2. A Lear of the Steppes and Other Stories was not a brilliant collection of Turgenev. I've also read his two famous novels (On the Eve and Fathers and Sons, which books I thought were great) and poked around in Sketches from a Hunter's Notebook, which isn't bad. That's maybe 25% of Turgenev's output; I can't say how enthused I am to dig into the remaining 75%. Sorry, Ivan.
3. I am currently reading The Sailor Who Fell From Grace With the Sea by Yukio Mishima. It reminds me of Graham Greene in terms of mood and character, in that Mishima's protagonist is a teenage nihilist in a gang. He's a nasty little brat, similar to Pinkie Brown, but his gang is more like a violent version of the gang in Graham's The Destructors than the hoodlums in Brighton Rock. Mishima's prose, at least in this translation, is not pretty. This is something I have run up against a lot in translations from Japanese. Is it a weakness of the writers, or of the translators? The same sorts of clunkiness keep showing up, no matter who the writer is, and this confuses and vexes me.
4. More about The Astrologer. Apparently it's time for me to start shilling for my novel. My publisher and I are working on some readings around Seattle and possibly Portland. We are also assembling a press kit. I am informed that electronic review copies are free, available to anyone who meets my publisher's review policy. Contact me if you are interested in that. I apologize for the self-promotion, even if it's buried in paragraph four of this post.
5. I am a couple of days away from completing my first read-through of the first draft of Mona In The Desert. It seems like a fine book to me. I am not at all sure what sort of book it thinks it is, which is not a problem. Merely an observation. In a couple of weeks Mighty Reader will have a look at the manuscript and then I'll put the whole thing away for most of 2013. While Mighty Reader is casting her eyes over Mona, I'll be getting my hands very dirty with revisions to Go Home, Miss America. In a couple of months, at the very latest, my writer pals will get to see what that novel is. You know who you are, writer pals.
6. I have begun assembling research materials and an outline for my big project of 2013, a new novel to be called Nowhere But North. The premise is that in 1914 a Manhattan businessman mounts an American expedition to Antarctica, as either a publicity stunt or a symbol of manifest destiny and the superiority of American technology. The expedition does not go well. It will be a story of madness, love and sailing ships. Call me Ishmael Stevenson. I'm aiming at a Henry James prose style, I think. We shall see.