Sunday, November 15, 2009

Sunday Salon

The Sunday

I live in upstate New York - I mean, way upstate New York, far beyond what dopey NYC people think of as "upstate" - known for its Arctic wasteland weather that usually stretches from November to late April. When we lived even further north, a mere two hours from the Canadian border, my siblings and I would walk 1/4 a mile to school in -20. After several weeks of -20, 20 above literally feels warm. I'm not kidding.

This year, however, has been a strange one. First, it rained nonstop all summer long. I mean, SHEETS and SHEETS of rain, like veritable walls of water. This ended in late August. Then things were normal for awhile, until these last two weeks. Shortly after Halloween, the weather became unseasonably warm - we're talking fifties, which we usually never achieve until June and certainly never after early September. Today, however, it is 60. I do not know why. Tomorrow it will go up to 62. Hmmm.

Yesterday, my copy of March Dugain's The Officers' Ward arrived in the mail. It's a French novella, a fictionalized account of Dugain's grandfather's experiences as a disfigured veteran of World War I. I read it awhile back but didn't think to actually buy it until now. (I did my review entirely from memory and a bit of Internet research.) It's not nearly as depressing as it sounds. Dugain had often wondered at the ability of his grandfather and his compatriots to be so full of life and happiness, despite the injuries that forever barred them from being a part of mainstream society. The Officers' Ward is a neat little book, and the perfect antidote to the oh-my-God-kill-yourself hot mess that is Johnny Got His Gun.

I ordered it second-hand from Amazon for $.30, plus $3.95 shipping and handling. I didn't realize it was the large print version, though. That makes it kind of annoying to read - my eyes keep skipping over the page - but that's my fault. I should've read the product description better.

I have also started Roberto BolaƱo's The Savage Detectives. I'm not even 100 pages into it and I already love it. It is to Henry Miller's The Tropic of Cancer (the misogyny and disgustingness of which I absolutely loathed) what The Officers' Ward is to Johnny Got His Gun. But I probably won't be finishing it soon. I will be receiving a review copy of Gert Jonke's System of Vienna, an fictionalized Austrian memoir of Jonke's experiences in Vienna, from The Front Table. It will be my very first review for them, so I'm kind of nervous, especially since System of Vienna seems like a complex book. I've been looking at the other reviews on their site, and they're all really, really good.

So that's me for this week.

(I wish Henry Miller was still alive just so I could have the pleasure of slapping him.)


Anonymous said...

It's 62 degrees here today, which in CA is pretty much the equivalent of 20 degrees for all you East Coasters who have real weather and seasons.

I had our heater on all morning. I'm a total weather wimp.

I'm a literature wimp, too, as I haven't read any of the books you mention. But I have faith that you will be able to write a really, really good review, too.

Richard said...

I envy you reading The Savage Detectives for the first time, E.L. Fay. What a tremendous piece of writing! And while I don't know how well Miller would agree with me today content-wise, I thought his prose style in Tropic of Cancer was pretty much state of the art when I read it in my early twenties. It's your blog, though, so you can still slap him, of course!

E. L. Fay said...

Softdrink: You're not a literature wimp! You've read plenty of books that I haven't.

Richard: Actually, I thought Miller was a great writer too. It was what he wrote about that infuriated me. Apparently all women are "cunts." What a waste of talent.

rhapsodyinbooks said...

I've got to start familiarizing myself with Bolano. There are too many very smart people who like him, indicating to me a very rewarding read!

JoAnn said...

I'm not quite as far upstate as you (although I was born in Ogdensburg), but agree this weather has been crazy - it hit 64 degrees here this afternoon!! There were actually sailboats out on the lake. Happy reading.

Anonymous said...

When I left Maine it was in the low 60s, so the lovely warm weather I'm experiencing in Atlanta wasn't nearly as amazing as I had expected, imagining myself having come from 35 degree days. Love the warmth after the crappy summer we had on the east coast!

Glad you're liking The Savage Detectives. I'm still on the fence about it...not good travel reading, I guess. Bulk aside, I should have brought Kristin Lavrensdatter!!

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