Friday, July 24, 2009

(Oh hell, just when I think I'm getting my blogging shit together. Bear with me, here, gang.)

(But in the meantime, if you're looking for something to read...)

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Entering the synagogue with Carol and the kids, he thought, "This profession even fucks up grief."

- from The Counterlife, by Philip Roth

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Rudolph Wurlitzer's The Drop Edge of Yonder, which I'm about halfway through, and which came to me courtesy of (fellow Ohioans!) Two Dollar Radio, is, much to my shock and/or delight, precisely the sort of book I need right now, the kind of literary palate cleanser--the sort of book in which lots of things happen, often violently (the book opens with an axe being buried in a woman's stomach while she's being, and I use this word with a greater sense of accuracy than I usually feel when I use it, fucked, and hers is exactly the opposite of the last body added to the book's steadily rising body count) and with great regularity (any novelist in the act who can't find ways to make things happen should receive a much-needed stimulant from any ten pages of this story), yet which never feels slight for it, thanks to the vibrant but understated historical setting, the sturdy writing with its matter-of-fact, almost off-hand reporting of deaths and carnage playing well with the occasional stretch toward quasi-philosophical moody bits and leitmotifs, and, well, the fact that it feels like it's all about something, things: the way things change; the way we can never really be sure how real all of this is; the conflict between base existence and higher, or at least vaguely unfathomable, spirituality; and money and women, natch; and struggles, struggling, violent and otherwise, against others, against life, the thousands of trials and tribulations; and the like--that I find myself so badly wanting to just chill with and enjoy while I figure out what it is I want to pick up and run with next, having just come off two or three books prior to this one that particularly pummeled me, first one way and then the other way, leaving me feeling kind of dizzy and high, by which I mean this is the kind of time when I would usually long to pick up some kind of bring-me-back-down trashy horror novel except for the fact that I'd know the writing would likely kill my soul (anymore) (because I am a snobbish dick, possibly), and so I don't, and so here I am, with this one, this one that's turning out to be quite good stuff, and that sort of feels like the kind of book William Vollmann might write, actually, if Vollmann were to chill out long enough to edit what he wrote.
Jacket Copy asks, "Oh, lordy: will Michael Bay film James Frey's unpublished sci-fi novel?"

TDAOC answers, "Only if God wants us to be happy, because, WIN."
Elsewhere, The Millions does a far better job than I of illustrating just how screwed you are for the rest of this year, you fan of books, you.
George Drucker on John Barth, specifically, The Floating Opera. (I know Giles Goat-boy is next on my Barth list, but Drucker does sort of make me want to start all over again from the top.)
Infinite Summer.
Oops! Relapse. Rehab! Something. Thing being, someone forgot to remind me I'm trying to do this thing regularly again. Yeah. Oops. I know. Fail. Sorry. Anyways. Ahem. Throat's cleared. See, part of the problem is I've just read two books in a row and I'm going to say more about them but in more of a "real sentences that make sense" kind of way, less of a "the random crap I usually pull on the blog" sort of way. Because, yeah, I'm going to do that thing amongst the other thousand foolish pursuits I seem to be trying to pick up and run with these days. Like, drawing, I guess? What is wrong with me? No idea. No idea. (Cleveland rocks!)

Anyways, it does, I will say this, with zero connection to the prior paragraph, please me to see The Unit by Ninni Holmqvist getting some positive press. Because, yo, check it, here's a statement that is both literally true and entirely absurd: if the only two sources of information in your life are this blog and the Washington Post, then, you can honestly say, you sort of kind of heard it here first.* Professionalism!

Speaking of professionalism, and, once again, nothing much else from that last paragraph, Dan Deacon recently played outside the new east wing of the Cleveland Museum of Art. (That's what us professional journalist amateur bloggers call a journalistic triumph of a photo, btw.) Should you ever get the chance to go back in time and hang out at the museum the night of June 21, 2009, you totally should, because that was awesome. I'd heard his stuff through a stereo once and it was like, okay, that's okay. And then I heard him play his iPod outside the flipping Cleveland Museum of Art and it ruled. Should you be unable to complete the time travel entrance exam of knowing somebody from the future who already has time travel technology, you should still go see the new east wing, because it, too, rules. (Despite.)

And, finally, here is a picture of a bird.


* - Which book, see, is what's guilting me into trying to clean up my act and write healthy paragraphs about some books, at least once in a while, because I really do regret not saying more about that one, because being as I am the world's biggest fan of Never Let Me Go, I think I have a unique positioning vis-a-vis the whole "OMG it's people!" theme that runs through these so-called (by nobody but me) organ donor books (which faux title being a prime example of hilarious misrepresentation, to at least nobody but me being akin to referring to Unbearable Lightness as a book about girls, which, actually, never mind, it was, right?), and the fact that I can't focus any more for long enough to etch thoughts into coherent, rational words keeps me up at night. Ish. Point being. There's itches and there's scratches, and sometimes one precedes the other, or at least the threat of one might be hoped to create a demand for the other, and, well. I just need to make myself itch. Oops: sentiment cloaked in impenetrable metaphor. Fail. Sorry. Throat, clearing.