Kleinzeit by Russell Hoban. 1983 Summit Books trade paperback edition. Cover design by Fred Marcellino. A stark and funny retelling of the Orpheus myth, Hoban’s second novel obsesses over illness and art. Fans of Tom McCarthy might dig this one.
The Lion of Boaz-Jachin and Jachin-Boaz by Russell Hoban. 1983 Summit Books trade paperback edition. Cover design by Fred Marcellino. Hoban’s first novel. Not my favorite Hoban. Pilgermann by Russell Hoban. 1984 Washington Square Press trade paperback. No designer is credited, but look closely under the horse’s fore hooves and note the signature “Rowena” — Rowena Morrill. (Note also the pig and naked lady). Pilgermann, Hoban’s follow-up (and somehow-sequel) to Riddley Walker, was the occasion for this Sunday’s Three Books post. I was reminded of this strange, wicked, dark, funny, apocalyptic book as I finished a reread of Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian and began Kazuo Ishiguro’s The Buried Giant this weekend. Pilgermann is difficult but rewarding, and probably underappreciated, even as a cult novel.
And they are dancing, the board floor slamming under the jackboots and the fiddlers grinning hideously over their canted pieces. Towering over them all is the judge and he is naked dancing, his small feet lively and quick and now in doubletime and bowing to the ladies, huge and pale and hairless, like an enormous infant. He never sleeps, he says. He says he’ll never die. He bows to the fiddlers and sashays backwards and throws back his head and laughs deep in his throat and he is a great favorite, the judge. He wafts his hat and the lunar dome of his skull passes palely under the lamps and he swings about and takes possession of one of the fiddles and he pirouettes and makes a pass, two passes, dancing and fiddling at once. His feet are light and nimble. He never sleeps. He says that he will never die. He dances in light and in shadow and he is a great favorite. He never sleeps, the judge. He is dancing, dancing. He says that he will never die.
The last paragraph (excepting the epilogue) of Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian.
Seven quick thoughts:
- I’ve read Blood Meridian more times than probably any book but I still don’t know what it means.
- Hats, bears, coins, shadows, dancing.
- The judge is a metaphysical entity, but what?
- I think McCarthy’s is pointing to something past the devil.
- The kid definitely dies at the end.
- But how definitely—no body, no corpse?
- I’ll read it again, of course.
Some man of powerful character to command a person, morally subjected to him, to perform some act. The commanding person suddenly to die; and, for all the rest of his life, the subjected one continues to perform that act.
“Solomon dies during the building of the temple, but his body remains leaning on a staff, and overlooking the workmen, as if it were alive.”
A tri-weekly paper, to be called the Tertian Ague.
Subject for a picture,–Satan’s reappearance in Pandemonium, shining out from a mist with “shape star-bright.”
Five points of Theology,–Five Points at New York.
From Passages from the American Note-Books. Stray notes of 1842.
Anthony Marra’s collection The Tsar of Love and Techno is new in hardback from Hogarth next week. Here is the first part of Hogarth’s blurb (it’s the longest damn blurb I’ve ever seen I think):
Brilliantly constructed and beautifully inhabited, Anthony Marra’s new book, THE TSAR OF LOVE AND TECHNO (Hogarth; on sale October 6, 2015), is an exquisite collection of nine interconnected stories set in Russia that move across a century and introduce us to a cast of unforgettable characters whose lives intersect in ways both life-affirming and heartbreaking. Marra is a writer driven by a deep and authentic curiosity, and it was that curiosity that led him to write about Chechnya and to return there in THE TSAR OF LOVE AND TECHNO. With the recent insurgent attacks in Grozny, the Islamic State’s announcement that Chechnya will be their next zone of expansion, and 2015 marking the twentieth anniversary of the first Chechen War, Marra’s book couldn’t be timelier.