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I needed something lighter, so The Fatal Fingers, one of William Le Queux’s 150 or so thrillers. I’ve had it for years, and it’s crumbling.

 

It makes Sapper and Eric Ambler look like Tolstoy and Dostoevsky. It’s not well written. But you know, two thirds through it, I do want to find out what happens. That’s how you get readers, I guess.

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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

Getting crazy, 116 pages into Seven Pillars of Wisdom, a book I’ve owned so long I could have sworn I’d read it.

 

This is going through all my shelves and telling myself, if you don’t want to read this or that even now, why do you have a copy?

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I've been working my way through the new-ish translations of what they are now calling, In Search of Lost Time -- something I've been meaning to do for a number of years.

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You mean the Penguin ones by a bunch of different people?

 

The Lydia Davis translation of Swann's Way is really great (and that's my least favorite book of the bunch by far).  I kind of wish she'd done all of it.  (I'm sure she doesn't.)

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I thought the second half of the very long “A 12” really took off. Aaron, I am very much enjoying it.

 

Also re-reading the only Genet novel I haven’t read a bunch of times already, Pompes Funebres.

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The Lydia Davis translation of Swann's Way is really great (and that's my least favorite book of the bunch by far).  I kind of wish she'd done all of it.  (I'm sure she doesn't.)

I saw her read for madame bovary and she said that they had paid her enough that she will never do a major translation again.

 

the paris review printed some really nice short stories that came out of the madame bovary translation a few years ago, worth looking up if you have access to their archive.

 

I see her ex-husband on the street a lot and he is a very unpleasant person.

 

wilfrid - thanks, I've wanted to read that for a while and wasn't sure if it would be worth the effort. maybe I'll give it a go.

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I might end up reading out of date travel guides too.

 

I have countless novels I could re-read, but very few which I haven't read before. The Cave by Saramago. Terra Nostra by Fuentes.  I do have a lot of unread short stories, though. I might try some Elizabeth Bowen. Maugham and Maupassant are sitting next to each other too: trouble will be remembering which ones I have read.

 

I know I can order books online, but I am not trying to grow the library at this stage.

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Some comments on A intended to be helpful, should Aaron or anyone else embark on it.

 

Sections 1 to 9 are easily enjoyed by anyone who likes the kind of poetry Zukofsky represents. His general themes are fairly clear (none of this is "easy" of course), and the poetry is very musical, and often fitted to strict formal schemes.

 

There was a 10 year gap in the writing after that. In sections 10 to 20, there's a lot more rambling from topic to topic, and across a huge range of literary references. Some themes -- moon landing, deaths of JFK and William Carlos Williams -- are clear enough, but I did find myself reaching for the Scroggins biography to find out which sources he was using and what he was trying to do at some points.

 

Section 21 is a breath of fresh air. A translation of a complete Plautus comedy into a mixture of high-flown language and slang: easy to follow and very funny.

 

21 and 23 are dense again. Then there's the last section, 24, compiled by his wife from multiple texts by Zukofsky. It's intended to be read by four voices to accompaniment by Handel. Impossible for the solo reader, but the solution turned out to be a brilliant performance by a group of poets: scroll down here.  Plenty of Zukofsky himself reading at the same link.

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Interesting (to me), looking back over the last few weeks, to compare the long poems I've been reading. "The Prelude" and A, both poems of a life, with Zukofksy's "I" much more fragmented than Wordworth's. "The Task" features Cowper's own voice, expressing opinions volubly, but without much narrative structure.

 

Browning, however (with the arguable exception of a couple of sections) composes "The Ring and the Book" from a series of dramatic monologues, where characters speak, from very different points of view. Does that make Browning more modern than Zukofsky? :D

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