The world’s pretty fucking weird right now. But as a buddy of mine said when I told him he would watch “Struggle Meals” on Hulu, “I’m up to my eyeballs in media content.” So, here’s some more, while I procrastinate writing about other things here that might be more interesting or important, but then, maybe not; I do stand by these recommendations.
by Georges Perec, trans. Gilbert Adair
I must say, this book was so fucking fun.
Totally against my whole “read books published after I was born” thing, but I started a new job and a new coworker, who also really likes Perec, said this was her favorite book and I ought to read it, so I bumped it up in the list: conveniently, my school library (which is otherwise pretty bereft of physical books) had a copy, amongst a bunch of other Perec work (which I am bummed I didn’t get, not thinking that the library would close…), so I read it. It was SO. FUN.
As you are perhaps aware, this book is written entirely without the letter “e,” which is pretty crazy in English, and insane in the original French. The fact that Adair was able to hold onto the constraint is amazing.
The narrative – there is indeed narrative here – is essentially a murder mystery crossed with a family drama, and becomes wildly more fun and metafictional as the book progresses. There are a lot of fun ‘mistranslations,’ and it really is an excellent example of how an experimental constraint can be embedded organically, and essentially, into a text. So, so fun.
by Italo Calvino, trans. Geoffrey Brock
I read this book a long time ago, but it’s still great. I mention it now, because I used it as a model/constraint to bang out a new first draft of the new middle section of my thesis/book project recently, and it was really nice to get back into the text a little bit. Plus, as I’m reading Mr. Palomar right now, it makes a nice companion piece.
The book contains five of six lectures that Calvino was to give just down the road at Harvard before his death, compiled, I think, largely from notes, on what literature might or should look like in the future. We’re obviously “here,” which is to say in this next millennium, and I do think a lot of what he says holds up (though I work differently than he suggests in his “visibility” essay).
Definitely worth a read; it’s good thought-chewing, if you know what I mean.
Tiger King on Netflix
I don’t actually enjoy this; it makes me deeply uncomfortable, but Alia and Alissa (our downstairs neighbor whom we’ve adopted into our “household” for the duration of social distancing) really like it, and in fact this is the only new thing I think I’ve seen Alia binge, maybe ever, so that’s got to be some kind of endorsement.
There is more stuff that I’m forgetting or leaving out intentionally as the past few days have been a little nuts (okay, the last few weeks, month?), but anyway, I got my final reader a revised version of my thesis, so I can sit pretty for a little while, return to work on other things, and generally, you know, stay socially distanced on the Internet. Oh. And ride my bike. Just got to put those gears back on it, now that the weather’s nice and all I’m going to be doing is riding by myself…