Sunday, March 15, 2015

It was a dark and stormy Ides of March

A brief post on a very rainy day in Seattle. As I said a few hours ago, after coming in, shivering and wet, from putting out some fresh bird seed, these are ideal hypothermia conditions. It doesn't seem like it's all that cold but one gets wet through and through pretty much immediately, and there's a pretty strong wind. Being out without a coat for just a minute or two I became thoroughly chilled. Happily I was just steps from shelter that contained a functional furnace. It's a good day to realize that an extra contribution or two to a homeless shelter wouldn't come amiss.

 None of which has anything to do with what this brief post is supposed to be addressing. No, I've overcome my trepidation about newly published novels and I'm happy to say that, at least through page 65, Kazuo Ishiguro's The Buried Giant is all that one could ask. I try to avoid  reviews of books before I've read them but I noticed this line in the NPR link I've just inserted: "No novelist around today beats Ishiguro when it comes to writing about loss" and it's certainly an observation that I'm not about to argue with. I'm not a good  enough reader to understand how Ishiguro manages to permeate his text from essentially the first page with a sense of isolation and loss but, by gum, it's a trick he has mastered. There's a feeling of slow, minor-key chamber music to his books that, personally, I find quite irresistible. This one seems like a fairy tale of Alzheimer's though I'm pretty sure there's a lot more to it.

 To cleanse my palate after Mort(e)--and to see how it should be done--I reread Bulgakov's The Heart of a Dog over the last few days. It's amazing to me how well Mr Bulgakov handled some of the same material that Mr Repino so mangled. In a fraction of the pages Bulgakov successfully offers poltical and social commentary, with humor and deftness, via the animal-becomes-human trope. God bless you, Mikhail Bulgakov. This This 2007 Guardian column puts it all much better than I can.

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