Sunday, March 9, 2014

I am naturally forgetting some books: another list

People have recently been putting up lists of authors and/or books on t'internet: books they wish they'd written, books they've read multiple times, authors they have not read, authors they feel they should read someday, and a few other listy type things. I am going to join the madness by posting here, for God knows what reason, a list of the books that are actually, at this very moment, stacked up in the boudoir in the official "to be read next" piles. I will attempt to also include as many of the other books I mean to read soon that are scattered about the house. I will not attempt to remember any of the unread books that have already found their way into the alphabetical-by-author-sorted shelves lining too many walls in too many rooms. Here we go:

Henry James The Awkward Age
Witold Gombrowicz Ferdyduke
Leonid Tsypkin The Bridge Over the Neroch
Vladimir Nabokov The Tragedy of Mr Morn
Samuel Beckett Krapp's Last Tape and Other Dramatic Writings
Henry James The Art of the Novel
Harold Bloom How to Read and Why
Colm Toibin The Empty Family
John Cameron The Astrologer
Alexandre Dumas The Count of Monte Cristo
Walter Scott Guy Mannering
Flannery O'Connor Everything That Rises Must Converge
Anton Chekhov Sakhalin Island
Herman Melville Typee
F. Scott Fitzgerald This Side of Paradise
Jim Murdoch Milligan and Murphy
Elie Wiesel Night
Joshua Mohr Some Things That Meant the World to Me
Leonid Tsypkin Summer in Baden-Baden
Ivan Goncharov Oblomov
Ben Jonson Three Comedies
Leonardo Sciascia The Wine-dark Sea
John Williams Stoner
Charles Dickens The Mystery of Edwin Drood
Gabriel Garcia Marquez Memories of My Melancholy Whores
William Faulkner Selected Short Stories
Albert Camus The Fall & Exile and the Kingdom
Herman Melville Pierre
Muriel Spark Memento Mori
Stendhal The Telegraph
Sam Savage The Cry of the Sloth
John Updike Gertrude and Claudius
Nathanael West Miss Lonelyhearts & The Day of the Locust
Virginia Woolf The Voyage Out
Henry Fielding Tom Jones
V.S. Naipaul A House for Mr. Biswas
Thomas Carlyle A Carlyle Reader
Ralph Waldo Emerson The Portable Emerson
Thomas Bernhard Concrete
Benito Perez Galdos Our Friend Manso
John Hawkes The Blood Oranges
John Hawkes The Lime Twig

I am naturally forgetting some books. But that should give me a good start for the remains of this year. Eight remaining Shakespeare plays to read as well, and I will of course return to Chekhov's stories soon, and have I even thought about poetry yet? Plenty to do.


  1. I thought it might be funny to leave a comment, no matter how idiotic, on every book, but maybe not.

    What the heck is Stendhal's Telegraph? Oh, I see.

    I've got to ILL the Nabokov. The library seems to prefer that a book be at least a year old before requesting it, so that will be on the list for next month.

    All right, That was trivial but harmless.

  2. Why am I reading any of these books? I have no idea. Many of them were picked up for a dollar or two at library sales. I have no idea if the Nabokov is any good. I haven't even glanced inside it yet. Some of these books I've managed to avoid for a couple of years now, like the Cameron (a harmless joke, really) and the Updike (a harmless curiosity). I forgot to list A Practical Course in Wooden Boat Building, sure to be a page turner.

    1. If I had to read one of those right now, it would be "Tom Jones." Sparkling, delicious book! For me, that's one I've reread a number of times. It's right up there with "Bleak House" and "Pride and Prejudice" and the Alice books etc.

    2. Tom Jones looks really really good. It will be read soon. Some, like the John Hawkes, will have to wait a bit. For about three days I was incredibly enthusiastic about Hawkes and bought all the novels I could find of his as the local book store. That was some time ago. But Mr Fielding and I will be seeing each other before summer.

    3. Wisdom! I adore "Tom Jones."

      I once sat in on a Jack Hawkes class, looooong ago, and enjoyed it. He was a really nice fellow. I went trick or treating to his house and sat around in my 'Ween finery drinking wine, I remember. Lovely time.

  3. My list would be, "the rest of Powys," "the rest of Ruskin," "Dorothy Richardson at some point," and the Anabasis of St John Perse.

    (A drinking game for that Bloom book: vodka every time he writes the word "Falstaff.")

    1. I'm not a huge Bloom fan; his Hamlet: Poem Unbound made me giggle and cringe. But I'll keep an eye out for "Falstaff." Bloom is a good candidate for "to be read with liquor."

      I'm trying to figure out where to start with Powys. The public library system here only has six or seven of his books, only four of which are novels.

    2. Your Monsieur Perse is interesting. The poems of his I've read in translation on line seem more Spanish than French, if that makes any sense. The wind, the dust, the sunlight, the rough surfaces.

    3. One of the introductions to my Anabasis -- it has a couple -- points out that he had lived in China and identifies his dusty deserts as Central Asia. I don't know which novels you've got in the library there, but if you want a recommendation then the most intensely and densely Powysish ones I've come across so far are Wolf Solent, A Glastonbury Romance and Weymouth Sands. Porius too, but it's long.

    4. There's a nice set of letters Perse wrote from China, a quite evocative portrait of Peking at the time. I don't know if they've been translated.

    5. I was angling for a recommendation, yes! I don't think I'm ready to start with Porius. I keep telling myself I'm going to read short books. Some day I will. I think the library has Wolf Solent. That one amuses me because I keep misreading it as "Wolf Solvent."

    6. Maiden Castle would work as well. Rodmoor and Wood and Stone are good. The Inmates is short but it's sketchy and patchy. I'm trying Owen Glendower at the moment and it doesn't seem to be much more than a straightforward historical fiction so if you're reading for Powysianishness then don't bother.. It's Powys, but it's not Powysian. The Autobiography is wonderful. The poetry is mainly juvenalia.

    7. The blurb for Wolf Solent: "John Cowper Powys's rapturous novel of eros and ideas has been compared with works by Shakespeare, Thomas Hardy, and D. H. Lawrence. Wolf Solent remains unrivaled in its risky balance of mysticism and comedy, ecstatic contemplation of nature and unblinking observation of human folly and desire. Forsaking London for a village in Dorsetshire, Wolf Solent discovers a world of pagan splendor and medieval insularity, riddled by ancient scandals and resentments. And in Ramsgard this poetic young man meets two women -- the sensuous beauty Gerda and the ethereal gamine Christie -- who will become the sharers of his body and soul. Audacious, extravagant, and gloriously strange, Wolf Solent is a twentieth-century masterpiece." That looks pretty good. But it's 600+ pages. I keep picking up 600-page novels lately. WTF? Who writes these long books? Maybe I should take a break with a nice, brisk Nabokov number.

    8. There's a translated book out there called The Letters of Saint John Perse, and in a pamphlet of his works I can see a reference to Letters from China 1917 - 1921 under the heading, "Primary Material: English Translations," but the second book doesn't seem to exist anywhere outside that pamphlet. The usual bookselling sites are coming up blank.

  4. Mr. B, how tall is this boudoir stack of yours? I worry that you'll be crushed in your sleep. I rarely plan ahead with books I'm going to read. Otherwise, I sometimes feel like I've read the book just by thinking about it for too long, and I lose interest.

    1. There are actually three stacks in the bedroom, and another stack in the Designated Writing Room. And then the books scattered around the living room. And other books in other places. Some day we must screw the bookshelves into the walls in case of an earthquake. Maybe after we have the floors refinished this spring.

  5. Quite an enviable list. I have almost that many titles piled up by the bed, with only one overlapping (Ferdyduke). Maybe we could work out a trade if I get tired of staring at the rest of my pile and you get tired of staring at yours.

    1. Yeah, that's a good idea. You know how some of those books will remain in the pile for years, refusing to be read while we buy other books. Ferdyduke this year, though. I'm sure of it.

  6. I have you beat on stacks, but don't have much worry about earthquakes... You definitely need some poetry to leaven those stacks of yours, you know...

    1. Don't I know it. I am ignorant about poetry and don't really know how to read it. I need to make it a priority, which means I need to have more patience with poetry.

    2. I doubt you are all that ignorant! If you really feel so, start with short and loveable poems, as in early Yeats lyrics or Herrick or C. Rossetti.