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May. 31st, 2006 | 08:55 pm
posted by: ex_mthrtong in 2006_books

I've been a negligent moderator. Let's get this place rockin.

Post a microreview of the best book you've read in 2006. All the better if it was actually published in 2006, but it doesn't have to be. If possible, include a short excerpt.

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Jan. 14th, 2006 | 05:51 pm
posted by: ex_mthrtong in 2006_books

A bunch of new micromicro reviews from me at 42. Tonight I'm reading Madeleine Is Sleeping, a novel by Sarah Shun-Lien Bynum. Excerpt:


As the lonely days passed, Charlotte silently watched her body sprout resilient black hairs. At first it seemed as if only her brush of pubic hair run amok, scaling up her stomach like a vine, but one morning, while reading an epistolary novel, she rested a bristling chin on her palm and realized that Griselda was granting her secret wish. By that evening, a dense, furry trail was already creeping up her decolletage.

M. Marais, squinting across the lengthy dinner table, was dismayed.

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Sensitive Chaos

Jan. 9th, 2006 | 09:03 pm
posted by: puttysauce in 2006_books

There is no doubt that our body is a moulded river. - Novalis, Aphorisms


Water desires nothing for itself, it gives of itself freely, never questioning the form into which it must change when needed by a plant, an animal or man; with the same submissiveness it fills them all. It resigns itself selflessly to every need, retiring after acting as mediator, to be ready for new creativity. As in its very nature it is itself pure, it can purify, refresh, heal, strengthen, revive and clarify all things.


It is everywhere a mediator between contrasts, which grow sharper where it is absent. Thus it brings together elements hostile to one another, constantly creating something new out of them. It dissolves what is solid, rendering it back to life.


The resting state originates in movement.


From Sensitive Chaos by Theodor Schwenk. He studies the movement of water scientifically and breaks it down poetically. I'm completely enamored.

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A Border Comedy by Lyn Heijinian

Jan. 6th, 2006 | 04:27 pm
posted by: dominika_kretek in 2006_books

In the opening of Book Five of A Border Comedy, Lyn Heijinian writes:
I have busy ideas
Though sometimes they interfere, and then I can't see ceaselessly
Or read a book
Then logic (or what I use as such) rebels
And I want to wander on an ocean lifting
Great figures of fog lasciviously over me
As I verify the data that my senses provide and declare this paradise
A great idea
A transitory moment (as you will understand)
Though it certainly won't improve my reputation as a philosopher
I'll travel there to see the penguins
Huddled in the wind
Awaiting great unsettlements at the touch of light
Outstretched from the most unlikely quarters to help them to sea again

I find some of my usual pleasures of poetry lacking from this book, replaced by a different pleasure: watching an intelligent mind work through all sorts of ideas, sometimes foregrounded, sometimes backgrounded, but always at work. I think only this kind of poetry--book-length, ruminative, non-narrative--allows this kind of pleasure. It's so exciting.

UPDATE: My god, how many typos can I make in one posting?

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Jan. 6th, 2006 | 01:06 pm
posted by: ex_mthrtong in 2006_books

I have started reading A Quiet Life by Kenzaburo Oe (1990). Any other writings of his that you've enjoyed? At 50 pages, I'm definitely caught up in the story (young adult woman taking care of her brain-damaged younger brother while her parents are away), but Japanese-to-English translations frustrate me. Knowing absolutely no Japanese, it's often unclear where to attribute the idiosyncracies: to the narrator, to the cultural difference, or to the act of translation itself. Interestingly, A Quiet Life is often self-conscious or self-aware or examining of language; the narrator talks about the various euphemisms used by her family, the vocabularies of her siblings, the way her own emotions become words.

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Dec. 31st, 2005 | 08:00 pm
posted by: ex_mthrtong in 2006_books

Welcome! And apologies for the belated greeting. Y’all know what to do, of course. This community is here to talk about books you are reading in 2006, books you recommend. Books published in 2006 and books that may be otherwise overlooked or missed (small press, small small press, small small small press, etc) are especially of interest, but any old book you appreciate will do. If you want, feel free to start it up by posting your personal best of 2005 list. I haven't advertised this community beyond my flist, but you please feel free. Any suggestions, lemme know.

It’s snowing & I have a cold; we’re stowed away at home for New Year’s Eve, listening to Prairie Home Companion & I’ve just started reading Jose Saramago’s The Cave. It was published in English (trans. from Portuguese) in 2002 and, as I said, I’ve only read a few pages, but I think that 2006 will be the year I discover Jose Saramago. The Cave starts:

The man driving the truck is called Cipriano Algor, he is a potter by profession and is sixty-four years old, although he certainly does not look his age. The man sitting beside him is his son-in-law, Marcal Gacho, and he is not yet thirty. Nevertheless, from his face too, you would think him much younger. As you will have noticed, attached to their first names both these men have unusual family names, whose origin, meaning, and reason they do not know. They would probably be most put out to learn that “algor” means the intense cold one feels in one’s body before a fever sets in, and that “gacho” is neither more nor less than the part of an ox’s neck on which the yoke rests.

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Dec. 28th, 2005 | 06:56 pm
posted by: ex_josh_han in 2006_books

Recently Received: What Remains by Stuart Greenhouse

Selected by Brenda Hillman for the Poetry Society of America Chapbook series.

I think the Foetry fellow has Hillman spooked. I say that because it’s almost eery the way that she avoids Stuart’s name—and even the name of the chapbook—in her introduction. It’s kind of like, “I have no personal connection with this poet whatsoever. In fact, I even doubt his existence.” Her intro is so general and forgettable, which is a shame for poems that are so specific and haunting.

These poems provide what I’ve come to realize is the thing I most prize in a poem: a window onto a mind working itself through language. That may seem like a nice and abstract way of talking about lyric poetry, but it’s rare to see it practiced as it is here.

Consider these lines from “Preliminary Clasp:”

Gold in the eye, gold born every day. Worth.
What a water so fire to touch it
is to be drunk in called noble can’t,
with its pure appetite, touch, or
what dug from the earth is refined,
grows nothing, is soft, is reflective—

One can’t really find the place to cut off the excerpt it keeps building so, it keeps turning back upon itself. And what to call that “fire?” A visual pun? Whatever, the way it presents us with the word and thought of “fine” without ever saying it, the way that “fine” reappears lines later in “refined,” all of this seems both controlled and controlling.

The real center of the book for me is the long series of short lyrics entitled “My Lead Hat.” It bears the subtitle, “after two masters,” though I am unsure who these masters are. To my mind they are Merwin and Kafka. Imagine Merwin infused with Kafka’s acid and self-effacing wit. These poems aren’t afraid. They aren’t afraid to be funny or silly, and they aren’t afraid to be deadly serious, all while wearing their lead hat.

It takes the shape
from whatever strikes it
so I don’t have to

Haven’t you ever
mistaken a thing
for belief?

Sometimes it tilts
to the left, and I circle,
or to the right, and I circle,
or back, and I wonder,
or forward, and I sleep.

Stunning stuff all around. Check it out.

The Poetry Society of America is selling the book as one of a four chapbook set, for $30, but Stuart might be able to hook you up with one if you drop him a line.

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What I'm reading

Dec. 28th, 2005 | 05:53 pm
posted by: ex_josh_han in 2006_books

I don't know if this community is meant to be for new books in 2006 or not. I'm too poor to buy new books!

Here's what I've read in the last week and a half of my winter break.

Ceremony by Leslie Marmon Silko.

Stunning, stunning, stunning. A must read.

Morning Girl by Michael Dorris

Dorris' first book for Young adults, it's very short, very beautiful, and very troubling in all the right ways. It can be read in a sitting, so what's your excuse, eh?

Heaven Eyes by David Almond

Almond writes great, quasi-mystical books for young adults. Skellig is good, and Kit's Wilderness is still his very best. Heaven Eyes, not so much. I think he's cranking them out now, which is a shame.

The Way to Rainy Mountain by N. Scott Momaday

Another quick read. THe text kind of follows Momaday's journey to the mountain of the title. Mostly, it parallels three seperate "texts". First are little snippets of Kiowa myth, followed by "historical" information bearing sometimes loose asociations to the myth, and then brief first person accounts by Momaday of his journey or memories from childhood. Lovely.

Currently reading:
21st Century Capitalism by Robert Heilbroner

Heilbroner's The Worldly Philosophers was a great introduction to economic thought for me. He writes for a popular audience, so he's pretty plain spoken and reads just like a good professor. That book was written in the Seventies, and this on eis from '93, so it doesn't have such a rosey view of the future of world capitalism. Heibroner is very even handed and pretty smart. THis would be a good introduction to world systems analysis.

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