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Saturday, November 24, 2007

Nightstand! Of! STEEL!!!

Look, I've already said this to two people tonight, so I'm going to post it here, and I won't have to repeat it again: No, I have not read the Alex Ross book. I'm sure it's great. I know everyone's read it but me. I can't wait to pick it up. But I have not even bought a copy, and I will not buy a copy until I have finished reading Now, Voyagers by James McCourt (of Queer Street fame). If you haven't heard, Now, Voyagers is the sequel to Mawrdew Czgowchwz, the opera-queen novel as unpronounceable as it is indispensible. (Actually, it's pronounced "Mardu Gorgeous," so maybe just call it "the opera-queen novel" and we'll leave it at that.) If you are a faggot, like myself, and care enough about classical music to be reading this blog, you should probably be reading Mawrdew Czgowchwz right now instead of anything I have to say. And even if you are just a homo and do not care about classical music in the slightest, and have stumbled across this website through one of those crazy internet accidents, you should definitely be reading Queer Street instead of anything I have to say, because that book is the user's manual that they should have handed out with your homosexuality. Anyhow, I've only read the first few, insane pages of Now, Voyagers, because I've decided I'm not going to start reading it in earnest until I finish War and Peace. Yeah, you heard me. See, I've never read it, and here it is in this new translation from Pevear and Volokhonsky, our two most faithful guides to Russian literature, and check out how beautiful, just to look at! Now take off the dust jacket--still beautiful! Gorgeous. I smile to see it on my shelf. And there it sits. Because of course, before I even start in on War and Peace, I'd better finish reading Sodom and Gomorrah, because otherwise that would be one enormous novel too many--Sodom and Peace, War and Gomorrah, I'd get it all mixed up. But I've taken a short break from Sodom and Gomorrah to read La Colmena (The Hive), an astonishingly vicious novel of life after the Spanish Civil War by Nobel-laureate Camilo José Cela. Cela was an interesting character: a nobleman, an officer and, later, spy for Franco (betraying his fellow writers to the Fascist government), he was also famous for having claimed, in a televised interview, to be able to take a liter of water into his body through his asshole. (He offered to demonstrate for the cameras.) This translation is terrible, though, and so I've stopped reading it except as a crib to the original Spanish, which I'm reading in a beautiful scholarly edition, except that I've paused to read the most charming little thing: You're an Animal, Viskovitz! by Alessandro Boffa. A novel, kind of, it tells the story of Viskovitz, everyschlemiel, as his soul wanders from beast to beast--snail, dung beetle, chameleon, elk, parrot--looking for love. I hate to say, "Think blank meets blank," but maybe it'll help if I tell you to think, What if Woody Allen wrote Invisible Cities? Not as deep as Calvino maybe, not as funny as Allen at his best, but still a terrifically funny, insightful, remarkably sustained performance. Each chapter is a self-contained fable on the animal in man (and woman). And look, Roz Chast did the cover! It's great! You love her! Yeah, you'd better read this book, too. Anyhow, I'm delighted to add Alex Ross to the list. I'm just sayin', it might take a while. Bear with me, people.

2 comments:

Grrg said...

Now Voyagers is really good. It's also sloppy and irritating and incomprehensible at times, but seriously... I'm going to keep bugging you all the while you're slogging through Proust and Tolstoy.

Maury D'annato said...

For some reason the thought that Now, Voyagers is going to be compulsory reading is making me want to curl up in a nice hot bath with the toaster. The truth is, I loved Mawrdew right up through the "high a flat the color of the core of the sun" moment in the Traviata debut scene, then realized with a dull kind of pain in my soul that there were like 200 pages left and only made it through those by force of will.