Tuesday, December 31, 2019

reading and writing, 2019 edition

about reading:

The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle
The Life of Ludwig van Beethoven (vol 1) by Alexander Thayer
Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner
The Cure of Poetry in an Age of Prose by Mary Kinzie
The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
The Life of Ludwig van Beethoven (vol 2) by Alexander Thayer
The Association of Small Bombs by Karan Mahajan
Zorba the Greek by Nikos Kazantzakis
A Map of Life by Frank Sheed
The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
Friend of My Youth by Amit Chaudhuri
The Darling and Other Stories by Anton Chekhov
Some Trick by Helen DeWitt
The Duel and Other Stories by Anton Chekhov
The Albertine Workout by Anne Carson
The Classical Style by Charles Rosen
Where I'm Calling From by Raymond Carver
Be With by Forrest Gander
The Turn of the Screw by Henry James
Nightwood by Djuna Barnes
Literary Essays by Ezra Pound
Jenny Wren by E.H. Young
The Curate's Wife by E.H. Young
"The Blind Man" by D.H. Lawrence
Counternarratives by John Keene
Ayn Rand and the Culture of Greed by Lisa Duggan
Die heilige Messe für die Weltleute by Fr. Martin von Cochem
Sound in Motion by David McGill
If on a winter's night a traveler by Italo Calvino
The Hostile Sun: The Poetry of D.H. Lawrence by Joyce Carol Oates
The Mueller Report by Robert S. Mueller III, US Department of Justice
The Belly of Paris by Emile Zola
The Book Shop by Penelope Fitzgerald
Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh
Providence by Anita Brookner
Lectionary of Music by Nicolas Slonimsky
Laurus by Evgenii Vodolazkin
West by Carys Davies 
The Frolic of the Beasts by Yukio Mishima 
The Book of the Red King by Marly Youmans
Death Wins A Goldfish by Brian Rea
Visitation by Jenny Erpenbeck 
Wild Strawberries by Angela Thirkell 
The Demon in the House by Angela Thirkell 
The Experimental Novel and other essays by Emile Zola
No Signposts in the Sea by Vita Sackville-West 
"All's Well That Ends Well" by William Shakespeare 
Frost in May by Antonia White 
The Voyage Out by Virginia Woolf 
Haydn and His World edited by Elaine Sisman 
Pomfret Towers by Angela Thirkell
The Art and Science Of String Performance by Samuel Applebaum
Emil und die Detektive by Erich Kästner 
The Musician's Way by Gerald Klickstein

I want to thank Lisa Hayden for translating Evgenii Vodolazkin's Laurus into English. A remarkable book, a not-straightforward narrative, a complete success. Evidence that contemporary Russian literature is alive and kicking. I want to thank Marly Youmans for recommending Mary Kinzie's The Cure of Poetry in an Age of Prose. The book did not make me write better poetry, but I think it made me a better reader of poetry. You should also read Marly's latest collection, The Book of the Red King. I blogged about it in early October. This year I re-read Wild Strawberries by Angela Thirkell. It seemed very familiar, and after poking around, I discovered that I had already read it back in 2015.

about writing:

This year I finished revisions to my Chekhovesque novel-in-stories Antosha! At one time I had the contact information for an agent who I thought would be perfect for this book, but of course now I can't lay my hands on that information. What was his name? I just can't remember. This would be a good book for someone like New Directions. I have begun querying agents with this novel. In a haphazard, pokey sort of lazy manner.

This year I made another round of revisions to my Antarctica novel, Nowhere But North. This is by no means the final round of revisions; it's just another provisional version, a few steps closer to what it will eventually be. Closer, but not there yet. I may continue to revise this one. No guarantees.

This year I also began poking at a new project called Hilltop, a linked set of short stories. The linked short story collection seems to be a particularly American form. I don't know why that is, but as an occasional writer I can see the attraction. Hilltop is set in a fictional town on the Colorado prairie in the mid-1970s. A cast of colorful characters, a death or two, et cetera. Poetry, love, and longing. The usual stuff, in other words. Bicycles and fishing and adultery. Someday I may finish a first draft of this book. Were I you, I'd not hold my breath.