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Friday, May 15, 2015

Death in the Afternoon / E.H.

Too, too funny--discovered last night, in this dithyramb to violent death, the Spanish for a bullfighter's cape is--capote.

In this work, the first non-fiction book by a major novelist one believes one has ever read, Hemingway carries his let's-keep-it-simple aesthetic to the point aesthetics are thrown out the window entirely and our peripatetic author plunges into the world of fact and fact alone, his journalistic tendency having overruled his artistic, and it is fascinating, the art/sport of bullfighting  one of the craziest, cruelest, most surreal activities, with moments of overpowering beauty, in which humanity has ever become engaged--imagine an NFL game where the captain of the losing team changes into a tuxedo and is executed by a sword-thrust to the heart to end the day.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Gertrude Stein

Clifton Fadiman: "She was a past master in making nothing happen very slowly."

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Slaughterhouse Five

Read this in the '70s and all I can remember, other than "So it goes," is Billy Pilgrim's red boots, the sardonic atmosphere, and the chapter-ending taunt, "Go take a flying f*ck at a rolling donut. Go take a flying f*ck at the moon."  I understand this work and Catcher were among the few contemporary novels Beckett read, saying he liked both, according to one or the other of his biographers.  As to late Beckett, a lament by J. Simon is not without merit: "What happened to the humor?"  I noticed a couple weeks ago a collection of his poetry has been published, but don't feel inclined to take it on.

The Unnamable / Beckett

The supreme example of the plotless, make it up as you go along novel, a wild flight away from Ulysses, a radical effort by S.B. to escape the anguish of influence.

Springer's Progress / D. Markson

Don't like having the details of a stranger's sex life shoved in my face--at all.

The Sun Also Rises

First read this more than fifty years ago, forgot almost all of it and this time around enjoyed very much Jake scoffing at Robert Cohn's ivy league boxing title, only to be knocked out by him in a barroom brawl toward the end of the story, and I absolutely did not foresee amour-crazed Brett having an actual romantic liaison with pretty boy bullfighter Pedro Romero, which set up keen suspense when as a result of the infatuation he gets beaten up by Cohn the night before the final bull fight of the Pamplona fiesta--judicious of E.H. not to have him killed or injured because one is really tense thinking he will be, as the price for his dalliance.  But the cast are a bunch of borderline alcoholics, who cares what happens to them.  Interesting that H. doesn't describe the physical appearance of any of the characters, other than saying Mike is "tanned" and Brett has short hair.  Th. Bernhard tends to go that way.  But everything seems authentic; H. says he wrote the first draft in six weeks, making one think of Faulkner's claim that he wrote the first draft of As I Lay Dying in two weeks.

Couple of interesting facts from Hotchner's Papa Hemingway: he never kept a journal or diary, and admitted to, on at least one occasion, crying over a rejection slip--Hemingway!  An effective way to avoid the irritation of dealing with editorial cretins--give oneself a few years off from the process.