Monday, December 05, 2005

the stack

I have slipped into reviewing again. Rosmarie Waldrop's Dissonance (if you are interested) and Mark Ford's A Driftwood Altar - the titles are quotations from, respectively, WCW and Ashbery. I misremembered Ford's book as "rushlight altar", then (homing in) "brushwood altar".

With new books, I do love them, but I'm like a tern after 9 months at sea. Mind your eyes. If I ever wrote a review after only a few days, it would try to demolish everything, it would be irritated and completely impercipient, consisting only of sniping remarks. I don't have a single thing to say about these books right now. I've only read them. Or what I know is something else, something I don't want to put in a review. I'm at the stage when you've just seen a film and someone says "well what did you think?" and you're so irritated and still caught up in it that all you want to say is "yeah it was all right", anything so he just shut the fuck up.

Brushwood I think must have come from Kipling's "Brushwood Boy". Last week I found an odd selection of his stories (odd, yes of course they are, but I mean that the selection was odd and it therefore contained lots of stories I hadn't read) and I'd probably be sweating inside these sensational clothes if it wasn't for the dutiful task. But the dutiful task has also dragged in quite a lot of side-reading as you can imagine. Apart from lots of relevant BigName poems with which I will (or may) later pretend a familiarity, I've trawled the web for other work by the authors - hundreds of pages of Waldrop and, (much more fiercely guarded), just a single poem of 12 lines by Ford.

Thus Kipling remains stalled on the "to be continued (theoretically)" pile along with the Spanish magazines, Swedish magazines from last summer, Cuban novel from Malta 2002, Whitman, Wilkie Collins, Tibullus, various naturalist books, history of tea, various Scandinavian poets, Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, Balzac, Rimbaud, James M. Cain, Campion, Drew Milne, Descartes, well, just Etc, hundreds of pages of things I printed off the internet thinking I'd read them some day, translations half done or barely begun, ... and going back twenty years, the slightly more yellowed pages of all the photocopies of all the hard-to-come-by library books (mostly medieval texts) that I once got a thrill from stealing but have never read. Down the bottom of the stack it's infinitely depressing, like being my own executor. We won't walk down here again, or finish the photo albums, or catalogue our love-gifts, or write memoirs. Let's get out of here, put up the Christmas lights! Let's cook a meal!

This seems like a perfectly reasonable diary entry but I'm fooled every time. I think I'll never happen to see or meet or find or run across anything new ever again, and tonight or tomorrow that's just what will happen; the shiny sleeves of today sink down with exotically coloured Kipling, just a little way down, into the big white film of shed skin and misty-lensed yellowing year-spotted stack.

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