the m john harrison blog

Month: November, 2009

read this book

Rather than writing, David Constantine seems to perform an act of visualisation on the reader’s behalf; what he makes us see is matter-of-fact but at the same time somehow light, unmoored and thoroughly poetic. His stories are evidence. Everyone in them is a witness, sometimes to a death, more often to a birth; sometimes, to something which is too complicated to describe as either but somehow partakes of both. More.

bad move

Watching environmentalism wrong-foot itself to this degree is sad. Now they’re just rolling about on the floor with all the other “narratives”. When everything’s a clash of fantasies, nothing ever gets done. Will postmodernism ever end ? Probably not–too useful to the legal, political & religious professions. But on a more optimistic note, at least string theory (“postmodern physics”) seems to have given up on itself. The universe can go back to being inelegant.

Reading: Irene Nemirovsky, All Our Wordly Goods. Life doesn’t get much better than that. Looking forward to: a nice Indian lunch with Mic Cheetham. As for this, it’s as clear & beautiful as Nemirovsky, & as long as we all use our intelligence to understand what’s going on, it’s the upside of making narratives. It goes well with this, & with Municipal Archive’s whole project.

reader, I wrote her

“What’s your book about, Carlos ?”

“It’s about the romance & holiness & mystery & paradoxical matter-of-factness of all books. & it’s about my struggles with this book, my book, the one you hold in your hand. & it’s about women, the romance & holiness & mystery & paradoxical matter-of-factness of women, & about my struggle with this woman, the woman you–”


the booklover angle

My boredom benchmark for Euro-Lit mysteries in which the writing, translation, publishing, selling & curating of books is cleverly interwoven with philosophical puzzles, mild sex & Real History, is Night Train to Lisbon by Pascal Mercier, a novel in which almost nothing happens except book-chat, & of which Isabel Allende said, “A treat for the mind”, an assessment I still find puzzling. So far, Carlos Ruiz Zafon’s The Angel’s Game isn’t anything like as boring as that. It’s an amiable meander over the same kind of territory as The Shadow of the Wind, vaguely irritating about the romance & importance of being a hack writer (& indeed about the romance & importance of being any kind of writer) & rather lacking the energy of the kind of fiction it claims to admire; but otherwise entertaining. What I find objectionable about all these novels is how they attempt to flatter the reader by “sharing” –ie, masturbating–the readerly experience. While I’m reading them I want to say: Fuck off & curl up with a good book somewhere else, Carlos (or Pascal), it gets you no points with me, because though I’ve read a lot of books, I’d rather break my left leg than rub shoulders with your idea of what that’s all about.

Someone got here yesterday by typing “sheo (sic) & sock porn”. Welcome friend! Want to learn more about “stealth rubber” ? Then have a look at these little puppies.

how mass can be relevant to you

Discoveries would include the God Particle, a tiny entity also called the Higgs Boson, which is believed to give objects ā€“ including people ā€“ their mass.

Don’t you just love the grammar of this, that wonderful “also called” ? Followed swiftly by the reminder that mass is important because “people” –ie, Observer readers like us–have it, & peopleness is what underwrites the project of science, after all ? Is there anywhere else in the world where middle class journalism feels it has to do this particular form of mealy-mouth ? Is there anywhere else in the world where the values of the Lifestyle & Wellness section have to be carried through to the science reporting ?