The Books of My Numberless Dreams

New year ramblings

Posted on: January 2, 2008

My blogging has gotten off to a bracing start in 2008. In last year’s closing reading weeks I went through a heightened novel reading spurt in an effort to end the year as well as remembered previous ones. (Kafka on the Shore by Murakami Haruki ended 2005, Brother Man by Roger Mais, 2006.) In those years I hadn’t been trying, and succeeded, for 2007, not so much. I nearly made it with Derek McCormack’s Grab Bag: 2 stories as it was amusing, disturbing, poignant, stylistically engaging and just a treat. I mean to reread Dark Rides, a novel that takes up the first half, because his short, full-length fiction beg me to do so as soon as I finish. (I reread The Haunted Hillbilly too.) What he doesn’t pinpoint in his very concise sentences evince a strong presence that I don’t always pay close attention to, or I don’t allow myself to linger long enough in those silent spots; and since the book’s so short it’s not a problem.

Then I picked up Murakami’s After Dark with the idea hanging at the back of my mind that it wasn’t going to be a stunner but I hoped to be proved wrong. I wasn’t. It has its interesting, signature Murakami moments but I’d never felt so offended by jacket copy hyperbole before: a fiction as important/momentous as The Wind Up Bird Chronicle, my arse.

I ended up ringing in the new year with Don Quixote. Yes, I’m back to that (again) and within spitting distance of page 600. It helps that things are much less repetitive, although I’m not that far into the second part to confidently type that. We’ll see.

I’m still pissed about my stolen A House and Its Head. These Christmas gifts sort of made up for it.๐Ÿ˜›

Naturally, I did not keep to all my reading goals of last year, but I didn’t do too badly with the one I came up with on my own.

  • Marlon James
  • Andrew Salkey
  • Nalo Hopkinson
  • Anna Banti
  • Angela Carter
  • Kurt Vonnegut
  • Patrick Hamilton
  • Claude McKay
  • Cormac McCarthy

Hopkinson could sort of count if I included the postcolonial SF/F anthology she edited…. I had a go at a Vonnegut, Slaughter-house Five, but did not make it past the second page. Unlike the aborted attempt with Hopkinson’s novel, I doubt that there will ever be a right time for me and Mr. V. I nearly picked up Blood Meridian this morning, but passed it over for Paulina 1880 by Pierre Jean Jouve.

I did no better with the Underrated Writers of 2006 pickings hosted by Syntax of Things. I’m rather glad they didn’t do one for 2007 — I may keep to my old list and try to chip away at it. Makes no sense to list them out here since I only managed to get to Brian Evenson. I’m still in the middle of the latest from VanderMeer.

Happy New Year. May it turn out to be a thousand times better than minor, ho hum, perilously close to boring works from major novelists who allegedly wrote one of my absolute favourite books.

19 Responses to "New year ramblings"

Hey there! Interesting post. I’m endeavoring this year to read more varied literature more frequently. I ended the year on a non-substantive note (Star Trek: New Frontier: Missing In Action), but started the year with my goal in mind: a translation of Beowulf by Burton Raffel. I’ll be blogging about it within the next few days.๐Ÿ™‚

It’s also funny you mentioned Don Quixote and Slaughterhouse Five. I just picked both of them up the other day. Sounds like I’m in for quite a journey; hopefully I can knock them out without needing to turn to something else in-between (the subject of another future blog post).

Thanks again for the great blog and inspiration for my reading!

Love the new banner. So colourful and daydreamy, perfect for winter.

Happy 2008!

I love Villette! I hope you enjoy it as well.

I’m so sorry I disappeared earlier this year with nary a warning. I was on the verge of a Plath-esque nervous breakdown.

I hope your holidays were spectacular.

And yes, I have just revived the Blog Jar.

Take Care!

Hey julio! I think for this year I’ll try to read more great non-fiction, although I don’t know how that will go as I get more than enough of that in school. Hmm, that Beowulf one sounds pretty intriguing. Looking forward to your post on it.

Slaughterhouse Five is pretty short so that shouldn’t be a big deal, but good luck with the Cervantes. Oh boy.

You’re very welcome and thanks so much for reading.๐Ÿ™‚ It’s part of what keeps me interested in blogging.

Sylvia, thanks! I loved how dreamy it looks too — a sort of reaction to all the purposeful resolutions that flitter about.

OMG AMANDA. I am soooo glad you’re back, doing better, and returning to blogging! I missed you and your site, I really did. Thanks for the holiday wishes and the same, many times over, to you.

Our tastes mesh a lot so I’m fairly sure I’ll dig Vilette.

That Ted Hughes sounds sooo good! I only know about him from the Sylvia Plath movie (so in my mind, he’s a poetic Daniel Craig, yummy), but your posts about it have made me jealous.๐Ÿ˜€

I hope you have better luck with book selections next year!

Hmm, I thought resolutions *were* dreamy!๐Ÿ˜‰

Those are great Christmas presents. But I really hope you will love “Villette” – it was so heartbreaking. Towards the end I stayed up late to finish the book, but it was hard to read because I was crying.

Your new banner is colourly optimistic.

I’ll be really interested in what you think about ‘My Swordhand is Singing’. Opinion was very divided over here and I won’t show my hand for the moment, but Sedgwick is very much a coming writer in out Young Adult filed and never less than interesting.

Nice Christmas presents! I like the new banner too. Happy New Year!

Eva hmm, I’m not a fan of Paltrow, but maybe I’d weather her for Craig. I’d like to see how he played Ted Hughes. I’ve posted about his poetry on my blog months and months ago.

Sylvia, good point, except that for me the boy in the painting isn’t even trying, which is what I like about it. Those pages are blankety blank.

Dark Orpheus, thanks. I was most impressed by the Kafka collection. I read The Metamorphosis two years ago, found it very good, very strange, but I was not changed or impressed the way everyone else seems to be by him. This should offer me an opportunity to dig in some more.

Ahh, two enthusiastic comments for Vilette. You’re raising my expectations. I didn’t really have any since Jane Eyre seems to be all she’s generally respected for.

Ann Darnton, I seeeeee. I have no idea what to expect from the last two so your commentary is appreciated. I didn’t even know that Sedgwick was British! I do like the title though.

Stefanie thanks and a Happy New Year to you too!

Cool banner, and you have encouraged me to do a little bit more reading..

good layout, good banner, good reading list, good good good. i’m envious.

happy 2008.

Dee that’s always good to hear — books are pretty awesome, after all. Thanks for commenting!

bookfraud hey now, your site’s all right as well. And you do have the Queen. Thanks and a happy 2008 to you too.

You didn’t like Slaughterhouse Five? I’m trying so hard to remember the first couple pages to guess why you gave up on it, but maybe it’s just that people tend to love or hate Vonnegut’s style. I seem to be that rare bird who just thinks he’s pretty ok.

Happy new year!

I did not read enough to say whether I liked it or not. I can’t remember details but his style and the character’s “voice” was definitely what pushed me away. It just didn’t feel like a book I wanted to spend any more time with. “Hate” would be too strong a word.

Thanks and a Happy New Year to you!

Hi Imani,
What a great list. Villette is my favourite of the Brontes’ books, and I wish more people would read it. I hope you like it.
I read 20,000 Streets Under the Sky about a year and a half ago, when I was working on the Euston Road in London (where a lot of it is set). Such evocative descriptions of inter-war London, made somewhat poignant for me knowing that most of the old tenements are now cleared and bland office towers now occupy the area. I felt like I was filling in my London knowledge, after Pepys and Dickens and the like.
And I’ve just finished my first Cormac MacCarthy (All the Pretty Horses), which was incredible. Sparse, glorious, brutal. I’ve now got No Country For Old Men and The Road in my to read pile.
And finally Don Quixote, you’ve gotten further than me! I’ve had it lurking on my self for years now and I really do genuinely mean to finish it. Perhaps that should be a new year’s resolution for me? Hmmm.
I’ve just discovered your blog (I’m new to this blogging lark) and I think I’ll be coming back to check out more of your posts!
Happy new year,
Logophile

I love that phrase of yours –> “jacket copy hyperbole” and if I use it ever, I will be sure to cite you. That’s hilarious. I have looked at that book “After Dark” many times and wondered if it would be a good read.
Regarding your excellent Christmas haul, have you read that other book by Marina Lewcyka, the one with “tractors” in the title?
Sincerely,
Cip, the Ukrainian.

Happy New Year, imani! I do like the look of your Christmas presents! And I have never read any Murakami, although I feel I ought to. Guess I won’t be starting with After Dark – thank you for the warning!

Logophile thanks for commenting. Hamilton is an author I’ve been meaning to get to for a few years now. I already read one blogger who’s a big fan and perhaps with you and your blog now that shall be enough to finally get me to give him a try. McCarthy is another author I mean to get to, and I’m further along there since I actually have two of his books on my shelf. Maybe this year? I plan to start with Blood Meridian.

I hope you enjoy blogging as much as so many of us do!

Hello, Cip and much thanks for your comment as well. Yes, I’d only encourage Murakami enthusiasts to try After Dark for we must stick to our authors through thick and thin unless they serve too much gruel.

I have not read Tractors yet, no, but I do have it on my shelves and mean to get to it soon…as I do all my books.๐Ÿ˜€ I’ve heard many good things about her though. Have you read her and what do you think?

litlove, Happy New Year! I’m a big Murakami fan and would love to see what you make of his stuff, especially the less popular novels like Sputnik Sweetheart or South of the Border, West of the Sun: he is another one of those male authors whose novels have a lot of romance. But I’d definitely, definitely not suggest starting with After Dark. You’d think all the critics were made for making such a fuss over such an author.

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