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December 08, 2010


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I definitely feel you, Glenn. I am currently trying to read books I've bought (or inherited) that I haven't read before as well. Top of my list is Hemingway's "For Whom the Bell Tolls" (read his other novels, except for this and "Islands in the Stream", which is next). Good luck.

Dan Coyle


Dan Clinton

Yikes, MARDI is no PIERRE.


Best of luck with this. I've recently instituted a very similar policy for space reasons. Of course now I'm reminded that I wanted to pick up that Davis translation. And now I'm aware of the existence of the Richter book and am feeling appropriately covetous. Thank god I already own/have read most of the rest of those (Power Broker has been on the to-do list for at least a decade now). The good news is I knew my plan was doomed to failure so capitulating won't cause me too many hard feelings.

That Fuzzy Bastard

This is going around Brooklyn, isn't it? I instituted a similar rule for DVDs and video games---I may have as many as fit on the shelves dedicated to them, and if I get more than fit, I must get rid of something.

Looking forward to hearing what you think of the Melville---the only one I've read is The Big Famous One, but I know that was considered an atypical (and annoyingly weird) Melville novel by the audiences of the day.

Pete Segall

@TFB - I think the Melville considered most annoying at the time was The Confidence Man, so annoying that a lot of people just thought it was a bad joke.

Re Paintings in Proust, I'm about halfway through Edmund de Waal's The Hare with Auburn Eyes right now, the story of the Ephrussi banking dynasty and its (largely Japanese) art collection. Charles von Ephrussi was a sort of patron to Proust and evidently one of the inspirations for Swann; Proust admired his Impressionist collection a great deal and some of the works actually show up in Au Recherche...


"Back when I was a bachelor I didn't much care about this issue, but now I'm sharing space with The Woman I Love, and have also developed, even slightly independent of that fact, a kind of appreciation for keeping one's living space kind of, you know, livable, and stuff."

Ah ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!! Hoo boy, that's rich! Glenn, you're a riot!

Oh, you were serious? Ahem, well. Actually, I'm coming to a similar realization myself, though I've yet to take any solid steps towards actualizing, or whatever, this New Me. Plus, outside of one special selection, I can't read anything right now. Nothing is sticking. This depresses me.

And I, too, should read DHALGREN.

James Keepnews

Good G-d, WHAT DAN SAID! DHALGREN is about as sui as generis can get, to say nothing of as discursive and formally inventive as po-mo lit, sci-fi or otherwise, will ever get. The bisexual love child of Joyce and Zora Neale Hurston moves to Newark at the end of the world, and Alfred Bester is their acid dealer? Towards the end, sort of, a little bit. Gotta imagine Harry Matthews, whom I'm happy to see is still 'bout it, is down -- it's Ouloopy in everything but name.


Good luck, but I think a new book will come into your home before you finish reading what's on your headboard!!

Tom Carson

To help Mr. Kenny get through his reading faster, can we have a contest over Which Book In The Photograph We Most Want To Steal? I'm eyeing Child of The Century and wondering if it's a reprint or an uncommonly well-preserved vintage copy. Mine is a '70s paperback with wonderfully inappropriate faux psychedelic cover art, but I haven't read it in 20-plus years and now that I'm feeling the itch again, the damn thing is in storage.


The Power Broker is magisterial. And I think time has shown that Orwell got it all pretty much dead right way back when. I just finished Bloodlands and started Super Sad True Love Story.


I would urge you to read Typee and Omoo and declare victory over that volume. Even though Mardi is probably the book whose writing made Moby-Dick possible, it's also the worst and least rewarding thing he ever wrote. (Pierre and The Confidence Man, for all their weirdness, are miles better.) Most of it is taken up with pasteboard allegory and the kind of satire that mainly consists of transposing familiar things to a strange locale. ("Vivenza" is the United States; the sorcerers in the island of Minda are lawyers; and so on.) And for all of his greatness, Melville is no Swift.

I like Martin Amis' test of judging an author by his names. Mardi's cast includes the philosopher Babbalanja, the poet Yoomy and the old historian Mohi, also known as Braid-Beard.

Sorry to go on about this, but as one who had to read Mardi, twice, for a thesis, I feel compelled to prevent others from suffering as I did.


Although I liked Woods' version of Dr Faustus I don't think it has the sheer readability of Lowe-Porter's (and I have no german so can't comment on how accurate or inaccurate she was). Dhalgren is one of the great American novels and a contender for The Great American Novel, blissfully good and a text which gets into your head. For some reason I kept thinking of Updike's Rabbit Redux when reading the Delaney book.


I've read some Delaney, some of his earlier, semi-minor stuff like BABEL-14 and THE EINSTEIN INTERSECTION. The guy can really write. He's also a total nutcase, which one could probably assume anyway.

And Tom, if that's your plan then I would have gone after the Hecht book, too. I don't know how we solve this dilemma.


GK, you need a Kindle, dude.


@EOTW - Those things are the devil.

Bruce Reid

in ignorance.

James Keepnews: "[Dhalgren's] Ouloopy in everything but name."

I initially read that pun as some adjectival form of Ouroborous (Ouroburroghsian?) and was going to point out that even the title swallows its own tail.

You know, I sometimes fret about being too lightweight for the discussions around here, especially after a post like this has me glancing over at my own to-read pile, heavy with Harlan Coben, Rendell, and the impulse-purchased-years-ago, never-yet-cracked Shaft among the Jews. But then I spot (yeah, agreed) Homage to Catalonia. Ah, at last, a bond founded


Hey, Ruth Rendell is awesome. There's no shame in reading her, Bruce.


This is my plan, too. After law-school exams, I will finally read Against the Day, partly to clear shelf space for up to five new books, partly to enjoy a Christmas vacation full of Pynchon. I've also had Dhalgren up there, unread, for nearly ten years, and I'm guessing we're not the only ones.


@bill: Then how come everyone loves them so much?

Bruce Reid

bill: Yeah, Rendell's brilliant, and she wasn't a good example of what I was talking about. Though even there I gather I'm in the minority for kind of preferring the Wexfords. Flipping back to the relevant passages when the Inspector lays out the solution to the mystery, there's such a marvelous appreciation for how double-bottomed she made even the most casual conversation, and how psychologically astute she was in her word choice.

I've never actually read any Corben, just liked Tell No One well enough, and about a month ago picked up four of his paperbacks from a book exchange table in the apartment.

Joel, I'm not exclusively a thriller fan; Against the Day's marvelous, hope you enjoy it.

Bruce Reid

Never read any *Coben*, that is. Keeping with my earlier theme, I'm actually a huge fan of Corben, and just snatched up his Banner miniseries written by Azzarello.

Pete Segall

@cmholbrook - Bloodlands. What did you think? I'm picking it up this weekend and am pretty eager. I remember an essay by Snyder in the NYRB a summer or two ago about the extent of Nazi atrocities on the eastern fronts, which I guess was either an excerpt from or preview of the book. Rather chilling stuff. I think he was going to be Tony Judt's collaborator on a followup to Postwar. That alone speaks highly of the guy.


Mr. Kenny, I read your review of The Tourist. You praise Depp for doing his best "considering" and you just 'plow in' and mock Angie for the few things you could. It was Jolie's part to play a "Femme fatale," and she even states in interviews it was fun to play a "girlie-girl" for something different. Plus she and her family got to spend months in Venice & Paris. I've got one word for you, "DAH!!!" I am in my 50's and have been an avid movie spectator for many years. During all of these years there is one thing I can always be assured of, and that is: "If the critics don't like it, it's a must see!!"

Glenn Kenny

@ "Sauncie": You're in your 50s? Wow, me too!


Dear Sony Pictures: Please splash out on some better astroturf.


"Movie spectator"?


"If critics don't like it, it's a must-see!" Sauncie, I think you're on to something. I'm not a critic, so you can trust me when I say you should drop everything and rent -- no, blind-buy -- BOAT TRIP, TOMCATS, FEAR DOT COM and, I dunno, PATCH ADAMS. Unless you've already seen and loved them, of course.

Kent Jones

And why not an Angelina Jolie festival? In god's name, hasn't the poor woman been persecuted enough? Who can forget ORIGINAL SIN, BEYOND BORDERS, or TAKING LIVES? And what of ALEXANDER? Who can forget her work in that? And they say Meryl Streep is good with accents...


If the makers of 'Gigli', 'Pluto Nash', 'Sex Lives of the Potato Men', 'Southland Tales', 'Town and Country' etc, etc actually had the balls to put "If critics don't like it, it's a must-see!" on the posters, I might well have watched them, just as acknowledgment of such sheer chutzpah.

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