Orion Reads
a diary of books etc.

Friday, January 28, 2005

slow times

not too much going on.
i read a few pages of baudolino each day on BART,
but mostly i'm reading You'll be the Death of Me, by Miriam Lynch, 'a zebra mystery puzzler #25' from 1979. The idea is it's a whodunnit and there's a few sealed pages at the back which you're supposed to write your guesses on and then unseal to see who actually dunnit. I'm pretty sure i'll have no idea. I pretty much never use my brain. Or i second and third guess myself and the author and mistake clues for typos or stylistic oopsies. The pleasant part here is that Miriam Lynch actually did a fair job of writing and i'm enjoying her style. Yay!

Monday, January 24, 2005

Books de Kai

This week i finished two books which Kai gave me: The Beast Under the Wizard's Bridge by Brad Strickland, and The Destiny of Isabelle Eberhart by i know not whom and even google doesn't know. - Which is ironic in the light of Isabelle's own book, The Oblivion Seekers.

The beast is a sort of harry potter/lemony snickett/encyclopedia brown melange which frankly, Brad, you don't write so good. There's many young adult books which are much better written. However, i did of course enjoy the HP Lovecraft mythology at the books core, even tho you misquoted several of the dark incantations. (Who the hell is Yog Shuggoth ?? It's Yog Sothoth you unread cretin! Shuggoths are servant creatures of the Old Ones, der.) The best part of the book, which is the reason Kai got it for me, is the jacket, which features two very nice Gorey drawings.

The Destiny of Isabelle Eberhart of course comes during Kai and mine obsession with you-know-whom, which was itself spawned by Jolie Holland's song Old Fashioned Morphine. It's a biography of IE. I think both the biography could have been slightly better written and the life significantly better lived, but i loved it. Isabelle Eberhart is sort of the quintessential dreamer who has absolutely no sense of practicality or the future. So her story is both inspiring in presenting the personal freedom one can attain in life and spirit, but also a good deal tawdry and depressing because a large part of her is the everyday pedestrian unthinkingness which i certainly have loads of and which will surely someday bring me to destitution as a dock-worker in Marseilles too! Um, i don't really want to go too much into a summary of IE's life, because if you're at all interested, you're going to read this book. It's short and decent. The really exciting part is that i happened to visit Marseille while just finishing it up, and well, it was saturating. To think that i walked down alleys where a mere hundred years ago IE may have also trudged! Soon to be read is IE's own The Oblivion Seekers, which Kai also has. Yay Kai! Photos of Marseille will appear here pretty soon.

In other news, i'm still reading Eco's Baudelino, but i don't think i'll finish it. I think I'll move to Foucault's Pendulum instead.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Oxbow Incident

Finished the oxbow incident last night in the tub.
I'd forgotten how hard-hitting it turns out to be.
Moving on now to Green Hills of Africa, which i didn't realize was a stab at absolute non-fiction by Hemingway. I expect it will read pretty much exactly like his ficton. Excepting The Old Man and the Sea of course. Why couldn't we have seen more of that hemingway ? It's such a wonderful soothing voice and i wish he'd developed it earlier.

Monday, January 10, 2005

brautigan - dodge - robbins

So i have this notion, feeling, internal certitude etc, that of the many qualities a writer can have, there's one which is shared between Richard Brautigan, Jim Dodge, and Tom Robbins. Unfortunately i don't have a name for it but i can tell you that Brautigan's dial is at about 9 and Robbins's at about 1. I think it has to do with refusal to Make A Point. Of the three, obviously i despise Robbins and not so obviously i think i prefer Brautigan to Dodge. I mean Dodge to Brautigan. I mean..

I realize i will probably be eviscerated by several of my dear friends when next they see me.

In any event,
i finished The Hawkline Monster, and enjoyed it immensley. It reminded me of Dodge's Stone Junction, but without so much reliance on Plot. Which is saying something.

This morning i started Trout Fishing In America, and it's not going as well. But we'll see. Also the collection i picked it up in, which also has Watermelon Sugar, includes a bunch of poems which hopefully i'll just skip. Strangely, i suspect that much of what irks me in Brautigan, the fey coyness, the firm disbelief in nonnonsequitor, is stuff i personally could easily be accused of.

That's about it reading-wise.
I'm still doing The Turn of the Screw, but slowly. Same for the hemingway.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

thursday report

not much actual reading going on, but the reading potential is multiplying exponentially (?) due to my sudden access to the libraries of Kai and Mykle. From which i have stolen my first attempt at Brautigan - The Hawkline Monster. While i love the idea of Brautigan, i think i may have some trouble actually reading him. Will probably start after finishing up Turn of the Screw, the ending of which is given away in Indeterminate's comment a few posts down. - Some of us have shit for memory, y'know!

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

movies: bad education, long engagement, unfortunate events

Bad Education was amazingly good. It's a suspense story-in-story film set in Spain starring transexuals and fags, which sounds like exactly the sort of thing i don't really go* for but i can't remember when i've been so involved in a plot. Riveting. I loved the way that your conception of the central character of the film slowly adapts and shifts many times over the course. You should really see it.

* i loathe Hedwig, eg.

The Very Long Engagement was okay but far from good. I'd rather see Amelie (sp?) again i think, which neither dilutes cuteness with war horrorography nor war horrorography with cuteness. That actress needs a new character - enough with the getting a box of treasures and delivering them to their rightful owners!

A Series of Unfortunate Events was okay but coulda been a lot better. Sarah hated it. I wish they'd only included one or two of the books rather than three. Carey's acting i think was my favorite part. I felt there was some dissonance between the sets and the characters - the sets were done in the over-the-top, almost cartoony style which i think is appropriate, but the characters seemed not to notice. ce la.

henry james excerpt

a typical James sentence:

Coming downstairs to meet my colleague in the hall, I remembered a pair of gloves that had required three stitches and that had received them--with a publicity perhaps not edifying--while I sat with the children at their tea, served on Sundays, by exception, in that cold, clean temple of mahogany and brass, the "grown-up" dining room.
Now i love discursive sentences, make no mistake. David Wallace, for example. But with James i'm constantly reviewing every sentence to see if anything important happened in it.

henry james, the oxbow incident, across the river & into the trees, peanuts, polysyllabic

Happy 2005 y'all.

So i was enjoying hemingway's Across the River and Into The Trees, a story about a typically hemingwayian fifty-six year old war veteran with significant heart trouble who's in love with a young (19?) italian woman. It's good, but not great. It's not Farewell to Arms. Hemingway is really good at internal dialogue, and gives a convincing idea of the internal space of a dying 56yo war veteran with a soft heart. For some reason tho, i put it down about fifteen pages from the end, and i'm in no rush to Find Out What Happnes, but that's probably more me than Hemingway.

I'm about a third of the way thru Walter van Tilburg Clark's 'The Oxbow Incident', which is basically a philosophical exploration of the idea of Justice (especially formal, legal justice) disguised as a cowboy story of rustling and murder. It's mostly well-written altho sometimes the veneer wears really thin and no matter how hard you try to look away, you're face-to-face with the Clark's outlined notes for the Points He Needs To Make in the story.

I'm re-reading Turn of the Screw by Henry James. I think this'll be my third or possibly fourth rereading, and also possibly my last. Jame's prose style is getting, as i read the book, on my nerves. His use of paranthetical commas, even for his era, is simply, not to be too blunt about it, infuriating. But the story is good so far. Probably the best ghost story i've ever read.

What else.

Kai gave me that new Schultz hardcover of the early Peanuts cartoons, 1950-1952, which i adore. I read it in My New Clawfoot Bathtub last night, soaking with just my nose and eyes above water. There's something about peanuts i just love. It's difficult to put into words. I think if you approach Peanuts with the assumption that there's a lot more going on than simple kid-jokes, that it's in fact a subtle and thoughtful strip, then it is. Well, these real early ones, where like snoopy appears to belong to Patty, and Charlie Brown, Patty, and Schroeder are the only characters, possibly the humor is more surface. But i still love them.

That's all for now!

Oh yeah, The Polysyllabic Spree continued excellent and entertaining right up to the end.