Punchy, taut, brisk, abrupt, grotesque, surprisingly subtle and rather laconic. To have ridden in the Red Calvary alone, as an Odessan Jew, was defini...more Punchy, taut, brisk, abrupt, grotesque, surprisingly subtle and rather laconic. To have ridden in the Red Calvary alone, as an Odessan Jew, was definitely an act of tremendous guts- to write about it effectively afterward is even more impressive, of course.
His short story "Guy De Maupassant" is perfect.
He was snuffed out far too early and was tragically intended to be forgotten by the Stalinist state but his prose sears and burns off the page as if even his sentences themselves are fighting to stay alive.
Perfect description of a writer: "with eyeglasses on my nose and autumn in my heart..."(less)
Brutally well-written. Haunting and disturbing. N's bitter farewell to his uncomfortable decade-plus in Berlin and with a few subtle hints of the madn...more Brutally well-written. Haunting and disturbing. N's bitter farewell to his uncomfortable decade-plus in Berlin and with a few subtle hints of the madness and decadence to come.
Disturbing, which is a word that I don't use very often and am consistently annoyed with the causal employment of but in this case, yeah. Made my flesh creep even as I couldn't tear my eyes away from it.(less)
Well, of course I haven't read the WHOLE THING....Goodreads Eric makes an excellent point when he says somewhere (concerning Lorca, if I'm not mistak...more Well, of course I haven't read the WHOLE THING....Goodreads Eric makes an excellent point when he says somewhere (concerning Lorca, if I'm not mistaken) that he might mark a book of poetry, say, as "read" but there are very few poets whose work he's read all the way through. I think that's totally fair and we can give ourselves a break on what constitues proper "read" status, literal use of star ratings and all that jazz.
I figure, even if you haven't read every single word of a book (especially when it's usually presented in miniature form, like poetry) but you can say with honest confidence that you've reckoned mightily with it, you can count it among your reading accomplishments.
So yeah, I decided to add the Ho-ly Bib-le to my list of "read" material.
I mean, I grew up with this book as a constant textual reference point, often heard it recited before dinner, watched movies about it, gathered on a particular day every week to hear some dude explain how great a book it was, participated (against my druthers, but good-naturedly) in group discussions of many key passages for many years, was praised and encouraged for memorizing passages and reciting them, read it on my own in furtive moments, thought about it and dreamed about it and worried about it and agonized over it.
It's bullshit. And I don't mean that in a bad way. It's bullshit because it claims to have all the answers, to speak for what is unspeakable, explain the inexpressible, justify what is (often enough) totally bonkers.....
That said, it's not really any different than Tolstoy or Melville or Proust being bullshit, either. It's all artifice, when you get right down to it. I mean, I've always been a fan of the idea that art is better than religion precisely because it doesn't purport to do what religion does and if it starts talking that way, very few people are going to double down and start literally worshiping writers. It happens, sure, but by and large religion makes much bigger claims than literature does, and I'm sorry but the reach always exceeds the grasp, fellas.
I also don't want to be one of those boors who slam it completely just to score some easy contrarian points over cocktails or whatever. There is amazing writing in this book- incredible penses, allegories, theology, parables, you know what I mean.
I'm giving it three stars because it contains (for just one example) the Book of Ecclesiastes as well as an in-depth, rather gory explanation for what to do if the bull you're sacrificing has crushed testicles. (less)
Seen the Louis Malle movie a bunch of times, saw it performed as a kind of farcical romp once, read the actual play several times over.
It's my favo...more Seen the Louis Malle movie a bunch of times, saw it performed as a kind of farcical romp once, read the actual play several times over.
It's my favorite among the Chekhov plays I've read. Stunning, relate-able, so agonizingly true to life (the love triangles, dorky-but-sweet professor type doesn't notice the simple heart who loves him, wretched old man whose longing for the beautiful lady is simultaneously his idea of redemption and self-pity, on and on....) and with an ending that gently places your heart up into your throat and then wedges it in there 'till you can't breathe....(less)
This is one of those very-hard-to-categorize books. Poor Fred really did go to the outer limits of what could be possible, what can be thought, how f...more This is one of those very-hard-to-categorize books. Poor Fred really did go to the outer limits of what could be possible, what can be thought, how far humans could go morally, aesthetically, etc.
Forget the stoned, peach fuzz'd, wild-eyed undergrad or high school kid with bad breath who reads this stuff all day and thinks he's a nascent ubermensch.
Nietzsche's the real deal and this is one of the books that sort of shows him stretching himself as far as he can. It's actually almost kind of adorable how badly he wants to translate his philosophy of the future into poetry, songs, and music. It's just not his forte. He's sort of doomed to forever advocate for the sublimity of artistic forms he himself doesn't exactly excel in. Not the worst problem in the world- he's still a 19th Century philosopher to be reckoned with, there's absolutely no question about that- but it's still kind of endearing to see him try and be, say, Heine or Holderlin...
Also, this book takes a special place in my heart for the fact that a very good friend of mine, a dedicated student of philosophy and history, started reading this in high school because he'd heard of the guy and how influential he was on all his favorite writers, etc, and he had to sort of hide it under his jacket or something because he was scared that people would see the title and assume the worst....(less)