Just reading

I spent the last few days in Amsterdam & I don’t seem to do much more here than reading, just reading, devouring pages of text, for pleasure.

Nicholson Baker, Checkpoint. Baker’s novel about a guy who plans to shoot George W. Bush. The American reviews trashed the book, but I quite liked it, as an intelligent exposition of the sort of Bush-hatred that besets so many people.

Samuel Butler, Erewhon (almost finished). A classic, mentioned often in the literature on science & technology because in the upside-down world of Erewhon machines are outlawed. Enjoyable satire.

Joseph Conrad, Typhoon. Read this one in the Dutch translation and decided to more often read novels in translation: more reading pleasure (that is, if the translation is a good one). I’ve read Conrad’s Nostromo twice in English and still don’t get what it is about, seems all too subtle for my knowlegde of the language. Typhoon is the sort of perfectly built and carefully told narrative, with a main character that you’ll never forget — a story that makes you want to turn back to pre-1920’s literature.

J.G. Ballard, Running Wild. Novella, about murders in a gated community outside London. Now comes across as a sketch or a study or his later novel Cocaine Nights and Super Cannes. (I now see that a new Ballard-novel is announced for september).

Alfred Jarry, Superman (partly). Also in Dutch translation. Funny, hilarious.

Joris van Casteren, In de schaduw van de Parnassus. About twenty interviews with Dutch poets that never made it. Interesting because it sketches how the literary systems works. In these interviews one sees what is thrown out, what is forgotten, these poets had their work published at some point, but then did not stand ‘the test’ of quality, of perseverance, of conforming just that little bit, of time (the fashion changed).

And lots of papers.

Also revisited bits and pieces of Ihab Hassan’s early writings on postmodernism, as they are assembled in The Postmodern Turn. (It amazes me again how fresh those essays are, after so many years, how fresh his way of playing with the essay-form). And scanned through some of Erving Goffman’s The Presentation of Self in Everyday’s Life that I picked up from the Jan van Eyck library.

en,reading matter | July 1, 2006 | 23:02 | Comments Off on Just reading |


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