Experimental Realism: The Novels of Laszlo Krasznahoskai

From The New Yorker of 4 July 2011 (Self wasn’t even here on 4th of July 2010.  She was on a plane, just getting into Bacolod.  No wonder this issue fell “between the cracks” !!)

James Woods writes about Laszlo Krasznahorkai that his “tireless, tiring sentences —  a single one can fill an entire chapter — feel potentially endless, and are presented without paragraph breaks.  Krasznahorkai’s brilliant translator, the poet George Szirtes, refers to his prose as ‘a slow lava-flow of narrative, a vast black river of type.’  It is often hard to know exactly what Krasznahorkai’s characters are thinking, because his fictional world teeters on the edge of a revelation that never quite comes.”

In Krasznahorskai’s novel War and War, the hero, Gyorgy Korin, “archivist and local historian from a provincial Hungarian town, is going mad.  For the whole of the novel, he stands ‘on the threshold of some decisive perception,’ but we never discover what that perception is.”

The reviewer excerpts a very lengthy sentence.  After manfully reading the infinitesimally tiny print in which the excerpt is printed — no joke, The New Yorker is forgetting that its demographic requires reading glasses — self concludes that she has read sentences equally long from Jose Saramago, or Antonio Lobo Antunes.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Books of The Economist (22 to 28 October 2011)

Gaah, self knows she has so much catching-up to do — still — on her reading.  The holidays are like this great big hump that she needs to get over.  Bad-tempered drivers, early dark, freezing cold, high winds — why is she here, instead of languishing in the warm climes of Bacolod?

Anyhoo, here she has at least scads and scads of magazine subscriptions.  She can lose herself in her little world on the couch, with The Ancient One on a green chenille rug at her feet.

This issue of The Economist has a discreet little box at the bottom of p. 104.  Reading the words printed inside this box, self discovers that

… our Britain editor, A. D. Miller, missed out on the Man Booker Prize awarded on October 18th.  His first novel, Snowdrops, an amorality tale set in modern Moscow, was one of six shortlisted for Britain’s main literary prize.  But he can take heart:  this year’s list has been the most popular ever —  and his was the biggest-selling book on it.  He was beaten by a worthy rival in Julian Barnes who, after being shortlisted three times before, bagged the 50,000-pounds award for The Sense of an Ending, a slim novel about memory.  “It was like losing to Brazil in the World Cup final,” said Mr. Miller.

There is a teensy typo in The Economist article which self uncovers when she lets her fingers do the googling to the Man Booker website:  the prize amount is actually 60,000 pounds (She wishes she could find the “pounds” symbol on her keyboard, but time’s a wastin’).  She also discovers that the prize is biennial — the next award isn’t until 2013.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

First Friday of December 2011: Still Reading PSYCHOGEOGRAPHY

Bella is still turning up her nose at the dry dog food.  But no, no, no — no matter how long she fastens her limpid brown eyes on self’s, self refuses to accommodate her by throwing her a dried-out piece from the carcass of prime rib that self is constrained to keep until every last shred of meat has been consumed.

Later, self thinks she is in the mood to go exploring.  Draeger’s stocks all kinds of fine port, and this is a liquor that self has never imbibed.  But she does feel that she is entitled to try one new liquor, every week, from now on until the end of her life (which may be just around the corner, who knows)

Self, why so morbid?  Let’s just push on!

Self is still reading Will Self (There she goes again).  He pretty much despises Graham Greene.  Graham Greene was not a walker.  Graham Greene wrote novels about far-flung places but never got much farther than the shores of his wee British isle.

(Will) Self tries to talk himself out of this aversion, thus (p. 158):

After all, even Kafka wrote a novel called Amerika without ever going there.  Well, yes and yet no.  I do think a sense of topography is integral to our enjoyment of fiction, and that even if we haven’t been to a place we can somehow sense whether the writer who describes it has.  I remember being in Brazil (or do I?) ten years ago, and the Brazilian literary community being much exercised by John Updike, who’d just published a novel called Brazil.  ” ‘ E was only ‘ere a week!’ expostulated my genial translator, Hamilton dos Santos.  What he would’ve made of Terry Gilliam’s film of the same name I shudder to think, set as it was almost entirely inside the cooling tower of Chiswick Power Station.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Hopkins Avenue, Redwood City, December 2011

A neighbor several blocks away has put up an electronic counter on his front lawn.  At first self thought it was some kind of speed radar.  Perhaps the neighbor was fed up with all the teen-agers who joy-ride down Hopkins instead of Whipple, because Whipple has twice the number of Stop signs.  We’ve had unbelievable stuff tossed on our front lawn.  Once, in June, someone threw a beer mug through our car’s back window, and it went all the way through and landed in the driver’s seat, amidst a shower of broken glass.

But no, as self slowed down to examine the counter more carefully, she saw that the bright red neon “24” never changed.  Then she realized:  It’s December 1 now.  So it’s a kind of Christmas countdown:  24 days till Christmas.  Quelle fab!

Just a few houses down, on the same side of the street, is a neighbor who has about fifty (maybe more) birdhouses nailed to his fence.  They are each one different.

There’s another neighbor who has a hammock strung between two great old trees, and a deep, wide porch, on which every Christmas there materializes a gorgeous tree, brimming with lights and Christmas ornaments.

Don’t the neighbors worry about losing their a) Christmas counters; b) birdhouses or c) hammocks and/or Christmas trees?

Self must confess:  she never made it to Stanford to attend the Buddhist meditation session.  Stanford in the dark and cold of an early December evening seemed like the most unpleasant kind of outing (even if it did mean surrendering the chance to practice “forest chanting” in the Sacred Circle).

And, in case you’re wondering, self is still stuck in a limbo of waiting —  waiting for that darn wind storm which the weather people still keep insisting is “coming.”  No, it has not yet put in an appearance (And if it never does arrive, what then?  Shall we spank it?)

In lieu of spending the evening in sacred chanting, self is in son’s room, watching “Scrubs” on his small TV and laughing uproariously.  Self had the great good fortune to be in L’Fisher Chalet during each of her previous visits to the Heart of the World — er, Bacolod — and she got to enjoy watching the following shows (which she never catches at home, for one of two reasons:   a) we only subscribe to basic cable and the shows are on HBO or b) she has less time to watch TV):

  • Spartacus (the most blood spatter self had ever seen — that is, until she saw Immortals)
  • Game of Thrones (Sean Bean’s death scene was oh-so-gloriously noble)
  • The Good Wife
  • Scrubs re-runs

ScrubsScrubsScrubs!  Self would lie on her hotel bed and order lengua con champignon and laugh uproariously to an empty room, one littered with books and pens and back copies of the Visayan Daily Star.  Quelle fab!

Want to laugh your heads off, dear blog readers?  Just take a look at this clip!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

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