Wednesday, July 26, 2017

What Else I Read Whilst Reading "The Invented Part"

Wednesday afternoon (July 26. 2007) I caught the tail end of Chad Post et al on WXXI's Connections There was a discussion on what to read after you've read a terrific book like The Invented Part. Does it spoil you for anything - everything - else? Not for me, but maybe it's time to reread Tristram Shandy. Or maybe I should finally read some Proust or Joyce. Or that Icelandic thing Chad keeps mentioning. Or binge watch Twin Peaks. Or listen to the Kinks. Or just go sit on the dock of the Bay.

When we started the two month read I wondered what I would whilst reading the book, I didn't even think about after. I always read more than one book at a time and I decided I'd just go on as usual. Since I read about sixteen books a month (love retirement) I figured I would probably read around thirty other books during the slow read. I actually read about twenty-three. I also read my usual of amount of online short stories, articles, etc.

Did my reading of the Fresán book influence my other reading? In some cases yes, others not so much. And did my other reading influence my reading of the Fresán book? Maybe, maybe not. I think I'll go back and unread all those books and see if it makes a difference.

So here a list of what I read, with a few notes that may or may not address these questions.

most of these are covered elsewhere on the blog but I wanted to view them altogether
* indicates translated work
RF = Ricardo Fresán
TIP = The Invented Part
Date is date I finished the book, I was usually reading two or three concurrently.

*The Magician of Vienna; Pitol, Sergio: Jun 5
 I think my enjoyment of Pitol's adoration of Chekhov was enhanced because I was reading RF--or maybe I my enjoyment of RF's comments on Chekhov was enhanced because I was reading Pitol.
   I had already started this before starting TIP. This was a slow (2 week) read for me, but I was much slower with the first two volumes of Pitol's "Trilogy of Memory"- Spent 11 months with The Art of Flight and five months with The Journey. The speedier read on this one had nothing to do with TIP, it was just that I was in more familiar territory than I was with the other two. 

Death of an Airman; St. John Sprigg, Christopher: Jun 7
 vintage mystery--love these for interim reads
In Their Lives: Great Writers on Great Beatles Songs; Blauner, Andrew (ed.): Jun 9
 I went to a bookstore event for this; came home; picked up RF's book and he was mentioning the Beatles.
 This sort of thing happened a lot, for example:
 My daughter suggested that I look at MST3K Jonah's Kaiju Rap (Every Country has a Monster)  which includes the line "Chupacabra's chewin' up cattle down in Mexico." This was the first I had heard of Chupacaba but, of course, he turned up in TIP a couple of hours later.
 I mentioned RF's comment on Alice Monro getting the Nobel. Assuming TIP was done before the 2016 prize was announced we wondered what RF would have to say about it. After reading the Bob Dylan part of TIP, I still wonder what RF thinks about the 2016 Nobel Prize for Literature.
 Today we were having lunch at an outdoor restaurant. A boy, about nine years old, was running down a ramp and across the gravel parking lot and I thought of RF (p. 13 mirrored on p. 540)

*The Reader; Schlink, Bernhard: Jun 12
 One book that informed my reading of this was *In My Brother's Shadow: A Life and Death in the SS by Uwe Timm which I read in 2014.

The Last Boy and Girl in the World; Vivian, Siobhan: Jun 13
 A so-so YA. I would have thought that even if I hadn't been reading a bunch of good books. Be kind--it's a debut work. ARC
The Genius of Birds; Ackerman, Jennifer; Jun 13
 Non-fiction ARC

*The Piper by Yoko Tawada (short story); and some poems in Two Lines 23; Evans, C.J. (ed):Jun 16
  I had already read the rest of this issue.
  Two Lines 26 had an excerpt from TIP but I didn't read it. I don't like to read excerpts when I know for sure that I'm going to read the complete work.
*Journey by Moonlight; Szerb, Antal: Jun 19
In the Heart of the Heart of the Country and Other Stories; Gass, William H.: Jun 20
A Gentleman in Moscow; Towles, Amor: Jun 21
 An enjoyable read from my local public library on (shh...) Kindle. Actually I like ebooks if they are fairly straightforward narratives or short stories. Not so much for things I want to deep read. My Deep Vellum Press subscription includes both ebook and paper editions, but I always wait for the paper edition.

*What are the Blind Men Dreaming?; Jaffe, Noemi; Jun 22
  A mother/daughter diary/memoir/essay. The diary part is a translated work.

*The Naked Eye; Tawada, Yōko: Jun 25

The Resurrection of Joan Ashby; Wolas, Cherise: Jun 29
  A book about an author who loses her will to write. Huh? No comparison to TIP. A totally different (and predictable) approach.  ARC

*Killing the Second Dog; Hłasko, Marek: Jul 02

Varieties of Disturbance; Davis, Lydia: Jul 2
 Short stories, flash fiction. Library book

*The Invisible Life of Euridice Gusmao; Batalha, Martha: Jul 05
*The Private Lives of Trees; Zambra, Alejandro: Jul 05
The Call of Stories: Teaching and the Moral Imagination; Coles, Robert: Jul 06
 Non-fic. published in 1989, a little dated and somewhat elitist. Some good stuff about William Carlos Williams. I think my TIP reading did influence my opinion of this book, making Coles' Harvard students seem naive and not particularly well read. But it was 1989 and Holden Caulfield and all.

The Frangipani Hotel; Kupersmith, Violet: Jul 08
 short stories, think Saki, not RF

Worlds from the Word's End; Walsh, Joanna: Jul 12
 short stories, lots of word play, compare to Lydia Davis

*Elsewhere; Weinberger, Eliot (ed): Jul 14
 14 poems. The brilliant use of language in TIP increased my appreciation of the poetry I read in this book and online. That goes for both translated into English and originally in English poetry.

Last Night at the Lobster; O'Nan, Stewart: Jul 15
 A totally undemanding read which I read because it is set in a neighboring town. I've gotten lost in New Britain, CT more often than anywhere else in the world. I didn't get lost in this book.
*Summer Before the Dark; Weidermann, Volker: Jul 15
  Non-fic  Nothing like reading about writers when you're reading about writers. This was a good one to read when I was finishing TIP.

Lunar Follies; Sorrentino, Gilbert: Jul 23, 2017
And this was a perfect final read. It's been sitting on my shelf for ages--maybe it was waiting for me to need something great to read after TIP.  How did I miss Sorrentino? And they say this isn't his best...

Final note: Everything informs everything. Everything I've ever read enters everything I'm reading or will be reading. Even the works I barely or can't consciously remember--like the one where the dog dies.

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