Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Reading Log

Dec 25, 2009 01:27AM
Finished British poet George Granville Barker's The Dead Seagull, a fictionalized account of the beginning of his long on/off love affair with the Canadian poet Elizabeth Smart. The writing is very highly wrought, dense with symbolism and imagery from classical mythology and Barker's Roman Catholic roots. Intense, stormy, and romantic, it's simultaneously elevated and tawdry, I enjoyed it a lot. Now reading a sequence of prose poems by Daryl Scroggins: The Game of Kings.

Dec 25, 2009 10:56PM
Really, really liked Scroggins' The Game of Kings. And the eight page interview with the author at the back of the book is just as absorbing as the fictional content. This writer from Dallas combines tremendous imagination with great subtlty and fascinating word choices and sentence structure. I don't really know what qualifies this as "prose poems" rather than just prose, perhaps it's the compression of so much being said in so few words but I admire it all the same. What a shame there is so little of Scroggins' fiction writing in print.


Dec 28, 2009 02:54AM
Now reading Mac Wellman's story collection A Chronicle of the Madness of Small Worlds. Wellman is far better known for his award winning plays than for his fiction writing though he also has three novels to his credit. The stories is this book display wildly antic and absurdist flights of fancy reminiscent Gombrowicz's Ferdydurke or Flann O'Brien's The Third Policeman. The settings are various small planetoids in the asteroid belt which are inhabited by some very peculiar human type characters who say and do some very peculiar things. Clever neologisms abound and it's all some pretty far out stuff but Wellman, for the most part, succeeds with his verbal highwire act. It's quite fun. Also reading Barthelme's Amateurs and am struck by the purely comedic aims of many of these stories as opposed to structural and linguistic experimentalism in so much of the other collections. "Some of Us Had Been Threatening" and "What to Do Next" were, I thought, especially brilliant examples from what I've read so far.

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