Monday, July 7, 2014

updates, nothing to see

Oh, Harold. I'm done with Blooms, I tell you, unless named Molly or Leopold. Though this post from Himadri hits a nail on the head pretty squarely and is worth reading. At least I laughed. I'm not done with John Cowper Powys, but I haven't decided what to read next from him, or when. I'm also going to look at some more Iris Murdoch, despite the kooky unraveling of The Sea, The Sea towards the end of the book. Maybe I'll read The Bell again. She wrote a lot of books, and we have a lot of them on the shelf. Right now I'm reading Kawabata. His works always baffle me (Japanese novels baffle me in general, including--especially?--those of Murakami) but then I miss him when he's gone, so apparently I miss being baffled in a certain way, which I find curious. I think I'll read some more Yukio Mishima when I remember to look for him. I have not yet begun to branch out into Chinese authors, or Korean authors, or representatives from a lot of other geographic/cultural areas. So much reading. Such a big world, kids.

I've been writing, as I claim, a new book based loosely on certain ideas associated with Saint Anton Chekhov. It seems to be going well enough. I think I've written something like 25,000 words of that book already, which is a startlingly high number. I still sort of feel like I'm poking around with the beginning of the thing. I'm writing the title story now. I will never write another long form epistolary story again. It's a job of work.

I've also completed another round of revisions to Mona in the Desert, an actual novel in the form of a novel. Mostly. There are two chapters hidden in the narrative that the narrator is unaware of. Of which the narrator is unaware, I mean. Mighty Reader points out that a hypothetical book designer and proof reader in the future will be annoyed with me. Sorry, hypothetical publishing professionals. My current task is to type up all of my changes from the marked-up printouts into the digital file. I hate that task, but one can't be delicate. What else? Tomorrow I'm mailing a submission to a publisher for yet another novel. We'll see.

I officially claim to Have No Idea what I'll write after I finish the draft of Antosha in Prague. No idea at all. Maybe the Antarctica thing, finally. I'll have to figure out the middle section, with the boat. Penguins might be involved. No, penguins will certainly be involved. There is a whole long penguin thing going in that book anyway. In a year someone must remind me that the idea is: the physical changes to the boat. I'll know what that means when I need to know it.


  1. The Antarctica book! You talk about almost getting to that project often enough. I find that intriguing.

    What are you reading of Kawabata's? In many ways, I find The Lake his least sophisticated book, and yet I'm drawn to reading it over and over again, and it is my favorite. He is more subtle in his other works, and maybe subtlety is overrated.

    I took a break from Chekhov's stories to start Murakami's The Wind Up Bird Chronicle again. I am so jealous of Murakami for writing that book. It builds so slowly that by the time you are surrounded in the supernatural, you have no idea how you got there. I need to figure out how he does that.

    Good luck with your submission!

    1. I'm reading The Sound of the Mountain. It's a beautiful, still, subtle book. Nothing like the crowded, richly described 19th-century stuff I tend to read (and maybe write). It's all gentle interior movement, a series of quiet instances of dismay on the part of the protagonist, an inching accumulation of emotion, etc. There is almost no painting of the world, though flowering trees, kimonos and puppies are described in some vivid detail. It's a strange book. I think the writing in Snow Country might be better, but this one seems to have more power (same translator for both books). I wish I had more time; I'd write about it on the blog.

      You know I didn't care for Chronicle. It had moments, especially the first hundred pages or so, but it struck me as too random and arbitrary in composition and the ending didn't work for me. Whatever Mr Murakami is doing, it's something I don't understand. A couple of years ago you made an argument about what his art is that made sense at the time, but I haven't been moved to go back to him. I like Kawabata and Mishima, though.

    2. Did you know that Sound of the Mountain was the book that inspired me to become a writer? (This and Rabbit at Rest, which I was reading simultaneously. Both books felt so taboo and courageous. I thought that if someone else could be so revealing and be appreciated as a great writer, then this was something I wanted to do.

    3. I didn't know that, but I can see it. I can't imagine reading Updike at the same time. But no wonder I keep thinking of your writing while I read the Kawabata. Your books tend to hold their breath the same way that his do, if you know what I mean. There's a sense of expectation whose source I can't exactly pin down.

    4. I'm flattered by the comparison, but I'm not sure what you mean. Can you clarify? Reading Kawabata and Updike at the same time was interesting. They differed dramatically in prose style, but the subject matter was eerily similar.