31 March, 2008


Reading: the Gospels, Susan Sontag's Regarding the pain of others, Wilfred Loth's Stalin's unwanted child: the Soviet Union, the German question, and the founding of the GDR

Listening: Bobby Darin & Johnny Mercer's Two of a kind, Debussy's Études played by Mitsuko Uchida

Watching: series two of Deadwood. Particularly enjoying the way the relationship between EB Farnum and his servant Richardson is becoming more and more bizarre, like something from a Beckett play.

19 March, 2008

Catch-up list: what I've read recently

OK, I hate doing this but otherwise I never catch up with myself:

Naomi Segal: The adulteress's child [10]
Cormac McCarthy: No country for old men [11]
Ann Petry: The street [12]
Edith Piaf: My life [13]
Susan Sontag: On photography [14]
Anglo-Saxon verse [15]
Ibsen: Hedda Gabler/A doll's house [16]
Yevgeny Yevtushenko: Selected Poems [17]
Michelle Tea (ed.): It's so you [18]

12 March, 2008

Small things please small minds

Just (literally, I am on the first page) started reading Eric Hobsbawm's Bandits. He quotes this, attributed to 'an old brigand from Roccamandolfi':
'We are sad, it is true, but that is because we have always been persecuted. The gentry use the pen, we the gun; they are the lords of the land, we of the mountain.'

As a modern-day fictional bandit said, 'I got the shotgun, you got the briefcase; it's all in the game though, right?'

04 March, 2008

I don't update enough

I am keeping up with my reading, I am, I am... Much better than last year, actually. But I don't update enough.

I finished, and really enjoyed - not sure if 'enjoy' is the right word, but whatever - The hothouse by Wolfgang Koeppen, a loan from my friend N. I read Koeppen's book Death in Rome last year and thought it was superb and vicious. The hothouse is about the Bonn parliament in the fifties - which I am just in the middle of studying - and is sour and angry and despairing. The Bonn parliamentarians are the Christians and Social Democrats who have kept their hands clean during the Nazi period but are now middle-aged cynics, working for a public of self-satisfied, apolitical bourgeois. Short, but very powerful, sad and bitter.

It's translated by Michael Hofmann, who is such a good translator of German. His translations never jar, the way they can sometimes, and you can hear the German behind the English without it ever becoming intrusive. [9]