Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Too Much Information - Some Books and Quotes

Apart from my feet (which are slightly better thanks to new medication and new shoes) and my oesophagitis, my arse has been giving me grief. I have had fissures before, absolutely the worst pain ever, apart from my kidney stones, and I mentioned the horrible effects of a bladder infection a while ago as well. Now it is just this problematic stuff which has me in the dunny three of four times a day...

The reason I am telling you this extremely personal and disturbing information is that I came across the following line whilst reading Robert Coover's Pynchonesque (or is Pynchon Coover-esque? - I think Coover may be a better novelist actually!) novel Pinocchio In Venice and it had me laughing my problematic arse off:

- "El tempo, el culo e el siori / I fa quel che i vol lori" - Time, one's arse and the moneyed few / All just do what they want to do."

Oh so true... My arse is currently doing what it wants, that's for sure. Irritating Arse Syndrome.

This book by the way is an amazing pastiche of reborn cliches and verbal pyrotechnics, as the elderly Pinocchio falls into decline after a masterful academic career (two time Nobel Prize winner!), slowly turning back into wood in a nightmarish Venice winter of talking animals, puppets and statues. I had read "Pricksongs and Descants" 30 odd years ago, but was not ready for Coover at that time. I'm definitely chasing up more now, but he's hard to find in Singapore. I found this one in a second-hand store in Chiang Mai.


Changing the subject from my arse, another amusing quote is from the brilliant Patricia Dunker's first novel Hallucinating Foucalt from 1995. So far it's great, rather conventional compared to Coover, but what isn't? Duncker is obviously exceptionally smart, inventive (and well-read), in this book about biography and writers.

The narrator's girlfriend's gay father is wolfing down a huge and unhealthy meal:

- He was clearly fearless in the face of cholesterol.

Another great line! I was wolfing down those Portuguese custard tarts like there was no tomorrow myself - six over the course of the long weekend. When I lived in Hong Kong for six years and being aware of their dangers I doubt that I had eaten that many.

A serious quote I liked from this book is also a quote from Verdi's Don Carlos, I believe (bit of work to find this, but thanks Wikipedia), given by the girlfriend (a scholar of Schiller) in German (though the opera was originally in French!). Rodrigo, Marquis of Posa says to King Philip II:

- So geben sie gedankenfreiheit. (Give us freedom of thought.)

I'm thinking of sending the book (or the libretto of the opera) to a certain Singaporean Minister Mentor.


From the next writer I have been reading a bit of lately I have no quotes to hand, but if you love completely unreliable narrators weaving great plots you can't trust, from imaginary islands to a "what if" story (or two) of World War II (you'll hate Churchill even more than you currently do), then Christopher Priest is your only man.

I've read "The Prestige" (yes, the slightly disappointing [I read the book first] Christopher Nolan movie with Huge Ackman and Christian Bale), "The Separation" (the WWII one), and "The Affirmation" (which introduces his concept of The Dream Archipelago). Don't believe everything the narrators tell you in these books, but believe me, they are exceptionally good.

Priest is obviously one of the allegedly "Sci-Fi" writers whose speculative works border on the mainstream novel. They are often set in what seems like the real world but they have elements of dream-like imaginations and some unconventional or imaginary science in them. Like Anna Kavan's more experimental stuff, this would nicely fit into that Slipstream stuff which was proposed as a genre for books that transcend genres.



anthony said...

Basically, you travel. You read. You blog.

Do you ever work? ;-)

DanPloy said...

'Irritating Arse Syndrome'

Exactly how I described my Philips' managers during my HR review.

expat@large said...

Anthony: can't respond, reading the paper.

Dan: me too.

dibabear said...

"Irritating Arse Syndrome" sounds like my ex-wife.

savannah said...

better than pynchon? damn, sherlock, i have to check this guy out! after i watch a movie...(i'm sure you can guess which one) xoxoxox

(i'll email you my latest/hellish medical saga soon!)

Dick Headley said...

I was quite disappointed with Pynchon's latest 'Inherent Vice'...lots of druggy rambling and/or attempts to recapture those heady hippy days. Hope that helps.

Unknown said...

Here's a quote for you. I like to think that I made it up, but I probably heard it somewhere. I think that I should write a book and include the line somewhere.
His face was unmarked by the ravages of intelligence

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