What're you readin'


reading reviews of this book is making me dislike either the book or most people

anyways book has a good story, can recommend


then it’s settled

we kill the reed man


read goethe’s faust, very weird but moving. part one is quite focused and gets most of its power from the total seriousness and scrupulousness with which it treats faust’s vacillations in the face of mutually opposing, mutually unsatisfying visions of life - the imp of the perverse is caught so well that there’s almost nothing for the devil to do but watch it happen. part two throws this out completely and moves from the internal to the wholly external, turning into a series of elaborate and sometimes inscrutable allegories. it has some of the best writing in the play and some of the goofiest and most jarring shifts of focus, at least in english translation which i guess has to work a lot harder to fluidly manage changes in form and register. so it’s a lot craggier and misshapen but it sort of works in that sense - it reminded me of reading artist biographies, which start out sharply individuated before starting to blur under the weight of all the accumulated names and dates until the subject almost disappears under the material and their own wariness. faust suddenly disappears from the narrative for long stretches, reappears in a different guise each time as court magician, courtly knight, parent, politician, and finally ends up (spoilers??) in the most un-Romantic way possible, as a petty municipal official trying to bully some peasants off property he’s already earmarked for land-reclamation purposes before dropping dead on the spot, presumably as exhausted by this point as the reader. the fact that he’s carried off to heaven regardless seems after this less like the result of his “striving” than of the sheer dogged persistence of his own egotism, managing to continue lurching on through the most jarring changes in tone and setting. but weirdly moving for that alone just like i say.


From what I understand, Goethe is notoriously difficult to translate well into English and ‘craggy and misshapen’ seems to be a criticism exclusively for english translations of his work.


idk, i always heard that as well but i don’t know that it’s incorrect when describing a threehundred-page posthumously-published allegorical drama which includes lengthy parodic treatments of contemporary geological debates and the advent of paper money. maybe i was more cued to pick up on that stuff in part two because i went in thinking of it as a late work, though.


I found a copy of karl ove knausgaard’s my struggle: 5 in a sale bin so I am reading that a little bit. I haven’t read the others


I was about to read Childhood’s End by Arthur C. Clarke, but decided it wasn’t for me or I wasn’t in the mood for it after reading the first chapter. I am going to try Slaughterhouse-Five. I already loved Vonnegut’s Cat’s Cradle, so I am excited for this.


Childhoods end is pretty good as far as that era of sci fi goes. Lots of stapledonian cosmic significance and big ideas


I read Kiss me, Judas, by Will Christian Baer. It’s about this guy who gets his kidney stolen.

I love the sparse and hardboiled prose. It has some great black humor and the end is the kind of shit I wish I could come up with. Loved it.


i reread Neighbors by Jan Gross


read han kang’s the vegetarian on christmas day. it was harrowing, but excellent. thank you to whoever it was on here who linked to one of her stories on granta


I’m reading Sorcerer of the Wildeeps and so far it’s the best thing I’ve read in months.


been reading The New Jim Crow, it is of course insanely depressing. I think for a lot of people who have been following coverage of mass incarceration it might not contain any new info, but it is extremely helpful for thinking through things to have it all presented coherently and with reference to specific cases.

Beyond that, it is really nice to read something written with academic sophistication but intended for a general audience. The past year when reading non-fiction I’ve been stuck between bloggy/journalistic style imprecision and obsessively jargon-filled academic texts (usually on totally different topics), this is a nice digestible medium and in spite of the obvious discomfort of the subject matter I feel like it is inspiring me to keep up this sort of hobby of reading up on various social justice / american politics books I’ve neglected.

I think I will probably read Hillbilly Elegy next

It’s crazy that TNJC is already slightly dated, I hope someone does a followup to incorporate what has gone on in the past 6 years. The main thing about it that feels dated though is that there is a pretty pervasive sense of the Obama disillusionment angle–this is of course not at all wrong, but I want a followup that is able to fully address the Obama admin’s approach to mass incarceration. Two years in, the conclusion seems to be that the changes have been mostly band-aids that don’t do much to alleviate root causes. I assume that has remained the case for the back-end of his two terms, but hopefully someone will lay it out in a way that is as persuasive and intelligible as TNJC’s coverage of how things went under Clinton/Bush.

Another big takeaway from this is just how low into abhorrent “tough on crime” stuff Bill Clinton was willing to go in order to convince undecided conservative voters. This thing got resurrected due to Hillary Clinton’s superpredators comment, and I think I was vaguely aware of the broader context, but it’s crazy how stark it was, and how disastrous the consequences.


Basically he takes lists of people who were dreadfully oversentenced pursuant to lingering Clinton-era tough on crime policies and commutes a couple dozen every month. It’s certainly great for those guys, their lives are literally saved, but it’s hilariously far from systemic, and not even a band-aid really. More a capricious imperial clemency.


I was reading Jack Vargo’s The Spike Tomahawk: A Popular Weapon and Tool in North America when he referred to a plate in George C. Neumann’s Swords & Blades of the American Revolution which gave me a reason to pull my copy of the latter off the shelf and look up this extratextual example.

So that was pretty thrilling.




“All hayed up on marijuana” is a pretty good phrase though… i … hope it doesn’t have some kind of racist etymology because I really want to be able to use it to describe people that love to get all hayed up on marijuana

edit: lol


Jesus christ, it’s weed, not PCP


Although maybe he got some of that dreamboat without realizing it. Happens.


note to self: do not read trainspotting while eating dinner

note to self: read trainspotting at all other times