Friday, 26 March 2010


I finished a book and felt that I was a different person for having read it.

It is Justin Cartwrights's To Heaven by Water (2009, Bloomsbury). The story of a man who has just lost his wife. The story begins and ends with wonderful poetry, it makes me feel like sailing, like floating, like coasting on the wind, the word that keeps coming to my mind is swooning, but of course it is the wrong physical implication, thought it is the right sound, as if one could say or chant quietly Swooooooon, and run very lightly, hardly touching the ground, wrapped and half-carried (?) by a diaphanous veil...It is by Gerald Manley Hopkins, it is The Windhover. Is this one of those cases where everyone else knows it already?

I caught this morning morning's minion, kingdom of
daylight's dauphin, dapple-dawn-drawn Falcon, in his riding
Of the rolling level underneath him steady air and striding
High there, how he rung upon the rein of wimpling wing
In his ecstasy! then off, off forth on swing...

The book is about death and love (Like the title of Amos Oz's book). The word soul keeps appearing.

On a different topic: reading and books today, one of the characters who is a writer says: " ..those of us who love books, and I mean real books with long words, are a dwindling band. We're like the bushmen of the Kalahari desert [...], marginalised, even despised, as though we have a secret vice or carry a contagion.[...] a country without respect for its own literature is a country going to hell in a fucking handcart. We, the readers, are now like monks in the dark ages, keeping alive our culture. We are living in a new dark age, an age of mass ignorance; we are squeezed in the embrace of triviality and infantilism. I, for example, spend my days turning dumb ideas into dumber scripts that become even dumber mini-series. The BBC [...] has turned into a sink of touchy-feely mediocrity..."

I have been reading heaps of books, but not writing about them. Hopefully shall find some more good ones like this.

Sunday, 21 March 2010


7:30 am, and there is so much to do. I am struggling with my translation, having reached 41 pp, ie over 1/3 of the way. If  I manage to keep on working at this pace, I might finish the first round in 3 months' time, ie in June. That would be great, though it will be a push.

Have read Guenther Grass's Peeling the onion at last. It is an important book. I want to re-read what Lynn wrote about it, her review. I know that I do not have the same level of excitement as she did. I am becoming single-minded: very interested in the telling details I might exploit for my own book. Cannibal. The same applies to the translation.

That's all for today because of wanting to catch up with the translating, one page a day, and already I am almost 3pp behind. Not to lose more ground today, I should translate at least a page.