TonyH - 2009 preoccupations

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TonyH - 2009 preoccupations

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Edited: Jan 16, 2009, 3:45pm

oooo what a good idea this place is. I've been posting on the 50 book challenge for nearly 2 years now, but the 50 isn't a big thing for me really, though I'd like to make it, I seem to get distracted every now and then, at the moment by a new job, which has its pluses and minuses, like having to read lots of non literary stuff at the mo, all of which means I don't come too near to making the 50 at all.

So, what will I be reading? More Murakami, David Mitchell, Mary Oliver, Chabon, hopefully lots more poetry (contemporary and classic - can't believe I never read it till a few years ago, what was I doing?), lots else.

Hopefully also finishing some that I have started and are starting to hang around my neck -- have been half way through Swann's Way for over a year and really want to finish it. I don't understand the problem I am having - maybe its laziness -- I LOVE it, just haven't gone back to it for some reason. Its so rich maybe thats what puts me off (whilst also being a reason I like it), its slow going, not sure why I don't go back to it, must try. I'm also about 400 pages into Infinite Jest, have been reading it for a couple of months, also love that and have no problem with footnotes and have enjoyed the start (that I gather many find slow compared to later), I just take it in fairly small doses. I find the characters somewhat mercurial, and its part of how I am coming to see DFW too, and I guess these days I'd rather go a bit slower. Also started a volume of his essays and find him great, I'm sad about what happened and also that I never read him before that. There are quite a few others I'll be finishing too - I hope - like the 50 book challenge this may prompt me to become unstuck.

Edit - I suppose I should also log things i have finished so far this year, I say more about them on 50 book challenge:

The Mysteries of Pittsburgh by Michael Chabon -- this was really enjoyable, as I have found all his books I have read so far. It took a turn I wasn't expecting but was that was fine. I found it very well written.
House of Light by Mary Oliver -- if you look at my 50 book challenge thread this year (march 08 -march 09) you'll see I discovered her with the help of a friend and have been steaming through her books ever since -- I love her work and this is one of my favourites (5 stars).

Also had to read some textbooks on CBT therapy (very scientific compared to my humanistic background)) and also articles on quantitative research for work - can't see me getting too far into that though, give me phenomenology, heuristic research or hermeneutics any day ahead of that.

Jan 16, 2009, 3:11pm

Oh, good! I can follow you here now as well. I encourage you to stick with Swann's Way (and maybe come February you can give me a boot in the hind end to make me finish The Guermantes Way). And I'd love to see some musings from you on Infinite Jest. But we've had these conversations before. :)

Jan 16, 2009, 3:52pm

Just finished Infinite Jest a few days ago. I took a long time reading it as well. I reviewed it here and think it is a very great work of art.

I'm a big Mitchell fan also. And Mary Oliver is a fine poet.

Edited: Jan 17, 2009, 4:46am

Good to see you Medellia, I'll look out your thread now too. Now I have to make good my commitment to finish those books before I can give anyone a boot.

Just read your review Iriley - very interesting - I'm impressed you only took 2 months. I have been reading it at least 2 months and am only half way through. Gravity's Rainbow took me 7 months or so - Swann's Way, still incompelete ,about 14 months so far! (May have to restart, this put down has lasted a year.) I have huge spells of putting them down and reading or doing other things, annoying to my reading progress. I like IJ a lot, I'm interested in this mercurial aspect though and probably quite wary of it. I love Oliver as I think I keep saying - only read 1 Mitchell and am looking forward to Cloud Atlas next.

Jan 18, 2009, 9:10am

I forgot - how could I - I've also started Dubliners by Joyce and the complete short prose by Beckett. I read Beckett's four novellas last year (the end, the calmative, the expelled and first love) and loved them - beautiful but unsparing - so I'm reading on.

Jan 18, 2009, 3:23pm

#4--For me it's a long, long time. That's not a book that should be rushed. I've only read Pynchon a couple times--The crying of Lot 49 and Vineland. Neither knocked me out and I'm not sure I'm going there again. Proust--I've only dabbled with a long time ago. He's definitely a hole for me as I've read a ton of French authors--favorites are Celine, Zola (I've read all 20 Rougon McQuart books), Queneau--(the Oulipo thing especially Perec's Life: A user's manual--a kind of takeoff of Pinget's The Inquisitory). More contemporary favorites--Le Clezio, Houellebecq, Echenoz, Salvayre. I've read a lot of the Nouveau Romantists as well. IMO Jean-Patrick Manchette is the best noir writer ever.

David Mitchell is very very good. Cloud Atlas is excellent. 've read two of Oliver's works--American Primitive and Dream work. American Primitive I picked up for about .25 on vacation at a Cape Cod library sale--I think it was in Sandwich Mass. As it happens it was a signed copy which made it a really good deal.

Jan 18, 2009, 8:41pm

#5 how exciting! Dubliners contains some really incredible prose (see the end of Araby). I also urge you to read Beckett's plays, particularly Endgame and Waiting for Godot. I look forward to hearing your thoughts on Joyce and Beckett very much.

I'm also interested to hear what you have to say about Infinite Jest. This has been on TBR pile for a long time (virtual pile, actually, as it's rather hard to get hold of here). I am a huge Pynchon fan, so anyone else who writes in this vein has got to be looked into. Why don't you post your thoughts on it as you go?

Jan 19, 2009, 1:08pm

#6 I hope to get Infinite Jest finished by March, when my 50 book challenge year is up. I like it very much, his insight is amazing, this issue of being somewhat emotionally mercurial - touching emotions and understanding them very fully but moving from them quickly - interests me, certainly I find Hal I to do that (take for example the grief therapy) (though I suppose the guy working at the halfway house maybe doesn't I realise now (sorry forgot his name right now - he of the burglary photograph antics)). It's something I am looking out for - such lucidity yet speediness. It may be it's a cracked idea of mine, but will be reading the rest with this in mind, and his other work. What a bloke though (DFW), wish I had appreciated him so much earlier.

I'm quite poorly read of French literature (in fact of much of the canon, English too despite being English I've read more American writers). Le Clezio has me interested now, having seen a film about him over Christmas, especially his work since living with indiginous people in the 70's. Another book I have to finish is sentimental education, another for before March!

I'm pretty impressed with your signed Oliver and at that price! This is the strongest reaction to a contemporary poet, aside from Ted Hughes maybe, that I have ever had. I prefer Dream Work slightly to American Primitive, for no good reason really. My other two favourites so far (marginally) are Thirst and House of Light.

I liked but did not love vineland and the crying of lot 49 is another one I haven't completed (honestly folks I do finish some books!) and wasnt; doign much for me. I didn't find either of them to be the experience Gravity's Rainbow was for me - what a book!

#7 Yes I am liking Dubliners a lot, the end of Araby was impressive. In some ways the drinking/social culture in the book reminds me of my own experiences in the 1990's - I suppose alcohol does the same thing to people whenever -- and get a sense of someone who has observed and had to get away - I don't know how true that is of the man himself and his motives to leave.

I'm totally in awe of Beckett's first short piece of prose - Assumption - what a way to start. I've seen some of his plays but never read one - I'll put that right this year I hope. I have a ticket booked for the Spring to see Patrick Stewart and Ian Mackellan in waiting for Godot which I have very high hopes for.

Thanks for your replies - I've answered a bit self indulgently, but am enjoying this sort of shared journalling experience this gives -- and the chance to post about some of the unfinished and continuing reading I'm doing. I also started Lyrical Ballads yesterday, the 1798 version - have never read these poems together, just some individually, am loving it, highlights so far being the Ancient Mariner, the Nightingale and Lines (this one was new to me).

Jan 19, 2009, 7:29pm


Have you read Mary Oliver's collection Thirst, which deals with the death of her long-time partner Molly Malone Cook? It is brilliant and inspiring. If you live Oliver's work, you might also enjoy David Whyte's poetry. I really love his collection The House of Belonging. Here is one of my favorites:

The Journey

Above the mountains
the geese turn into
the light again
Painting their
black silhouettes
on an open sky.

Sometimes everything
has to be
inscribed across
the heavens

so you can find
the one line
already written
inside you.

Sometimes it takes
a great sky
to find that

small, bright
and indescribable
wedge of freedom
in your own heart.

Sometimes with
the bones of the black
sticks left when the fire
has gone out

someone has written
something new
in the ashes of your life.

You are not leaving
you are arriving.

Edited: Jan 19, 2009, 8:50pm

#8--two poets I like the most are a Chilean Nicanor Parra and a Pole Zbigniew Herbert. Both of them are very iconoclastic but in completely different ways.

Of American or english speaking poets I have a few favorites and Oliver would fit into them. I read one collection by Bruce Weigl that I thought was terrific. Charles Bukowski (another iconoclast for sure), Philip Levine, Louise Gluck. An englishman James Fenton. A couple Irishmen Heaney and Michael Longley.

Edited: Jan 20, 2009, 12:53pm

#9 - Thanks Urania - yes I love Oliver and Thirst I rate as one of my favourites (though the difference between those I rate highest and those I don't is not big). I'll definitely check Whyte out, I'm looking for more contemporary poets I liek all the time.

#10 -- so yes thanks also Iriley (can I call you Riley, or what do you prefer?). I have heard of Herbert but don't think i have read him (for some reason I associate him with Ted Hughes, was he one of those Hughes translated?). I don't know Parra but will look into him too. The others also - I have been interested by Fenton for a long time and must take the plunge. I have a collection of Heaney, I think its called opened ground, yes that looks right from the touchstone, but I haven't read anything yet that really did it for me, and yes I think that must be me, as I know I must be in a very small minority. I also haven't tried that hard, must look again.

Jan 24, 2009, 1:37pm

I finished a book!

Lyrical Ballads 1798 edition by Wordsworth and Coleridge.
I really loved this - my acquaintance with some of its poems was slight -- taken together and with the vast bulk being new to me, reading this was (and I hope continues to be) a fantastic experience. I said on my 50 book challenge thread that maybe it was the right book at the right time - though in many ways it addresses many things I have long been interested in, (his/their themes of the start of spring and of the last light of the day come to mind especially - but also night I suppose -- it all hits a sort of tone that I have responded to). And there is so much more - what an ending with Tintern Abbey and its thoughts on the peace of mind nature can give and lead to.
I have many new favourites now. And a new deeper interest in both of these poets, I wasn't toally new to them, but I'm sure I still qualify as a neophyte - this seems a rich vein for me that I want to mine that metaphor seems too industrial....its an uncommitted afternoon I want to revel in.

I had a busy work week and a few other things going on, so didn't read for a few days - but am continuing with the Joyce, just four stories to go, hope to finish tomorrow. I made a list of about 15 books I want to finish or start and then put it into a reading order, but within the day that was upset as a friend started reading Hanif Kureishi's something to tell you and is loving it, and she's enthused me and both she and reading him today on a trip to Venice in the Guardian reminded me how much I enjoy his writing.

Jan 24, 2009, 2:19pm

#11--I've been called lots of things--riley works, larry as well.

I don't if Hughes ever translated Herbert or not--mostly he was translated by a couple Michigan U. professors--a husband and wife team--John and Bogdana Carpenter. I know Czeslaw Milosz--another Polish poet (and Nobel prize winner) did some translating as well. The most recent edition did all his work. That was translated by Alissa Valles. The great thing about that is it included everything that had not been translated before. OTOH her translations compared to the Carpenters seem a bit clumsier--and the New York Times book review kind of panned the book for that. Not being a Polish speaker I'd rather stay out of it other than to say I prefer the Carpenter's at least as available. Herbert's work tends to be a bit somber--as a young man he was involved with the Polish resistance against the Nazi's--later on it might be said he did not see eye to eye with the communist regime.

Parra is a bit different. I find him very humorous actually. He falls into a slayer of sacred cows kind of category.

Jan 25, 2009, 4:28am

#12 Congratulations! While I know many of the poems from the book, I have never read it cover to cover.

James Wood has written very well about Coleridge in his book The Irresponsible Self. I also recommend The New Penguin Book of Romantic Poetry for more Romantic reading. Just don't drop it on your foot, it's a huge book.

Maybe it's just me, and to do with my increasing age, but it seems to me that the more we grow away from the Romantics, the more fresh and modern they seem. Anyone else feel that way?

Tony, where/how are you with Keats?

Jan 25, 2009, 12:41pm

As long as I don't have to read William Wordsworth. Every time I pick up a volume of his work, I end up throwing the book across the room. I know I should like him, but there is something so damn condescending in his attitude toward poverty that I want to throttle the man. As for Keats, I love him. Below is one of my favorite poems, an imitation of an late 16th/early 17th-century sonnet.

O blush not so! O blush not so!

O blush not so! O blush not so!
Or I shall think you knowing;
And if you smile, the blushing while,
Then maidenheads are going.

There's a blush for won't, and a blush for shan't,
And a blush for having done it;
There's a blush for thought, and a blush for nought,
And a blush for just begun it.

O sigh not so! O sigh not so!
For it sounds of Eve's sweet pippin;
By those loosen'd hips, you have tasted the pips,
And fought in an amorous nipping.

Will you play once more, at nice cut-core,
For it only will last our youth out;
And we have the prime of the kissing time,
We have not one sweet tooth out.

There's a sigh for yes, and a sigh for no,
And a sigh for I can't bear it!
O what can be done? Shall we stay or run?
O cut the sweet apple and share it!

Jan 25, 2009, 1:58pm

i agree in re he and Coleridge collaborated is hard to fathom.

Jan 25, 2009, 2:05pm

#13 - hi Larry. I was misreading your L as an I. I'll bear in mind your words on Herbert - I read a biography of Hughes once and know he promoted eastern european poets and just did a quick google search and found he was part of setting up something called Modern Poetry in Translation which promoted Herbert among others. Parra I am going to google after posting this.

#14 - I've read a little Keats tomcat, but maybe now is the right time to dive right in. I have some gift vouchers from Christmas and other things and may devote them to poetry and poets in the coming weeks. I'll consider your recommendations. I need to read the edition of Lyrical Ballads with the full preface and more poems - so it is a smaller version I have read cover to cover. Any recommendations of good editions of Keats?

#15 - I see what you mean about Wordsworth and his attitude to the poor, I noticed it somewhat - but its not in every poem and not in my favourites I think. I like the Keats.

Finished - Dubliners and liked it very much, though cannot tell a lie and have to say the Ballads won my heart ahead of it. There's a diferent tone to this book of course. I found some of the description of drinking culture to remind me of my own experience, I suppose drink does the same thing to the body now that it did then. I got a sense of the author in many of the stories exploring ways of being in the city and finding limitations and dead ends - I know he left of course, maybe thats colouring my view.

Jan 25, 2009, 8:33pm

Keats is one of my Saints. I use the Oxford Poetry Library edition of his works. It's got a useful introduction and notes. His long poems (Lamia, St Agnes Eve etc) are not to everyone's taste, but his shorter poems are absolutely some of the best in the language, in my not so humble opinion.

This living hand, now warm and capable
Of earnest grasping, would, if it were cold
And in the icy silence of the tomb,
So haunt thy days and chill thy dreaming nights
That thou would wish thine own heart dry of blood
So in my veins red life might stream again,
And thou be conscience-calmed- see, here it is
I hold it towards you-

Jan 26, 2009, 3:29am

ai caramba!

Edited: Feb 14, 2009, 5:26am

Finished two books and posted about them on 50 book challeneg thread -- much could be said of both but I'll leave it with what i said on that thread for now. They were:

Living with 'The Gloria Films' by pamela j burry


V. by Tony Harrison

Touchstones not working.

I found the book about Gloria to be very rich and rewarding.
I really liked harrison's poem, a reread -- and found the debate about the broadcast of the poem in the 80's very sad that people would have wanted to censor him so.

I think I am going to move onto something to tell you bu Hanif Kureishi and continue with some Wordsworth and Mary Oliver and also Beckett's short prose for now.

Feb 2, 2009, 8:52pm

So was that a cry of despair over Keats, or a cry of delight?

Edited: Feb 3, 2009, 3:26am

A cry of fright at the content.

Since then I ordered and received the edition you suggested, am dipping in and out.

Feb 14, 2009, 11:03am

Are you still in your Keats-induced swoon? Hello?

Feb 14, 2009, 11:23am


Here's the Keats you want:

O Blush Not So!

O BLUSH not so! O blush not so!
Or I shall think you knowing;
And if you smile the blushing while,
Then maidenheads are going.

There's a blush for want, and a blush for shan't,
And a blush for having done it;
There's a blush for thought, and a blush for nought,
And a blush for just begun it.

O sigh not so! O sigh not so!
For it sounds of Eve's sweet pippin;
By these loosen'd lips you have tasted the pips
And fought in an amorous nipping.

Will you play once more at nice-cut-core,
For it only will last our youth out,
And we have the prime of the kissing time,
We have not one sweet tooth out.

There's a sigh for aye, and a sigh for nay,
And a sigh for "I can't bear it!"
O what can be done, shall we stay or run?
O cut the sweet apple and share it!

P. S. Murr, this particular poem makes me swoon every time I read it ;-)

Feb 14, 2009, 2:39pm

#24 :) I love it Urania -- it really must make you swoon, this is the second time you have posted it here in the last 10 posts.

But I like it.

I actually blushed recently (so I was told), which I didn't think I did - sadly it had no romantic context.

Tomcat - not had any time to swoon to Keats really. I've had a lot of work reading this week, on CBT - all in bad 'scientific' type prose. I judge how bad it is from how often I stick on sentences telling me something bleedingly obvious, yet I end up reading them several times in a daze before focussing again to see how obvious what they are saying is, its sort of writing without feeling. Maybe I shouldn't be so harsh and I'm just frustrated by how it cut into my other reading time. I don't want to start counting that reading here though.

I have made it through about two thirds of Something to tell you which is very enjoyable. I also restarted Zen Therapy by David Brazier which I half read a few years ago and always meant to finish - it was just the right thing at just the right time then and again this week, chapter one anyway, which ends with a warning I did not heed before, but which I should remember for many a book. Its from an eightneenth century Zen Master Torei Enji, translated by someone called Okuda:

"Written words can be a source of entanglement as well as of liberation; unless the right person takes it at the right time, the elixir turns to poison. Please be careful."

I am more cautious than I was.

Feb 14, 2009, 2:55pm

Sorry about that Tony. I should have backtracked through your posts. I thought I had posted this one on the Virago Readers Forum.

Edited: Feb 14, 2009, 2:59pm

Its fine no need to apologise, it was nice to be nudged to read it again, appreciate it better and to see how much it's one of your favs - spontaneous posting is a good thing I think (you may have noticed this from some of mine). But teasing may come of it.

Feb 14, 2009, 3:10pm

You are sweet, Tony :-)

Feb 14, 2009, 3:31pm


Edited: Feb 15, 2009, 7:58pm

Urania, do you know this poem by Keats?

O BLUSH not so! O blush not so!
Or I shall think you knowing;
And if you smile the blushing while,
Then maidenheads are going.

There's a blush for want, and a blush for shan't,
And a blush for having done it;
There's a blush for thought, and a blush for nought,
And a blush for just begun it.

O sigh not so! O sigh not so!
For it sounds of Eve's sweet pippin;
By these loosen'd lips you have tasted the pips
And fought in an amorous nipping.

Will you play once more at nice-cut-core,
For it only will last our youth out,
And we have the prime of the kissing time,
We have not one sweet tooth out.

There's a sigh for aye, and a sigh for nay,
And a sigh for "I can't bear it!"
O what can be done, shall we stay or run?
O cut the sweet apple and share it!

it's a swooner!

Feb 15, 2009, 8:10pm

# 25
oh I love that!!!! can I steal it for my blog?

re: academic writing, I hear your pain, Tony. My gynocologist (cursed be his name) AKA as the Countess Lavalliere and I have been playing a game for years. The object of the game is to collect snippets of academese in which the totally, stupidly obvious is presented as new knowledge, complete with citation to guard against plagiarism (AAAGH! That word! Run for the hills!!!)

Here are some examples:

"The joy of laughing at others (katagelasticism) was strongly correlated with aggressive humor" (Chen, 2008).

"Spring break trips are a risk factor for escalated alcohol use."
-2006 study

"There is a growing belief among educators and educational
assessment experts that better connections between assessment and curriculum and instruction can have a positive impact on learning." K. Ercikan, "Developments in Assessment of Student Learning"

"One important finding from the expertise literature is that experts notice features of problems and situations that may escape the attention of novices (e.g., see Chase & Simon, 1973; Chi, Glaser & Rees, 1982; deGroot, 1965)."
(Bransford, J. et al., 2006, p. 222)

I think that's probably enough. We have hundreds of these and they make us chortle. He is doing a phd in statistics for language testing (Yawn) so has more acccess to this kind of bullshit than I do.

Alternatively, you might want to play with this nice toy when your academic reading gets you down.

Feb 15, 2009, 8:21pm

Very funny Murr.

P.S. Your gynocologist? Is there something I need to know? You can tell Mamushka.

Edited: Feb 15, 2009, 8:56pm

my gynocologist? oh curses on him/her for giving me that yeast infection!

Feb 15, 2009, 8:59pm



Edited: Feb 16, 2009, 2:28pm

#31 - course you can, if you haven't already. I can give you the reference if you like?

As to academic writing thanks for reminding me its not just in science/pseudo-science. Though the pseudo-science part is also part of what I am not enjoying at times as well as the bad prose, and seems connected to a certain sort of bad prose. The examples made me laugh, thats the sort of thing.

Edited: Feb 19, 2009, 2:01pm

Until the end of the month I am still completing my 50 book challenge - here is what I have written about my latest completed read, (it didn't work for me above when I simply signposted people towards my last reads on there and didn't say much here, so for the while here's some repetition).

Something to Tell You by Hanif Kureishi

I found this very enjoyable, some really interesting writing and the narrators thoughts on psychotherapy were very interesting. I thought in the third part it seemed to hurry, the style changed and the plot twisted and twisted again and it seemed less finished somehow to the earlier parts -- can't say I am right, this may just be an invention in my mind. Then the fourth part wrapped things up. It didn't seem quite like other books I have read by him, but was very enjoyable and it gave me quite a bit to think about - including why I should read and know better the analytic tradition.

What I didn't say on the 50 book challenge was that this change of style felt like it hurried me on and made me wonder a lot about Kureishi writing it -- it felt a bit like he twisted the plot again and again never satisfied with where it was going. I also wondered if he was less interested in it at this stage. But this could all be in my imagination.

Edit - Note to self - do not write these things when in a hurry to go to work when can more or less only think it was enjoyable and interesting.

Feb 21, 2009, 5:53am

Urania - I just ordered a volume of David Whyte, thanks for that tip. I just read back through this thread and enjoyed the poem you posted and then found his website, very interesting and I enjoyed a few more poems there. I'm tempted to buy his books just for the beautiful covers.

Ahh its Saturday morning and I have two free days to read as I like, having got through all this week's work/course reading. What comes to mind is reading the two book 1799 version of Wordsworth's Prelude in my Norton critical edition that has three versions. Since my Wordsworth buzz a few weeks ago I haven't read as much poetry.

Then in my bid to finish some books I thought I'd read all my sons by Arthur Miller - I read the other play in the volume I have, a view from the bridge, some time ago. This might be doable in a day and goes towards edging my 50 book challenge to the same total as last year's - its the end of my challenge year at the end of this month. Then I think I'll try to finish a sentimental education though I think I will struggle to have it finished this week.

Feb 22, 2009, 4:09am

All great books. Happy reading.

Hey, Tony, you read any WH Auden?

Feb 22, 2009, 4:40am

Only a little Auden tomcat -- I really want to read letters from iceland since hearing it quoted from in the film 'Away from her' with Julie Christie and Gordon Pinsent which was excellent.
Didn't get any reading done yesterday but soemthing great happened - I had a long walk on the beach, sea very calm and tide half out and I noticed something in the shallows as I walked along the waters edge and approached to about 10 feet away from a little seal that just treaded water and watched me, and kept ducking its head under water before reemerging and I watched him/her back for about a minute before moving on (I have to learn to let the wildlife move on first, this is a mistake I keep making) - anyway, made my day, never seen a seal before at this beach though there is a colony I think at an island not too far away.

Mar 1, 2009, 9:07am

(I have to learn to let the wildlife move on first, this is a mistake I keep making)

Nice insight. Me too!

In Taiwan we have incredible butterflies.

Edited: Mar 2, 2009, 9:24am

Butterflies sound great - I like them a lot (edit -- you don't say tony! how interesting) - want to meet some the size encountered in the Amazon sometime (saw some footage once of Klaus Kinski with one during filming of Fitzcarraldo or Aguire and since then have been curious, interesting clip).

I've not read much this last week due to course work -- and also a terrible indecisiveness as to where to turn next. I ended up starting Waiting for Godot -- but due to a busy weekend that was interrupted -- I'm really enjoying it so far though and looking forward to seeing Ian Mckellan and Patrick Stewart tackle it.

My first book by David Whyte arrived songs for coming home and I got halfway through it, but it hasn't had the attention it deserved from me and I will restart - still a couple of poems did arrest me already even with my hurried attention. Thanks Urania for the tip - I love the covers of his books too, beautiful - this one has The Song of the Lark as recently posted on your thread.

Then last night I read this article in the New Yorker on David Foster Wallace - very interesting - be careful though its full of spoilers, especially for Infinite Jest - but it got my mind going.

Mar 2, 2009, 3:09pm

Once summer and the flowers in my garden kick in here, the butterflies are gorgeous. Sometimes, I'll go out and see whole bushes covered with them.

Mar 2, 2009, 3:49pm

Fantastic :)

Mar 3, 2009, 5:14pm

Finished Waiting for Godot - what can I say? Very enjoyable sort of stripped down experiencing. Can't wait to see it performed next month.

I posted on another literature forum a while ago that for me I get Beckett best the more well I am in myself (to find him most real, the humour most funny at a time when I am most in touch with the world and myself -- at other times I might have found him depressing say (as maybe with Kafka too in the Comic genius discussion elsewhere), but really its very simple and very healthy exploration of existence but beyond convention, way beyond convention, happily so) -- I thought this having read 4 novellas last year and Godot agrees with this for me. I have an image of him living in Paris in a way that was very healthy to his being - I don't know loads about him, I will try to learn more though.

I plan to read the Whyte poems next - then have another go at Infinite Jest as the article linked to above got my mental digestive juices going the other night.

Mar 3, 2009, 11:37pm

I love Beckett. I love the absurd humour. It works really well on stage. Please review Godot for us after you see it. I haven't been to the theatre in about 10 years! Lots of people on LT are talking about this production. It should be great.

Thanks for the DFW article. It was a great read. It seems to me that DFW is a modern Dostoevsky: concerned with problems of consciousness and loneliness. But everything I look at these days seems to be modern Dostoevsky lol. DFW is first on my list to read after I finish my exile.

Edited: Mar 4, 2009, 3:33am

I'll post my reactions while trying to avoid being a 'crritic!'.

No idea if DFW is a modern Dostoyevsky, I don't know a lot about Dostoyevsky really apart from the firing squad business and I seem to recall something about the journey back from Siberia. DFW has great insight and makes what I read very vivid. I suppose Dostoyevsky does that too. I think the way DFW gets written about he may come to stand for something that is not just his writing, related but maybe more. I wonder about the way they both lived and how their writing compares to their lives and am very sorry to have really learned about DFW only after his death.

Mar 4, 2009, 10:19am

>45 tomcatMurr: Murr,

Your exile will never end. Remember, it has spread to conquering all of 19th-century Russian literature and culture. Get back in the gulag or head to the Underground Bar and Grill. Now!!

Mar 4, 2009, 12:09pm

Tony, you make such interesting points time and time again. Your thread is a treat for me to read.

Re Waiting for Godot posts 44 and following: EXACTLY. Reading the play at 17, I found it overwhelmingly depressing. Reading and rereading it in my 50s, I roll with laughter. I know a lot more about myself (and perhaps about life generally). The line "we'll hang ourselves tomorrow" is now an affirmation line for me, and one I live with constantly, like breathing.

Mar 4, 2009, 6:36pm

Andrew, I think? (Love your LT polutropos name by the way, Ullyses is very interesting to me for his humainity - though at the moment I am more 'Temporary like Achilles' maybe!). You certainly made me smile when I read this feedback, thanks! - I feel a bit like I can if I write a poem that someone likes, that if it gets through to one person then it has done what it was meant to do - I'm really pleased if anything I have said connected, can't guarantee interesting points all the time though I am sure ;)

I am really interested that you agree with the thing about wellness and Beckett - it scored little response on the other forum I am on. I really understand that affirmation too, but it takes getting to, experience not reason (?)

I've been busy, so many of these threads are so interesting I mean to spend some time reading them properly including yours when I get a chance - often don't have anything much I can say though, I have a lot of reading to become acquainted with compared to some and have many gaps in my reading.

Edited: Mar 5, 2009, 4:35am

my favourite Beckett line is from Endgame:

(a rat is caught in a trap and suffering noisily)

If I don't kill that rat, it will die.

He shows again and again that laughter is the only antidote to the nihilism of existential angst.

Mar 5, 2009, 10:13am


it is wonderful to have a mutual admiration society.



Edited: Mar 5, 2009, 12:42pm

Not sick making, surely?

We can hang ourselves tonight even, if its really desperate.

Edited: Mar 5, 2009, 9:26pm


I've heard that Beckett, who maintained an ironclad control over most performances of his work, originally meant for cats to play the major roles in Endgame. The escatology of Endgame is nothing short of brilliant. I have heard the rats were offended by the language.

Edited: Mar 8, 2009, 4:16pm

Ok, well, I'll proceed sincerely but aware that at its edge sincerity may have a backward bite.

I've had quite a slow reading week until this weekend when things came to life in reading last week's Guardian Review. It's main feature was this interesting article by Rushdie on adaptation and translation in general including his own work - also he considers Slumdog Millionaire. This edition of the Review then got closer attention than many another and I enjoyed an article by Peter Stanford on Sacred Indignation i.e. the 30's poets, especially in light of Day Lewis's A Hope for poetry, on the same page as which they also printed 'Bottleneck' by MacNiece which really struck home and will deserve further attention. This all being very relevant to this thread and elsewhere in this group. I also enjoyed the review of last week's book of the week 'the kindly ones' which reminded me of watching Visconti's The Damned - it was printed with a fascinating photo of an SS NCO and in the background 2 other soldiers on the eastern front, very young and looking happy (I suppose I shouldn't be shocked but in some way I am) - seems an interesting and good book anyway but not one I really wish to read, I think.

Enough of the papers - but it all got me reading today and I read the bulk of Songs for Coming Home by David Whyte. I loved this all -- it reminded me of Mary Oliver to an extent, though some poems seemed to me to be more poetically cryptic than her -- but it also seemed there was ample reward for making sense of what was cryptic. I also thought that this was something that changed as the book progressed and it moved away from that -- it's my first reading though and I may find this an inaccurate hypothesis myself yet. I loved these poems and am looking forward to the next in his back catalogue. Whyet being prompted by Urania, above, thanks again!

Then being in the groove I read the second book of Wordsworth's two book Prelude, 1799 -- which I have of course also fallen in love with, deeply.

That's this week's reading -- now have to go and face some work reading for tomorrow (grr). Oh I did also buy some Pope and Marvell and have really enjoyed what I have so far read of Marvell.

Mar 8, 2009, 3:56pm

I'll have to look for those articles in The Guardian Review; I haven't read the past couple of issues. Thanks!

Edited: Mar 8, 2009, 8:49pm

I'm going to check out the article on the 30s poets. I think i can find it online.

I'm glad you're enjoying Wordsworth so much. The Romantics are getting more and more modern in my view, as we recede further and further away from them.

Mar 9, 2009, 4:13am

You should find it - or you could just click on the link I put in above ;)

Edited: Mar 11, 2009, 2:34pm

It has always pretty much boggled my mind that Coleridge and Wordsworth were co-conspirators in in the lyrical ballads. I've always found the Romantic poets a very mixed bag. Coleridge, Keats, Shelley and Blake (although he was something of an outlier) have all been among my favorites. On the other hand Byron all seem like a total pill pot; and despite Wordsworth's undeniable importance and history of English verse I've never cottoned to his rural visions. - a topic of modest contention in our household since Patty likes Wordsworth a great deal. I can never get past envisioning Winnie the Pooh holding onto his balloon floating in the clouds when I try to read Wordsworth.

Mar 11, 2009, 5:53pm

Bob - I'm with you on Wordsworth, and I love your Winnie the Pooh vision! Give me Blake or Coleridge any day.

Mar 11, 2009, 9:18pm

TonyH -- I found the article by Rushdie on film adaptations provocative and interesting, especially as I'm trying to put together a linked novel/film course for the fall. Thanks.

Mar 12, 2009, 4:47am

Bob - do you know the lakes?

At times Wordsworth is relentless on the landscape, it can seem too much - but overall I like it, and this relationshiop he has to nature. He also doesn't hold back from the terrible and harsh sides of nature. His link to psychology (especially his own) he himself questions and I found those lines in book 2 to be some of his best. I don't know the Pooh and the balloons story, what is it about it that reminds you of this? I only really know Pooh from the Tao of Pooh, which I highly recommend, have forgotten much else and should revisit him, I've especially forgotten the film in the main.

I know little of Coleridge but like what I have found so far -- and like Blake a lot Byron I have never managed to get into, yet.

Jane - glad the article was of interest! Sounds an interesting course.

Mar 12, 2009, 6:27am

Lakes? in real life? nah..i'm a spud as someone w/ 3 geography degrees...I know ABOUT the lake region and the lake poets ..

"how sweet to be a cloud/floating in the Blue!
Every little cloud/Always sings aloud.

How sweet to be a cloud/floating in the blue
It makes him very proud/to be a little cloud.
On Wednesday, when the sky is blue,
and i have nothing else to do
I sometimes wonder if it's true
that who is what and what is who.
Between the woods the afternoon
Is fallen in a golden swoon,
The sun looks down from quiet skies
To where a quiet water lies,
And there I saw a white swan make
Another white swan in the lake
And, breast to breast, both motionless
they waited for the wind's caress
And all the water was at ease.

In all fairness to Pooh, who WAS a bear of very little brain and to AA Milne who produced some terrific comic children's poems there's a lot of fine verse..
Bad Sir Brian Botany. or The Knight whose armor didn't squeak; or a personal favorite King John:
"King John was not a good man/he had his little ways/and sometimes no one spoke to him/for days and days and days...Please father christmas if you love me at all, please give me a big, round, red, bouncy India rubber ball"
(not quite; after many a year i've forgotten some words here and there.

Mar 12, 2009, 8:14am

Spot on about King John, Bob!

Edited: Mar 12, 2009, 9:50pm

I must come in here to defend Wordsworth. Out of all the Romantics I feel he is the most psychological acute and has the most psychological depth. He was also the most experimental in his verse forms, moving towards a Whitmanesque free verse form in the Prelude. It seems to me he was always pushing the boundaries in what he could do with poetry, both formally and in content. He is more interested in his reaction to the landscape than in the landscape itself. He remained all his life a towny in love with nature, but never really a part of it.
Now John Clare, he was the real nature poet among the bunch.

All the Romantics are pretty easy to satirise, as Milne does (I also love the King John poem), but none more so than Shelley, who was really a terrible poet, inauthentic and kitsch in the extreme. In all his work, I know of only one stanza which has real sincerity of tone, and that is stanza 40 from Adonais:

he outsoared the shadow of our night-
envy and calumny and hate and pain
and that unrest whcih men miscall delight
can touch him not and torture not again.
From the contagion of the world's slow stain
he is secure, and now can never mourn
a heart grown cold, a head grown grey in vain
nor, when the spirit's self has ceased to burn
with sparkless ashes load an unlamented urn.

I also like Ozymandias, but the name of this poem alone encapsulates all that I dislike about Shelly. His defence of Keats was admirable, however. He had the grace to recognise and support a greater poet.

Keats in my view was the greatest poet of his age. I revere Keats. He is the only other poet who would have made Shakespeare jealous.

Mar 13, 2009, 4:33am

Nice defence tomcat. His reaction to the landscape indeed, his way in to something in himself - yes something/s deep that he values greatly. I don't live far from the Lakes and can completely understand them provoking such contemplation. For which a certain amount of Pooh-like naivety may be a Very Good Thing at times, but I think he is far from that much of the time.

Edited: Mar 25, 2009, 1:35pm

Exams last week through me off reading and then a trip to the old smoke. The trip allowed poetry purchases in a better stocked shop - Lyrical Ballads in the 1805 edition, am looking forward to that - andrew motion's selected poems which I have more or less read in the last 2 days, I find them enjoyable, good, but they don't set me on fire I guess, though as I read them I enjoy them greatly and I have devoured them pretty fast - sharon olds' one secret thing, have read a lot of this too, very good - and Mick Imlah's the lost leader which hasn't grabbed me as much, as yet.

Edit - hmm of course I could have bought any of these books around here, but I did enjoy being able to choose from a larger selection.

Mar 29, 2009, 5:54am

So how many editions of Lyrical Ballads have you now got, Tony?

I read last night Coleridge's The Nightingale from LB, and Wordsworth's The Vagrant Woman. I also had a small Blake orgy, and then browsed through Romantic Poetry and The Penguin Book of English Verse. It was a romantic Saturday night here at Casa Murr.

Bugger copyright, can you post your favourite Sharon Olds?

Edited: Mar 30, 2009, 12:12pm

My first copy was the text of the 1798 edition -- this one is the 1805 edition with loads of notes about the differences between all the editions and a much more academic volume altogether.

The Nightingale was one of my favourites from LB - as I think bob said above some of the attitude to the poor seemed strange at times (and old fashioned - I think it must have influenced many peoples attitudes) and some of the poems just did not grab me, whilst others did so very much mayb half of them, maybe I should make a list and think about similarities and what I didn't like.

Sounds liek a good night in.

Edit - I think I found a way round sharing a poem without publishing to the world.

Apr 7, 2009, 5:17am

I finished Disgrace by J. M. Coetzee last night. I found his style apparently simple, not overly literary (except for the discussion of the opera) but the whole thing packs a huge emotional punch, what a journey. Thought I should read a bit of prose, have been neglecting it.

Last week I read through a small book of Auden's poems, mostly on a train journey. It's called tell me the truth about love and I suspect it was put together in response to the use of his work in that film about weddings and funerals. It only contains about 15 poems. I think I find that I get more from individual verses or phrases than I do from these poems overall - with a couple of exceptions, 'funeral blues', 'tell me the truth about...' and hmm maybe more than I realised, a couple of others at least - but despite this I remember better phrases or moments than the poems overall. Probably due to my own limitations, and frustrating - or is it me?

Also halfway through an article in last week's TLS accounting the first interview Larkin gave to the press, by the man he gave it to -- and the bit I am about to come onto, how he then sought to influence what was written.

Apr 8, 2009, 1:40am

I am glad you are reading Auden!!! You are right in your suspicion about it being put together by Faber after the success of 4W1F. Most of the poems in that volume date from the 30s, and some were written in response to a request from Britten to provide lyrics for cabaret songs for the singer Hedli Anderson (who later married Louis MacNeice): The title poem, Funeral Blues, Calypso and Johnny. Auden and Britten had a very fecund working relationship during the 30s (before they fell out and never spoke to each other again) and collaborated many times.

If you like Britten's music, you might want to try this:

Is there a link to the Larkin interview you can share? I would like to read that as well.

I have not read any Coetzee yet, but plan to read The Master of Petersburg soon

Edited: Apr 9, 2009, 12:43pm

Yes I realised some were songs, did not realise they were for Britten. Will try the link later. I'm not sure of Auden - like I say individual parts speak to me more than the whole poem a lot of the time.

I subscribe to TLS, but they never ask me to sign in at website -- so try this link for Larkin, it might work? (I haven't had time to finish the article yet.)

(edit - link deleted)

Yes the Master of Petersburg appeals to me too - I wondered if you'd heard of it.

Apr 8, 2009, 4:30am

yes, it works! Thanks.

Apr 8, 2009, 9:42am

I have read Coetzee's Elizabeth Costello fairly recently and was very enthusiastic about the first part, though my enthusiasm wore off a bit by the end. It is definitely worth reading, especially by lovers of James Joyce. Coetzee's protagonist retells James Joyce's Ulysses from the perspective of Molly Bloom. Interesting riffs.

Apr 8, 2009, 10:53am

oh god that sounds good. another one on the TBR pile.

Apr 8, 2009, 12:53pm

Ah I can leave that one a while then - have to read Ulysses first.

Edited: Apr 9, 2009, 1:01pm

I've finished Andrew Motion's Selected Poems, 1976-1997 which I thoroughly enjoyed. At first when I started reading them I was enjoying them as I went, but thinking when I put them down that they hadn't moved me as much as say the Wordsworth has or how I find Oliver. I'm less sure about this now -- as the reading process went on and I revisited parts I realised how vivid they often were and indeed how they did move me. And now I'm reading and finding this all less of a problem, the poems are lyrical, gentle yet communictae strong things and beautiful. Maybe its just a different tone of voice, a different voice of course - but I have wound up enjoying this very much and will be reading more by him. I'm glad my initial reaction has matured.

Also finished that Larkin article I posted above (deleted now, let me know if you need the link -- I am confused how it works if you're not a subscriber and kind of wondering why, if it does work, I am paying!). Anyway, what an interesting article and view of him (about how he influenced an early profile of himself). If anything it makes sense to me that he would take such care as to how he was presented - as opposed to simply accepting what is written, which may cause some some problems surely?

edit - and just followed your link tomcat - interesting cd of auden inspired music, one for the future and a chnage from the poet reading his work.

Edited: Apr 23, 2009, 2:36pm

Well, I finally saw the much anticipated version of Waiting for Godot last night with Ian Mckellan and Patrick Stewart, which I said I'd write about.

I didn't really like what they did to Simon Callow, with the red face and all. He went for it but it didn't work for me - rather see someone more naturally exuding what Pozzo exudes instead of looking like a version of Hellboy.

Rest was ok, didn't quite click to me. Maybe it was me, I was in the world's least comfortable theatre seat. Not sure what it was, at times too smooth maybe? As soemone posted on another board I inhabit - not a star turn. They played up gogo and didi as a partnership, but at the same time this highlighted their difference (to me), which is there for sure in the text, but I also kind of read it as difference as in different aspects of the same (ultimately of Beckett or maybe me as the reader or ultimately of being) - I'm no expert, tell em if this is nonsense? it just wasn't something I got from seeing it whereas I was aware of this in reading it, maybe this wasn't there as they are such stars (this is all just a very tentative hypothesis of course, just something I sort of missed)

Edited: May 4, 2009, 11:47am

I've finished A Wild Sheep Chase by Haruki Murakami. What a curious book - it went somewhere in the end and was quite moving. On the way I wondered about it, but kept the faith and kept being drawn in by his writing - examples of which included writing on the seasons, the experience of changing latitude and city after a plane trip and his account of waking in the dark, I loved these bits and more. I do enjoy his writing but he remains enigmatic, if that changed I wondered what would be left but am now more sure I'd still like passages such as those above which I won't describe further lest I spoil them.

A bit of spring cleaning - its not at all clear above what I have actually finished this year, so here's the list:

The mysteries of pittsburgh, Michael Chabon
House of Light, Mary Oliver
Lyrical Ballads (1798 version), Wordsworth and Coleridge
Dubliners, James Joyce
Living with 'The Gloria Films', Pamela J Burry
V., Tony Harrison
Something to Tell you, Hanif Kureishi
Waiting for Godot, Samuel Beckett
Songs for Coming home, David Whyte
Prelude, 1799, William Wordsworth
Tell me the truth about love, W. H. Auden
Disgrace, J. M. Coetzee
Selected Poems 1976-1997, Andrew Motion
A wild Sheep Chase, Haruki Murakami

Exams and essays messed with April.

I've been enjoying the poetry by other women selected by new laureate Carol Anne Duffy in the Guardian to mark the start of her appointment, not read her myself before.

May 4, 2009, 12:19pm


do you have a link to the Guardian Duffy poems? I can't seem to locate them.


May 4, 2009, 12:35pm

Good question andrushka - nope I cannot find a link, I have a hard copy. I suspect this might be like when they printed DFW's Kenyon Commencement speech which never made it onto the web either. If you're interested I'll type up the list of poets and poems?

May 4, 2009, 12:55pm


I appreciate the offer but typing it all in seems like a time-consuming task and probably not worth it. Is it her selections of worthwhile poems by women? Or has the Guardian actually printed the poems? Too bad if they have not made it available online. Don't worry about it if it's not easily linkable.

May 4, 2009, 1:14pm

Yes please. I am interested. I have an anthology of poetry by women that Duffy edited on reserve at the library, but I'd love this list to tide me over until I can get it!

May 4, 2009, 2:15pm

Here are the poets and the titles, only a few, won't take long (yes the Guardian printed these poems, all new work its says):

Carol Ann Duffy - Premonitions (dedicated with love to the memory of UA Fanthorpe)
Moniza Alvi - The Raindrop (God Speaks)
Dear Jungle - Sujata Bhatt
Colette Bryce - Boredoom
Gillian Clarke - Polar
Imtiaz Dharker - Don't
Maura Dooley - Threnody
Vicki Feaver - Grandma's Bed
Jackie Kay - Fiere
Liz Lochhead - Persimmons
Grace Nichols - Outward from Hull
Alice Oswald - Interview with the Wind
Ruth Padel - Pieter the Funny One
Jo Shapcott - The Deaths

These are new work from her favourite women poets - all poetry is worthwhile isn't it?

It doesn't seem to be online from what I saw. There is a video link of her being interviewed on their website though.

Edited: May 4, 2009, 9:08pm

Great! Thanks for that list Tony!
Your remarks about Murakami are also appreciated. I like his work very much, his masterpiece is The Wind up Bird Chronicle. have you read that?

Apparently, though, he is not very popular in Japan. Go figure.

Here's a link to DFW Kenyon commencement speech you mentioned.

I blogged about it here.

Edited: May 8, 2009, 4:32pm

I read Blind willow, sleeping woman and greatly enjoyed it last year -- then gave his what i talk about when i talk about running a chance, which I also liked. After blind willow I decided to try the novels in the order he wrote them - on some advice I skipped the first two (thx medellia), and I think the sheep chase was the first he rated himself in some ways, in fact:

"The first book where I could feel a kind of sensation, the joy of telling a story. When you read a good story, you just keep reading. When I write a good story, I just keep writing." (source wikipedia (yes, I know.))

So, my next will be Hard boiled wonderland and the end of the world - maybe in six months, feel like trying it now but must persist with others -- must finish sentimental education before I go back to swann's way and also have to get back into infinite jest, I like it a lot just feel like its slow progress, though I love it so far and hear it just gets better.

The loss of DFW is how I really came to gave him my attention -- I so wish I could have known of him before. His story resonates, I've read several articles about his last months and years -- reading the insight of Infinite Jest and his general level of insight has been part of me questioning my own and working out a hypothesis that I'm still developing and testing as to how insight alone doesn't help, at least not me, leading me to value other approaches more than I did. I'm also fascinated by how speed of thought does not help - touching things quickly, mercurially and moving on is not the same as staying with them a while, this is suggested to me in Infinite Jest - also important for me in many ways and not something always alluded to - either point really, especially not in situations where people are driven to learn and know more and take in more and produce more. Also important for my work.

May 5, 2009, 1:28pm

Here's the link to the Guardian poems - Carol Ann Duffy's choice of women poets.

Was surprised at the choices - no Kathleen Jamie, no Kate Clanchy....

May 5, 2009, 1:44pm

Thanks, Jargoneer,

I am thrilled to have these.

Edited: May 9, 2009, 1:09pm

I finished One Secret Thing by Sharon Olds. This poetry demands well chosen words in response, as does the central subject matter of her relationship with her mother and her loss. Life's seriousness has been a theme for me recently, some of its facts closer to home on a daily basis - this poetry is true to such a view, it is a serious book, hard hitting (at times I found especially so as a man, I felt an intruder at times), yet also a book in which there is consolation. It gets past things easily seen to see again, and says this so well - it seems deeply personal yet speaks so clearly, it has impressed me very much.

May 11, 2009, 2:56pm

Just starting to play catch-up on threads after a long semester. I found A Wild Sheep Chase to be one of Murakami's most enigmatic novels. After reading pretty much all his stuff, I'd like to go back and see if I could understand it a little better. But I've probably raved to you before about Hardboiled Wonderland--it's my fave. You have a good thing ahead of you.

I'll be back to Proust soon, too. I was almost through The Guermantes Way when I stalled during this spring semester. I've been flipping back through the first 2 volumes in preparation for my glorious return.

May 15, 2009, 3:16pm

Hey Medellia - good to hear from you, hope you're catching up good and proper. I'm looking forward to hardboiled wonderland :)

I've not made it back to Proust, but picked up Infinite Jest again -- though I have not got much further with it this week due to lots of work mainly, our service is new and I am new to our service so lots to learn and think about and stuff. I did read a review of the production of Godot I saw in the TLS that had a slightly different angle to mine and a friends, but was similarly not entirely impressed

Jun 2, 2009, 11:01pm

How are you getting on with Infinite Jest? I am salivating to read this book, and looking forward to your remarks on it.

Edited: Jun 3, 2009, 12:25pm

Sadly I've read just about nothing for 2 weeks - work has taken over and my pseudoscientific course and, well I won't go on, must pick up a book soon though.

Edited: Jun 11, 2009, 3:24pm

I finished Why I wake early: New poems by Mary Oliver. I started this several months ago -- but having had quite a binge on Oliver since last autumn and into the start of this year I paused a little. Things were beginning to merge in my imagination -- my fault entirely as of course while she has themes part of her excellence is in recognising the uniqueness in things and showing it, whilst at the same time appreciating some sense of oneness (one of these poems is called 'One'). Anyway, having had several weeks of little reading it was Oliver that tempted me back into the books, the promise, the possibility that she suggests to mewas quickly fulfilled by reading her. I have finshed this and feel energised. Two reasons for all this, from her poems. From This Morning I Watched the Deer :

"This morning I watched the deer
with beautiful lips touching the tips
of the cranberries, setting their hooves down
in the dampness carelessly, isn't it after all
the carpet of their house, their home, whose roof
is the sky?"

And from Daisies, which seems to relate to discussions on Wilf's thread -

" . . . What do I know. / But this: it is heaven itself to take what is given, / to see what is plain; what the sun / lights up willingly; . . ."

Oliver was becoming a picture of herself to me, having read a lot by her quite fast, but reading her again has brought out her freshness to me and has broken my easy, soemwhat lazy and even cynical (?) picture.

Next stop -- I'm goign to try to get through a chunk of Infinite Jest - DFW seems to have had an interesting relationship with the sincere and the cynical.

Jul 12, 2009, 5:42pm

Evidence by Mary Oliver

Very good, read it in spurts though, at times thought it was one of my favourites of hers - need to reread to be sure though.

Not getting much time to read - or at least when I do choosing to use my time otherwise for now. Grr to coursework.

Edited: Aug 4, 2009, 12:29pm

Where Many Rivers Meet by David Whyte

I found this to start really strongly and greatly enjoyed the first four parts, culminating in a section called 'rivers of loss' which I found very powerful. Then the parts seem to become more personal for a while, I connected to them a little less for three parts before coming round again in the final three parts though it did not take me to the heights of the opening. At his best I find him very enjoyable, sometimes I wonder if things feel a bit forced but less so in this one especially at the start.

Have made a little more progress with Infinite Jest, must work harder.

Edited: Aug 16, 2009, 9:06am

The Crying of Lot 49 by Thomas Pynchon

I got a little way into this once before and gave up - picked it up yesterday for numerous reasons (have several Pynchon's yet to read including the new one and maybe needed to put this to bed in order to be able to move on). Anyway wanted to read it at a sitting but got interrupted -- yesterday's first 4 chapters were fantastic, how I read most of them before and had not revelled so much in some of the writing I do not know, yesterday I just got it. Wonderful. Less so today in finishing off, but still very good -- reminded me in some ways of Foucault's Pendulum and The Magus. Feel now ready to crack onto more Pynchon sometime soon.

Thats when I finish my currently half read Lolita which I am enjoying very much -- and yes still plugging away at Infinite Jest, one day I'll get there.

Edited: Aug 16, 2009, 9:40am

Edited: Aug 16, 2009, 9:44am


If you haven't already come to it, you will find a reference to the artist Remedios Varo, a good friend and fellow artist of Leonara Carrington, my current obsession. Here's an example of Varo's triptych referenced in the The Crying of Lot 49.

Here's a website that shows these pictures in higher resolution so you can see the details.

Aug 16, 2009, 2:16pm

Wow, thanks Urania, yes I finished this morning before I posted. You know I had not heard of Varo and I half thought TP had created him. This is the picture Oedipa wept in front of I think and I see the weavers in the tower like her with her hair. This is great, thank you. Now, you're not going to tell me the Pynch didn't make up the T . . . no, i can't say it - but you know what I mean -- are you?

Aug 16, 2009, 3:24pm

Wow, thanks for the links Urania. I didn't know about either artist, and both are amazing.

Aug 18, 2009, 9:11am

I also thought Varo was invented! They are beautiful pictures!

So, Tony, what Pynchon are you going to tackle next? Gravity's Rainbow is his masterpeice, I reckon, but Vineland is also excellent.

I'm excited about his new one, but I have to wait until it comes out in paperback, as I hate hardbacks. Has anyone else read it yet?

Aug 18, 2009, 9:56am

I love those feminist surrealists - witty and politically astute.

Aug 18, 2009, 10:09am

ooh -- the Varos paintings almost make me want to read Pynchon...

Aug 18, 2009, 11:18am

Urania, to whom to whit to woo to whom are you referring? Please share with us your knowledge of Carrington and Varo.

Tony, is there any more vodka in that bottle?

Aug 18, 2009, 11:41am

Passes the cat the vodka - are you partial to a kipper?

Funnily enough I have read both Gravity's Rainbow and Vineland but none others aside from Lot 49. I suppose Inherent Vice will be next -- after GR I am a little timid about a biggie - that and I still have about 400 pages of Infinite Jest to plough through and commit my life too -- hence being tempted my some smaller fish, though still very tastey morsels.

Aug 18, 2009, 11:55am


I am currently reading a book on Leonora Carrington's art and her friendship with Varo and will possibly post more at some later point. Both women were fiesty and as you can see in the middle picture of the triptych, you have women enclosed in a tower weaving the walls that imprison them. An excellent observation on Varo's part. Women participate in their own disenfranchisement. Even in the so-called "enlighted" USA, I have seen this sort of behavior occur over and over again.

Aug 18, 2009, 12:40pm

Another Artist Whom I Like: Audrey Flack

You can see more pictures here. Unfortunately, she no longer shows some of her really interesting work.

Aug 22, 2009, 1:57pm

I liked those pictures of her sculpture but think I like Varo even more. I may have seen Flack before. i think i have seen the Varo typtych before but with my poor artistic sense had not landmarke dit properly in my head - its tough living in these information overloaded times.

Edited: Aug 26, 2009, 3:04pm

I've not finished anything yet, but am working my way through Lolita which I love! What a great book (what an awful book, terrible in some ways but excellent).

But I wanted to write about it already, whilst I still have about 100 pages to go as I have a thought about it, or some thoughts which felt like trying to write down and maybe seeing what others think.

Basically the thought stems from this - its occurred to me that 'lolita' is less the name for Dolly (it is that) but in some way its almost a name for his own mental process that sees the world in this way (looking for 'nymphets's etc) -- and more the whole book is basically a poetic spelling out of his own peculiar vision of the world, this dominant process makign the world make sense according to its own view. And HH is so unreliable! I get a sense sometimes that he his deliberately putting things the worst possible way - he saves himself very little and when he does it is only to make himself appear worse (hmm I need to find more evidence of this than the night at the first hotel). Sort of linked to this way of thinking I am also struck by how this whole process for him seems linked to grief -- and I admit I did cheat and read the afterword already and I love Nabokov's take on Freud! So I do not want to analyse in freudian or analytical way - but the link to grief (loss of mother, first love, even poor charlotte) all seem linked to the 'lolita' process or demon, and I like that -- it seems a way of finding soemthign safe and reliable in the world, something to believe in as a source of comfort (as he himself says a paradise albeit one with skies of hell fire) when all he has known that would have been that have been taken away.

So, thats it, it seems to make lots of sense to me -- a poem of a one eyed view of the world sort of thing.

I'll now be reading Nabokov! I was wary of him as a lepidoterist I was afraid he'd be cold -- but not at all, though he is always precise but also a poet. Must try another 20 sides tonight.

Aug 27, 2009, 9:10am

also Remedios Varo: Unexpected Journeys is quite lovely. It took a bit of an effort, iirc, for Patty to find a copy, but that was a while back.

Aug 27, 2009, 11:25pm

Tony, can you believe I have not read any of Nabokov's fiction at all!!!! I hear his virtues extolled all over the place, but like you I have been put off by his perceived coldness. He was famously insensitive to the greatness of Dostoevsky, and had no musical ear at all, apparently. His Lectures on Literature are, however, very perceptive.

Your comments above are very interesting. I'm going to put Lolita on my TBR right away! Have you seen the movie with Peter Sellers?

Aug 28, 2009, 3:09am

tomcat-- a gap in your reading, I hardly believe it. There is a precision about him I find, i will have to read more of his work to make a better judgement on coldness, but this book does seem poetic to me -- and it came across at times with a very musical ear. He seems a very rare breed - yes there is something about this precision that might ultimately put me off (might not) but it is nowhere near as clear cut as I thought it might be, feared it was.

I think I am repeating myself.

I think I must have seen the film, or some of it as some of the first part seemed quite familiar. will be watching it again though.

Look forward to your thoughts when you tackle it on Mt. TBR.

Sep 2, 2009, 12:41pm

Lolita is one of several books that are high on my TBR list, but haven't been read as other books replace them. Your comments also make me want to read it ASAP, probably sometime in the fall. Thanks!

Edited: Sep 2, 2009, 12:56pm

Cool :)

I am still stalled on the last 100 pages or so.

Sep 2, 2009, 2:27pm

Have you seen the 1997 film of Lolita directed by Adrian Lyne? I think Kubrick did a version as well during the 1960s maybe?

Sep 2, 2009, 2:40pm

No, not the 1997 version (which seems to be linked to the edition I have); as I was saying to tomcat I seem to have seen some or all of the Kubrick version as soem of the book seemed familar.

Edited: Sep 22, 2009, 6:42am

A Shropshire Lad by A. E. Housman

I'm on holiday and had a day out to see a friend in another town yesterday - and for an hour and a half was left to my own devices in a bookshop and cafe. I bought this, have been interested in it for a long time and a recent visit to a poetry reading group made me want to learn more. I had nearly read it when my friend returned and finished it when I got home.

In some ways I just do not know what to make of it. The patriotic tone is so very of its time and out of favour now -- it can still resonate, but personally I think I have become much more of a peacenik type (favouring a Buddhist or Gandhi type approach - easy to say -- and also easy to mock for lack of common sense). The book seems sentimental and I can't argue with that, there is a warmth to the 'recollection' of times, places, people (I put recollection of these in quotes as I later learn Housman was writing of places he did not visit until after he had written about them). Its very folksy in a way, with some clear opinions on some facts of life -- and definitely of death, which was then a part of our justice system. I wondered at times almost if it was a joke -- and I don't mean to offend anyone with that, I know its popular, it was just one of many things I wondered as I read it. I also learned later that he often wrote when in a depression and that many verses came to him fully formed - and maybe that can help understand the pessimism at times and the subject matter and the interest of the view from those in difficult situations and the interest in recalling times of content and beauty, times of solace and to encourage living well while the going is good.

There is one poem in which someone is praised for killing themselves rather than go through a life of living with something they have done, that is 'not for mending' -- at one time I would have agreed with such a thought. However now, having lived, living with something of my own I cannot agree, at least not simply and without knowing more. Its this sort of side to the tone that I find hard (hard to agree with, harsh in judgement -- having the appearance of some truth when I think there is more to know -- and something that might appeal almost to people without such experiences). Learning later he was a classics professor makes me wonder about the influence of classical ways of thinking - the falling on your own sword of the Romans, the harshness of life that maybe there is more to what is being told than folksy. But about the classical world I think of T. E. Lawrence commenting in his translation of Homer's Odyssey that "It is sorrowful to believe that these were really Homer's heroes and exemplars".

This take on life also has a whole different tone with troops away in another far corner being killed and injured - maybe my way of life is a luxury defended by others, or maybe it is what they defend.

So, I do not know quite what to make of it -- the sentimentality of thinking of the 'lads' also seemed strange to me and I wondered how far he was such a lad himself. I don't know, more to find out.

But then there are the words, and he has moment after moment after moment that is just fine by me -- just wonderful, although I may find where he takes those moments strange and not always in kilter with me, I often liked it.

Sep 22, 2009, 7:41am

Tony - if you want to follow this up, it would be worth reading around the time, place, world events and personal events in the authour's life.

As you say, the words are the heroes here.

Sep 22, 2009, 8:51am

I'm wondering how what I have said has come across Zeno. I think an interest in authors lives and their times can be taken as read for me and maybe for people posting here. I am not sure that no matter how much I learn I will feel differently about these words, I have suggested that I often disagree with where they go, I have not disrespected them - nor I think reacted in ignorance.

Edited: Sep 22, 2009, 12:04pm

I really appreciate your honesty of reaction with this. Houseman is one of my most beloved poets, and it thrilled me that his words can still have powerful reactions; whatever the nature of those reactions.

He really needs to be understood in the context of his times, especially WW1. I think not so much knowing what happened, but somehow on an imaginative level trying to understand how they felt about it, what it meant to them as people. His poetry is for me essentially elegaic, (I simply cannot spell this word tonight) even in their artificiality: simple rhyme schemes, strong rhythms etc. I find them all intensely moving. I think it's coz I know they really were elegies for doomed youth, as well as just pieces written in the genre of Elegy for Doomed Youth.

He was a classical scholar of international reputation. His verse forms are English transpositions of anonymous Classical Greek and Latin elegies inscribed on grave markers. He is trying to blend the heroism of war (Greek & Roman culture) with the pathos inherent in the English Pastoral tradition (folksong, Grey's Elegy).

I'm not sure if you want to go further, or if you wanna just hang on to the freshness of your reactions for a while. But I'm happy to talk about H for hours. (as I'm sure Zeno is as well.)

Malt does more than Milton can
To justify the ways of God to man.


Sep 22, 2009, 1:06pm


I am also thrilled by your discussion. I recently started the Housman and was interrupted, but will return to it.

In the meantime, could you possibly clarify for me what the Lawrence quote means. ("But about the classical world I think of T. E. Lawrence commenting in his translation of Homer's Odyssey that "It is sorrowful to believe that these were really Homer's heroes and exemplars".) I am forever rereading my Homer and any reference to him has me excited.

Edited: Sep 22, 2009, 4:11pm

I will need to read and reread these poems to have a better idea of what I think. Talking for hours about poetry seems just fine to me. I didn’t mean to bite your head off zeno – I honestly wondered if I had seemed to have blithely missed something or several things, and feel quite well educated on that period having a degree in history never mind having been brought up amongst some of its survivors. I often like/loved parts of the poems, some whole poems (this is on one reading) and guess I might say I have a love/hate relationship to the sentimentality – in my own poems I am wondering if sentimentality is always vital to making a poem, I do not know the answer to that.

I only read a Shropshire lad tomcat. I can see looking backwards now that this must have had all sorts of meaning for those in WW1 or even in the 2nd Boer war (or maybe for anyone that has suffered!). However, he wrote the bulk of it in 1895 I have read. Now maybe I can wonder if time really does have a simple arrow, maybe he felt something in the air of those times. But can he really have meant it in the way it has come to mean? Secondly one thing I always learned from those that ever spoke to me of those times was of the folly of their views that brought them to a ‘war to end all wars’ (another mistake, though I wish it were not). So I find the simple patriotic aspects difficult.

Yes I read he was a classical scholar – I also read some think he excelled in that beyond his poetry even. You make an interesting comment as to what he was blending; I did see something saying he denied the influence of the classical world on his poetry.

I saw on wikipedia (yes I repent, but it is useful, and free!) a series of short summarising statements about what each poem is saying – I read some but I do not want to be clouded in my reading by being told what they mean. That there could be a message to each I am not sure what I think of. And its not that I can even disagree with those statements – yes life can be terrible and we rest (hopefully) when we die. I could wonder if he was trying to blend stoicism into English folklore. But having read them all more or less in one sitting they hit me hard, before finishing them I had a spell of feeling some grief, which may have had other causes but also seems linked to this. And for me that can be linked to depression – and I see he wrote sometimes when depressed. Depressed people can have a very realistic view of life, some research has suggested that might be more realistic than non-depressed people – but that does not mean I want to live with that view, whilst being right it may not be right somehow.
Further – and perhaps echoing earlier comments – there is something in these poems that looks backwards all the time to what was better and from the awful. I love his way of capturing those better times – and I also can wholly respect seeing the present as awful, but I like to look forwards and also in looking forwards I do not want to try to understand it in view of the sense it will make looking backwards (I have a Kierkegaard quote on a fridge magnet ‘life can only be understood backwards, but must be lived forwards’ (bought for me by a friend as a message methinks, I am not not guilty of this myself!)) – and this is especially important to me given what I do and my own experiences with my health. Perhaps reading him reminds me of consolations I had which led me to look at the world in that way – now I think it is not the only way to be and I resent work that seems to suggest that is so – maybe to later viewers that is simply to rattle my chains, I’d rather think of the Ted Hughes’ jaguar in its cage. Something in me hesitates at viewing moments in the height of life only from the point of view of its end or from moments of awfulness, though I know the height of life’s experience can help at those times. It feels for me now that my conern is living and what it means should not be my concern if I am to live first -- nor to put others lives in that frame myself either.

I hope that made sense – feel like I went around with that a bit and am not sure I have quite found the words.

polutropos – that sentence comes at the end of Lawrence’s introduction to his translation of the odyssey. I have myself, probably incorrectly, allowed it to lead me to wonder if he also meant the heroes of the Iliad. However it ends a paragraph in which specifically Nausicaa, Eumeaus, Odysseus’s family and Menelaus are mentioned. In the intro he also clearly seems to distinguish the writer of the Odyssey as a different Homer to that of the Iliad, so again maybe I was wrong to follow that path of thought as far as what he meant, but I cannot help but wonder.

Sep 22, 2009, 4:28pm

Bite away dear fellow - it is all part of the cut and thrust of debate.

However to explain my poorly phrased comments (and at the risk of digging myself deeper into the hole - whats the weather like up there by the way), I think I was trying to say that it would be worth reading around the time, place, world events and personal events as they impacted on H himself.

I was thinking of his unrequited love, his reaction to this, and (possibly) its echo in his works, overlaid with the background of Victorian views on war and the link to the pastoral and romantic myths around the countryside - which I have an interest in, but not nearly enough knowledge of at present.

I took my lead from the last but one sentence of your post. But it was pure enthusiasm on my part that lead me to be caught on this lee shore, nothing more.

Next time I may be best to restrict myself to the single comment 'I agree with what the tomcat, Murr writes'.

Sep 22, 2009, 6:34pm

Very interesting discussion. Houseman was a favorite of my father's, so I have a sentimental attachment to him. And delighted, Murr, to see you quoting two of my favorite lines, oft-quoted by my father, at the end of #120.

Sep 22, 2009, 8:00pm

Yes, very interesting. I'll have to get around to "A Shropshire Lad." Right now it occupies a very small space in my brain due to a reference in A Room With a View when Mr. Beebe finds it among the Emersons' books*, and those settings, Murr, that you posted in the Salon. I bookmarked the video and haven't remembered to have a proper listen--I will, soon.

* "What have they got? Byron. Exactly. A Shropshire Lad. Never heard of it. The Way of All Flesh. Never heard of it. Gibbon. Hullo! dear George reads German. Um--um--Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, and so we go on. Well, I suppose your generation knows its own business, Honeychurch."

Oct 24, 2009, 11:44am

What a month! Not much reading done, a lot of writing (on not very interesting subjects) but am now free again to read. Since my time was my own again have been to a writing class and today an excellent course on Wordsworth's Prelude and Tennyson's In Memoriam -- so those two top my to read list, still got to finish Lolita (its been frustrating me not having the time). Also want to read andrew motion's the cinder path this week. And today took delivery of robert louis stevenon's an apology for idlers which I hope to take many a leaf from.

Edited: Oct 29, 2009, 5:36pm

Ok, so I finally got round to finishing a book again and it was Swithering by Robin Robertson. Very enjoyable poetry I really connected to, I've read them all several times and will keep going back to it - and a poem about where I'm from which was a very good thing. Highly recommended - beautiful.

Edited: Apr 10, 2010, 4:58am

My month of course deadlines has been followed by more weeks of being knocked out of my reading rhythm - I have been having fun though. Anyway also not been totally idle on the reading side of things and have also been going to a writing workshop. Yesterday I was at a very interesting course on contemporary poetry. We looked at 10 poems, many by local (to me) authors, and the poem I have linked to below stood out, thought some may be interested and its cool to share I guess as its on the author's (Paul Batchelor) website -- Snow Melt href>. I will be buying his book pdq.

Hope to finish Lolita today and add something about that soon - then I can finish martin Amis's article on Nabokov in yesterdays guardian without the possibility of a spoiler.

Edited: Nov 15, 2009, 11:59am

Tony - fantastic poem.

I read another - Butterwell. Fantastic as well. Time and place both emerge so strong in these poems - and as I believe I have told you before, time and place are important :)

Nov 15, 2009, 2:01pm

Isn't it just.

I am saving a poem a day of these free ones.

Whats the word anthropologists have for time and place, I forget, bit like terroir in wine - damn just can't remember it right now -- sort of psychogeography territory.

Deflected from my readign this afternoon by wii fit- must try harder.

Nov 21, 2009, 10:53am

Just finished Lolita.

My comments above stand. What a book. And how wrong was my image of coldness of Nabokov. Not a nice or pleasant story at all -- but poetic, yes. In some ways a quest for some sort of redemption, or safety, leading to the opposite - and knowing it.

Nov 23, 2009, 3:44am

those poems reminded me strongly of Chinese poetry form the Tang dynasty: very sparse and loaded. good stuff.

Dec 6, 2009, 9:18am

Tomcat - what you say made sense to me, but then I realised thats as my image of chinese and japanese poetry is just that, very sparse. So, I wondered is there an eastern tradition of very rich, loquacious perhaps, writing - the opposite of sparse I suppose. or is that not done?

I thought you'd be just the cat to ask.

Dec 7, 2009, 4:23pm

Day off with cold -- grrr. Christmas! bah humbug the way I feel.

Finished the world's wife - very enjoyable, very funny -- shows a feminine view that I enjoyed. Debagging mythical/legendary/soem historical men. Sometimes showing up the women too (I think of Salome, as I understood that poem). many memorable poems though. But I did wonder where love fitted in -- sometimes it seemed lost and/or transformed (and when transformed usually displaced from its original object), but then I guess 'love is not a victory march'.

After listing all the books I should be trying to finish on the what are you reading now thread -- I am going to stop boring you all with my infinite infinite jest quest until it is done, or better in hand, and about all the rest of them too. I did start oranges are not the only fruit and its so short I must surely finish it.

Dec 7, 2009, 5:13pm

but then I guess 'love is not a victory march'.

It's a cooooold and it's a broooooken haaaaalleluuujah! *Oh no, you have me crooning.* :)

You're not boring me with your (infinite) Infinite Jest quest.

I love Winterson! Including Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit. I hear there's a TV adaptation out there somewhere, but I haven't seen it. Infinite Jest & Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit are both on the 2010 group reads list for Le Salon Litteraire, by the way. You might want to check in on all the commentary next year when they happen (Infinite Jest starting March, Oranges in May).

I have yet to read Lolita. Will do. Later. You're inspiring.

Edited: Dec 7, 2009, 9:15pm

Tony, most Chinese writing is pretty sparse, especially poetry. And fiction is very story driven. I know of only one contemporary novel with thick prose but the name escapes me. I'll look it up when I'm in the bookstore on Thursday and get back to you. (I have a private class in the bookstore cafe and it's playing havoc with my TBR pile!)

I hope your cold is getting better.

Meddy, the TV version of Oranges is simply fantastic.

Edited: Dec 8, 2009, 5:37am

Thanks Meddy for the support, can't let myself take 'inspiring' too seriously, but glad you still enjoy my thread - your input always appreciated.

Edit -- ooo I forgot to say, I joined 'le salon...' too, lots of interest coming up. Thanks for that tip!

I've never seen the Oranges programme, but remember people enthused about it at the time.

Tomcat - that'll be why I have that impression of chinese writing then. What was especially characteristic of Tang dynasty?

another day of cold -- can't believe it as it seemed I already had swine flu in august.

Dec 10, 2009, 10:31pm

Tony, Tang Dynasty poetry is largely considered by the Chinese to be the high point of their poetic achievement, rather like Elizabethan poetry is in English, I guess.

Regarding 136, the authors name is: Chu T'ien Wen, and the book is called Notes of a Desolate Man. I have not read it, but only glanced at it in the book store. It does look good, however.

I have been thinking about why Chinese poetry is so sparse, and I think it might be something to do with the nature of the language itself.

In linguistics there is a useful conceptual tool called the target-token ratio. What this means, roughly, is that there is a ratio of word (token) to meaning (target). for example: 'I want to get off the bus' in English needs 7 words to express this idea, while Chinese only needs 4: Wo yau shia cher, so the ratio of token to target in Chinese is much lower than in English. Chinese has no grammatical inflections and very very few particles, so each character in a poem carries a greater weight of meaning. Tang Dynasty poems contain 5 characters per line, but from these characters readers can extract a whole range of meanings, both grammatical and metaphorical. The writing on the page is very sparse, but the meaning created in the mind is very dense, highly ambiguous and richly metaphorical. Metaphors arise from the phonic similarities of words, (puns) and from the radicals which make up the written characters.

Does this make any sense?

Dec 12, 2009, 11:44am

Tomcat - I'll look out for Tang Dynasty then. (will go wikipedia it in a minute to see its dates etc.)

And Chu T'ien Wen (do you use wade giles rather than pin yin? - this name looks wade giles to me). Interesting a desolate man 'writes' rich prose. So much sparse writing about desolation written.

I see your point about target-token ratio's at the most general level. I'll be interested to see an example pictorially sometime of how this works with chinese writing.

And Meddy -- I had cold this week, I like the idea of being inspiring really.

In my reading I finished Oranges are not the only fruit the other day - enjoyed it. Thought the women and the world of the women was very well drawn -- whilst in other ways it seemed like notes, not a wholly linked up book -- but no worse for that. I liked it a lot - also the way she approached, no explanations needed, the emergence of sexuality. I hope to read more by her.

Dec 13, 2009, 11:43am

I'm going to call you inspiring whether you like it or not. ;) Sorry about the cold, and hope you're feeling better.

Nice thoughts about Oranges. I seem to remember feeling much the same way. And muchas gracias for the link, MurrMurr. I think I'll reread the book early next year & then watch.

By the way, Tony, I thought I'd let you know that you got some welcome notes in the Salon...

Dec 15, 2009, 12:12am

Better late than never. Let me add my voice of approval for Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit. I saw the film version on public television back when I was a wee tot. it is quite good.

Edited: Jan 2, 2010, 2:14pm

Thanks Meddy - I said thanks over there at the time as you probably know -- before I started getting Bolshy about Heidegger.

I finished Last Evenings on Earth by Roberto Bolaño. Very enjoyable and an easy read, but no less complex or fascinating for that. Good stories well told. Lots of them about writers which was interesting. I'll definitely read more of his, I have 2666 and am much less put off by its enormity now. Before reading the last, which was made up of a series of points that developed a story I had thought his method seemed much like that, short, simple statements mostly that develop the story. I found it an interesting technique - and much ingenuity in many of those statements.

My completed reads are down from the last two years, but I have completed another uni course, much as I hated it -- hmm and hey I thought I wasn't counting anyway, bad Tony! I might finish some more this week, otherwise see you on CR2010.

A link to my 2010 thread: