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74. Leonce and Lena/Lenz/Woyzeck
75. The Essential Marvell
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71. Ivanov, Stoppard's adaptation
72. Andromache, tr. Wilbur
73. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

I'd never read the latter before - can you believe that? I think because I assumed I already knew the story. I've been reading Julie to sleep with it, though, and it occurs to me that if someone were to read it aloud but with the two names changed to something else (and dropping the lawyer's pun about being Mr. Seek) it would take quite a while for someone who hadn't read it to realize what story it was. I mean, maybe they'd have it by halfway through, but it would restore a large dose of what it once must have been. As it is, it's a strange sort of reading experience, reminding me of Denzel Washington driving in two time periods in Deja Vu, where you at once can't help knowing and seeing what the knowing see, while trying to reconstruct what the unknowing would have, since it's primarily, and ingeniously, made for them.

And I'd only ever read Stevenson's poems before this - can you believe that either? So this was my first experience of, well, Stevenson, deep favorite of Borges, Calvino, Crowley. And D.H. Lawrence, for that matter. He is a damn fine writer, is my first impression; a lot of those 19th century people astonish with their sensitive way with prose - poetry has a reputation for sensitivity but it's really for doing one intense thing at a time, then perhaps intensely switching to another intensity. But prose of this kind somehow takes on several spins, several flavors all at once, then enters subtly into new ones.

A couple examples; the first anticipating Kafka on the Devil and devils:

With every day, and from both sides of my intelligence, the moral and the intellectual, I thus drew steadily nearer to that truth, by whose partial discovery I have been doomed to such a dreadful shipwreck: that man is not truly one, but truly two. I say two, because the state of my own knowledge does not pass beyond that point. Others will follow, others will outstrip me on the same lines; and I hazard the guess that man will be ultimately known for a mere polity of multifarious, incongruous and independent denizens.

Which also anticipates Little, Big, especially combined with this:

He had now seen the full deformity of that creature that shared with him some of the phenomena of consciousness, and was co-heir with him to death: and beyond these links of community, which in themselves made the most poignant part of his distress, he thought of Hyde, for all his energy of life, as of something not only hellish but inorganic. This was the shocking thing; that the slime of the pit seemed to utter cries and voices; that the amorphous dust gesticulated and sinned; that what was dead, and had no shape, should usurp the offices of life. And this again, that that insurgent horror was knit to him closer than a wife, closer than an eye; lay caged in his flesh, where he heard it mutter and felt it struggle to be born; and at every hour of weakness, and in the confidence of slumber, prevailed against him, and deposed him out of life.

Excluding the element of pure evil; but including that of a secret little man.
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61. Emily Dickinson (Everyman Poetry)
62. Letter to a Christian Nation
63. The Moral Landscape
64. The Blue Octavo Notebooks
65. Parables and Paradoxes
66. King Lear
67. The Tempest
68. A Boy's Will
69. Three Sisters (Mamet adaptation)
70. Complete Short Novels, Chekhov

The Frost is too lame to leave on there by itself, though I've seen it reprinted separately. I wish I'd bought that when I had a chance, actually: it was a beautiful set of exact facsimiles of his first two or three books. Something like five dollars for all of them, which I guess seemed like far too much for presentation at the time, unable as I was to foresee a day I'd make dumb promises to myself that having lots of short books around would help me fulfill (to my own satisfaction). I'll feel like a cheater if I won't have managed to get through 75 discrete books.

I really love his earliest poems, written before he achieved his rather guarded, characteristic mastery. Actually I love his late poems too. With your favorites you often like what happened to them, like what their whole lives end up looking like. Which they probably didn't themselves. He was already himself enough that the title is an irony. Well, nearly everything in the book is an irony. But it's not a double, triple irony, so it's not quite yet Robert Frost.

(It's not that I've been ignoring suggestions, but I can't yet get a library membership of my own and used bookstores suck in this stretch of suburbs. Bernhard and Pavic, who I own nothing at all by, are on Christmas lists.)
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54. The Catcher in the Rye
55. Cold Mountain (Han-shan)
56. Till I End My Song
57. Tale of the Unknown Island
58. Borges at 80
59. Poems from Giacomo Leopardi, Heath-Stubbs
60. Conversation Hearts

I wasn't trying to cheat with the Saramago, my wife just asked me to read it to her since she'd somehow missed it. With the Crowley I probably was trying to cheat, but it turns out it's a good little book.

To make 75, which I really want to (shut up, my life sucks), I'll have to read a book almost every two days. Watch me just read the paperback edition of Twain's "War Prayer" fifteen times on New Year's Eve.

I think I've been enjoying Achewood, which I'd never taken a serious look at, more than any of those seven. It starts out unpromisingly, but by the mid-2000s it's as good as c. 1950 Pogo. And one of the many things the two have in common is that rise from unpromisingness, that Shakespeare-style arc from doing crowd-oriented work for pay in some new, little-respected branch of art to finding you can please very much to finding you can please while standing on your head to finding in your art you can stand any which way while others stand just one to finding out how strange a thing it is to stand at all. Not that he'll go further like Shakespeare, he'll lapse like Kelly if he hasn't already - I have a few months of 2010 to go. But it's been wonderful to see.

Guess I'll again pick up some of the books I read some significant portion of but then abandoned this last year or so, including but not limited to Chekhov's Complete Short Novels, The Idiot, The Poems of Li Po, Eugene Onegin, The Year of the Death of Ricardo Reis, Wise Blood, The Turn of the Screw, Pierre, Moby-Dick, The Gospel of Jesus Christ, Pride and Prejudice, The Trial, The Scarlet Letter, Vanishing Point, The Great Gatsby, The Blue Octavo Notebooks, Amerika, Don Juan, Childe Harold's Pilgrimage, Shelley's Poems, Whitman's Selected Poems, Dickinson's Selected Poems, Walden, Three Tales, Four Freedoms, In Other Words, The Cave, The Selfish Gene, Tender Is the Night, Invisible Man, Adventures of Master F.J., The Temple, Ralegh's Poems, Marlowe's Poems, [Bloom's] Romantic Poetry (two volumes), Best Poems of the English Language, In Our Time, Gravity's Rainbow, Inherent Vice, The Box Man, Purgatorio, The Lost Steps, Eros the Bittersweet, Shakespeare's Sonnets, Shakespeare's Narrative Poems, Crumb's Kafka, Brod's Kafka, Astrophel and Stella, Amoretti, On Love, Lucien Leuwen, Saramago's Blog, Lermontov's Poems, ABBA ABBA, Preambles, Kafka's Parables, The Name of the World, Six Memos for the Next Millennium, Numbers in the Dark, Cosmicomics, T Zero, Difficult Loves, If on a Winter's Night a Traveler (second time this year), Jesus' Son (second time too), Savage Detectives, Hamburger's Buchner, An Ordinary Evening in Buenos Aires, Nine Stories, Dialogues with Leuco, Hard Labor, Galassi's Canti, Chekhov's Later Stories, St. Peter's Day, First Love, Holmes' Footsteps, Chekhov's Letters, Byron's Letters and Prose (various volumes), His [Byron's] Very Self and Voice, Keats' Letters, Kafka's Diaries, Emerson's Journals, Emerson's Essays, Trelawney's Recollections. [Also Breaking the Spell, Verses and Versions and Davenport's Hunter Gracchus.]

About 75 of those. Madness.
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29. On Writing, Borges
30. Henry 4, Pirandello/Stoppard
31. Macbeth, Shakespeare
32. Jesus' Son, Denis Johnson

Good book. The movie was great, and this was better. The phrases on that guy.

33. Eclogues, Virgil/Ferry
34. Selected Poems, Coleridge
35. Lyrical Ballads, Wordsworth/Coleridge
36. The Essential Keats
37. The Ruined Cottage et al., Wordsworth
38. The Essential Blake
39. The Wind and the Rain, ed. Bloom/Hollander
40. The Essential Byron
41. The Two Part Prelude et al., Wordsworth
42. The Essential Wordsworth, ed. Heaney

Heaney's Introduction is quite fine--Wordsworth's hard to summarize. His project was so strange but so very... And he fucked it up, sure, but it's clearly the project, and who else can you say that about. The short, 1000-line Prelude is startlingly great every time, for those of you who don't already know that.
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13. Kafka on the Shore, Haruki Murakami
14. Autobiography of Red, Anne Carson
15. Poems of the Night, Jorge Luis Borges
16. The Sonnets, Borges
17. Seven Conversations with Jorge Luis Borges
18. Selected Poems (1999), Borges
19. A Doll's House, Henrik Ibsen
20. Ficciones, Borges
21. Introduction to American Literature, Borges
22. Introduction to English Literature, Borges
23. Conversations (Ed. Burgin), Borges
24. On Argentina, Borges
25. All the Pretty Horses, Cormac McCarthy
26. All the Names, Jose Saramago
27. On Mysticism, Borges
28. The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ, Philip Pullman

Probably shouldn't count On Mysticism, as it only contains about 15 pages of new material so that's all I read of it. On Argentina was about half new, mostly taken from the long-suppressed prose of his 20s, and pretty interesting, though the translation was garbly at times--allegedly Borges' early, baroque-modernist Spanish is practically impenetrable.

The Pullman book's pretty interesting too. The message is simple enough, but the task of keeping it feeling organic to the original material is occasionally beyond him--though there's an impressively high number of striking felicities in among the march of overall (relative, honorable) failure at a pretty much impossible job that I'm becoming used to with him.

Actually, here especially it's truly bizarre that the fusion of old text and new commentary works as well as it does, kind of reminding me of Taymor's success with Titus, a reading which you'd think would be entirely against the grain of the material it's working with, and in fact in places proves to be, but in others feels so astonishingly right that some sympathetic vein or countercurrent in the original must truly exist for that to even happen. The real Shakespeare hates violence, the real Jesus agrees with Pullman. Except at other times not.

The Saramago, which I'd taken several aborted stabs at over the years, proved amazing and mysterious. I grasped only some of what he's saying but became enthralled anyway, an experience I've become unused to but which probably characterized much of the reading of my younger days. Even in the many places where I probably do know what he's saying I don't feel sure I do, because he's coming in from some original, dream-guided angle--probably a lesson for Pullman, if this sort of thing can even be taught. I'll be reading more of him.

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