the accoutrements of a civilized home
Winging their way, via UPS, toward my bare walls: The Wanderings of Leopold Bloom, Surfer Rosa, Abstraktes Bild, and Guardians of the Secret. Everything else is set up, more or less. The Dance of Death is doing just fine over the couch, and I now have a desk large enough to comfortably accommodate computer & peripherals, typewriter, stereo, and the three-shelf bookcase with the reference books that I must continually reach for. If Iowa taught me anything, it's to always use the damn dictionary, split infinitive aside.
George Saunders, Pastorialia. I finally got around to reading all of the stories in this collection, and while Saunders's futuristic satire and black humor immediately suggest Vonnegut, I think his heart is actually closer to the Joyce of Dubliners. Both collections return again and again to entrapment; the bonds of love and duty and social obligation that suck us under, especially in a lower-class milieu. The main difference is that Saunders is a more unabashed humanist. In his world virtue is a weaknessone character, for instance, is undone by his inability to kick his deranged but loving sister out of the housebut his flawed people love so honestly and affectingly that we couldn't imagine it happening any other way.
Sparklehorse, It's a Wonderful Life. Quiet, lo-fi, and sinister: essentially a solo recording project with the help of some friends. The Tom Waits guest appearance isn't as exciting as it should be, but "I'm the dog that ate your birthday cake" gets my vote for line of the year.
Now it is time to buy a new guitar; I sort of have my heart set on a Telecaster. I've roped Eric into helping me pick one out, since he has secret music-major methods for testing intonation and whatnot. We'll see how it goes.