Monday, February 27, 2023

Reading, February 2023

The Headmistress by Angela Thirkell: 1942, England is still at war and the middle class is still rising. The new money and the old money tacitly agree that the working class are lazy, stupid, and unfit to rule themselves. But as this is a Thirkell novel, somehow love is in the air no matter your station.

Citizens to Lords by Ellen Meiksins Wood: Historian Wood puts social/political works (spanning the roughly two millennia from ancient Greece to William of Ockham) back into their historical social settings to illustrate that they were written not as abstract pieces for the ages, but to address specific problems of their day, the authors speaking from specific social/economic positions within their societies. Wood illustrates how political philosophy is usually written by the dominant classes, has a very narrow focus, and specific political aims.

Landscapes by John Berger: Writing and wronging about art, right here.

Our Mother the Mountain by Robert Ale: Not that Robert Ale, no. A new one, writing about logging and mixed martial arts.

Modern Sudanese Poetry: I hope to write about images from these poems. Soon, hopefully.

Diaboliad and Other Stories by Mikhail Bulgakov: A collection of comic stories from across Bulgakov's career, most of them not very good. The one exception is "The Fatal Eggs," a science fiction satire of Soviet bureaucracy. Even that is not anywhere as good as The Master and Margarita, White Guard, or A Country Doctor's Notebook, all of which are highly recommended.

The Barefoot Woman by Scholastique Mukasonga: An elegy for Mukasonga's mother, who was murdered in one of the many waves of Rwandan genocide. Peaceful, moving, and terrifying, somewhat like a non-Modernist Toni Morrison novel.

Post Office by Charles Bukowski: "I don't know how it happens to people. I had child support, need for something to drink, rent, shoes, socks, all that stuff. Like everyone else I needed an old car, something to eat, all the little intangibles. Like women. Or a day at the track. With everything on the line and no way out, you don't even think about it." My friend, the late Kent Roper, had been a big Bukowski fan, and had a Bukowski quote for every occasion. This is the first Bukowski I've read. It is a depressing, sexist, racist, comic novel about laboring for survival, the laboring and the denial of being a laborer conspiring to devour your life, years at a time. "In the morning it was morning and I was still alive."

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