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Just finished Ask the Dust by John Fante, a slim novel which didn't live up to the extravagant praise I've heard from Bukowski fans. Henry Miller and Hubert Selby did this kind of thing much better.

I'm currently reading Middlesex, has anyone else read it? I remember it being discussed elsewhere and people were criticizing the fact that it won the pulitzer prize. Maybe not Pulitzer Prize worthy

Several of the pieces in Paris to the Moon appeared earlier as Gopnik's monthly Letters from Paris to The New Yorker. His use of adjectives to describe the weather, the neighborhood, etc impressed me

I’ve had John Shoptaw’s study of Ashbery, On the Outside Looking Out for a long time, but had only read parts of it. Now working through, which is slow because it makes you want to re-read whichever poem is being discussed.

 

Also seeking to be one of the only people to read the English translation of the novel Charles-Louis Philippe wrote after Bubu de Montparnasse.

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Catching up here.

 

Lion Feuchtwanger's Wartesaal (Waiting Room) trilogy, the first two volumes set in Bavaria in the 1920s and '30s, the third among Bavarian and other German refugees in Paris on the eve of war. I finished Success, and am almost done with Paris Gazette, which are the first and third volumes (I had trouble getting The Oppermans, but I now have it). It's not a single continuous narrative (there are a few recurring characters), so reading out of order is not a problem. It's a massive work. I was asking myself, is it like Musil? Like Broch? Like Doblin? Like Jules Romains? No, it's like itself. Feuchtwanger manages countless characters with flair, has a dry sense of humor, and tells the tale without high modernist flourishes. 

 

The recent New Yorker article on German artists in exile reminded me I hadn't read him.

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Wayne Koestenbaum, Camp Marmalade

Edgar Allan Poe, Eureka

Wordsworth, "The Prelude"

 

And while everyone is reading La Peste for the first time as a literal account of a health crisis, I thought a re-read of Saul Bellow's Dangling Man would be appropriate for the lockdown.

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You can add Ken Follett's 5 pound World Without End which chronicles the plague as being both timely and time consuming.    Interesting concept is nuns' use of vinegar soaked masks.   

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1,000 pages of Follett, no I’m good. I will spread the word about vinegar on Twitter though.

 

Dangling Man isn’t major Bellow, but it’s a major cabin fever novel.

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Linda Williams, Hard Core, the seminal feminist study of hard core pornography. And “seminal” seems apt. It’s actually a really good read; deploys Foucault effectively, and critical readings of Marx and Freud without ever getting stodgy.

 

Although it wasn’t remotely planned, I saw the vintage hard core movie exhibit at the Museum of Sex fairly recently (I went for the 70s/punk show), so I happen to have seen examples of the movies discussed in the first couple of chapters.

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Spengler, The Decline of the West. Yes, the abridged translation. Interesting to read it, by coincidence, after Poe’s Eureka. Both texts make free with dialectical oppositions and both operate at a very high level of explanation. Poe knew he was making shit up and acknowledged his text could be read as a poem. Spengler believes his stuff.

 

And indeed he knows a million buildings and paintings and pieces of music (not so strong on literature or science), and occasionally says something interesting (the importance of the live brush stroke in painting, anticipating Rosenberg). But there is no argument or demonstration here, just a wild roller coaster ride from page to page.

 

Nordau’s Degeneration is similar, but Nordau gives himself a much narrower subject - “degenerate” modern art - and so serves as a useful source book as well as an inadvertent barrel of laughs.

 

Okay I will read something lighter next.

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"Eureka" finishes very strong as a prose poem (last few pages reminded me of Rilke's elegies), but then there are laugh-out-loud claims and theories along the way. A very odd production.  

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A new book about the early-era Kinks just came out.

 

One of my favorite bands, and certainly a favorite songwriter, whose first album did have the classic "You Really Got Me" aboard.

 

Don't have the book yet, but read this review; by another of my favorites, Wesley Stace, aka John Wesley Harding (or should that be reversed?).

 

‘The Kinks: Songs of the Semi-Detached’ Review: Thank You for the Days

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I had read, I think A 1-9 previously, and dipped in an out of the rest. Reading consecutively and further, I find a big change at 11 and 12 — written 10 years later of course. I am still in 12 (which is long), but not sure I like it as much as 1-9, which now seemed much less difficult than when I first read them. Great music and reasonably discernible themes.

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