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Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Depraved Donnie II

Silliman writes in In the American Tree (National Poetry Foundation, 1986 ... 2007):

"The sentence, well-formed and complete, was and still is an index of class in society."

This would place Donnie--where?

Friday, January 20, 2017

Depraved Donnie

Two views of today's inauguration:

“In the end, the primary actor is always the people.” 

N.O. Ting: "As horrible as the inauguration of Trump is, it is indisputable that there is a sense of excitement, even enjoyment, in the air over the novelty of what is happening, which is why paying attention to politics is a waste of time.” 

And the taijitu keeps turning.

The Garden of Eden / Hemingway

This posthumously published novel starts off with puppy love on a beach and soon thereafter, unexpectedly, a discussion of kinky sex; probably gonna drop it. One turns to Hemingway for heroism, not hedonism.  Might have been better to leave it in the drawer in which it was found. Rave  quote on the cover from Updike, no surprise there. Maybe I will pick it up again.
Can't complain about the cover art. Photo: Barnaby Hall. Design: Mary Schuck.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

A Farewell to Arms

A subtle, almost unnoticeable technique in this work (1929, Scribners) is his practice of describing mundane objects with great precision and intensity--a block of cheese, a bottle of wine, the wine's tastes exhaustively reflected upon--and then describing events of maximum importance in a curt, non-dramatic, matter-of-fact manner--for instance the moment when Signor Tenente, justifiably, shoots the deserter in the back, the verisimilitude rising from the fact that shocking, life-shattering events, in the moment, are almost always non-verbal in nature. After saying "Halt" to the backs of two soldiers under his command going AWOL:

"I order you to halt," I called. They went a little faster. I opened up my holster, took the pistol, aimed at the one who had talked the most, and fired. I missed and they both started to run. I shot three times and dropped one. The other went through the hedge and was out of sight.

But the simplicity of the language sometimes goes too far. Consider the following descriptive sentence:

It was a clean little town and there was a fountain in the square.

Sounds like a second-grader wrote it, no?

Here's another contra-Proustian observation, of another town:

It was a nice-looking little town. There were many fishing boats along the quay and nets were spread on racks.

(Cf. Krapp's Last Tape for a memorable incident occurring in a boat along a quay, most def.)

Or this painfully generic description of nurse:

I heard the door open and looked and it was a nurse. She looked young and pretty.

But this is abominable nitpicking. This is a wonderful book and to die without having read it is unthinkable for anyone who loves to read.

It is said books matter because they can change a life. This would be awesome power, and it is wholly unregulated.

Cover illustration by Cathie Bleck. Cover design by Mary Schuck.