Managed to finish three books in the past three days. Considering that Saint Glinglin was wrapped up, as was Six Problems for Don Isidro Parodi, Today I Wrote Nothing, and those books of essays, i might catch up with my misspent teens one of these years, and cram my head with some decent books.
A Russian Doll & Other Stories. Adolfo Bioy Casares. This is the second book of his that i’ve read, the first being The Invention of Morel. The odd thing about Bioy Casares is that i don’t enjoy reading him all that much, but the ideas stick with me. Reading short stories seems to be the most effective means to approaching his work. The ideas don’t weave together like Borges though. They float like buoys in the water, to be navigated. However, i prefer his solo work to his collaborative work with Borges. Obviously i’m going to have to re-read this in the future, as this seems a little off.
Garden, Ashes. Danilo Kis. It’s a library book, and now i’ve resigned to the fact that i must buy it. This has become one of my Great Books. I’d read it halfway through in recent weeks, but lost my place, so i happily began on the first page and read every word with the same pleasure. I began to bookmark pages to copy passages at a later time, only to realize that some of the key passages went on for pages. It’s one of those near perfect books, and the translation by William Hannaher is near poetry. I’d pigeonholed Kis into a Borgesian, as i’d read two collection of short stories. Now i’m kicking myself for being ignorant of how much Kis loved Bruno Schulz. This piece on Danilo Kis by Aleksander Hemon explains much. I’d been avoiding this book for so long, as i’m a coward when it comes to anything bearing the label of “Holocaust.” I was a fool.
Moravagine. Blaise Cendrars. I started this book about a year ago, but it kept getting tossed to the bottom of the pile. Blaise Cendrars the man is more interesting than this book. It’s not bad by any means. It’s good! It’s great! Henry Miller owes Cendrars! (well, a little…) It’s a wild, world-spanning adventure (but not nearly as madcap and transgressive as i’d been led to believe.) It covered the sickness of the early 20th Century very well, but the tour from the degenerate Austro-Hungarian Empire, to Russian revolution, to American grift and exploitation, to the insanity of World War I.. it seemed a little short. I love a short book, but something seemed lacking, like the episodes were too slight. When i read Cendrars’ essay at the end, on how he wrote the novel, i felt cheated, as i felt that he had lost and excised large portions of the work in his years of abandoning and revising it. When he got on a tear painting a portrait of the social landscape, the book was awesome, far more than waiting for the next episode of Moravagine’s insatiable depravity. Still, the library has Cendrars’ memoir Sky, and i intend to check that out next week.
Roberto Bolano’s Nazi Literature in the Americas was in the bookstore last night, and i snagged it. I’m already halfway finished, trying to take my time digesting it. Yep. It lives up to the hype. Reading 2666 later this year will probably just be an afterthought.