I haven’t written in a while and thought I’d check in. I read Dracula along with everybody else but didn’t blog a whole lot of it. Everybody I was reading (admittedly not so many people) seemed to undertake it kind of half-heartedly. Here’s hoping that the upcoming read of 2666 will have a bit more life. I secretly suspect that it takes a book as full of heart and truth and pain and sadness of the sort most of us can identify with on some level to provoke the sort of reaction the initial installment of Infinite Summer did. Guess we’ll see whether or not 2666 is such a book. I predict that it’ll provoke a lot more discussion than Dracula did but that it’ll lack the sort of emotional intensity that Infinite Jest had for many. I read 2666 shortly after it was released in English and so don’t anticipate taking it on again so soon, though I may lob the occasional comment out there (precisely what I said about the Infinite Jest read, by the way). After reading 2666, I got The Savage Detectives, which I had heard was even better, but I put it down 200 pages from the end, after suffering through lots of repetition and boredom. I haven’t reshelved it altogether just yet, but I think it’ll be a while before I pick it back up. In the lead-up to 2666, I sort of hope to hear some people chime in about Bolano’s other work.
Speaking of which, he’s got some fragments in this month’s Harper’s from an upcoming book, Antwerp, and had a few poems in Poetry in November 2008. If you want Bolano online, Matt Bucher, of wallace-l fame and publisher of Greg Carlisle’s Elegant Complexity, maintains a Bolano blog and the very low volume bolano-l mailing list.
On November 20, I went to New York to attend the Footnotes conference on new directions in David Foster Wallace’s work. It was very cool, and I wish I hadn’t been so tired from travel that I literally nodded my way through a bunch of very interesting papers. I met Infinite Summer bloggers Ray Gunn, Pete Mandik, and @naptimewriting, along with Matt Bucher and Nick Maniatis, who made guest appearances at the Infinite Summer mothership. Here’s hoping more of these conferences spring up (and ones a little closer to home for me).
I read Pynchon’s Vineland in the last few weeks. Loved it at first but got distracted and loved it less as it went on. It wasn’t terribly hard, and it felt like Pynchon, but I didn’t think they payoff was that great. Since it wasn’t terribly hard or long, I don’t regret the time I spent on it. Last night, I started reading Barth’s Chimera, and it’s so far delightful. I started Look Homeward Angel a couple of months ago but have put it aside for now. It was pretty engaging, but I’m just not in the mood. What’re you reading? Will you be doing 2666? If so, do you want to write here? Current zombies, please speak up, so that I can include you among any potential bloggers and not overpopulate the space.