The Double Dream of Spring 2019: what are we reading?

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the rings of saturn is my favorite book, vertigo is a very early draft of what he ends up achieving there

american bradass (BradNelson), Sunday, 16 June 2019 05:58 (three months ago) link

re: sebald, which i feel like i end up in a sebald conversation on ilx at least once a month

american bradass (BradNelson), Sunday, 16 June 2019 05:58 (three months ago) link

an addendum to the auto-fiction piece - although it didn’t have the name at the time Jocelyn Brooke writes in this mode and i wrote fairly extensively about the opportunities and problems it presents here.

It helps that Brooke is an exceptional writer. But there are some specifics that i think led him to this mode. he cites his shyness, and also wanting to avoid “the laws of libel”, and between the two seems to sit Brooke’s only partially successfully expressed sexuality, which is of a part with a habitual self-effacement and irony.

the autobiographical mode appears to be chosen because he had a strong sense of the places he inhabits, and the people who he has encountered. the self-effacement and laws of libel, the imperative of art and aesthetic means he sifts the elements into fiction.

it works very well, for me.

it is i think as Alfred said - it can be unclear even when an author states a thing to be one or the other, whether that is in fact the case. both involve emphasis and selection.

Brooke quotes Thomas Browne in relation to this very matter:

Some Truths seem almost Falsehoods and some Falsehoods almost Truths; Wherein Falsehood and Truth seem almost aequilibriously stated, and but a few grains of distinction to bear down the balance... Besides, many things are known, as some are seen, that is by Parallaxis, or at some distance from their true and proper beings, the superficial regard of things having a different aspect from their true and central Natures.

Fizzles, Sunday, 16 June 2019 06:16 (three months ago) link

I tried to re-read Austerlitz a year or so ago and found it too much. It has a kind of structural melancholy that seeps into your bones. Like all Sebald's first-person narrators the story the narrator is really telling - beneath the still surface of his tightly controlled sentences - is of actual and deferred silence. All of his work seems to orbit this absence and I think that's why it possible to find him directionless or not providing nourishment.

I need to think about Fizzles' post about Langley. He's a magician.

Good cop, Babcock (Chinaski), Sunday, 16 June 2019 09:26 (three months ago) link

I need to think about Fizzles' post about Langley. He's a magician.


i’ll try to post something more extensive in the journals thread. “midrash” is a bad word to use in the notes i put in there for one thing.

Fizzles, Sunday, 16 June 2019 09:28 (three months ago) link

I looked it up! I can totally see how Langley is a kind of mystic, reading nature as a holy text (without the attendant naffness that that implies - eg like Iain Sinclair at his worst).

Good cop, Babcock (Chinaski), Sunday, 16 June 2019 09:34 (three months ago) link

Finally, I don't wish to connect them other than they write a fiction that's purportedly autobiographical but I doubt is, I vastly prefer Elena Ferrante to Knausgaard. She has a relish for basic narrative besides a curiosity about other people that makes Knausgaard look insufferable.

Jumping into this, if you put craft to one side (which you can't ofc) I think part of my enjoyment of Ferrante is that to me it is inherently fascinating to hear about what it was like growing up poor in 1950's Naples, and I'm more than willing to take some embellishments along with that (assume most ppl talking about "the old days" irl are embellishing to make their narratives more interesting too, besides memory being an unreliable narrator anyway). Hiero's fellow student's experiences will probably be fascinating on that level too, in some future and for people in different places, tho I see that this doesn't make them any more interesting here and now.

Semi-related: I sometimes feel like proto-reality tv - Chronicle Of A Summer, Place De La Repúblique, the Up series, as well as oral histories, Studs Terkel's stuff - is my favourite genre in any medium, tho i don't care much about reality TV itself.

Daniel_Rf, Monday, 17 June 2019 11:02 (three months ago) link

I'm reading The Saga of Grettir the Strong, translated by Bernard Scudder. I've read nearly one Icelandic saga per year for about a decade now. It's been a good run, but this may be about the last one I'm interested in.

A is for (Aimless), Monday, 17 June 2019 16:33 (three months ago) link

180pp into Empson, after a digression back into Finnegans Wake with HOW JOYCE WROTE 'FINNEGANS WAKE' and Burgess's SHORTER FINNEGANS WAKE.

This last does seem a real way that one could read the book (I have read the book) but even with the clarifying frames every few pages there is still often a sense of hypnotic drift among the sounds. But then, line by line it is often clear enough. So perhaps the drift is a version of what happens with so much reading, not just FW.

Burgess's introduction is admirable but tends to confirm my long-held view that the frame / story of the book is not good and doesn't do justice to its texture.

the pinefox, Tuesday, 18 June 2019 06:49 (three months ago) link

GRAVITY'S RAINBOW is not rewarding and takes a lot of effort.

the pinefox, Tuesday, 18 June 2019 06:57 (three months ago) link

About to start Roadside Picnic. Hurrah. I really want to read russian lit. Only book I read is bulgakov’ master n marg.

nathom, Tuesday, 18 June 2019 09:37 (three months ago) link

Burgess's SHORTER FINNEGANS WAKE.

I bought this in a charity shop a couple of weeks ago. My copy of Finnegans Wake found itself in a burn while I was feeding ducks. :(

Leaghaidh am brón an t-anam bochd (dowd), Tuesday, 18 June 2019 17:14 (three months ago) link

(I rescued it, but now it's about twice as thick)

Leaghaidh am brón an t-anam bochd (dowd), Tuesday, 18 June 2019 17:14 (three months ago) link

About to start Roadside Picnic. Hurrah. I really want to read russian lit. Only book I read is bulgakov’ master n marg.

Babel, Nabokov, Dostoevsky, Tolstoy all better than that bullshit imo

Οὖτις, Tuesday, 18 June 2019 17:22 (three months ago) link

GRAVITY'S RAINBOW is not rewarding and takes a lot of effort.

― the pinefox, Monday, June 17, 2019 11:57 PM (yesterday) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

come on, not even the franz pökler sequence? the flash forward at the end?

american bradass (BradNelson), Tuesday, 18 June 2019 17:23 (three months ago) link

the lightbulb? so many rewards imo

american bradass (BradNelson), Tuesday, 18 June 2019 17:25 (three months ago) link

also Zemyatin's "We", of course

but if you want amazing Russian sf this is yr guy: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Victor_Pelevin - Omon Ra, Buddha's Little Finger, the Life of Insects, or Babylon/Generation Pi/Homo Zapiens are good starting points

avoid this asshole: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vladimir_Sorokin

xp

Οὖτις, Tuesday, 18 June 2019 17:25 (three months ago) link

I'm reading Full Surrogacy Now by Sophie Lewis, which is provocative to say the least. Compelling and readable, relatively light on assumed background in the language of Marxist theorizing. (Like if you've read Rius' seminal Marx para principiantes you'll do ok)

don't mock my smock or i'll clean your clock (silby), Tuesday, 18 June 2019 17:28 (three months ago) link

yeah gravity's rainbow is rewarding, i did find it incredibly hard to read in parts and didn't know wth was going on at the end there but still, def worth reading

findom haddie (jim in vancouver), Tuesday, 18 June 2019 17:29 (three months ago) link

GR blew my mind when I was 20. I’m kind of scared to return to it now.

o. nate, Tuesday, 18 June 2019 17:49 (three months ago) link

i reread it last year and it was still awesome. not perfect or anything, i think the overriding slapsticky tone dulls the emotional impact of other parts of the book, but this is a v minor complaint

american bradass (BradNelson), Tuesday, 18 June 2019 17:51 (three months ago) link

It's a gas

xyzzzz__, Tuesday, 18 June 2019 18:47 (three months ago) link

enjoying the endless hemming and hawing of border districts by gerald murnane. i also bought a nice hardback of the golden bowl that i'm going to try soon.

cheese canopy (map), Tuesday, 18 June 2019 20:45 (three months ago) link

still haven't read it, been looking for a long novel to read fresh

recriminations from the nitpicking woke (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Tuesday, 18 June 2019 20:52 (three months ago) link

As soon as I posted my entry, I thght: omfg i forgot to mention Nabokov. But in some fucked up way I don’t regard him as a Russian writer. I know I know. :-(

nathom, Tuesday, 18 June 2019 21:02 (three months ago) link

I will def read We.

nathom, Tuesday, 18 June 2019 21:03 (three months ago) link

which reminds me that if i ever finish doctor faustus i really want to read mason & dixon next

hey brad how far in are you

j., Wednesday, 19 June 2019 03:28 (three months ago) link

roadside picnic is marvellous.

Fizzles, Wednesday, 19 June 2019 06:09 (three months ago) link

Brad Nelson, I found GR very difficult, took years to read it and, to be succinct, I hated it.

The one interesting thing from my POV might be why people can be so different ie: why other people who on some counts share tastes and views of mine feel so differently about GR. You could say it's because they read it lots of times and I didn't; but then I didn't because it was so difficult and so unrewarding. To read it again would not have been a good use of this limited lifetime. I suppose I will never read it again. I need to read THE FAERIE QUEENE first. I wonder if that's better?

I do feel that GR has a relation or a resemblance to Finnegans Wake, which from my POV is one shorthand way of naming some of what worries me about FW, even though I try to reconcile myself to FW these days.

the pinefox, Wednesday, 19 June 2019 08:28 (three months ago) link

Roadside Picnic = good not bad

We = bad not good

xyzzzz__, Wednesday, 19 June 2019 09:07 (three months ago) link

Roadside Picnic is indeed very good.

As we begin summer I finished Jose Saramago's Blindness, which I think is a weaker effort only because I take a heavy disliking to dystopian fiction these days, his writing nearly overcomes the poverty of the imagination that comes with the genre. Now nearly done with Quincas Borba by Machado de Assis - it uses a lot of tricks that just weren't utilised in fiction at the time (or that I've come across anyway): the self-commentary on the plot for one, as it happens, and then the plot of transmigration of a philosopher's soul to his dog that just is only mentioned now and then as the narrative then concentrates on his friend and his dealings with high society in Imperial 19th century Brazil. It reminds me a bit of Donald Barthelme but I should re-read to check (I won't, don't have his books anymore).

xyzzzz__, Sunday, 23 June 2019 10:42 (two months ago) link

We should have a new thread?

xyzzzz__, Sunday, 23 June 2019 10:53 (two months ago) link

hey brad how far in are you

― j., Tuesday, June 18, 2019 8:28 PM (five days ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

about 200 pages

american bradass (BradNelson), Sunday, 23 June 2019 13:52 (two months ago) link

I started reading The Siege of Krishnapur, J. G. Farrell, but I'm not far enough into it yet to feel any lasting commitment. He was setting up the romantic interest as I set it down for the night and that direction did not bode well.

A is for (Aimless), Sunday, 23 June 2019 18:24 (two months ago) link

I read Claire Dederer's (not rhymed with Federer) memoir Love and Trouble. I loved it. It's kind of a mess but that fits with her flailing around trying to find a narrative for what she's experiencing (a midlife crisis, essentially, but within that is her coming to terms with her marriage, her attitude to sex - now and throughout her life) and also this kind of folksy dialectic she's aiming for. Apologies if I've made that sound shit because it really isn't. It's honest and questing and consoling.

She wrote a great essay for the Paris Review a while back; I was hooked on her from that: https://www.theparisreview.org/blog/2017/11/20/art-monstrous-men/

Good cop, Babcock (Chinaski), Sunday, 23 June 2019 18:36 (two months ago) link

hey brad how far in are you

― j., Tuesday, June 18, 2019 8:28 PM (five days ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

about 200 pages

― american bradass (BradNelson), Sunday, June 23, 2019 8:52 AM (eight hours ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

i could maybe get in on that! we should combine our earnest efforts

j., Sunday, 23 June 2019 22:23 (two months ago) link

I finished SEVEN TYPES OF AMBIGUITY - its density required a lot of effort. Brilliant, but it doesn't have much momentum; there's little overall movement in the argument, save that the 7th type is somehow more dramatic than the others in combining opposites.

It's notorious that Empson hardly believed in the types and thought they could hardly be distinguished. I often couldn't really tell what a particular type was doing, or make out how an example was serving a particular one of the 7 ideas. And most of what he says about opposites in that late section is hard to follow, to the point of mysticism.

Why I like it is a) the great pedantic attention to detail, with his particular brand of paraphrase of the verse; b) his great readiness to offer cranky digressions and statements on almost anything; c) his awesome knowledge of the English poetic canon. It made me reflect that almost no one now has this, and that I should work at it myself.

the pinefox, Monday, 24 June 2019 09:46 (two months ago) link

Flann O'Brien short pieces / stories translated from Irish: a couple very good and anticipating great later works.

Terry Eagleton, HUMOUR.

the pinefox, Monday, 24 June 2019 09:46 (two months ago) link

(checks watch) Holy cow! It is summer!

Time for a new the WAYR thread, so the cleaning staff can come in and vacuum up the crumbs, polish the sideboard, remove the candle stubs from the candelabra, and toss sheets over the furniture.

A is for (Aimless), Wednesday, 26 June 2019 00:27 (two months ago) link

> the cleaning staff can come in and vacuum up the crumbs

just leave it to the langoliers.

koogs, Wednesday, 26 June 2019 08:24 (two months ago) link

Don’t know which thread to put this on, but there is a feature up on The NY Times in which they list their favorite 50 memoirs of the past 50 years or so. Lots of things added to my wishlist.

o. nate, Wednesday, 26 June 2019 17:54 (two months ago) link

I went and did it. There is now a Summer 2019 WAYR thread. Please inspect it carefully for damage inflicted during transport before taking delivery.

A is for (Aimless), Wednesday, 26 June 2019 18:05 (two months ago) link

www link: 2019 Sum-Sum-Summertime: What Are You Reading, My Good People?

koogs, Thursday, 27 June 2019 08:37 (two months ago) link


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