Books read in 2014, so far

Nana, Emile Zola

Our House in the Last World, Oscar Hijuelos

Notes from the Underground, Fyodor Dostoevsky

Dona Perfecta, Benito Perez Galdos

A Separate Reality, Carlos Castaneda

The Optimist’s Daughter, Eudora Welty

An Artist of the Floating World, Kazuo Ishiguro

Les Liaisons Dangereuses, Pierre Chonderlos de Laclos

Auguste Rodin, Rainer Maria Rilke

Chamber Music, James Joyce

The Last of the Star Kings, Edmond Hamilton

Kokoro, Natsume Soseki

Oedipus Rex, Sophocles

The Eye in the Pyramid, Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson

Black Spring, Henry Miller

Agamemnon, Aeschylus

Glenarvon, Caroline Lamb

The Iliad, Homer

The Russian Roots of Nazism, Michael Kellogg

The Balcony, Jean Genet

A Man of the People, Chinua Achebe

Couples, John Updike

The Soft Machine, William S. Burroughs

Pierre, Herman Melville

Outlaw of Gor, John Norman

English Literature, Stopford Augustus Brook

Tarnsman of Gor, John Norman

Eichmann in Jerusalem, Hannah Arendt

Endgame, Frank Brady

The Subterraneans, Jack Kerouac

Darkness at Noon, Arthur Koestler

The Captain’s Daughter, Alexander Pushkin

Things Fall Apart, Chinua Achebe

The Phantom of the Opera, Gaston Leroux

Justine, Lawrence Durrell

The Blunderer, Moliere

Madame Bovary, Gustave Flaubert

The Hero, W. Somerset Maugham

Foundation, Issac Asimov

The Trespasser, D.H. Lawrence

Numbers, John Rechy

The Possessed, Fyodor Dostoevsky

Nicolo Paganini, Stephen Samuel Stratton

La-Bas, Joris-Karl Huysmans

The Tin Drum, Gunter Grass

Edward II, Christopher Marlowe

The Masterpiece, Emile Zola

The Unclassed, George Gissing

The Food of the Gods, H. G. Wells

The Coming of the Night, John Rechy

A Princess of Mars, Edgar Rice Burroughs

The Aeneid, Virgil

White Nights, Fyodor Dostoevsky

The Siege of Corinth, Parisina, Lord Byron

The Lost Continent, Edgar Rice Burroughs

The Circle, W. Somerset Maugham

The Time Machine, H.G. Wells

The Monk, Matthew Lewis

Confessions of a Travelling Salesman, Timothy Lea

Midnight’s Children, Salman Rushdie

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Read in 2014

The Last of the Star Kings, Edmond Hamilton
Kokoro, Natsume Soseki
Oedipus Rex, Sophocles
The Eye in the Pyramid, Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson
Black Spring, Henry Miller
Agamemnon, Aeschylus
Glenarvon, Caroline Lamb
The Iliad, Homer
The Russian Roots of Nazism, Michael Kellogg
The Balcony, Jean Genet
A Man of the People, Chinua Achebe
Couples, John Updike
The Soft Machine, William S. Burroughs
Pierre, Herman Melville
Outlaw of Gor, John Norman
English Literature, Stopford Augustus Brook
Tarnsman of Gor, John Norman
Eichmann in Jerusalem, Hannah Arendt
Endgame, Frank Brady
The Subterraneans, Jack Kerouac
Darkness at Noon, Arthur Koestler
The Captain’s Daughter, Alexander Pushkin
Things Fall Apart, Chinua Achebe
The Phantom of the Opera, Gaston Leroux
Justine, Lawrence Durrell
The Blunderer, Moliere
Madame Bovary, Gustave Flaubert
The Hero, W. Somerset Maugham
Foundation, Issac Asimov
The Trespasser, D.H. Lawrence
Numbers, John Rechy
The Possessed, Fyodor Dostoevsky
Nicolo Paganini, Stephen Samuel Stratton
La-Bas, Joris-Karl Huysmans
The Tin Drum, Gunter Grass
Edward II, Christopher Marlowe
The Masterpiece, Emile Zola
The Unclassed, George Gissing
The Food of the Gods, H. G. Wells
The Coming of the Night, John Rechy
A Princess of Mars, Edgar Rice Burroughs
The Aeneid, Virgil
White Nights, Fyodor Dostoevsky
The Siege of Corinth, Parisina, Lord Byron
The Lost Continent, Edgar Rice Burroughs
The Circle, W. Somerset Maugham
The Time Machine, H.G. Wells
The Monk, Matthew Lewis
Confessions of a Travelling Salesman, Timothy Lea
Midnight’s Children, Salman Rushdie

 

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On overly clever writing

“I find that I don’t really care for writing that is too clever. This is my issue with most poetry and some prose. I prefer a more natural style, with moments of clever phrasing. When the writing is too clever, it becomes unnatural, like a fast paced comedy routine. I want something more genuine from prose.”
As I said this morning, I have found that I do not like writing that is overly clever. My observation derived from consideration of my own writing. I am working on my novel and find the urge to be clever is hard to escape, so I’m trying to gauge how much cleverness is appropriate to the tone I am after. I am nearing the end of Couples by John Updike, a novel I am enjoying very much. The structure is well-considered and the poetics are constant. The plot and characters are compelling. Some of the symbolism is a bit too heavy handed, particularly the use of Kennedy and his assassination as a metaphor for innocence and disillusion. Maybe it was fresh in the sixties, but now it is laid on too thick for my taste. It’s a brilliant novel but I’m always looking at the machinery, hoping to learn and acquire technique for my own uses. The only serious complaint I would make about the writing is in the dialogue. When the characters speak to each other, they are always trying to say something clever. They would rather make a joke or a play on words or a memorable aphorism than communicate. I know this happens and that there are people who communicate by sarcasm and humor but when it happens all the time, it becomes tedious and obstructive. For the most part, this is not how anyone communicates and interrelates. Oscar Wilde and many of the social dramas of the turn of the century delight in this kind of writing. In the proper forum, like a comedy, it can be delightful and I can appreciate that. But when the story being told is realistic in intention, this kind of language play becomes stilted and detracts from the story telling. In poetry, the question is a bit more complicated because the terse nature of poetry renders basically everything clever. Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, for example, is a long litany of clever phrases to paint an emotional picture. This is delightful and poignant. Poetry almost has to be cleverly worded to be effective. Where it crosses the line, in poetry, for me, is when the poet uses a gimmick to lay out the portrait. Cheap rhymes are a good example of this, particularly in the lyric format, where making the rhyme becomes more important than the denotation. Overextending a weak metaphor, repetitive line structure, or, worst of all, setting up a play on words all become a gimmick. The author isn’t trying to convey an emotion, paint a picture or tell a story. They’re trying to be clever. I don’t have time for that. There are authors who write so well that I forgive all levels of cleverness. Nabokov, probably because he is not writing in his native tongue, has a tendency to be too clever. If he didn’t write so well, I would object. But he does so I don’t.
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Novel recommendations

Originally posted on Journals of Lord Malinov:

hush-syrup asked: What are ten of your favorite novels? What are ten works you think everybody (intelligent) should read? Who are ten of your favorite underrated authors?

This is a tough one. No matter what I put down, I’ll think of more later. Putting them in proper categories will take time – here’s the first draft of important works.

Some of my favorites:

Moby Dick – Melville – for me, this novel is the foundation of all modern literature, so I reread it constantly. When I can’t sleep, I pick a random chapter and listen to the audiobook.

Lolita – Nabokov – what happens when Moby Dick is rewritten perversely

Pale Fire – Nabokov – the best novel yet written, at least until my new novel is finished

Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Hardy – I named my daughter Tess. Honestly, any Hardy would do equally well.

Sons & Lovers…

View original 372 more words

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Song of Songs – the verse draft

The complete and printed verse draft of my novel

The complete and printed verse draft of my novel

690 pages, 20,000 lines

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Song of Song – verse draft completed

And so ends the verse draft portion of my writing process for my new novel, Song of Songs. I will print the 690 pages I’ve written and rearrange them appropriately before I begin drafting the final prose version. I will probably post some of the prose, but not as much as I have of the poetry.  Thanks for listening and stay tuned.

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Song of Songs – extract 690 – work in progress

690
I put away my notebook, took off
My pirates shirt, laid my image aside
No longer posing as a romantic singer
I try to hide my feelings but they seem to show
Lay aside the mantle of my office
Rest my thoughts, close my eyes
Silver hair, ragged shirt, baggy pants
Putting away the music, finally
Letting go of the tensions, freed
Of all those years of struggles
The silver moonlight shining through
A big dog moves behind her silently
Sends a shriek of surprised laughter
Echoing through the quiet home
Reminding us of the tomorrows to come
Days spent working, nights given
To the relaxations and memories
Of stories we’d begun long ago
When our time was fought for
When our lives were held hostage
The dawn loomed soon against
The unfolding dramas, prepared
To let us go, some people are made of wood
I put down my pen, picked up a book
Let the poetry lull me to sleep
Silver in my arms, enclosed
In a feeling of belonging and escaping
The world of torments, crazy cast
Put to bed, laid to rest

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