Youmans (pronounced like 'yeoman' with an 's' added)
is the best-kept secret among contemporary American writers.
--John Wilson, editor, Books and Culture

Monday, March 10, 2008

Darconville's Cat, Ugga-Bugga, etc.

What bookish bloggers say when they have nothing to say
I am going to tell you what I am reading, as I do from time to time when I refuse to write a proper blog post (whatever that might be) because I do not feel like writing a proper blog post. So now I will undertake to write an improper blog post, born like a slatternly, slovenly Venus from a sea of laziness.


What I'm rereading or reading on this very day

Alexander Theroux, Darconville's Cat

W. B. Yeats, The Poems of W. B. Yeats (Feeling queasy? Want a bit of basalt in a world that's boggy and squelchy underfoot? Remember that I will be reading Yeats.)

Romans 8

Wislawa Symborska, Poems New and Collected

Paul Celan, Speech-Grille and Selected Poems, trans. Joachim Neugroschel

Archibald MacLeish, Collected Poems 1917-1952

What I wrote today

I wrote a poem having to do with Celan (yes, that sounds evasive--my rule is "don't talk about new things!") in the wee hours of the morning and fiddled with it again in the afternoon. I didn't mean to; the thing just seeped in, all those Celanese stones and the man himself, his terrible losses and death.

Rereading

While I may have been a rather different person when I last read Darconville's Cat, I am pleased to announce that Darconville's Cat is the same book that it was before. This is a valuable piece of news and not always what comes of rereading a book. I have read many a book that turned out to be another book entirely on rereading. Darconville's Cat appears to be a book that can be relied upon--in contra-indication to those mutable books that refuse to be the same thing twice.
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Later the same day: What I meant by the above is that they are still "good books" twice. As happens with a lazy post, I now have to add an explanation. Here it is:
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More on rereading; or, what comes of a lazy post; or, a note to Lucy
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All books are different when reread. That's obvious. But some books shouldn't be tried again--one could only read them at a certain age, it seems. As Heraclitus keeps on saying, even after all these years, "You cannot step into the same river twice, for fresh waters are ever flowing in upon you."

It's sad when you try to greet an old-friend book and find it is a stranger with little to interest or hold the attention. What I like is meeting a beloved book once more and finding that it still has something to say--often something very different from what it said before.

Overheard in Cooperstown, also this very day

On the general decline in vocabulary: "In another generation, people will just be saying 'Ugga-Bugga, Ugga-Bugga.'"

Suggestion for reversing tendencies toward Ugga-Buggadom

You know those horrid let-everybody-read-the-same-dratted-book programs? (Of course, if everybody was assigned one of my books, I'd have to change my mind about the "horrid" part.) Let's make everybody read Darconville's Cat. In that way, Alexander Theroux can take a long sabbatical from the Augean Stables of teaching because he will be so Lydian-Croesus rich from everybody on the planet reading Darconville's Cat. I suspect that the mass reading of Darconville's Cat will cause an important shift in human history and increase the sale of dictionaries. Have I mentioned the title often enough? That's Darconville's Cat. You might read it. Theroux has a new novel as well: Laura Warholic. I'll have to get around to that later.

16 comments:

  1. What a toothsome little selection of morsels!

    I like it when you tell us what you're reading.

    Do you prefer it when a re-read book stays the same? I quite like it when it turns out to be something else.

    I do not know Darconville's Cat, but it is sure to stay in my mind now!

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  2. I thought that I might be too cryptic on that issue... Guess so!

    And will add a note in the post, just for you.

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  3. Yes, that does happen too; many things I remember fondly as being quite epiphanic the first time, especially at a certain age or stage, just don't hold up on re-reading, which is sad. Others offer up something new every time in a wonderful way.

    Oh, and congratulations, you guessed correctly at my book meme! That too is a re-read, and I'm finding it entertaining enough, though perhaps not quite so much as the first time...

    Anyway I've decided to tag you for that meme so you can give us an extract of any one of these volumes, or another that you have to hand. If you want to, of course...

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  4. You funny woman. I guess I'll have to read about the darned cat. Ugga bugga.

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  5. Lucy,

    Oh, grand. Now I'll have to do a post in which I catch up on all the memes that have been piled on my head! I know jarvenpa put one there, and I feel a few more teetering and about to slide but can't remember what they were.

    The books that will always stand up the longest (I believe) for me are the Alice books. I could be wrong, but only if I live to some astounding-to-me age. I was passionate about them so early and they're so good, I can't imagine any other book having the longevity.

    Laura,

    Well, it's nice to be lauded for most anything when in the midst of making reservations for college visits and ferrying people here and yon and gathering tax stuff and doing all sorts of boring household things that might make a person crabby if she considered them (so she won't.)

    You know that list-in-book-form featuring "99 Novels" since 1939? By Anthony Burgess? "Darconville's Cat" was on it.

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  6. Cats?!? Y'all need a Gryphon. O'course ya can't have mine; best darned aminal on earth when you know whut hits the you know whut.

    HI MARLY!!!

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  7. How many people do I know with Gryphons?

    Frank, is that you?

    Y'all fess up, now...

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  8. Hey Marly,

    You have me very interested in this book now. Maybe my life will slow down enough to read in the next couple of weeks and I can check it out.

    My eldest daughters favorite books were the Alice books as well. She still likes them too.

    I am applying to NCCAT as the watercolor workshop didn't pan out. They were out of money for the year.

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  9. Well I'm not going to NCCAT either. Seems I went the first week in Aug. 1005 and can't go back until after the middle of Aug. 2008. Maybe one of these will work out for next year. I'm taking it as a sign I'm supposed to stay home, rest, read, and do artwork this summer.

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  10. Donna,

    Too bad. Perhaps the perfect class (watercolors and stories!) will be there next year.

    It is meant to be read slowly with your friend the dictionary.

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  11. Ugga Buggadom will be populated with a vast number of humans with very large thumbs and/or splints on their thumbs and dictionaries will be twice as large, being filled with text-messaging abbreviations that have become standard lexicon.

    i, for one, will never become a texter. i haven't even done it once and never intend to. i've lived most of a century without ever once thinking to myself "Oh, if only i could text my best friend." Email is bad enough, thank you very much. Bah! Humbug! to publishers who print a texting maniac's "book"

    So, there.
    yes, it's stormy around here today. Gusting all over the place....a morning of emails from people to chicken to pick up the phone will do that to me.

    i will go check out this Theroux guy's Darconville's cat pronto.

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  12. Oh
    i knew his name sounded familiar
    i really enjoyed his books on colors

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  13. Unleashing the Cat once again--what obliging types you commenters are! And what about the lurkers? What if they all rush to the bookstore? Should be interesting.

    I forgot to say that I do get annoyed and want to quarrel with Theroux sometimes. But it's mostly due to the Southerner in me getting the upper hand at times. You'll see.

    Zephyr, you may use your gentle breeze to push away all abbreviations. Snow, too, please: an infinite number of little white abbreviations is falling from the sky. At least the amaryllis is blooming in the window, and horns of lily-of-the-valley are poking out of their basket.

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  14. You took the ugga bugga out of my mouth... I too love Alice, and have at various times had all of its poems committed to memory.

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  15. Robbi,

    Mike is better than I am on such things and can rattle off Carroll poems... And R is known to spout off "Jabberwocky" at appropriate moments (just after slaying a young dragon, say, or planting her foot on a brother while lifting her foam sword.)

    Thank you for the Easter-to-be wish. I wish you a lively Feast of Purim!

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Alas, I must once again remind large numbers of Chinese salesmen and other worldwide peddlers that if they fall into the Gulf of Spam, they will be eaten by roaming Balrogs. The rest of you, lovers of grace, poetry, and horses (nod to Yeats--you do not have to be fond of horses), feel free to leave fascinating missives and curious arguments.