The Gunpowder Soprano is the current working title of what I have been calling "the Haydn book." I post it here so I don't forget, because my memory isn't as good as it once pretended to be. What sort of progress have I made on this novel, aside from thinking up a new working title? Not much, that's how much. I have thousands of pages of research material to read through, pages of notes to write, etc. I know the story, but the telling--the assembling of the narrative--will be sort of complex and will demand a lot of details and ideas about voice and character. I think I'll spend most of the writing time just inventing historical personages. Meanwhile, I'm writing Mona in the Desert. In that book, the narrator is talking about how he wanted to be an archaeologist when he was a kid. How lucky that I was just at an exhibition of the treasures of Tutankhamen, eh? The archeology talk will segue into a bit about how the narrator wanted to be an architect when he was a kid. All of this leads into ideas about design/creation and discovery/history and fiction. Though books about novelists writing novels are dull dull dull, so I'm not leaning heavily on this stuff. Anyway, you'll see what I mean, maybe, at some point.
I continue to read Brothers Karamazov. It's a pretty great book. A real mess of a pretty great book. On page 600, Dostoyevski introduces a new character and spends pages on exposition. I have no idea what the point of this section of the novel is, but it's great stuff. Also, for the first time the book has stopped feeling so frantic. Dostoyevski is a writer whose characters are always going somewhere, always in a state of high emotion. In Crime and Punishment, Raskolnikov is forever wandering around St Petersburg. In The Idiot everyone is always jumping into carriages to go to their vacation homes, or jumping into carriages to go back to their homes in the city, or jumping into carriages to race off to casinos. Dostoyevski is not the guy to read when you want characters sitting in pastoral settings, having calm and languid moments.