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Showing posts from June, 2013

The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis

Jorge Luis Borges wrote summary abstracts of novels that don't exist.

Samuel Beckett wrote novel-abstracts that do.

Lydia Davis writes abstracts of an abstract's abstract. Some push ten to fifteen pages, and can be good, like "Thyroid Diary".  Anybody who's ever had thyroid issues will particularly enjoy it.  If only the bulk of her stories were that long and that good.  But most average one to two pages, and are not very good, if occasionally clever and mildly amusing they be -- the way Bob Sagethosting America's Funniest Home Videos was clever and mildly amusing.  "Mown Lawn" is moderately amusing and linguistically clever, but it's an exception to the rule in her collected stories.  Many of her "stories" are paragraphs.  Quite a few are single sentences, single lines.  Lydia Davis is a molecular scientist of a writer conducting experiments at the sub-atomic level of prose.  She's too minimal to be a minimalist, and too miniscul…

Past the Point of Rubicon Beach by Steve Erickson

Tomorrow night, I fell asleep after an evening reading Pablo Neruda, William Faulkner, Carson McCullers, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Philip K. Dick and Charles Baudelaire, among others.  Others like the little remembered James Branch Cabell.  I'm not saying they put me to sleep.  I'm saying I'd been up for decades that evening, reading them.  When I did finally fall asleep, I dreamnt about Rubicon Beach by Steve Erickson.

They escaped into what I did not know (or is it do not know now?) how to describe except to say it was a disembodied window, its off-white frame set into the cobalt stucco sky.  Ink residue, left by lines and paragraphs, misted in the salty air.  A train that could not possibly exist here, just as impossibly as the window, occupied the tunnel through the Giant Oak on rails that disappeared in offshore fog.  I think I lived there, in a residence built into the Giant Oak, itself built above the bar, three stories above the tunnel. Story One was a strange libra…

Relentless: The Memoir by Yngwie J. Malmsteen

The most intriguing parts of Yngwie J. Malmsteen's new memoir, Relentless, are his childhood and adolescence accounts of his musical maturation in Sweden.  Like most artistic geniuses, he was completely obsessed early on.  He'd forget to eat he was so consumed with his guitar.  When he saw Jimi Hendrix set fire to his stratocaster on one of the two television channels he could watch in Stockholm, he was hooked.  When he heard Deep Purple's Fireball album a year later, he was ablaze himself with an inimitable passion for the electric guitar that could keep him awake all night without the aid of amphetamines.  Had it not been for his mother's sacrifices and interest in classical music, Yngwie might have been just another dime-a-dozen hard rock guitarist to arrive on the scene in the early 1980s, soon to disappear.  But he listened repeatedly to his Mom's and older sister's records, and then one day he chanced on one of those two television channels, a documentar…