I’ve decided to provide a list of things I’ve read and/or am currently reading, with (perhaps) a little commentary, just in case anyone out there on the 'ol internet wants to discuss a book, story, or essay. Hit me up on Twitter or something (or, you know, if we’re friends "IRL," call me: chances are I miss the sound of your voice).

Currently Reading

This is what’s currently in the cooker:

For a New Novel by Alain Robbe-Grillet

I really am loving this. Currently a little mired in the 'book review' section of it (though the Beckett chapter is both good and relevant to what I’ve been working out in my own work), and although some of the ideas are dated a lot of the way(s) of thinking are not; it’s kinda like how no matter what you think about the prescription, a Marxist critique is always useful. Except this is books and metaphor and stuff, e.g.,

Metaphor, which is supposed to express only a comparison, without any particular motive, actually introduces a subterranean communication, a movement of sympathy (or of antipathy) which is its true raison d’être. For, as comparison, metaphor is almost always a useless comparison which contributes nothing new to the description. What would the village lose by being merely "situated" in the valley? The word "huddled" gives us no complementary information. On the other hand it transports the reader (in the author’s wake) into the imagined soul of the village; if I accept the word "huddled," I am no longer entirely a spectator; I myself become the village, for the duration of a sentence, and the valley functions as a cavity into which I aspire to disappear.

— Alain Robbe-Grillet
On Several Obsolete Notions
Missing Person (French: Rue des Boutiques Obscures) by Patrick Modiano

So far, very, very good. And kinda fun!

Heart of Junk by Luke Geddes

I’m honestly not quite sold on this one, but Alia really liked it. I was about to give up and then Geddes did something really smart in the way he introduced something so I’m going to give it another twenty pages or so, we’ll see.

The People, Yes by Carl Sandburg

So goddamn good and fun. My (very cool, kinda socialist) grandparents gave this to me a few years ago and I’m just now getting around to it. I really love it.

Brech on Theater

Towards the novel I’m working on, which sort of takes place in a theater. Also, this is super fucking quotable, e.g.,

The demoralization on our theater audiences springs from the fact that neither theater nor audiences has any idea what is supposed to go on there.

To be honest though, this is pretty far back on the stove top right now.

Recently Finished

These are things that are recent enough that I could probably talk about them semi-coherently, if you’d like to have a chat about them:

Quick List of Books I Haven’t Had Time to Write About Yet and Probably Won’t
  • Exteriors by Annie Ernaux

  • Sense and Sensibility

  • Continental philosophy since 1750 by Robert C Solomon

  • I Thought There Would Be More Wolves by my very cool friend Sara Ryan

  • MAUS I and II by Art Spiegelman

  • AVA by Carole Maso

  • Tropisms by Nathalie Sarraute

  • Persuasion by Jane Austin

  • High Fidelity by Nick Hornby

  • Go Ahead in the Rain: Notes to A Tribe Called Qutes by Hanif Abdurraqib

Jealousy and In the Labyrinth by Alain Robbe-Grillet

These were wild. Jealousy is, I think, a masterpiece. How he builds with the repetition and variation is genuinely masterful. I didn’t like In the Labyrinth nearly as much though I did very much enjoy it. I think it ended up falling into my genre expectations a little too much, but was still pretty wonderful. Jealousy, though. You’ve got to read Jealousy.

Things: A Story of the Sixties and A Man Asleep by Georges Perec

Was good to read the first Perec novel — you see the beginning of a lot of tendencies. I think I liked A Man Asleep better but I get why Things was such a big deal when it came out.

Synthesizing Gravity by Kay Ryan

If you don’t want to read the whole book at least go read this.

Under the Volcano by Malcolm Lowery

I like this but find it somewhat a slog; a friend lent it to me and I look forward to discussing it with him once I’m done with it. A lot about the prose is fun and exciting (on some level), and I appreciate that it is doing a lot though it doesn’t really demand that the reader follow everything: the overwhelming nature of the prose is a part of the point, I think.

The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir

A club book! Love club.

Capitalist Realism by Mark Fisher

A friend asked me to read this real quick with her and it was indeed real quick. I agree broadly with a lot of what he was saying but it did feel very acutely post-2008, if that makes sense.

Tête-à-tête by Hazel Rowley

I listened to this via the Libby app from my library, to pair with club’s reading of The Second Sex. I really enjoyed it; I love literary biographies.

The She-Devil in the Mirror by Horacio Castellanos Moya

So fucking good, this one. Ripped right through it, too.

The Sun Also Rises by Heminway

Jane told me to read this for place; it’s good for place and a few other things. It had been about a decade since I’d last read it. I have thoughts but not so so many, maybe.

The American Woman in the Chinese Hat by Carole Maso

I Put a pause on her craft book because my friends who’d beat me to reading it told me to read more of her novels first, as she talks about them a lot. So I’m reading this, and it’s really good. Like, really good. What she was able to accomplish by (for example) only page 14…​? Fucking marvelous. Amazing. Also there’s lots of sex in this book so far, which is always fun.

What is Anarchism? ed. Donald Rooum

Feels appropriate to be reading this right now.

The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler

This has been on my list for a very long time, and though dated in a lot of cringy ways, it was a very fun read, I’m not going to lie (file this alongside things like reading Ian Fleming: sometimes so good, sometimes so…​ chauvinistic, sexist, racist, etc.; I realize I could/should be reading other things. I realize that.)

Happiness, as Such by Natalia Ginzburg

Ugh this was so good someone please read this so we can talk about it. So, so goddamn good.

Faithful and Virtuous Night by Louise Gluck

I thought this was a very well-put-together collection; I liked all the mirrorings across the book. I really liked some of the poems. Wasn’t so much excited by others. I did enjoy the prose poems for the most part.

Meander, Spiral, Explode by Jane Alison

So, so wonderful.

Topics of Conversation by Miranda Popkey

I really enjoyed this, in the end. The "Los Angeles 2012" chapter, in particular, does some really wonderful and exciting things with mediated storytelling.

Inland by Gerald Murnane

Finished! I have some thoughts on this. I can’t say I loved it but I think I sort of figured it out by the end. Some things about it were interesting; some things about it were very tiring.

Ordinary Beast by Nicole Sealey

This was just so fucking good. John Murillo introduced me to Nicole at AWP in Chicago in like…​fucking 2012. I’m ashamed I waited so long after this came out to read it. It’s so fucking good. Also, I finally finished John’s book, Amerikan Kontemporary Poetry, which maybe didn’t get onto this list? I should check but it’s near midnight and I want to go to bed.

Oh! My Antonia by Willa Cather

Alia read this so I read it and it was really fun and nice ("fun" is the wrong word, or no — I’ll say it was fun). It was a very enjoyable read.

Francis Bacon: The Logic of Sensation by Gilles Deleuze

This was the next "Foucault Club" book! We’re still kind of working through it, but I couldn’t wait (slash needed a "win" the other day, and finishing a book counts).

Mansfield Park by Jane Austin

Delightful! Also, so interesting! From a narrative point of view, a political point of view…​so fun! ALSO MY SUPER COOL FRIEND GOT HER FIRST ACADEMIC PAPER PUBLISHED IN A HUGE DEAL JOURNAL IN PART ON THIS! I need to read the essay still, but very exciting…​

The Ministry of Pain by Dubravka Ugrešić

This was so good. Weird, and I’m still not 100% sure how or why it was so good, but it was (I stayed up well past my bedtime to finish it the other night, like I was a kid again). The topic, obviously, is intense and interesting, but I think what gripped me most was the prose, and specifically something about the oblique repetitions…​a lot like the memory of a place, come to think of it.

Change me : stories of sexual transformation from Ovid by Jane Alison

I’ve had this on my shelf for years, but a friend of mine borrowed Jane’s Nine Island (which is excellent) and I’ve been wanting to read something very different and this fit the bill. Who knew Ovid was so sexy? Also, I spent a lot of time working with Jane as an undergrad, and it’s a pleasing kind of nostalgia to read her work.

"Notes of a Lyric Artist Working in Prose" out of Break Every Rule by Carole Maso

A really wonderful meditation on the novel, art, erotics, rhythm—​I really like Carole Maso. She came to UMB to give a reading once and read for (I shit you not) an hour or an hour and a half straight, and it was freakin' enchanting.

Three by Perec by Georges Perec

I’ve thus far gotten through "Which Moped with Chrome-Plated Handlebars at the Back of the Yard?" which was very fun, and am a few pages into "The Exeter Text," which is pleasingly wild though requires a certain kind of attention that I’m struggling with this weekend (10/18)

Archaeology of Knowledge by Michel Foucault

The "O.G." Foucault Club book…​ very interesting and fun. Also, Foucault is hilarious! The reading group is with a bunch of writers (a couple of prosers and a poet) so we ended up having a bunch of interesting discussions about the literary style of this one, in addition to all that "discourse" nonsense (it’s not nonsense).

The Berlin Stories by Christopher Isherwood

I really enjoyed both these novels. This was recommended to me by ol' Askold Melnyczuk when I was working on my MFA thesis, and though I only just got around to reading it (a year or so late), I really enjoyed it! Plus it felt very…​ timely, given the current political circumstances and my evolving thinking about "decadence" in today’s America.

Pale Fire by Vladimir Nabokov

I thought this was actually really fun. Turns out a lot of my friends really don’t like Nabokov. I don’t know how I feel about him in a big sense, but I found this one delightful. Very playful and fun.

The Long List

…​I’ll figure out what I mean by this later. For the time being, here are the yearly round-ups (full texts only, I’m afraid):