Thursday, September 21, 2017

4, 3, 2, 1

I saw Paul Auster read from Mr. Vertigo, which is a lesser novel. I love the NYC trilogy. His last ones have been pretty good. I've read all his novels except the one about the dog. Couldn't get through that one. I saw his movie. I've read his wife's work and his wife's sister's excellent work on Charcot at Lew Aron's suggestion when I was in a study group. I've listened to Sophie Auster, Paul's daughter on spotify.

I read a bad review of the book, but then saw that he was longlisted for the Booker prize. I saw the book at the library.

I started the book which has an grand beginning, it feels like an family epic. But now I want perfect times to read it, no distractions, not tired, clear headed. Of course with a toddler that is pretty impossible, when she goes to bed, I tend to gork out and sleep. When she's awake it's a bit of a hurricane. I need to get less precious.

It's a long book. I don't really like long books anymore. I think the last tome I read was We, The Drowned. And I read that on a tablet. (BTW, I've lost my Kindle but these new ones look awesome.)

Friday, September 8, 2017

New bookstore in Queens!


I read that 3 former Barnes and Noble employees who worked at one of the 3 Barnes and Noble bookstores that closed down and left a vacuum in Queens New York City, except for the Astoria Bookshop. The rest are Christian. Of course there are Barnes and Nobles in Nassau county on Long Island, and in Manhattan. 

Anywho, so I walked over to this one, and it was not open. The paper in the windows suggests they are still remodeling. It's on Lefferts in Kew Gardens, across from the 7/11, down from the Gourmet store. Down from Danny's the famous pizza place. Several blocks from the train station, near where Kitty Genovese was murdered. Walking home, I walked past the Charlie Chaplin home near there. There is a lovely independent movie theater there. I'd say after Astoria, Long Island City and Forest Hills Gardens, that Kew Gardens is a hip neighborhood, and a bookstore really makes it hip.

I thought print media was going to die with readers. I love my apps that I use with my tablets because my eye sight is going and I can enlarge the text. I can't read as long with normal books. Even so, there's nothing like a book in your hand, and seeing how you progress, looking at various parts of the book. It's a better experience to read a real book, even if it is more expensive and takes up so much space.

Found a picture of the owners. They raised over 70k on Kickstart.

In other news, I have read recently What We Talk About When We Talk About Ann Frank. I love that story and the other stories aren't bad either. I saw Englander was talking in Manhattan, but it cost so I didn't go see him.

I love Raymond Carver's story "What we talk about when we talk about love".

The other book was My Italian Bulldozer. It was a fun little romp. I might try out more of Alexander McCall Smith's books.

Friday, August 18, 2017


Here is a cafe Hemingway hung out in.

The Dearborn biography does a good job of disillusioning someone that perhaps Hemingway was a great man. He lied, he cheated, he was venial. I guess it's good to see people's clay feet.

I'm reading The Sun Also Raises. At first I felt a connection to the beats, who celebrated celebration. They threw a lot of parties, and the Americans in Paris drank a lot. They got "tight". I like the silly slang and nick names he gives in his dialogue. You can feel he could be a good friend (as long as you were not in competition with him). You could feel he was a good friend until he wasn't.

By giving the narrator an inability to perform in standard sexual ways, and because they probably didn't want to go into other practices, Jake is an interesting narrator, who at once wants but can't have, and is also perhaps not fully embroiled.

Being in Paris at that time seems romantic. I sat in a cafe in Paris and the owner was really cruel to his puppy dog. I like the photo above, there's a kid there. It's kind of like a beer garden, or perhaps a bar that is also a restaurant. I love the family getting one's drunk on.

He's about to go fishing, a lovely respite.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Dearborn's Hemingway

OK, so he's a piker, didn't take responsibility for leaving Hadley, his first wife. He took credit for things he did with others that were good and then took no credit for things that looked bad.

He was an ungrateful git. Sherwood Anderson got In Our Time published and to pay him back Hemingway wrote a book making fun of his latest novel. He used it to get out of a contract with a publisher who published his first book.

Then Fitzgerald got him working with Max Perkins and edited The Sun Also Raises. Then he wrote shit about him in A Movable Feast.

A friend called his second wife daughter, and she called him Papa, and that's the origins of that nickname.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Thoughts on Dearborn's Hemingway

Ms. Dearborn has two negative interpretations on Hemingway. By him describing hair, he is obsessed sexually with hair. She also makes his career struggle to be immature and petty. I guess I'm like one of those people who stand up and say how Hemingway made him possible, made him who he was.

I went to the wiki page on the actress Hem flirted or had an affair with, and they don't mention the relationship. I wonder if they don't want to go that deep into her private life, or whether they really want me to add that in and cite the book I'm reading.

I'm on page 141 and some manuscripts are lost and he thinks he's going to be a father, and that leads to a manic output of journalism and attempts to get recognized in the literary world, through friends like Ezra Pound.

I was surprised Hemingway was influenced by Sherwood Anderson, knew him and carried letters of introduction with him to Paris from him. I've read Winesburg Ohio, which is free.

Another surprise influence was Kipling. I've been listening to the Just So Stories on Librivox. I've ignored Kipling and maybe I can read them to my daughter.

Friday, July 28, 2017


I'm reading Mary Dearborn's biography of Hemingway. I'm only 52 pages in and I find the early years hard to read in most biographies.

I read all of Hemingway when in college, on my own, not as an assignment. I continue to read The Sun Also Raises in my rereading of my favorites rota. I enjoyed A Million Little Pieces which copied the style of Hemingway.

I have been to his house in Chicago, where he grew up, and to his house in Key West, where there were 6 toed cats. I've been to Paris and hung out in cafes like in A Movable Feast

To Have and Have Not is a terrible novel, but made an excellent debut for Lauren Becall in rewritten movie form. I can't help lusting over her, even though she is dead and in the ground.

Their son was married recently, I saw in the times. 

Anywho, I hope to do further posts about Hemingway.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Favorite fiction

Favorite Fiction

The Hobbit. I read this book in one day, one summer when I was a teen. I think if you're going to avoid fantasy, at least you need to read this one. I read somewhere that C.S. Lewis tried to be non-religious in his fiction, and Tolkien tried to be religious. Tolkien was Catholic. It still feels the other way around.

A Season of Migration To The North. Read this one in a comparative literature class. I like the identification and ultimately individuation. Lent this book to someone who was going to Mauritania for the peace corps, though there's not much of a sense of place there.

Painted Bird. It just keeps getting worse and worse, like Angela's Ashes. Full catastrophe living. World War 2 setting, for those who like WW2

The Stories of Raymond Carver. Nobody finer. Wish he'd written a novel, and more stuff. I met his last wife, Tess Gallagher. She signed a book of poetry about the time around his end, loss and grief. Carver has poor, alcoholic setting. People say he has a minimalist style, but I think of it more as a naturalistic style, nothing added beyond what was there.

I, Claudius. I'm going to reread this soon. I love Roman history. The way it seems to try to be civilized, but are bloody and ruthless. I think we are not far from living like this.

The Sun Also Raises. I went through a Hemingway phase in college, visited his house in Chicago, went to cafes he said he went to in A Movable Feast. Obviously, A Farewell To Arms is a good novel. But for my money the best one is The Sun Also Raises. I love it when he goes fishing. I love it that the man is impotent or castrated or whatever. Where else is the narrator like that? I wish I could have lived in Paris and Europe between the wars. I'm against bull fighting, and the running of the bulls is perhaps a cliche now, but when I was younger I wanted to do that. What adventure.

New York Trilogy by Paul Auster. These are three novelas, that sort of go together somehow. I saw him read once for one of his lesser novels. I've been fairly disappointed with his novels but I still read them. I feel like he has such promise.

American Pastoral, The Human Stain and I Married a Communist. I know that's 3 books, but I love Philip Roth and I can't pick one that sticks out. Portnoy's Complaint is awesome, but I can't remember much and sticking to my method, I need to remember more than just liking the novel to be included on this list.

Parable of the Sower, Parable of the Talents. OK again not one book, but it's hard not to have these books that are built on each other. When I discovered Octavia Butler, I read all of her novels except Kindred, in a row. I need to read Kindred.

Three Body Problem. Liu Cixen is Chinese, scifi from another country, awesome. This one has so many excellent twists and turns. I might make a scifi list, but this one goes above and beyond the genera.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian. I know it's YA, but it was such a tight perfect novel and I love Sherman Alexie. He's like Paul Auster in that he doesn't seem to fulfill his potential, but he wrote the book that stands out.

A Mote In God's Eye. I'm not going to give away the plot, go read it. Also one of my favorite quotes from the Bible.

The Song of Achilles. This one is on sale for $2 kindle edition. For those who could not get through the Illiad. A modern retelling with liberties of the Illiad. I have mixed feelings about historical novels. I feel like I need to know all the liberties taken, even if I don't and that frustrates me. Even so this book is amazing.

The Sense of an Ending. It's almost a perfect novel, an idea I don't quite understand, but I read once that The Good Soldier is one--I didn't find it so.

Buddha Da. I got into the alternate spelling quickly, and enjoyed this Buddhist novel. This is I think the best Buddhist novel, but unlike this blog, I have not read them all.

Malloy. Beckett is awesome.This usually comes packaged with 2 other novels as well, and they do continue on, though it gets harder and harder to read. I did finish them all, so that says something. Read that book in an Irish literature class, and I'm forever grateful I took that class.

Love In The Time of Cholera. I know I should like One Hundred Years of Solitude better, but I fall for the romance.

The Treatment by Daniel Menaker. I loved the confrontational psychotherapist, who confronted narcissism. I liked the romance as well.

White Oleander. Like Painted Bird, what horrible thing is going to happen next. Set in modern times.

The Left Hand of Darkness. Reread this recently to see if I wanted to recommend it. Half way through I didn't want to, but by the end I really enjoyed it.

The Unbearable Lightness of Being. I think about this. One of my friends.

Crime and Punishment. Read the novel in Leningrad where it was set. When he uses the word yellow to describe, it was! Leningrad was yellow when I was there! The buildings, the water. I love reading a great novel in the setting. Read Darwin in the Galapagos.
Almost favorites, reread, sentimental favorites

Slaughterhouse Five. First novel I loved. Read part of it in a cabin on a lake in upstate Wisconsin. I have reread a lot of his work and like it, goes down smooth, but somehow it doesn't feel great. I feel like I outgrew it, which I rarely feel. I fill similar about Douglas Adams.

Stranger in a Strange Land. Reread this recently and the narrative didn't dislodge me as much.