The Books of My Numberless Dreams

Here you go

Posted on: April 11, 2007

I hereby present a bunch of links that I’ve been itching to post.

I am over a week late but hooray and congrats! The Complete Review celebrated 8 years on April Fool’s Day. I wonder if any of the contributors toasted the moment at a good bar? In celebration I plan to pick a month out of the year to read The Healers by Ayi Kwei Armah, Conjugal Love by Alberto Moravia and Voss by Patrick White.

I chose The Healers because Armah was a writer with whom my brain has been intermittently obsessed. It is no exaggeration to say that his The Beautyful Ones are Not Yet Born changed me in fundamental ways: it awakened my global political conscious to a significant degree (and now I feel the urge to re-read so that I can post about it.) A year or two ago I read The CR’s Armah reviews and was inspired to read more of his work. The idea lazed around but CR’s 8 year anniversary–about half a century in blog years, no?–has re-energised it.

Conjugal Love is an Editor’s Choice for April and the campus library has it so I decided to give that one a go. Voss because Shirley Hazzard, in a wonderful Paris Review interview (she expressed herself so elegantly I was transported), was the latest person to give it high praise, and the CR champions the author whenever it can.

I probably won’t get them all done within the same month, but before the year is out.

Are any of you, my dear readers, in the know about the litblog crowd in general? Dan Green did a reasonable assessment of the n + 1 “vs” litbloggers piffle but we’re all tired of the situation. What’s entertaining (sad, really) is the comments. The only one worth consideration is Steven Augustine’s. The most puzzling one was by a certain fellow who insisted that Green was not critical enough of the popular bloggers who had engaged in the scuffle, and the only reason he could come up with for Green’s restraint was that he owed them…something. To quote, “my perception is that even the most intelligent of you guys are too beholden to the ur-bloggers to give them criticism of a kind that might help them better contribute to the overall conversation.”

Eh? How on earth is Green “beholden” to Sarvas and Champion? For links? I am a regular reader of all three and Sarvas and Champion do not link to Green very often so that can’t be it. Would he risk being kicked out of the LBC? (OOooooOOOooo.) Is there some secret salon somewhere where the intelligent “ur-bloggers” and the “shoddy” thinkers get together network for…I don’t know, for what sort of blessed thing could they be making connections? I always leave this matter confused. I don’t know who the other indebted bloggers are but if an insider could please leave a comment or drop me an e-mail and let me know the way this works I’d be grateful.

If you have not yet noticed I stole Ted’s idea and set up a sidebar widget, “Nota Bene”, that lists any notable sites or articles I read. It’s a diverse, growing collection of links that’s primarily literary and political that I tag and save using del.icio.us.

My newest blog find is Like Patience on a Monument, which I spotted on Metaxucafe. She envisions her blog not as a way to

review the newest music or films or books. My intention, rather, is to bring to the forefront, to express my deep appreciation for those little (or big) gems of art tucked away in the annals of time. I want to recognize that eternal stuff that lets you read a book 10 times and discover something new , something exciting with each new read, that stuff that makes you tear up when you hear that one special release in a crescendo, a piece of music, a favorite book. These are my favorites; this is my mission.

Started last month the blog is new but QueenMab is no novice at writing appealingly thoughtful, informed, inviting posts on poetry, fiction, films and music. Do check out her “experimentation in literature” at Behold the Women.

At The Elegant Variation guest interviewer Kate Durbin asks Chris Abani questions about his latest novel The Virgin of Flames and about the themes typically present in his fiction. It’s marvellous the way a few good questions can provide more meaty thoughts than most if not all the newspaper profiles he’s done recently.

DURBIN: The instability of identity and the longing for a personal identity one can call his or her own is a major theme in all your books. It seems to me that the longing for some place to call home, for a self to truly own, is the essential theme of this novel, even underlying questions of sexual and racial identity (but obviously inseperably connected). Can you talk a little bit about that longing Black feels for a self to own?

ABANI: Well, it’s not so much that identity is unstable, as it is a process and not a destination, if I can paraphrase Homi Bhaba. If that is the case, and I feel that for me it is, then we are always becoming something. If we are able to acquire enough stuff around us we appear more stable, more static than others. These things, kids, families, wealth, reflect ourselves to us and we tend to think of the image as the self. When people find themselves without mirrors, there is nothing to reflect off of, and they begin to unravel. It’s like in the old vampire movies, where the vampires have no reflection. This is their biggest sadness and their greatest desire.

I don’t know if I should be concerned, though, that his book, an original paperback published by Penguin released Jan. 30th, is already scheduled to be re-released by Jonathan Cape (Random House imprint) April 26th?

There has been good coverage of Roberto Bolaño but I really enjoyed Carmen Bullosa’s piece Bolaño in Mexico in The Nation because I got a brief overview of the Mexican literary movements she experienced in the late 60’s and 70’s.

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3 Responses to "Here you go"

I’d love to know what an ur-blogger is, and an example would certainly be useful! Do you think they have long beards and loin-cloths? I was really commenting to say that I love the picture you have up as your header at the moment, but maybe it is itself a depiction of an ur-blogger, whacked out by his strenuous efforts to criticise others successfully?

Ur-blogger made me laugh and so did Litlove’s comment!

Stefanie I agree both the term and litlove’s comment were hilarious. litlove I share your bewilderment at what it is, and thought of questioning the person, before deciding that it would be too frivolous a question for Mr. Green’s comment section. Imagining what it could be is much more entertaining. 😀

Though William Blake has depicted many things I’m happy to express my doubt that it could be anything to do with urs or bloggers. Thanks!

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