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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

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I woke up this morning at like 4 AM and couldn't fall back to sleep.

And, for reasons unknown, I was seized with this irresistible urge to reread Avengers No. 4, where Captain America comes back to life.  I did (it took me about 20 minutes).  But it wasn't till around 8 AM that I was able to put myself back to sleep.

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1 hour ago, AaronS said:

I like his stuff. I didn't know about that one, he also has a new book from fantagraphics that looks good.

Apparently it's a very very short effort for a premium price.  Not that it might not be good.

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You are probably right, but 36 pages for $40 seems steep.  But you apparently get 2 different sized printings of the same stuff.  Still I guess some carped that "The Old Man and the Sea" was short.

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Erica Hunt, Arcade (poems, beautifully illustrated with Blakean woodcuts by Alison Saar)

Nathaniel Mackey, Splay Anthem (poems)

J.N. Findlay, Hegel: A Re-examination

Eduardo Mendoza, The Truth in the Savolta Case - a re-read. I think I read this hastily a few years ago, and the first half is quite difficult to follow, so it hadn't stayed vivid in my mind like his other Barcelona novels.

Harry Mathews, Collected Poems - a mixed bag. The formal (Oulipo) experiments are interesting, but once you see what he's doing, they don't really hold the attention.

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On 4/21/2021 at 11:02 AM, Wilfrid said:

Nathaniel Mackey, Splay Anthem (poems)

I'm reading Mackey because of a passing reference to him by the academic Fred Moten in an interview. Hadn't heard of him before. Just discovered there's a full-length profile in plain view in the April 12 New Yorker. How did i miss that?

Cross-post to Dingbat of the Day.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Tomorrow, picking up Nathaniel Mackey's new box-set, Double Trio, containing three volumes of new poems. Will not be starting it until I finish Memory Rose into Threshold Speech, Paul Celan's collected earlier poetry. It's a bi-lingual edition and the poems beg to be read in German; it's requires several weeks to get through it.

Meanwhile, I read Eimear McBride's three novels in reverse order, and the first, A Girl Is a Half-formed Thing, is the best. Wonderful, living stream of consciousness from a girl growing from childhood to young adulthood. Highly recommended, and although it's hard to pick up who's speaking at first (punctuation is no help), I soon got into it.

Molly Keane, Good Behavior and Time After Time, set among the Anglo-Irish upper classes and darkly funny. And Maureen Duffy, Capital, and Best American Food Writing 2020 (ed. J. Kenji López-Alt), which was a quick read because I'd seen a lot of the pieces when they were first published.

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

I just galloped through Hermione Lee's monumental Tom Stoppard: A Life.

I had not meant to read it all, as Stoppard has never meant much to me as a writer. I borrowed an eBook version to read about his years as a reporter in Bristol, because when I was at college there people still remembered and talked about him.

But then I kept going. Why? One reads so many biographies of writers struggling through years of poverty and neglect, it makes a startling change to read about a writer who became famous and wealthy as a young man. The ensuing life is wildly glamorous as he moves from mansion to mansion and country to country, acquiring a remarkable series of trophy partners, and hanging out with a Rolling Stone or a Royal on almost every page.

Two things make the journey a little tiresome. I can't imagine the reader who needs lengthy, detailed summaries of the plots of the plays: someone who has never read or seen them and has no intention of doing so? But then why do they care? These I ended up skimming.

And then there is a constant dribble of out-of-touch or wrong statements, mainly about subjects other than Stoppard. Adrift in Soho was not Colin Wilson's first novel, En Attendant Godot is not an English language play, there is nothing notable in The London Library arranging its non-fiction catalog by subject, Jonathan Miller's philosopher in Beyond the Fringe was not based on A.J. Ayer, and so on.

Lee suggests that Stoppard drew heavily on Beyond the Fringe when creating the academic philosopher George in Jumpers. What she doesn't seem to know is that he had no need to: during his years in Bristol he was a regular attendee at philosophy seminars at the University, at the invitation of the professor, Stefan Korner.

 

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