So, Sebald's Austerlitz. I'm reading fiction better than recent past though I still don't trust that I'm reading competently enough by what I remember of my reading skills to definitively rule up or down on a novel like I did for over three decades. I acknowledge the self-service when I say that's not entirely a bad side-effect and self-service when I claim my reading slump is yet another side-effect of my damn-adjustments across the dashboard of most of my religions. I find it difficult to turn down volume one place while maintaining volume in others when I always thought of all as a single whole. I want to care less about what I can't control but which was still inextricably part of the whole that comprises my damn. Music and poetry have intensified, I am listening and hearing music and poetry better than anytime in my life, I've known since eighteen it would be music and poetry, at last novels are coming back to me too. I don't trust me yet, but it's nice again to hear novels.
- Yes, predicatably, reading Sebald made me think of Kubisch.
- Oh, the novel. I don't do book reviews here. Have you noticed how as you've gotten older many new people you meet for the first time remind you strikingly, uncannily - maybe physically, maybe the inflections of the speaking voice, a tilt of the head? - of someone you know or knew? Anyway, Ishiguro, this was the most Ishiguro-ish novel I've read, for MANY! reasons. Here are two:
- The repetition of the variations of the phrase, So Vera described them to me, said Austerlitz, during Austerlitz's telling of Vera's telling of Austerlitz's childhood he has but vague memories, has the same - to me - hypnotic quietude as Ryder's I should hasten to says and as matter of facts in all his novels but especially The Unconsoled.
- Have you ever looked at the word many until it doesn't make sense any more? That sensation is a major part - I attest, self-servingly - of both Sebald and Ishiguro's projects.
- Now look at project. Try different pronunciations, switching from noun to verb.
- Austerlitz tells of a visit to the spa at Marienbad. When he arrives there is an old, bent porter who, with old man pain and old man dignity, carries Austerlitz's bags to his room. I say that porter is the porter of Ishiguro's The Unconsoled (published 1995, Austerlitz 2001), but then it's self-serving to think so.
- So yes, it reminded me of Ishiguro in general and The Unconsoled in particular, but then everything does, which is why I can't trust my novel reading.
- OH! a third thing: both Ishiguro (in all his novels) and Sebald in this one novel of his I've read, share a love of making the uncanny seem utterly normal, the impossibly serendipitous mundane. Love love love.
- Is also reminded me of Stanley Elkin because of constant mania for list-making, long sentences if documenting object after object and then the inevitable physical collapse of the list-maker into weariness and - sometimes - both mental and physical debilitation.
- I bet a pint Sebald read Ishiguro. It's just silly to think he read Elkin, but everything reminds me of something.
- So yes, a clusterfuckless link day.
- Adding, as I said in a post a while ago, bark bark bark bark bark bark bark bark barking here doesn't help with the novel reading. So I dream of barking less or if not less less often. This is tied to of course the divorce I'm attempting from certain of my religions. Since I've promised I won't >>deleted bleggalgaze<< anymore, details will follow either outloud or in silence.
- If I like you and you ask nicely I will visit used bookstores and when I find a copy buy and send you a copy of The Unconsoled. Those of you who got one last time are ineligible for this drawing.
- So yes, I enjoyed Austerlitz, will read a bunch of other authors before reading another Sebald, but I will read another Sebald.
- Nobel Prize betting odds one day before announcement.
- Another review of Bleeding Edge. I will try to finish it before I either finish Coover's Brunist or start someone new. Friends have been urging me to read Thomas Bernhard, I put out a request on twooter yesterday, had The Loser and The Old Masters and Gargoyles recommended to me by Kind people, good thing I have access to a university library's stacks. But I need to finish the Pynchon, especially now that while I don't trust myself I trust novels more than I did a week ago.
- University library books: I retrieved a copy of Sebald's Emigrants, completely underlined and highlighted, fuck that. I retrieved a copy of Handke's Repetition, completely underlined and highlighted, fuck that.
- Mr Alarum's has a new story up!
- On Mary Ruefle and songbirds.
- Steve Reich looks at a cake.
- Hejinian interview!
A NAME TRIMMED WITH COLORED RIBBONS
A name trimmed They are seated in the shadows
with colored husking corn, shelling peas. Houses
ribbons of wood set in the ground. I try to
find the spot at which the pattern on
the floor repeats. Pink, and rosy,
quartz. They wade in brackish water.
The leaves outside the window
tricked the eye, demanding that one see them, focus on them,
making it impossible to look past them, and though holes
were opened through the foliage, they were as useless as port-
holes underwater looking into a dark sea, which only reflects
the room one seeks to look out from. Sometimes into
benevolent and other times into ghastly shapes. It speaks of a
few of the rather terrible blind. I grew stubborn until blue as
the eyes overlooking the bay from the bridge scattered over
its bowls through a fading light and backed by the protest of
the bright breathless West. Each bit of jello had been molded
in tiny doll dishes, each trembling orange bit a different
shape, but all otherwise the same. I am urged out rummaging
into the sunshine, and the depths increase of blue above. A
paper hat afloat on a cone of water. The orange and gray
bugs were linked from their mating but faced in opposite
directions, and their scrambling amounted to nothing. This
simply means that the imagination is more restless than the
body. But, already, words. Can there be laughter without
comparisons. The tongue lisps in its hilarious panic. If, for ex-
ample, you say, “I always prefer being by myself,” and, then,
one afternoon, you want to telephone a friend, maybe you
feel you have betrayed your ideals. We have poured into the
sink the stale water in which the iris died. Life is hopelessly
frayed, all loose ends. A pansy suddenly, a web, a trail
remarkably’s a snail’s. It was an enormous egg, sitting in the
vineyard—an enormous rock-shaped egg. On that still day
my grandmother raked up the leaves beside a particular
pelargonium. With a name like that there is a lot you can do.
Children are not always inclined to choose such paths. You
can tell by the eucalyptus tree, its shaggy branches scatter
buttons. In the afternoons, when the shades were pulled for
my nap, the light coming through was of a dark yellow, near-
ly orange, melancholy, as heavy as honey, and it made me
thirsty. That doesn’t say it all, nor even a greater part. Yet it
seems even more incomplete when we were there in person.
Half the day in half the room. The wool makes one itch and
the scratching makes one warm. But herself that she obeyed
she dressed. It talks. The baby is scrubbed everywhere, he is
an apple. They are true kitchen stalwarts. The smell of
breathing fish and breathing shells seems sad, a mystery, rap-
turous, then dead. A self-centered being, in this different
world. A urinating doll, half-buried in sand. She is lying on
her stomach with one eye closed, driving a toy truck along
the road she has cleared with her fingers. I mean untroubled
by the distortions. That was the fashion when she was a
young woman and famed for her beauty, surrounded by
beaux. Once it was circular and that shape can still be seen
from the air. Protected by the dog. Protected by foghorns,
frog honks, cricket circles on the brown hills. It was a
message of happiness by which we were called into the room,
as if to receive a birthday present given early, because it was
too large to hide, or alive, a pony perhaps, his mane trimmed
with colored ribbons.