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Showing posts from May, 2009

Reading in 2009 (so far):

These are titles I have read in 2009. I do not include syllabus readings, and I only include a "return" to a book if many moons have passed since I turned its pages. If you would like a long list like this I advise the following: 1) select relatively short books 2) stop paying for cable 3) live in a "nowheresville" area where you won't get any reception without cable and will find little else to do in your leisure time 4) fail to renew your magazine subscriptions but 5) have a baby who falls alseep early so reading becomes an effective quiet evening pursuit.

Netherland by Joseph O'Neill
Camera byJean-Philippe Toussaint
The Alcoholic by Jonathan Ames (literary graphic novel)
The Left Bank Gang by Jason (literary graphic novel; first name only, yes)
Walter Benjamin at the Dairy Queen by Larry McMurtry
Dog Eats Dog by Iain Levison
Television by Jean-Philippe Toussaint
The Bathroom by Jean-Philippe Toussaint
The Motel Life by Willy Vlautin
The Eaves of Heaven by Andrew X…

K Thanks Dr. Yahweh He's A Country Boy

K apologizes for failing to properly rotate his photographs but offers the view from the back porch in Clemson, South Carolina.

Hebrew dawgs or dannon?

For greater Memorial Day pleasure, grill or fry a Hebrew National beef frank sliced vertically down the middle and serve with Dijon mustard on a toasted premium-brand Hearty White or Oatmeal bread. For the calorie conscious, substitute non-fat plain yogurt for the dog, two tablespoons of granola for the bread, and a teaspoon of honey for the Dijon.

As you were, soldier.

The follow up visitation

47 minutes into our meeting, the aforementioned one between the doctor and K, we saw fit to assume the condition is most likely a case of carpal tunnel syndrome. If the condition were meat no doubt we could imagine flesh cooked medium rare in a mild sauce which we might top with a thin layer of that tasty delicacy, generalized anxiety.

But for now: "Blood Work. A stress test including EKG. Avoid all strenuous forms of existence. Exercise can kill. Participation in life discouraged until further notice. I have my liability and your life in mind."

When I insinuate we are glazed, I imply we are glazed over the ham of course.

"The best way to enjoy the shakes is to pretend it's someone else's hand."
--Don Delillo, either a paraphrase or exact quotation from White Noise

it's that time of year...

In honor of, but in no particular order, Italo Svevo, Woody Allen, George Constanza (who says character doesn't count?), Jean-Philippe Toussaint, and at least in theory, "ya'll," I submit myself to the medical authorities in 53 minutes. Doctor's Appointment soon.

Havana Fever With Your Hay Fever?

If you'd like some suspense and intrigue with your spring allergies, check out this link to Bitter Lemon Press's Havana Fever: http://www.bitterlemonpress.com/forthcoming-books/cuban-crime-fiction/havana-fever.asp

So far, I've only read Bitter Lemon's Iain Levison novel, Dog Eats Dog, and I can tell you it is a page turner. If you need a break from your more literary fiction or if you prefer books that combine their cynicism and seriousness with a good plot, the tart limeys at Bitter Lemon have a lot to offer. (Note: I do not get paid for such shameless plugs!)

Read on, people!

Make that 4 novels since G.R.

V
The Crying of Lot 49
Gravity's Rainbow
Vineland
Mason & Dixon
The Remains of the Day
Inherent Vice

How do I know? Thomas Pynchon siting on the cover of Time Magazine. No silly, the name, not the man, in the upper right corner.

Nabokov with Trilling Smoking on TV

At this point, it is all coming together in a whirl. Italo Svevo's warns us away from smoking and Jean-Philippe Toussaint warns us away from television; Toussaint names Vladimir Nabokov as one of his five favorite writers, Nabokov names James Joyce as one of his five, and Joyce taught English to Svevo when their lives crossed in Trieste. So it should come as no surprise to find Vladimir Nabokov on live television interviewed beside a chain-smoking Lionel Trilling! I'm fairly certain Trilling tokes the true-blue cancer stick and not the funky weed in this scene.

Behold part one, here, and if that is not enough, then beware part two.

Oh how Nabokov reclines! You would think he'd rather be Humbert Humbert at play with an apple on the couch with Lolita. But nooooooo! He gets a prim, proper, and scholarly old Jew best known for passing at Princeton, playing the WASP game. Indeed.

And so it goes. . .

Ten Reasons for Toussaint's TV

Ten reasons to thrust Television in front of your nose:

1) In your adult years, you have felt like a fern trapped inside a refrigerator.

2) "Man Against A Ledge" best describes your morning disposition.

3) In these years of heightened euro purchasing power, you cannot afford Germany.

4) The Hasidim of Antwerp have aroused your intellect although they do not appear in Toussaint's novel.

5) You've quit watching television, but you cheat.

6) You've seen wider and wider screens in your 'hood, and although the Dalkey Archive paperback is lightweight and lean, you have been practicing your fastball and imagining "book through window" type escapades. A chuck and run?

7) You do not condone violence, and in fact, you prefer to read a good book.

8) You stand in solidarity with all sandwiches, no matter the nature or weight of haunches destined to smash them.

9) You procrastinate.

10) In your fantasy life, you fly too close to the glass.

TV Off, Toussaint On

Just a quick apology for missing many a moon slither of posting days. I do plan to return soon to the land of regular posting on life and literature, and if the writing is not humane and humorous, I offer a time-back guarantee.



As it relates to my current TVlessness, I am reading a second novel by Jean Phillippe Toussaint, a book titled Television. It is about the topic of turning off TV forever but still being unable to escape its view. I am certain Toussaint's protagonist has felt, like Pynchon's Oedipa Maas, "stared at by the greenish dead eye of the TV tube," but so far the plant-watering sections--from the neighbors' request to their instructions to the art-critic prof's first efforts in this verdant task--have stolen my attention. The TV sections, the quirky detail, the author's odd sense humor, and respect for daily life are also reasons to read this book.



Although Toussaint's Camera has a notable first page, for me, it is Television that more fu…

Monday Morning!

Look alive, party people! Your Monday, May 11, 2009 is happening to you. At you. On you. With you!

But you are on top of it! You can handle this.

Like a machine, you ease yourself into the work week. A finely tuned, rhythmically humming, technologically advanced, machine you are.

Sleek in design, you are more likely a laptop than anything built by Caterpillar. You operate in a most peculiar way, but it is your way and it works.

Good Monday; safe journey.

Larry McMurtry's Walter Benjamin at the Dairy Queen

I recommend McMurtry's book, subtitled, "Reflections at Sixty and Beyond"; I'd call it a mix of memoir, essay, and quirky anecdotes. Good stuff for a thoughtful narrative that is also an easy read. It will engage readers interested in Walter Benjamin, Dairy Queens, our lost buffalo and Western expansion, the book business and book collecting or "scouting" in particular, and possibly anyone within range of sixty with an eye for an articulate view of and from that age. The book was published in 1999, and it is refreshing McMurtry chooses to avoid millennial expectation in his consideration of the times and his relationship to them.

McMurtry is building his own version of a Megabookstore in Archer County, and he sees it as something he can leave the community. He has assembled a collection of used and rare books well beyond the 100,000s, and his hope is that this gift will have lasting impact on his community although he is awfully humble in his presentation of…

The Writing Life Starring Iain Levison

Iain Levison's Dog Eats Dog was published in October, 2008 by Bitter Lemon Press and his even newer novel How to Rob an Armored Car will be published by Soho Press in October, 2009. Back in '00 or so, L.U.S.K. first discovered Levison's A Working Stiff's Manifesto in hardcover with its original subtitle, "Confessions of a Wage Slave." That memoir established Levison's scalding wit and ability to hold the attention of an ever-tweeting audience. It was later released as a trade paperback with a supercharged second subtitle, and Levison has managed to survive, publish, and publish again. With long-terms roots in Scotland and Philadelphia, Levison currently resides in Raleigh, North Carolina where he commits literature and carpentry as much as he can.

USK: When did you first know you wanted to be a writer and when did you first identify as a writer?
IL: Writing is the only thing I've ever been any good at. Well, the only legal thing. Early on, I realized t…

The Bolano Buzz

When Andy Warhol noted we're lucky to get 15 seconds of fame, I wondered how he computed time; after all, it took me far longer than that to complete my business after two strong mugs in the morning. Potty humor aside, one writer who seems to have survived a bit longer than the fleeting 15 is Roberto Bolano. I have friends with varied literary interests who have found The Savage Detectives rather gripping, and both it and 2666 have won global acclaim. For me, the narrative strategy for The Savage D. amazes with its cumulative effect; in essence, two lives are told from the perspective of dozens of narrators, and so we get a disarmingly penetrating view into the motivations and idiosyncracies of dozens of characters. Many of the sections can be read as "stand alone" stories, and several of my favorites occur toward the end of the book. It is too tempting to give away more story.

To some extent, Bolano's short stories, some of which are translated into English by Chris …