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Me and Sylvia at the Memorial (April 2009)


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To write is to translate. It will always be, even when we're writing in our own language.

José Saramago

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Friday, August 10th, 2012

🦋 積ん読

(In which I am glad to rename my "Reading List" posts after a Japanese word I read about today, and thanks Martha for putting this on my radar)

posted evening of August 10th, 2012: 1 response
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Sunday, January 8th, 2012

🦋 Rereads

So I am thinking (as 2012 rolls itself out before me like a glittering carpet...) that the READIN reading theme of 2012 might just be rereading. Somehow the Savage Detectives reread of the last few months seems to have primed me for getting new insight from books I am already familiar with... Rereading The Crying of Lot 49 last week set the course; and today it looks like I am starting to reread The Corrections (a book, it must be said, which owes a whole lot to TCoL49 if my memory of it is any guide).

Here is me reading The Corrections. Thanks for the photo, Sylvia!

posted morning of January 8th, 2012: Respond
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Monday, December 20th, 2010

🦋 A Year of Reading

The sky is clear! So I'm going to stay up and wait for the eclipse at 2 tomorrow morning, which will be the first total lunar eclipse to occur on the Winter Solistice since the 1600's... While I'm waiting seems like a good time to write my annual reading review post.

2009 was, as you may recall, a year of starting to pick up the Spanish language in my readings and getting acclimated to the literature of Latin America; that trend continued in the early part of this year with a whole lot of time and thought spent on Borges -- Collected Fictions in Hurley's translations and many of the fictions in Spanish as well, plus some essays, lectures, and forewords. In the last quarter of this year I have discovered and have been reading Hernán Rivera Letelier, specifically The Art of Resurrection (and am just starting Our Lady of the dark flowers which a friend on the west coast sent to me), and thinking more about Borges and about language. And in between, well, Bolaño, and some very interesting Saramago, Coetzee, Meredith Sue Willis, Joyce Hinnefeld, The Wettest County, Fred Exley, Jeffrey Eugenides; also have been for the first time really explicitly reading things with translation in mind, like the Rivera Letelier books, like the Poets of Nicaragua collection and Slavko Zupcic.

I have probably been blogging less about reading this year (particularly towards the end of the year) than in the last couple of years; that does not strike me as a terrible thing. I might shift the focus of the blog slightly away from reading and toward translation and the craft of writing -- of course there is a lot of room for overlap there...

I believe instead of creating a reading list post for 2011 I will just use the list from last year as a scratch pad -- I've been updating it over the course of the year anyway.

posted evening of December 20th, 2010: Respond

Thursday, December 31st, 2009

🦋 Reading List

And, well: here are the books I want to read in 2010. Many of these are left over from 2009's list... The deal is the same as before, I'll be adding to this list as the year goes along; if you have any suggestions for me, please leave them in the comments.

(Actually the list is now books I plan to be reading in 2011. For the books that were on this list that I read in 2010 and removed from the list, see A Year of Reading.)

The List

Novels and stories

  • The Master and Margarita by Bulgakov
  • City of God by Paolo Lins
  • The Black Book by Orhan Pamuk, in Güneli Gün's translation.
  • 2666 by Roberto Bolaño
  • Disgrace by J.M. Coetzee
  • The Promised Land by Karel Shoeman
  • Die Blendung by Elias Canetti
  • The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery
  • Death in the Andes by Mario Vargas Llosa
  • Brief Interviews with Hideous Men by David Foster Wallace
  • The Fat Man and Infinity by António Lobo Antunes
  • A Wild Ride Through the Night by Walter Moers
  • The Time Regulation Institute by Ahmet Hamdi Tanpınar
  • Shining at the Bottom of the Sea by Stephen Marche
  • The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters
  • Dusklands by J.M. Coetzee
  • Letter from an Unknown Woman by Stefan Zweig
  • Casi un Objeto by José Saramago
  • Sobre heroes y tumbas by Ernesto Sábato
  • Temple of the Iconoclasts by J.R. Wilcock
  • El desierto by Carlos Franz
  • Where Once Was Paradise by Carlos Franz
  • The Art of Resurrection by Hernán Rivera Letelier
  • Santa María de las flores negras by HRL
  • How it is by Beckett
  • The Evolution of Bruno Littlemore by Benjamin Hale


  • Cultural Amnesia by Clive James
  • Borges in/and/on Film by J.L. Borges
  • Cuadernos de Lanzarote by José Saramago
  • The Varieties of Religious Experience by William James
  • The Hunter Gracchus by Guy Davenport
  • Stranger Shores by J.M. Coetzee
  • Reality Hunger: a manifesto by David Shields
  • Space, Time, and Motion: A Philosophical Introduction by Wesley C. Salmon
  • From the Ashen Land of the Virgin by Raul Gálvez
  • Returning to Iran by Sima Nahan
  • Salt in the Sand: Memory, Violence, and the Nation by Lessie Jo Frazier
  • Desert Memories by Ariel Dorfman
  • Reflections on the Dawn of Consciousness by various authors, ed. Marcel Kuijsten
  • The User Illusion: Cutting Consciousness Down to Size by Tor Nørretranders
  • Of Two Minds: Poets who hear voices by Judith Weisman
  • Philosophy in the Flesh: The Embodied Mind and Its Challenge to Western Thought by George Lakoff and Mark Johnson


  • Paradise Lost by Milton (or, well, probably not actually.)
  • Works and Days by Hesiod
  • Theogony by Hesiod
  • Martín Fierro by José Hernández
  • Altazor by Vicente Huidobro
  • Spring and All by William Carlos Williams

posted evening of December 31st, 2009: 8 responses

🦋 A Year of Reading

Well: the theme this year has been the Spanish language, the literature of Iberia and of Latin America. I started out the year reading Borges oral and (the beginning of) Cien años de soledad, and translating the Spanish translation of Saramago's blog, and thinking it's kind of funny that my interest in Spanish should have ultimately been piqued by a Portuguese author. Over the year I've gotten much more comfortable with the language and am just finding it a whole lot of fun to be reading and understanding a language which is not English.

Maybe it's connected that I've gotten a whole lot more interested in poetry this year than I ever have been in the past, principally in Spanish-language poetry; at the beginning of the year I was reading Pablo Neruda and García Lorca, then I picked up Romantic Dogs, also I spent some time on Ferlinghetti; and just recently I've been spending time with some Spanish and South American poets whom I have not been writing about yet. Not quite sure what it is, but somehow the distance between me and the text imposed by the foreign language seems to make it easier to appreciate the sound of the poetry and to look for the imagery being communicated.

This is also the year Sylvia lost interest in having me read her bedtime stories -- early in the year we read The Subtle Knife and The Hobbit (which led to me reading Lord of the Rings on my own and reliving my juvenile frustration with it); after that she was done with the bedtime story ritual. Growing up!

My favorite books this year: Elizabeth Costello, Balthazar and Blimunda and The History of the Siege of Lisbon (which together gave me an entirely new picture of Saramago and which have me waiting on pins and needles for The Elephant's Journey), Museum of Innocence, and late entrant The Savage Detectives, which is making me want to read more Bolaño soon.

posted evening of December 31st, 2009: Respond

Saturday, June 20th, 2009

🦋 Wish list

OK, this is the post for my list of things I would love to receive as presents. Not necessarily directed at you, don't feel like I'm asking you to give me gifts -- it's more a tool for my own use, since now and then someone will ask me what I want for a birthday or similar, and it will have slipped my mind that I really wanted to own John Wesley Harding "A Bloody Show" or whatever. OTOH if you are already looking to give me a gift, well here are some things I've been thinking about.

  • DVD's of John Wesley Harding "A Bloody Show" and "Wisconsin Death Trip" (or also, the book Wisconsin Death Trip.)
  • León Ferrari: Obra 1976-2008 and the catalog from the Tangled Alphabets show.
  • Any box sets from JSP Records.
  • The book La España Negra by José Gutiérrez Solana, and/or a collection of prints of his paintings.
  • The DVD of Dirt Road to Psychedelia.
  • Borges Laberintos Dručmelić -- short stories by Borges illustrated with paintings by Dručmelić.
  • Portable USB Turntable
  • A Humument by Tom Phillips
  • Purgatorio, illustrated by Dalí

That's all for now, more later as I think of them... I will store this post on my "Reading list" thread due to its list-y nature.

posted afternoon of June 20th, 2009: Respond

Monday, December 15th, 2008

🦋 Reading List

OK, for 2009 I am doing something I've never really done before (that I can recall), which is to make a list of books I'm interested in reading this year. The list is not ordered; I'm just going to be adding titles to it as they occur to me, and without commentary. When I comment on a book that's on the list, I will update with a link to the diary for that book. I'm going to link this post in my sidebar, so it will be at hand for reference.

Just a few books for now, I'll build the list over the next few days. Note that I'm expecting 2009 to be mostly a year of reading Iberian and Latin American lit for me, not sure exactly how this will pan out though.

The List

Novels and stories

  • City of God by Paolo Lins
  • Inherent Vice by Thomas Pynchon
  • The Gospel According to Jesus Christ by José Saramago
  • Museum of Innocence by Orhan Pamuk
  • What Can I Do When Everything's on Fire? by António Lobo Antunes
  • The Black Book by Orhan Pamuk, in Güneli Gün's translation.
  • The Double by José Saramago
  • The Elephant's Journey by José Saramago
  • All the Names by José Saramago
  • 2666 by Roberto Bolaño
  • Senselessness by Horacio Castellanos Moya
  • The Subtle Knife by Philip Pullman
  • Elizabeth Costello by J.M. Coetzee
  • Nazi Literature in the Americas by Roberto Bolaño
  • Disgrace by J.M. Coetzee
  • The Promised Land by Karel Shoeman
  • Die Blendung by Elias Canetti
  • Cien Años de Soledad by Gabriel García Márquez
  • The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery
  • Death in the Andes by Mario Vargas Llosa
  • Brief Interviews with Hideous Men by David Foster Wallace
  • The Counterlife by Philip Roth (Started this, totally turned off.)
  • My Two Worlds by Sergio Chejfec
  • The Fat Man and Infinity by António Lobo Antunes
  • The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
  • Diary of a Bad Year by J.M. Coetzee
  • A Wild Ride Through the Night by Walter Moers
  • The Time Regulation Institute by Ahmet Hamdi Tanpınar


  • Cultural Amnesia by Clive James
  • Borges in/and/on Film by J.L. Borges
  • The Labyrinth of Solitude by Octavio Paz
  • Cuadernos de Lanzarote by José Saramago
  • The Varieties of Religious Experience by William James
  • The Hunter Gracchus by Guy Davenport


If you have any suggestions for me, any books you think would do me good, please put them in comments!

posted morning of December 15th, 2008: 6 responses

Monday, December first, 2008

🦋 A Year of Reading

I was looking back over the past year of posts I've written about reading, to see what I've been thinking about this year; it looks like 2008 can be aptly dubbed "the year Jeremy fell in love with Saramago." The great majority of my reading posts this year have been about Blindness, Seeing, The Cave, The Year of the Death of Ricardo Reis, Death with Interruptions and Saramago's Notebook. And he has several more novels waiting for me to write about them in 2009! (Two other books I posted a fair amount about this year, The Passionate War and Fortunata and Jacinta, were both begun as part of a quest to understand Iberian history and literature, which quest has its roots in wanting to understand Saramago. And Saramago was partly responsible for making me want to reread Borges.)

I read a lot of Pamuk this year as well -- the author whom I spent 2007 falling in love with. The Black Book was a really rewarding, engaging novel; and McGaha's Autobiographies of Orhan Pamuk provided some useful context for Pamuk's novels. I'm keeping an eye out for new writing by and about Pamuk, to keep my bibliography up-to-date. I also reread Inferno in a (possibly misguided) effort to find historical background relevant to Pamuk's work. And I thank Pamuk for getting me interested in the history of the Armenian genocide, inspiring me to read Çetin's My Grandmother.

And what else? I enjoyed The Golden Compass hugely, and am looking forward to reading the rest of Pullman's work. Never Let Me Go is a beautiful novel. In Hovering Flight is a really promising first novel. Nixonland clued me in to the political scene around the time of my birth, in a much more detailed, careful way than I have ever understood them before. I did not write about it at all, but I quite enjoyed Annie Proulx' Fine Just the Way It Is. It was nice rereading Huckleberry Finn with Sylvia.

Too early for a post summing up the year? Perhaps. But it just seems like the right time for it. I'm looking forward to the new reading I'll do next year.

posted evening of December first, 2008: Respond

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