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Michael Chabon's The Yiddish Policeman's Union.  I'm starting to warm up to it.  Hard to believe there actually was a plan to create a Jewish homeland in Alaska.

 

It's too bad they didn't include a Yiddish glossary in the back, though; I'm sure my non-Jewish colleague missed a great deal of the references.

 

Speak to me of Mouthfuls.

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Michael Chabon's The Yiddish Policeman's Union.  I'm starting to warm up to it.  Hard to believe there actually was a plan to create a Jewish homeland in Alaska.

 

It's too bad they didn't include a Yiddish glossary in the back, though; I'm sure my non-Jewish colleague missed a great deal of the references.

 

Speak to me of Mouthfuls.

 

Happy to be your translator. ;-)

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I read The Radetzky March right through today. It’s a very easy read, although there are some exquisite passages to re-read and linger over.

 

Same narrative subject as Musil’s MWQ, but set among Austrian troops at frontier posts and bureaucrats in provincial towns, rather than the Viennese beau monde. The sense of humor is different too. Broch’s Sleepwalkers shares the military background in parts, but ranges more widely and is more savagely satirical.

 

Ultimately a sad story. I think the character who has the happiest ending is the servant who keels over while polishing his master’s boots.

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You know, my wife really made fun of me for reading The Root and the Flower many many years ago.  I can't figure out why.  I kept telling her she'd like it.  She would have, too.  (She hadn't read it.  I have no idea what set her off.  None.)

 

I really don't know what was going on there.

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Marriage is great -- I'd argue that it's paradoxically the strongest expression/realization Western Culture permits an individual -- but it's strange.

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I don’t think my wife has made fun of me for reading something, but you have me combing my memory.

 

For lots of other reasons, obviously.

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Martin Gaylord, Modernists and Mavericks, a heavy because well illustrated volume which I expected to tell me (again) the stories of Bacon, Freud, and the Soho/Fitzrovia art scene of the 1940s and ‘50s.

 

Freud and Bacon are the center, but it turns out to be a much wider ranging examination of all kinds of competing “schools,” and once well known artists (Pasmore, Hilton, Bomberg), putting their disagreements and divergences nicely in historical and aesthetic context.

 

There are some statements which grate as blindingly obvious, but overall a definite recommendation. Intriguing on the international connections too, as British artists responded to French influences (Picasso, Leger) and Italian futurism, but were isolated from their AbEx contemporaries in the States.

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I re-read Tropic of Cancer right through on my return flight from Vegas. It’s a historic document now, I think, because the shock is long gone (because of what it enabled), and what was then a remarkably prescient anticipation of counter-cultural themes is by definition now prescience about what already happened. There are lots of funny bits, though.

 

And although Miller will never be recuperated from feminist criticism, it’s hard to imagine the fiction of Diane di Prima or Eileen Myles, for example, without him.

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Oh but I did learn that the Van Norden character was based on a journalist rejoicing in the name of Wambly Bald, and a collection of his columns from those days exists (so I got it).

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It must be frustrating to base a fictional character on a real-life person with a name you could never even approximate because it would look too artificial and literary.

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I wonder if Wambly would have preferred being called Van Norden in real life and Wambly Bald in the novel?

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Quine, The Roots of Reference. He is a funny writer, for all his profundity. As children we might distinguish “Mama” from “red” when she goes one way and her shawl goes another.

 

Basil Bunting’s great masterpiece “Briggflatts,” on the occasion of a celebration at Poet’s House with Tom Pickard, now a venerable poet himself, who as a teenager coaxed Bunting back from a long exile from the literary world.

 

Waiting for the new Algren biography to arrive.

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I'm continually astounded by the quantity of books some of you are able to read. I'm lucky if I can read one proper book a month, and I used to think myself somewhat literate, at least for a dork from the Jersey Shore.

 

I don't think I've read an actual novel since Normal People this winter. That reminds me, I need to open a dedicated thread...

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