Wednesday, May 27, 2009

A Fan's Notes by Frederick Exley

Posted this on the weRead Facebook app.

Can't think of how to open this review, so I'll just say "quite unlike anything I've ever read." The Exley depicted herein is an inveterate "dreamer" (might as well say "liar"), alcoholic, cynic, and lazy, listless parasite. He is a man seduced and betrayed variously by the ideas of fame, love, etc. He believes himself an artist but has none of the endurance that such a metier would call for. He is beset by the endless, gnawing apathy of the ambitiously unambitious, waiting for his life to begin and stewing in jealousy and with judgement for everyone who has managed to get on with theirs. Fearful, embarrassed, his answer is to see himself as a man apart. Frederick Exley on the page is profoundly unlikable.

So why four stars, then? Well, this book is, both intentionally and unintentionally, a very honest one; and for those of us who, like Freddy, never thought much about their futures, "prayed for rain," sulked in solitude, avoided their work, went tongue-tied, became deeply alienated, developed terrible habits, hit bottom, bounced, and hit it again, there is enough that is revelatory here that this could later be looked back on as a Very Important Book in our lives. (Don't ask me to qualify that, as I wouldn't even know where to begin.)

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

O noble experiment, how I've neglected thou.

Yes, it's been over a year since I false-started this blog. Let's cut to the chase - in the interim I've read a fair amount, the most amazing of which were The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen and Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson. As for right now, I've just begun Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace and Europe Central by William T. Vollmann, and I'm over halfway through both The Castle of Crossed Destinies by Italo Calvino and Gilead by Marilynne Robinson. Finally, here's a list of books I'm perenniallly trying and failing to make significant progress in:
Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
Gravity's Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon
Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy
Moby Dick by Herman Melville

See you soon, maybe.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Coming soon...

It's been a crazy couple of weeks - I'm moving out of New York Friday - but when everything calms down, expect reports/reviews on:
Dom Casmurro by Joaquim Maria Machado de Assis
Thousand Cranes by Yasunari Kawabata

Hell, I might even be finished with John Barth's Giles Goat-Boy by then.


Tuesday, May 1, 2007

The Codex Infinitum. Sounds Borgesian, eh? The idea is that I am always reading and, therefore, I will always be reporting. That's the gist, the crux of the nub: for every book I read from now on, I will report back with at least a paragraph summarising the plot/themes/tropes/voice/etc. of the work in question.

You may inquire why I'd do such a thing, especially now that I'm out of school and safely with BA. There are several reasons, of which I will name two: 1) As you noted, I'm not in school anymore. I am not required to engage the text the way I was before, and so more often than not I don't. I hope to correct this and thus continue to enrich my mind so I don't end up a senile, insular old man who is deeply out of touch with his fellow man. And 2) I read an awful lot and have always wanted to keep a running tally of what I read and when I read it. I sometimes write my name and the date of completion on the inside back cover of my books, but I do it so inconsistently that it's hardly a dependable source.

I've read a few books so far this year. Here are the ones I've completed (that I can remember):
Great Pop Things by Colin B. Morton & Chuck Death
Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs by Chuck Klosterman
The Sot-Weed Factor by John Barth
The War on Cliché by Martin Amis
Kiss of the Spider Woman by Manuel Puig
Slouching Towards Bethlehem by Joan Didion
Will Eisner's New York: Life in the Big City by Will Eisner
A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again by David Foster Wallace
Six Memos for the New Millenium by Italo Calvino
Jesus' Son by Denis Johnson (finished 05/01/07)

Books you can expect to see reports on in the near future include:
Hopscotch by Julio Cortazar
The Anxiety of Influence: A Theory of Poetry by Harold Bloom
The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge by Rainer Maria Rilke
The Uses of Literature by Italo Calvino
Girl With Curious Hair by David Foster Wallace

Of course, you know how it is with books. It's possible that I'm going to pick up, say, Darkness at Noon off the shelf, somehow instantly be in the mood for it, and see it through to the end in one night. In which case, expect some Gulag action.

I'll report back soon. Stay tuned.