what you read what i read

what have you been reading this week?

this week, i’ve read:

1. stewartcovermichael stewart’s a brief encyclopedia of modern magic: a beautiful, magical little thing. cutting words, drawing serious blood. the first of many appearances we’ll be seeing of michael stewart, a name to remember & cite.

spinoza2. baruch spinoza’s ethics: dense, intense logic, a necessity for readers, writers, & people. the influence his philosophy has had on my thinking writing etc is invaluable. i took 20+ pages of hand-written notes. i probably could have taken more, had i more patience.

greenstreet3. kate greenstreet’s the last 4 things: i’ll write a full post about this later, but greenstreet’s poetry is brutal. for instance: “Dear friend, I can believe in the influence of Mars as fully as I can in the aorta. It’s all invisible, in a normal day–though felt, as rhythm or excitement or pressure. You have the plate you can’t drink from. And that one’s missing an arm. And making art, too, is a kind of disappearing. A bucket with holes, on purpose.” i usually don’t read like understand poetry. greenstreet’s collection defies any of that. her words go through you, pausing here and there to grab flesh and crack bone, or at least, that’s what she’s done to me.

proust4. marcel proust’s swann’s way: i usually read very quickly, but proust demands a patient & tender reading. i had a conversation with matt kirkpatrick about this, & i’ll post more on proust soon, but why talk about joyce etc, when there is proust? where’s the proust love? this is THE book, the book if i could have no other book but one, this one, where i would want to both hide and die and be resurrected. (to be fair, i haven’t finished this book. this does not dilute my impressions in the least though!)

weber5. max weber’s the protestant work ethic & the spirit of capitalism: i’ve been recently rather obsessed with the concept of guilt. that’s why i read this. good read. quick enough. i learned some shit. why not?

tn09781772586. joshua cohen’s aleph-bet: an alphabet for the perplexed: cohen is one smart guy & a real fucking writer. this book, part essay part fictional exploration, showcases his encyclopedic knowledge in stunningly numbing prose. what continues to impress me about cohen is how broadly & variantly he masters different forms & styles. there is nothing predictable in him. each book he produces is equally fresh & unexpected. his books are a forceful inspiration.

gorrell7. brandon scott gorrell’s during my nervous breakdown i want to have a biographer present: i want to take this book seriously, but i have a hard time doing it. still, i laughed, a lot. his terse sentences, which i hesitate to call verse, are caught in self-referentiality and self-effacement. when we take all those exteriorities down, what is in this text smacks is the malaise & ennui of our generation: a generation of gmail chats & facebook, internet & virtual non-existence because our existence is almost exclusively virtual. after reading this book, i wanted to go out & be surrounded by people, real people, who have real conversations. instead, i decided to post a blog on Big Other. i’m doing this at a cafe though: does that make it any better?

8 thoughts on “what you read what i read

  1. I like these posts – when you get caught up in reading so much that you fall behind on long, detailed posts on individual titles because you just keeping picking up that next book or journal, or clicking on that next poem at your favorite online journal . . .

    Read Steve Yarbrough’s forthcoming novel, Safe From the Neighbors, and enjoyed it as much as anything else he’s read, which is very much.

    Read the three most recent chaps from MLP and really liked them.

    Have begun Matt Baker’s novel, Drag the Darkness Down, from No Record Press.

    The new Hobart online edition rocked.

    Some more of StoryGlossia 36.

    Just finished up “The Cartographer’s Girl” by Matt Bell in the new issue of Gulf Coast and continue to be amazed by Matt’s writing.

    And a bunch of stuff published the last couple of months in online journals trying to gear up for Best of the Web 2010.

    • matt bell’s really great. smart reader & cunning eye. good call.

      to echo: yeah, all three mlp chaps were enjoyable. read them earlier this week but forgot to mention them in the post.

      i like your reading list, dan. any more recommendations? i’d love to hear them. drop me an email sometime.

  2. Nice post Lily. I love reading logs. I hope you keep doing this.

    This week I read Birkensnake’s second issue. See the post above for my thoughts on each story.

    I read and reviewed Gerte Jonke’s Calvinoesque The System of Vienna.

    Read the entire November issue of elimae.

    Essays by Cara Benson and Michael Martone for my writing craft book that came in last week. Both are excellent.

    Two other books that I may or may not be reviewing.

    “Notes of a Lyric Artist Working in Prose: a Lifelong Conversation with Myself Entered Midway” by Carole Maso that I wrote about here:
    http://bigother.com/2009/11/07/break-every-rule-part-2/

    Assorted odds and ends.

  3. I go through phrases when I’m the unabsorbed reader. I will read a paragraph of something, then go to something else and then go back to the original thing. I have way too many journals and books piled up and it is overwhelming.

    Going through Paula Fox’s The Western Coast.

    Reading a Columbia lit journal from a few years ago.

    Schutt-going back and forth between her two ss collections.

    Lydia Davis – Samuel Johnson is Not Indignant.

    Ethel Rothan’s work on the web.

  4. I liked reading this post, Lily. I’m always interested in what people are reading.

    I came to Spinoza through Deleuze, so my reading of Ethics was somewhat prescribed (but not in a bad way, I don’t think).

    I keep hearing/reading about Joshua Cohen’s work. I need to check it out.

    I look forward to your post on Kate Greenstreet — I always read & enjoy her stuff in lit journals, but have yet to read an entire collection.

    As for me….between today and last Monday evening, I’ve read/am currently reading:

    WG Sebald – The Emigrants

    Gilles Deleuze – Bergsonism

    Alfred Jarry – Days and Nights

    Kenneth Goldsmith – Fidget

    Roger Shattuck – The Banquet Years: The Origins of the Avant-Garde in France – 1885 to World War I

    • great reading list. i’ve been slowly making my way through deleuze & guittari. dense & jargon laden, but worth it. well worth it.

      yeah, greenstreet is incredible. each word in her poems simultaneously engaged undid hurt elated cracked me. her poems aren’t for reading. they’re for something else entirely, a word i can’t quite create-synthesize yet. one day, perhaps.

    • Hey Greg,

      I didn’t enjoy The Emigrants as much as I remember enjoying Rings of Saturn or Vertigo, but it’s been a few years since I read those titles so it could just be a matter of my ever-changing becoming.

      re: Banquet Years…the thing I appreciate most about it is Shattuck’s attention to Alfred Jarry, who has otherwise been sorely neglected by English language readers despite the fact that his work has had (I would argue) the most significant influence on 20th century avant-garde practice.

      I also liked reading Shattuck’s chapter on Erik Satie, whose music I have loved for a long time, but whose personal life I knew little to nothing about.

      It’s a fun read. I recommend it, especially if you dig biographies. It’s not a heavy scholarly examination of the avant-garde or of the individual artists’ works, it’s more like portraits of the artists.

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