Tuesday, April 21, 2015


I'm almost finished writing a new story that will begin "Antosha in Prague," my latest ms. The story is called "Solomon's Inn." For a while this story was called "The Whole Wide Open," which is an unused Davin Malasarn title that I really like but it turns out to be not the right title for this new story. Sorry, Dr M. "Solomon's Inn" seems like a good story, a good episode with which to open the book. Almost done with that. Somehow that book keeps getting longer and I must stop writing it. There is still that unwritten story featuring hedgehogs and Pyotr Tchaikovsky. But I must stop writing that book.

I am also working on a revision to an older novel, "Go Home, Miss America." One of the main characters of that novel used a great deal of profanity. I realized that my use of so much profanity devolved, in about the middle of the novel, into a sort of lazy narrative shorthand and so I am revising the book to remove most of the profanity and replace it with something else, something that will be unique in each instance, and something that will make the novel richer and more interesting across the length of the narrative. I won't say what that something is, but I have it and I'm using it. No, it is not eels, Dr M. Anyway, I have in some way broken that book and I have to do some work on it. This sort of thing happens all the time in Africa, you know.

I am not presently reading a novel, which is a strange thing. I'm reading some German non-fiction, and a lot of German short stories (in German, by which I mean "pretty slowly"). I'm also reading the Penguin edition of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, which are a hoot. I have never read the whole thing, just a few of the tales over the years, so it's a good time. The Chaucer reminds me that I want to say something about Jeff Sypeck's translation of The Tale of Charlemagne and Ralph the Collier, and soon I will say more than that Sypeck has created a readable and enjoyable little book that deserves to be read, so read it, whyncha? I am now interested in his book of gargoyle poems.

Last week on the bus I sat next to a guy who was reading Dumas' Count of Monte Cristo, which reminded me that Mighty Reader and I have acquired two copies of that novel and mean to read it in tandem at some point, maybe soon. It's a big book. I might be in the mood for a big book.

Last weekend we sat through Shostakovich's 90-minute "Leningrad" symphony. Tonight we're going to hear his 13-minute string quartet in F# minor, among other things. I do not care for Shostakovich's symphonies, but it was paired with Schnittke's violin concerto No. 4, which is a great piece of music. The "Leningrad" symphony seemed to last longer than the whole of WWII.


  1. Thanks for the kind words! But it's neat that you're reading Chaucer. Is Penguin still using the Nevill Coghill translation? It's good, if occasionally a bit stuffy in its diction. (The generosity and pragmatism of the Franklin's Tale makes it a favorite of mine.)

  2. Yes, it's the Coghill translation, which is quite fine though here and there it attempts to be a little hipster in a 1950's awkward English way. It's a really nice bit of work and I'm enjoying it immensely. One of those things that I've always meant to read.

  3. I also like that Chaucer has written himself as a character into the Tales, and that other characters make comments about him as a writer, not always flattering to Chaucer. Very postmodern.