdotal and emotional substance, and formal and intellectual intrigue. V enjoyable.

John Gordon - The House on the Brink
Oh this is excellent and I didn’t realise until I looked him up that he was also responsible for the also very good and weird The Giant Under the Snow. Weird teenage supernatural story partly in the MR James mode (East Anglia, supernatural materialises in carefully handled ways) but with sharp picture of adolescence.

Fizzles, Sunday, 1 January 2023 17:43 (one year ago) link

i read giant under the snow aged 10-ish and liked it, so was super-keen when house on the brink came out -- it was enthusiastically reviewed in puffin post! -- and i think no book has ever frightened me as much, though i've never entirely identified what it is about it

i still proceed quite gingerly when i pick it up again now

mark s, Sunday, 1 January 2023 17:55 (one year ago) link

I think I got The Giant Under the Snow from Puffin Post as well! (see also Robert Westall, John Christopher, Susan Cooper, Rosemary Sutcliffe)

Yes, it’s not at all clear what it’s about, in quite an unnerving way. I like the way the children are *extremely* sharp edged.

Fizzles, Sunday, 1 January 2023 18:03 (one year ago) link

I'm reading a thing I was sent to blurb and my expectations were low but it's very enjoyable crime fiction! a nice new year's surprise

J Edgar Noothgrush (Joan Crawford Loves Chachi), Sunday, 1 January 2023 19:01 (one year ago) link

^ That's a good blurb right there.

jmm, Sunday, 1 January 2023 20:28 (one year ago) link

Can you tell us what it is, or do we have to wait for you to finish and write the blurb first?

A Kestrel for a Neve (James Redd and the Blecchs), Sunday, 1 January 2023 20:32 (one year ago) link

So just finished A People's History by Howard Zinn. Enjoyed.

& got further into West of The Revolution by Saud which is talking about devastation felt by various native tribes around the continent. Does seem to be something I want to get through. & hopefully get through Surviving genocide before too long.

I need to get further into W.E.B. Du Bois The Souls of Black Folks which is actually in the same bag within my shoulder bag that bell hooks The Will To Change is in. I think I started it a few months ago and not read more of it despite it being in that bag or possibly because it is in that bag

Stevolende, Sunday, 1 January 2023 20:35 (one year ago) link

Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, which I last read 30 years ago.

Les hommes de bonbons (cryptosicko), Sunday, 1 January 2023 21:11 (one year ago) link

I've been wondering lately if it was time for me to go back to re-read Huck Finn. One of these years I'm going to designate as My Year of Mostly Re-Reading. This would be a great year for that, but I just bought a ton of new and used books, so I have at least a year's worth of stuff I never read before sitting in piles and I need to address them, too.

more difficult than I look (Aimless), Sunday, 1 January 2023 21:25 (one year ago) link

I like the idea of a year of re-reading. My main resolution is the same as last year: more forrin/translated fiction.

My other main resolution is to either a) not buy any new books and only read from my monstrous 'to read' pile/shelf/cathedral or ii) be frank about what I want to keep from my 'to read' vault and exorcise the least likely before buying anything new. The latter feels like the best approach, as the books are more likely to have been bought on a whim and don't yet have the attachment of longer-owned books.

Shard-borne Beatles with their drowsy hums (Chinaski), Sunday, 1 January 2023 22:03 (one year ago) link

Can you tell us what it is, or do we have to wait for you to finish and write the blurb first?

this right here. I didn't make the galleys blurb deadline, which was like 4 days after I got the wire-bound reader copy, but the press deadline is later. it's a good read, I've been in a genre fiction mood lately with Italian noir stuff -- this isn't that, Italian noir is its own zone, but it's good

J Edgar Noothgrush (Joan Crawford Loves Chachi), Sunday, 1 January 2023 22:48 (one year ago) link

The technology trap : capital, labor, and power in the age of automation Carl Benedikt Frey,
library book that has been sitting around teh bed waiting for me to continue. Book on why labour saving technology doesn't seem to save much labour in the long run. One idea being that time freed is soon taken up by other tasks.
THis book is looking into the history of the interface between mankind and technology. I've just got up to the point where the author has been looking at the power of the guilds to put off the introduction of labour saving technology. He's looked at Europe and China and come back to look at the UK. Apparently the decline of power of the guilds there meant less opposition to the introduction of labour saving technology and from that the Industrail Revolution ensued.

Stevolende, Monday, 2 January 2023 09:33 (one year ago) link

Rereading can be good, even essential, and I've been rereading certain books for my whole adult life, but at this point I think I'm still keen to read and learn as much as possible of books I haven't already read.

I sympathise with the point about 'reading what's actually on your shelves' rather than going out and seeking even more.

I continue with short stories:
What are your favorite recently published short stories?

the pinefox, Monday, 2 January 2023 11:29 (one year ago) link

With Hope, Farewell, Alexander Baron - One of those writers you run into a lot if you get interested in old East End stuff. So far, very good on the competitiveness of young boys and the awkwardness of trying to suss someone out whom you've just met and aren't going to see for long. The portrayal of anti-semitism is hardly subtle but then I'm sure neither was the experience of it in 1930's Britain.

Daniel_Rf, Monday, 2 January 2023 11:44 (one year ago) link

I recently finished Candy House by Jennifer Egan; she does what she does well; she has experience.
I have a book of short stories and a novel by Claire Louise-Bennett with which I am trying to engage; I think I will read Pond first. Do you think it is important to read short stories in one sitting?

youn, Monday, 2 January 2023 13:20 (one year ago) link

I reread at least one novel a month.

Malevolent Arugula (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Monday, 2 January 2023 13:26 (one year ago) link

The Westing Game: fun, original, pretty woke (for the 80s)

Chuck_Tatum, Monday, 2 January 2023 15:53 (one year ago) link

Do you think it is important to read short stories in one sitting?

No, but if you add a long bath into the mix, then yes

(last bath was: The Garden of Forking Paths)

Chuck_Tatum, Monday, 2 January 2023 15:57 (one year ago) link

Alfred, did I dream that you read while walking, and, more to the point, walking at 6.30 in the morning?

Shard-borne Beatles with their drowsy hums (Chinaski), Monday, 2 January 2023 16:08 (one year ago) link

Rereading is easily a third of my reading. I don't feel like I have a handle on any kind of complex book after just one reading. There's also just a different feeling to rereading. I'm not as conscious of my progress in the book, the width of the remaining pages, or like I'm running a marathon to get to the end.

jmm, Monday, 2 January 2023 16:29 (one year ago) link

Melville - Just started Bartleby, the Scrivener. Also plan to read The Confidence Man, though not sure if I will start that immediately after.

Unfairport Convention (PBKR), Monday, 2 January 2023 17:22 (one year ago) link

^both amazing works

speaking of rereading, starting on my second go through of christina stead's the man who loved children... been at least 20 years so my memory of it is fuzzy, pretty much just remember the overweening egotism of the father & the misery it causes for the rest of the family. in the collection of her shorter works i've just read there are a couple of autobiographical pieces which put a more positive spin on her relationship with her father/family life, but you can still feel some slight exasperation peeping through.

no lime tangier, Monday, 2 January 2023 18:59 (one year ago) link

The Confidence Man
Not that much like any other Melville or anything else I've read, but Melville as hell, when he'd apparently long since given up on acceptance in his lifetime: fuck it, he's just doing what he wants, taking it as far as he wants, apparently. Whatever you've read about it, the TCM reading experience is its own thing. Mark Twain prob understood it (see esp. MT outtakes in the University of California Press collections and some Library of America as well, I think).

dow, Monday, 2 January 2023 20:03 (one year ago) link

Alfred, did I dream that you read while walking, and, more to the point, walking at 6.30 in the morning?

― Shard-borne Beatles with their drowsy hums (Chinaski)

Yep. No one around, sun's coming out.

Malevolent Arugula (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Monday, 2 January 2023 20:08 (one year ago) link

I think it's great and yet have no idea of the logistics! All power to you, of course.

Shard-borne Beatles with their drowsy hums (Chinaski), Monday, 2 January 2023 20:52 (one year ago) link

Confessions of Zeno by Italo Svevo - clearly an absurd character but I'm not finding it laugh out loud funny, should I be?

ledge, Tuesday, 3 January 2023 09:03 (one year ago) link

I usually have one fiction and one non-fiction book going - right now it is:

Tim Powers - Forced Perspectives: second book in his Vickery and Castine series and, sadly, probably the last I'll read. I love Powers' previous para-historical novels, but the swerve into contemporary urban fantasy is bumming me out. Both this and the previous Alternate Routes feel like they exist solely to be spun off into some other medium: streaming cable, comics, or...

Serhii Plokhy - The Gates of Europe: A History of Ukraine. Outstanding book. Slow going.

Elvis Telecom, Tuesday, 3 January 2023 09:55 (one year ago) link

Confessions of Zeno by Italo Svevo - clearly an absurd character but I'm not finding it laugh out loud funny, should I be?

― ledge,


Malevolent Arugula (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Tuesday, 3 January 2023 10:37 (one year ago) link

I'll see if I can rewire my humour circuit...

ledge, Tuesday, 3 January 2023 11:07 (one year ago) link

xpost continuation of my previous post ... The short stories are good; the writing is vivid in the sense that it calls to mind things that are vivid and feel present. Correction on her name ... it is Claire-Louise Bennett.

youn, Tuesday, 3 January 2023 13:20 (one year ago) link

I could not read in the bath for fear of damaging the book. I hate it when I drop books from the nightstand. I can't bear it when people throw books.

youn, Tuesday, 3 January 2023 13:21 (one year ago) link

Claire Keegan - Small Things Like These
Darryl Pinckney - Busted in New York and Other Essays

Malevolent Arugula (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Tuesday, 3 January 2023 13:22 (one year ago) link

o.nate, Martin Amis wrote a review about Burroughs in about 1980 that could interest you.

Brad Nelson, I like David Mitchell.

I am 1/3 through SUDDEN TIMES. I was forming the view that it belonged to a subgenre of 'rural or provincial fiction in which the modern rural landscape is not traditional or wholesome but chaotic and populated by a range of perverse characters'. Alan Warner's Scotland could be comparable. I was going to coin the phrase THE NEW, WEIRD IRELAND to gesture at the local instance of this mode. But actually the category isn't entirely correct for this novel as much of it takes place in a town. Within that more urban setting, it does still have some of that atmosphere. The characters have now just arrived in Dublin. The novel has a sense of repressed memory of violence which I assume will eventually be explained.

the pinefox, Thursday, 16 March 2023 11:55 (one year ago) link

Elizabeth Bowen - To the North
William Styron - Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness

the very juice and sperm of kindness. (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Thursday, 16 March 2023 11:58 (one year ago) link

Martin Amis is a grub compared to Burroughs, can’t trust the taste of anyone who believes otherwise afaic.

The Wild Boys is the book of his that remains most important to many fans and detractors alike. Fwiw, I have my problems with Burroughs, but most of the objections and handwringing about him seem to relate to the objectors’ latent homophobia.

Goose Bigelow, Fowl Gigolo (the table is the table), Thursday, 16 March 2023 12:38 (one year ago) link

Finished Anthony Beevor's Stalingrad. Felt a sense of urgency as I had been reading it for 7 months when I realized it's the same book it took Mark forever to read on Peep Show, and I didn't want that comparison. Now started Aftermath: Life in the Fallout of the Third Reich.

Also started Cutter and Bone by Newton Thornburg, because I can't go too long without a fix of down and out 20th century grifters.

Chris L, Thursday, 16 March 2023 15:29 (one year ago) link

xxpost he made a lot of good records Not only do you get the mighty wry drone of his voice carrying the words, but records are shorter than books! Also, although he did make some effective unaccompanied albums, esp. his ESP-DISK, Call Me Burroughs, peak years bought added value via appropriate music of Material, Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy, R.E.M., Kurt Cobain, and Hal Willner, among others.

dow, Thursday, 16 March 2023 16:46 (one year ago) link

So I'd much rather listen than read much more, but although his texts could push racism and misogyny past too-hip irony and socially relevant-to-over-the-top satire, including of his own cosmic comic strip reels and jabs, you could say the same for some of Celine's antisemitic forays: there's still something convincingly repulsive in there at times.

dow, Thursday, 16 March 2023 17:06 (one year ago) link

Although Burroughs' voice as a writer, on the page, also can convey a lifelong struggle with what he identifies as systems of control, especially heroin and language, and the confounding existence of women: sometimes he seems to be writing around the awareness of having killed his wife---agreeing to play William Tell with his pistol while wasted----but what the hell was he of all people doing with a wife?? Some said the kid wasn't his, but sure looked like him, whaa--life is complicated---again, not to let him off the hook, but he surely could twist on it---

dow, Thursday, 16 March 2023 17:16 (one year ago) link

you could say the same for some of Celine's antisemitic forays: there's still something convincingly repulsive in there at times.

Well céline is actively trying to convince you (of his antisemitism and that you should be antisemitic too); irony and satire don’t really come into it when it comes to that stuff

piedro àlamodevar (wins), Thursday, 16 March 2023 17:22 (one year ago) link

He sometimes *seems* to get possibly deliberately crazy, ridiculous with it,and/or he can't help it, just feels so good to rub out faces in it, so what I meant to say re pushing past (or through irony and satire, more in Burroughs' writing than that of Celine, but some kind of compulsion in both cases---coming full circle to basic badness---

dow, Thursday, 16 March 2023 17:44 (one year ago) link

But meanwhile, in the reading experience, small distinctions can make for bumps I feel, however much it matters or doesn't (Celine could maybe give himself a pass, be the smugly virtuous physician when not writing; Burroughs doesn't have that, and can convey that sense of writing around, of droning over and pushing past anxiety and chaos, building his own system of control for the moment, over and over again)

dow, Thursday, 16 March 2023 17:51 (one year ago) link

Also, Celine concentrated most of his anti-semitic writing in what he called his pamphlets, actually three full-length books, evil gutter clowning: let me entertain you, shock you and invite you on a wild ride---with his *relatively* non-tainted novels of universal futility kept acceptable enough as Literature (though he still loved to rant about Jews in interviews etc.), thus giving himself another pass of sorts.

dow, Thursday, 16 March 2023 18:22 (one year ago) link

It’s a pass insofar as a lot of ppl will only read the novels and not see the other stuff, otherwise it has the opposite effect: by putting the bulk of the antisemitism in the direct form of pamphlets there is zero plausible deniability, no outsize literary character to hide behind

piedro àlamodevar (wins), Thursday, 16 March 2023 18:37 (one year ago) link

& I’ve only read some Burroughs but the misogyny tends to be more diffused in the corpus right, so it’s less clear cut than with céline

otoh he did fucking kill a woman

piedro àlamodevar (wins), Thursday, 16 March 2023 18:43 (one year ago) link

Relevant, I’ve been bad at posting my reading itt but earlier this year I read the big new céline bio & found it really didn’t tackle that stuff well; the author bemoans the neverending “céline culture wars” in a way that suggests he’s somehow moved beyond it but he doesn’t really do anything at all different: c wrote some great books but his antisemitism cannot be ignored but he wrote some great books but

This leads to a bizarre section at the end where he tries to outline ways to resolve the argument (which is already absurd, there’s no way these debates stop happening while céline is still being published, either he is forgotten forever or the debates go on sorry if it bores you pal) and — no shit — one of his suggestions is that we consider the true objective worth of the books only, by looking at the prices his books go for at auction! It’s probably one of the stupidest things I’ve ever read in a book tbh

piedro àlamodevar (wins), Thursday, 16 March 2023 19:03 (one year ago) link

Was that bio by Damian Catani?

xyzzzz__, Thursday, 16 March 2023 20:44 (one year ago) link

That’s the one yeah

piedro àlamodevar (wins), Thursday, 16 March 2023 20:48 (one year ago) link

Ah ok, that's a shame - read bits of it (the early chapters) but didn't finish.

The book has this gap bcz since it was published these 'new' novels have been discovered. Not that it would make that much of a difference.

xyzzzz__, Thursday, 16 March 2023 21:03 (one year ago) link

o.nate, Martin Amis wrote a review about Burroughs in about 1980 that could interest you.

Thanks, I think I found it: "William Burroughs: The Bad Bits" from the New Statesman (1977). I liked this analogy:

Reading him is like staring for a week at a featureless sky; every few hours a bird will come into view or, if you're lucky, an aeroplane might climb past, but things
remain meaningless and monotone. Then, without warning (and not for long, and for no coherent reason, and almost always in The Naked Lunch), something happens: abruptly the clouds grow warlike, and the air is full of portents.

I can relate to that feeling.

The Wild Boys is the book of his that remains most important to many fans and detractors alike

If I get around to another of his books, I may try that one. Thanks.

o. nate, Friday, 17 March 2023 02:41 (one year ago) link

The Artist, the Philosopher, and the Warrior: Da Vinci, Machiavelli, and Borgia and the World They Shaped by Paul Strathern

leonardo da vinci, niccolo machiavelli and cesar borgia all hung out and went on a hike through emilia-romagna in the autumn of 1502. who knew? this book tells the story in a surprising amount of detail, mostly surmised indirectly through oblique references in their correspondences and notebooks. extremely enjoyable popular history writing

flopson, Friday, 17 March 2023 03:43 (one year ago) link

Very excited to start Wrong: A Critical Biography of Dennis Cooper by Diarmuid Hester before I dive into Cooper's own The Marbled Swarm. The episode of Bad Gays about Cooper with Hester was fantastic, which bodes well.

bain4z, Friday, 17 March 2023 11:43 (one year ago) link

Glad you found it, o. nate!

the pinefox, Friday, 17 March 2023 11:51 (one year ago) link

Previously on ILB: several favorable mentions of early (life) Burroughs, esp. Junkie and Queer and maybe Exterminator! (he was an exterminator for a while). I still want to check those. Also I think The Job may incl. some I have read when they were published in Rolling Stone: his conversation with Bowie, and his chatty review of Scandals of Scientology (the Church made an example of the author), incl. some of his own experiences with the e-meter, to understand what one did in past lives: an effort toward going clear---something about hiding a body in an alley--he didn't endorse anything except the e-meter, which he considered a very good polygraph. Also would want The Job to include his Crawdaddy confab with Jimmy Page.

dow, Friday, 17 March 2023 18:57 (one year ago) link

Somewhere mentioned smoking hash in an orgone box---was a big Denton Welch fan (not saying those interests were related)

dow, Friday, 17 March 2023 19:01 (one year ago) link

Very excited to start _Wrong: A Critical Biography of Dennis Cooper_ by Diarmuid Hester before I dive into Cooper's own _The Marbled Swarm_. The episode of Bad Gays about Cooper with Hester was fantastic, which bodes well.

Hester’s book is incredible and while ‘The Marbled Swarm’ is a departure in his oeuvre, it is one of Cooper’s most accomplished books— its structure, syntax, and tonal shape are a real marvel. Just be prepared for some squishing

Goose Bigelow, Fowl Gigolo (the table is the table), Friday, 17 March 2023 19:44 (one year ago) link

I took four different books with me for a four night beach vacation because I had only just finished my previous book and hadn't landed on a new one yet. I wound up deciding on a bit of fluff by Bill Bryson called At Home, published about a decade ago. Bryson excels at writing books compounded of hundreds of short, pithy anecdotes and factoids, draped upon a flimsy narrative structure just strong enough to sag under this weight, but not collapse.

What saves him is his keen sense of wit and irony in his choice of anecdotes and factoids. They are genuinely interesting for the five to ten minutes you spend engaged with each of them before you move on to the next. It fits the profile of 'beach reading' very well.

more difficult than I look (Aimless), Saturday, 18 March 2023 03:45 (one year ago) link

I continue, now and again, reading THE BEST OF C.M. KORNBLUTH.

Thread of Wonder, the next 5000 posts: science fiction, fantasy, speculative fiction 2021 and beyond

the pinefox, Sunday, 19 March 2023 10:34 (one year ago) link

reading Ivo Andric, The Bridge on the Drina -- utterly excellent, part of a trilogy though mercifully not a trilogy tracing a narrative arc as you can't find a copy of the third volume in English for less than a hundred buck

reading Shane McCrae's memoir Pulling the Chariot of the Sun -- I have memoir fatigue and didn't expect to find, in this, a book I think everyone should read; his story is hard, kind of unimaginable, and the writing is piercing -- every page a pleasure, but "pleasure" is the wrong word because every page is also hard going, his story is painful to hear but his telling is stunning. I'm reading a galley, it's not out til August.

J Edgar Noothgrush (Joan Crawford Loves Chachi), Sunday, 19 March 2023 12:03 (one year ago) link

I almost bought The Bridge on the Drina at the store yesterday.

the very juice and sperm of kindness. (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Sunday, 19 March 2023 12:20 (one year ago) link

I have a musty old hardback copy of *Bridge on the Drina* that I *will* get around to one day.

Shard-borne Beatles with their drowsy hums (Chinaski), Sunday, 19 March 2023 12:45 (one year ago) link

Funny, I find Shane McCrae’s poetry insurmountably bad, but have always enjoyed the bits of prose I’ve read. I’m interested in this memoir!

I couldn’t make it to NY to see Bob Glück read this past week, so I am re-reading his Elements, re-issued in 2013 nearly thirty years after its first publication. While not on par with his other book of stories, Denny Smith, there are moments of stunning clarity and insight. I highly rate all of his novels, particularly Jack the Modernist, for those who are interested.

Most interesting about his writing is its ability to make me want to write— a unique and powerful gift for any writer to share with their readership.

Goose Bigelow, Fowl Gigolo (the table is the table), Sunday, 19 March 2023 13:39 (one year ago) link

Several books back, but this one keeps coming back to the spotlight in memory theater: Karen Joy Fowler's novelBOOTH, which earns its brevity x caps via encompassing mutability of family experience, tree of lives, with BOOTH in the face ov history courtesy little brother John Wilkes re-absorbed, as much as possible, into family context, while changing it, another change, incl. the way stories told by one's memory gradually change over many years.
Fowler, known for her speculative fiction with a strong feminist undercurrent, at least, and often with an uncommon sense of the historical, here boldy reaches through the ever-expanding welter of mid-etc. 19th Century lore & troves, apparently authenticated discoveries and bullshit, esp. regarding all things related to the Civil War, and brings forth Rosalie, the least-known offspring of Junius, among those who made it to adulthood,for the center of the chronicle's first section. On an isolated homestead, she minds her little sibs, living and ead, while also sorting out her sense of her parents, with mother frequently incapacited, father frequently on tour, fairly frequently crazy when he comes back. It's not unstressful and often fairly eerie to watch, but it's a way of life, frequently bringing the news from inner and outer spaces, day to day, night to night: she finds a balance.
Gradually, especially when the family moves back into town, to Baltimore--later, as adults, in New York City and so forth--the outer world grows a lot, with Rosalie taking her turns in the foreground, as the young 'uns grow up, each with a very distinctive personality, variations on a theatrical sensibility. John emerges as, while never the best actor, a born dreamer, and joiner of kid gangs he romanticizes, while gradually losing sense of fair play, also sense, period. Abe starts showing up periodically, likewise other increasingly familiar bits of plot points, but only when necessary, only for a while.

dow, Sunday, 19 March 2023 18:37 (one year ago) link

Hester’s book is incredible and while ‘The Marbled Swarm’ is a departure in his oeuvre, it is one of Cooper’s most accomplished books— its structure, syntax, and tonal shape are a real marvel. Just be prepared for some squishing

Just finished the Hester and yes, it is a really great insight into how Cooper's work is informed by/goes onto inform so much interesting, cool stuff. Delighted it exists.

bain4z, Monday, 20 March 2023 15:15 (one year ago) link

I continue with SUDDEN TIMES. It becomes very much book about "the Irish in England" - in a certain generation, 1980s, 1990s, going through Coventry, Birmingham and London. Much of its world is that of building sites and labourers. Meanwhile it also develops its very menacing plot of crime, murder, vengeance, fear - but does all this through its meandering monologue which could veer anywhere at any time.

the pinefox, Monday, 20 March 2023 17:46 (one year ago) link

finished Notre Dame de Paris. i especially bought the penguin modern classics ebook thinking it'd be a more modern translation and better quality than random PG-based ebook but the translation is 1974 (49 years) and the ocr problems run into the hundreds, even in the chapter titles. i wonder if i can send them my corrections and if they'd care?

anyway, it's early Hugo and i think i prefer later Hugo. 22 pages of the view from Notre Dame, which is bascially a list of buildings, in the 1400s.

also, over a week until the end of the month, too late to start Germinal (which was the plan) so do i just start on April's list?

koogs, Tuesday, 21 March 2023 11:05 (one year ago) link

I finish Dermot Healy's SUDDEN TIMES (1998). I add:

* the book has a very unusual structure. The first half is set in a 'present day', but with flashes of traumatic memory. The second half is about that traumatising past. OK so far. But the odd thing is that the narrative then never returns from the massive 'flashback' or story of earlier events. The point that the 'present' story had reached is just abandoned.

* the book becomes quite dark. The protagonist's friend is burned to death by acid by, probably, protection racket gangsters. Then he gets involved with similar or the same gangsters and they burn his brother to death. Quite horrific. The protagonist gets through it in a state perhaps numbed, also very disturbed and hallucinatory.

* the voice of the book is a main distinction. It's varied, unpredictable, light on its feet. The whole book is narrated in small, sometimes tiny, subsections, within chapters, within 7 large sections. The voice at times is very close to Beckett; this must be conscious. But often the subject matter is too modern (1980s-1990s) to be so Beckettian.

The puzzling structure makes me feel that this book is not wholly satisfactory, though it is somewhat impressive in forging this literary voice.

the pinefox, Tuesday, 21 March 2023 11:31 (one year ago) link

Why/how does a Beckettian voice work only with earlier subject matter? I hadn't thought of that, not having seen anybody but Beckett trying it.

dow, Tuesday, 21 March 2023 18:03 (one year ago) link

Dow, I don't think I sought to imply that a Beckettian voice would only *work* with earlier subject matter - hadn't thought of it that way ... More just that much of the time the book is talking about Ireland in, maybe, the mid-1990s and doesn't feel so much like Beckett. But there are numerous specific moments where it does; where the phrasing and diction are so Beckettian that it seems that the author must know this. In those moments, usually, the subject isn't very modern and specific, and phrasing and diction are rather more old-fashioned.

If you're interested in post-Beckettian writing (ie: somewhat 'influenced' by SB) then this is possibly of interest.

Quite likely (I haven't looked) the author doesn't see himself as especially Beckettian and may well think that's only a small part of what he was or is doing.

the pinefox, Tuesday, 21 March 2023 19:14 (one year ago) link

As for 'not having seen anybody but Beckett trying it' -- I think it would be fair to point to a host of derivatives, in various veins, from Pinter and Stoppard to, definitely, John Banville, who is sometimes so close as to seem like sheer pastiche. Even Eimear McBride has Beckettian traces, as Adam Mars-Jones pointed out c.10 years ago - and now I think of it she went on to write a more deliberately Beckettian book.

Try also:

the pinefox, Tuesday, 21 March 2023 19:17 (one year ago) link

Thanks! Come to think of it, can imagine Pinter, especially, encouraged by Beckett's approach: the playwright developing a sense of heightened aural realism, voices in his head via "street" cadence and found articulation (individualistic and received), for instance---neither writers' characters are anything like professional or classy, Educated speakers.

dow, Tuesday, 21 March 2023 19:43 (one year ago) link

Of course, that can be tricky---Beckett can come off too predictably Beckettian on the page---

dow, Tuesday, 21 March 2023 19:45 (one year ago) link

I started Bowen's short stories and Kawabata's Thousand Cranes.

the very juice and sperm of kindness. (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Tuesday, 21 March 2023 19:54 (one year ago) link

Dow, FWIW, I think it's accurate to say that Pinter revered Beckett, and thus was hardly even embarrassed by the fact that his (early?) work so obviously resembled Beckett's. There was some slight personal contact between them.

I just happened to hear a radio production of Stoppard's play this week and was - predictably - struck by a certain cadence and rhythm that was derivative of Godot -- again, blatantly and famously so. Again the writer reveres Beckett.

One thing I will suggest is that academic reflection on 'Beckettian tradition' has probably too easily forgotten these obvious stage examples by going off into more rarefied examples in prose fiction (even, say, DeLillo!).

I must read that volume of Bowen stories (which must be about 500pp?).

the pinefox, Tuesday, 21 March 2023 20:32 (one year ago) link

Gerald Murnane - Tamarisk Row
Hermann Bruger - Tractaus Logico-Suicidalis

Murnane's first novel is dense, exhausting, at times exhilarating read. Not since Proust have I felt such power in the rendering of childhood memory -- a lot of times it feels like a writer, in doing things, is attempting to copy Proust -- and while Murnane has read him the sentences don't feel like Proust at all, he ploughs different depths - even if they can both end up exhausting. Its a hell of an effort too, for a first one.

The Bruger is more of an end of life affair, as the writer goes through 1046 pieces (from a line to a paragraph) of 'suicidology' (he would kill himself a short while after). Weirdly enough its lighter than it sounds: a lot on Kleist, Kafka, Bernhard and other German language writers make an appearance (philosophy but mostly literature). Camus. And...Houdini, his passages on him end up being some of the most moving. The escape artist, almost as if Bruger was writing to cheat death for the very briefest of moments.

xyzzzz__, Thursday, 23 March 2023 21:57 (one year ago) link

Finished David Smith’s translation of César Vallejo’s Trilce, an utterly weird but moving reading experience. I had only read stray poems here and there before, and apparently the Eshleman translation is the one I should seek, but I quite enjoyed the somewhat literal element of Smith’s.

Goose Bigelow, Fowl Gigolo (the table is the table), Friday, 24 March 2023 03:02 (one year ago) link

I'm reading and loving Calvino's Mr Palomar. Though I greatly enjoyed The Baron in Trees many years ago, and though should be very much up my strada, I always found Invisible Cities and If... a bit too... ethereal?... in their fabulism for me. This is wonderful though - minutely observed and ruminated episodes of everyday life, like a droll companion to Ponge or a phenomenological M Hulot. Particularly liked the horny tortoises and querelous blackbirds.

― Piedie Gimbel, Sunday, March 5, 2023

Oh, I should have started with Mr. P.! But had already been swept away by takes on Invisible Cities. How I wish I could see it that way, those ways. I like the premise, explained up front: my sense of that is Marco Polo as a kind of mercantile and supposedly peripatetic (at least ramblin' talkwise) Scheherazade, trying to save his client (and perhaps his head) from conqueror's remorse. But way before the pipes are lit, and the conversations become what each one imagines that he says to the other, binaries start getting very apparent: this city is wonderful or at least presentable, this other city (behold!) is not, and o what do you think their relationship is. Answers increasingly fall flat---not always, but so often each point is either arguable, or debatable, on the money, or just a bit (sometimes just a hair) on the nose, page by page (most cities take up a page or less, though the best [in terms of art appreciation, or enjoyment, resonance of a deeper point, or a chuckle) tend to be maybe two pages, or much shorter: a paragraph, a sentence, a phrase, an especially appealing word choice (must check some other authors translated by William Weaver).
The characters and the author eventually seem to tire of the trek as well, but cities do run down (and some of these are cities built on top of cities built on top of cities through the ages, though don't think he bothers to mention Troy). So that seems natural, but the end doesn't come soon enough---the second half did revive me more often, though making myself read another of these 160-odd pages each night became exhausting overall: in that sense, it was an unusually handy bedtime read.
On to Mr. Palomar! But not very soon (another binary, sure).

dow, Friday, 24 March 2023 03:03 (one year ago) link

If we're still operating on a seasonal turnaround for each new WAYR thread, it's time to move to new digs. I'll happily let anyone who wishes decorate the new place with a title and a welcome mat. I'm a bit burned out atm.

more difficult than I look (Aimless), Friday, 24 March 2023 05:18 (one year ago) link

Hermann Bruger


xyzzzz__, Friday, 24 March 2023 05:55 (one year ago) link

I've started on Walter Benjamin, RADIO BENJAMIN: a large collection of his writing for radio.

the pinefox, Friday, 24 March 2023 10:04 (one year ago) link

thx gyac

more difficult than I look (Aimless), Friday, 24 March 2023 16:04 (one year ago) link

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