Three weeks back I tried to type up an end-of-the-year post as usual, summarizing my year in reading. No sooner had I written the essential of it, or at least drawn up the list of 7 or so titles, than I thought, what’s the use. I didn’t read very many extraordinary books this year. I will only mention three: Pope Joan (1866) by Emmanuel Royidis (trans. Lawrence Durrell), Amygdalatropolis (2017) by B.R. Yeager, and Angel in the Forest (1945) by Marguerite Young. I’ve written a little about all of them in various places. I trust curious readers can inform themselves whether or not those titles might suit their taste.
In 2017, not very much activity here at bibliomanic, as far as I can tell. I published 40 posts, 11 of which were monthly reading logs, 6 of which were just photos, while the rest were just tiny squibs, little jottings — nothing much of substance, then. A post with some basic information on Réjean Ducharme. And apart from translations and the introductions I’ve written introducing them, nothing much published elsewhere.
Here is the translation work, some with introductions:
- Véronique Côté and Steve Gagnon. “Dishes.” I Never Talk About It. Quebec Fiction, fall 2017.
- Pierre Senges. Paris Seen from the Centre. Podcast being produced by the Centre Pompidou, 2017-2018.
- Pierre Senges. Monster Rhapsody. Play for radio. Radio France, brochure. Spring 2017.
- Pierre Senges. Excerpts from Etudes de silhouettes. Hotel #3. Aug 2017.
- Pierre Senges. The Author Viewed from Below. Music & Literature #8. Fall 2017.
- Pierre Senges. Undertaking and Renunciation. Prodigal Lit Mag. May 2017.
- Pierre Senges. On the Electrophorus and the Tohu-Bohu. Gorse Journal #7. Jan 2017.
Apart from this translation work, in early 2018, I have a recently completed 10,000-word article on the life and work of Paul Metcalf being published in the annual Scribners American Writers supplement series. I’m very happy about that, though plagued in mind by the usual misgivings as to language, quality, coherence, and so on. I think it’s a very strong piece of writing but I can’t tell. It’s done at least. I’m not yet sure how widely available or easy to access it will be to interested parties, but that’s really none of my business.
I intended to review one book this year, Debths by Susan Howe, but I decided I don’t actually want to review it for a handful of reasons. Vexed maybe. And I remained this year a Twitter junky, despite my very ample misgivings. Could be part of my problem, though it also keeps me in touch with a few dozen like-minded aesthetes scattered across the globe, which I think is wondrous.
In terms of visitors, bibliomanic remained more or less the place it’s always been. Some of the top posts were as follows: the squib Jefferson’s Swivel Chair from years ago got 287 unique pageviews, Joseph McElroy’s bookshelf got 174 views, and Adopting Paul Metcalf got about 100 views. On the Major Refutation got 124 views, and A Pierre Senges miscellany got 94 views.
I’m grateful for the friendships and acquaintances I’ve made here and on Twitter. The world would be a lonelier place without you. May the New Year hold more of the same. Best wishes to you and yours, and hope to see you here more in 2018.
I’m not sure exactly when or how, but my attitude towards Twitter & online culture more generally has gradually been shifting. Whereas I used to be very active on Twitter and read around on the web quite a lot, whether literary stuff or just news stories, I now can’t sift through my Twitter feed or the home page of (hardly any) websites without an overwhelming feeling of dejection. (Or take your pick: disengagement, disaffection, disgust, sadness, alienation, acedia, abulia… sloth.) So much the better, right? — this has been a long time in the making, now it will be so much easier to shuffle off those old habits, which have been destroying my focus & discipline for years now. The number of hours I wasted on the Internet, on Twitter… incalculable.
I don’t know what is happening with me, &, dear reader, I don’t know what kind of blog this is either. In the interest of consistency I’ve tried to refrain from posting much in the way of my personal life — I’m quite guarded about that – but why? is it to protect myself? my loved ones? — and I’ve tried to make this a blog almost exclusively about literature and reading. But this no longer feels tenable to me. It’s not necessarily that I have anything a priori to say, some kind of intimate confession to make, or any kind of deliberate message at all — I don’t. The truth is that I’m disgruntled, & tired of my long silence. And the great thing about blogs is that they make possible the communication, more or less direct, of individuals with other individuals, without the intermediary of publishers, bookstores, book distributors, mail carriers, etc.
I said that I was leaving Twitter. Good. It was a great place to share thoughts with several dozen like-minded aesthetes, scattered around the globe, and I’m a little sad to leave it for that reason. Oh well.
What’s next, I do not know. Only that I have to be a little less guarded — less renitent, less inclined to police my thoughts before I publish them, here or elsewhere. No longer worry so much about the way I might appear refracted through the medium. Here’s to what’s ahead.
At present I’m pretty overwhelmed with revising a book-length translation and some commercial copywriting. I thus find an inordinate amount of solace in paying visits to my neighbors in the backyard, much to the chagrin, I suppose, of mother sparrow. I think she knows we’re gentle giants, though.
Just yesterday they were wee little things, and before a fortnight they’ll be leaving home. Tempus fugit, yes — so, the little things.
I’ve added to the links in the sidebar and organized them by type. In particular check out some of these fantastic, free audio resources:
In almost every case, the archive/repository is vast, almost overwhelmingly so. Particularly so with Michael Silverblatt’s excellent show Bookworm — the archived episodes go all the way back to early 90s, with high-quality recorded conversations with Norman Mailer, Don Delillo, Toni Morrison, Susan Sontag, W.G. Sebald Laszlo Kraznahorkai, Rick Moody, Will Self, David Foster Wallace, you name it, it’s there, on and on and on to no end.
If I go blind, I’ll be relying on these.
If you’re a returning visitor, you’ll notice a pretty big change in the appearance of this site, as of last night. I worked with graphic designer Sasha Endoh to settle on the current appearance, and I’m very thankful to her for putting in the time. She does great design work, and if you need a site revamp she just might be one of the best people out there who could help you get there. I hope you like the site’s new look!
Since I migrated Bibliomanic away from Wordpress.com, I have the pleasure of relentless spam comments, none of which I approve. Nevertheless, many are a laugh riot. This blog would be a funnier publication if I let a few of the good ones slip through. Thus, see here:
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Let me say at the outset that this is not a book I intend to read soon in its entirety. The Anatomy of Bibliomania is extraordinary for above all the jocular, ribald hilarity of its table of contents. There are subsections on such topics as: “anti-bibliokleptic measures”; “books bound in human skin”; “bibliopegic dandyism”; and on the “belligerent usefulness” of books. Whole chapters are dedicated to: “book-drinkers”; “bibliophagi or book-eaters”; grangeritis; “the cure of bibliomania” (subsection 1: “whether it is curable or not”; 3: “Bibliophilia is the only remedy”).