Monday, February 11, 2008

I have a pile of un-read books this high...

Yada yada yada I've heard it all before love. That does not mean you should not buy this massive John Cowper Powys book I am waving at you and it certainly means there is no escape from Denis Johnson...


Well this weekend I was foxed for a book to read. I was planning to revisit Raymond Carver's What We Talk About When We Talk About Love but when I couldn't find it on my bookshelves. Must have lent it to someone at some point - the fate of many a good book.

So what do I do? I find something I have on the shelf but have never read and take it into the sunny garden. (In Feb? What the *u*k?) The book in question was Denis Johnson's The Name of the World. It is quite brilliant and possibly one of the most powerful and disturbing novels I have read despite being a mere 130 pages long. Now I need to talk about it with someone. But luckily Dr Rick should be in some time this week and I'm sure our usual free consultation will take place.

What is it about words eh? And names? So hard and small and definite and so totally unable to cope with the morass of human consciousness...

What do we talk about when we talk about love? What is the name of the world? What world? Does it matter or should we just ride this crazy century into the sky?


  1. my pile's so high it's in two rooms! I'm six weeks into a self-imposed book buying ban as a result.

    It is difficult: all these books to read, the prospect of dealing with 600+ pages of Denis Johnson (t'other book you've been touting, which *does* sound great, a lot of people say so too) seems silly given how much other stuff there is to get through.

    I read an article somewhere that included a comment about an old man who had a garage full of junk, all sorts of projects that he was going to get to 'one day'.

    When he died his widow said something like "silly man, he really did think he'd live forever", which is to say that that he kept on taking on more and more of these projects that everyone but him realised he'd never get to.

    Perhaps that was part of the fun, accumulating things that would guard against future boredom.

    I think there's a lot of that in book buying. But equally, you have to keep a decent turnover going to justify buying more of the things.


  2. In Ikea terms I reckon I read around 1 billy shelf per year but I add more than 1 Billy unit every two years. That would make a fantastic unread ratio so perhaps I read more than I think I do. Certainly I can usually find something good to read when I need to.

    A linked question that gets an occasional airing is reading speed. John Crace (writes the Digested Read in the Guardian)recently claimed to read at 60 pages a minute. I seem to daydream along at around 30. I must buck up.

    No call to threaten customers with John Cowper Powys though. What were you recommending? I read Wolf Solent a couple of years ago. Every time I picked it up I thought he was a superb writer and then within a few pages I was gritting my teeth at the profundity of it all or at some character's bizarre tics. It didnt stop me from adding A Glastonbury Romance to my shelves though.

  3. Any Cowper Powys will do. He is a deeply unfashionable writer but I do find his vision weirdly affecting...

    Ever talked to a tree? If so, JCP is for you!

  4. The publishers even make the bookshelves break by making it using hard binding and thick paper. I had to spen £££ to get a good rack to hold my books.. Why don't people start making the books with lightweight paper.
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