So many books, so many books. I consciously tried to expand my reading horizons this year, which has helped to swell my reading list to unmanageable lengths. Sifting out worthy entries in disciplines with which I’m not especially familiar is not at all easy, so sometimes I just have to go on faith that apparent hard work, diligence, and care have resulted in an enlightening end product.
Krasznahorkai’s Satantango is certainly for me the book of the year, though in its way Lucan’s Civil War was as well, and I was very happy to have William Bronk‘s later poetry collected.
I have hardly read all of all of the nonfiction selections–I’ll be lucky if I ever read the Bailyn book cover to cover–but they have all been of note to me at least as reference or inspiration. Some stragglers from 2011 have snuck in as well.
If anyone’s curious as to why some book or other made the list, feel free to ask in the comments. Reviews on a couple are forthcoming.
(As always, I do not make any money from these links–this was just by far the simplest way to get thumbnails and metadata.)
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Because it is that gloomy sort of week:
There Is Ignorant Silence in the Center of Things
What am I saying? What have I got to say?
As though I knew. But I don’t. I look around
almost in a sort of despair for anything
I know. For anything. Some mislaid bit.
I must have had it somewhere, somewhere here.
Nothing. There is silence here. Were there people, once?
They must have all gone off. No, there are still
people, still a few. But the sound is off.
If we could talk, could hear each other speak
could we piece something, could we learn and teach,
could we know?
Hopeless. Off in the distance, busyness.
Something building or coming down. Cries.
Clamor. Fuss at the edges. What? Here,
at the center — it is the center? — only the sound
of silence, that mocking sound. Awful. Once,
before this, I stood in an actual ruin, a street
no longer a street, in a town no longer a town,
and felt the central, strong suck of it, not
understanding what I felt: the heart of things.
This nothing. This full silence. To not know.
Reflections on this poem and Bronk’s style to come.
In Contempt of Worldliness
Granted it may be true as is said,
is as, ourselves, we make it, or granted if you want,
there’s no place else for us, but even so,
isn’t it right we feel contempt for those
too much at home here? How one comes
to despise all worldliness! World, world!
We cling like animal young to the flanks of the world
to show our belonging; but to be at ease here
in mastery, were to make too light of the world
as if it were less than it is: the unmasterable.
Strangely, the same thing makes too light
of us, as though it mattered this world, to us.
[This is for flowerville.]