Monday, December 28, 2020

E.T.A. Hoffmann, The Life and Opinions of the Tomcat Murr (1821)

Hoffmann, of whom there are famous Tales.  A book I'd had on the radar for some time.  That title is not taking liberties with the German; it is indeed meant to evoke Tristram Shandy, of which Hoffmann was a big fan.

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Saturday, December 05, 2020

Wilkie Collins, The Dead Secret (1856)

So I had previously read Basil, Collins' second novel, and thought it flawed but still relatively fun and promising.  So I decided to read this one, his fourth--right before The Woman in White.  Surely it would be at least as good, right?

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Wednesday, December 02, 2020

Thomas Pynchon, Against the Day (2006)

 So was I not reading anything from, like, June to November? Well, I'd certainly have enough excuses, but it's not true: I was rereading this. I don't know if I should admit this, considering that I wrote a dissertation chapter on it back in the day, but this was only the second time I'd read it cover to cover. I mean, obviously I'd read parts of it many times, but, you know, the whole thing is kind of an investment.

Still, I would definitely have finished it a lot faster if I hadn't been blogging about it. You may remember, although definitely not, that I actually made an abortive attempt to do that back when I first read it. But most of what I wrote was pretty superficial, and then I got bogged down and gave up before the end. So now, fourteen years later, blogs aren't a thing anymore, and the book isn't new--impeccable timing on my part to try again! But I did, anyway. I wrote A LOT, I'll tell you that much.

So, what did I think about Against the Day on rereading? Well...a number of things. As you might expect. Scattered thoughts:

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Saturday, November 21, 2020

Myron Brinig, The Flutter of an Eyelid (1933)


Here's a new reprint from Tough Poets. And guess what? I read it. Unbelievable, but true! It's easy to be at least a little cynical about obscure old books (or operas, or whatever) being lauded as "lost classics." Not that it can't happen, but often, my reaction is more "yeah...I guess that was okay" than "WOW!"

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Friday, November 06, 2020

How's the President doing today?

 Let's check in:


...seems like he's having a normal one.

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

BIG CONTROVERSY ON WIKIPEDIA

 


WHOA THERE.  Don't do anything you might regret, guys.

Thursday, October 08, 2020

Dirty Joke Number One

Sex jokes are a very significant thing for small children, I feel, because they're a sort of mystical portal into a mysterious "adult" world. And I can remember the first one I heard, with a group of friends (as told by: Luke. Hi there, even though you're definitely not reading this; I know you're not dead, though, as I'm friends on facebook with you and also your mom and sister). I must've been seven or eight at the time, and it's worth noting that I really had no idea about sex at the time: sure, I'd asked my parents where babies came from and gotten the clinical answer, but, uh...I mean, I guess I got that babies emerged from women, but seriously "the man puts his penis in the woman's vagina and sperm comes out." Great, but I was still totally in the dark about what exactly a "vagina" or "sperm" was. Jeez!

Anyway, this is a pretty darn basic joke. You can find it all over the internet. Here it is: there's a classroom. A boy walks in late and, when questioned as to his whereabouts, replies "I was on top of Blueberry Hill." Repeat this with more boys as often as desired. Finally, a girl comes in and says "Hi! I'm Blueberry Hill!" DO YOU GET IT? I sure as hell didn't, I'll tell you that that much; I couldn't speak for my friends, but we all laughed knowingly, because obviously it was extremely vital that we not be seen as lacking the numinous information that was obviously implicit in this incantation.

I'll tell you, though, I remember very vividly the visual image I had in my head upon hearing this, and that was of poor Blueberry with all these boys successively standing on her shoulders, like a totem pole. I suppose that could potentially develop into an extremely strange fetish, but all it gave me was this anecdote. I guess that's a pretty good joke, when you think about it.