Category Archives: books

American Life Unlimited

Chapter 1 of Henry Miller’s Nexus is about, among other things, the mystery of Dostoevsky and the monotony of New York City. He finds a line he’s scribbled in his notebook, which he thinks is “probably from Berdyaev.” It says: … Continue reading

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Notes on Gogol’s Old-Fashioned Farmers

The world is all “in an uproar,” says Gogol. And yet here is peace and quiet: the house of the owners of a small village in the Ukraine, with its bright garden full of trees and hanging fruits, and the … Continue reading

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Notes on Gogol’s The Overcoat

Gogol’s The Overcoat is a story of a lowly government official in Tsarist Russia. His job is to copy out documents. There’s a curious ambiguity in the narrator’s feelings for the official: on the one hand he is described as … Continue reading

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Creation is Grace: Notes on Daniil Kharms

I’ve been reading I Am a Phenomenon Quite Out of the Ordinary: the Notebooks, Diaries, and Letters of Daniil Kharms (published 2013) and trying to get a picture in my mind of the kind of person Kharms was. “Creation is … Continue reading

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Notes on Gogol’s “The Nose”

Nikolai Gogol’s story of “The Nose” opens with a macabre scene: a nose found in a loaf of bread. Perhaps this is going to be a murder mystery. But then the story becomes absurd: the nose found its way into … Continue reading

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Nostalgia

The poem I’ve just read has the narrator reading a newspaper, “letting fall” the pages she has finished with, that rustle and crackle as they are shed. It’s a scene to stir nostalgia, as many of us now no longer … Continue reading

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Stories

I reach for my copy of Plexus by Henry Miller. I’m wondering if I’ve written all I can about Miller. I open the book to find out. There’s always something more in here. Today I read Miller’s version of Goldilocks … Continue reading

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