Sunday, June 17, 2007

Two books I've read somewhat recently and liked a lot were Ian Svenonius' The Psychic Soviet and David Berman's Actual Air. The two are probably connected by clicks of recommendations, and their author's affiliation with the Drag City record label. Somehow my indie rock bias overcame my biases against political tracts and poetry. Both are really good, and honestly, calling Svenonius' book a political tract is probably a little dishonest.

Either way.

What's important about both of them is their clarity- Svenonius' book is insane with the stuff, in its ability to draw parallels amongst so many things, and multiple parallels found for the same thing, that it ends up cutting its subject matter into the shape of a diamond. It ends up being really cohesive as a set of essays.

Berman's book is poetry, and so it does the same thing. It's not metaphor, the parallels drawn. It's this way of seeing patterns emerge which is much larger than a single sentence could ever contain. It needs the tangents of thought shooting from strand to strand to map out the shape of the brain.

Does every book do this? Yes, a little bit, but there's something about fiction- that thing I love, that I read much more of than I read poetry and political tracts- with its narrative that forsakes this, in favor of the finality of a point that comes with a third act's resolution.

It emerges in a collection of Borges. It probably has more to do with the form of these books as collections of disparate works than their lack of narrative thrust, actually- It shows a set of thoughts all at once, rather than in progression.

I'm writing this book, and I can almost feel it approaching that, the size of thoughts accumulating. The thoughts are crazy thoughts that come in random bursts of typing. The shape that emerges isn't the shape of a plot. If you'll recall, I wanted that when I was reading Anthony Burgess' Tremor Of Intent, which I read between these two books, if memory serves.

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