So: here we are. Apologies that I never got around to producing that list of "my favourite books ever", or whatever it was I'd quite gotten myself signed up for, but I realised there were a number of obstacles to my ever finishing something like a definitive or even functional list of that kind. First, I'm congenitally lazy - "an excellent student out of school", I think the saying goes - which means I tend to run in terror (or, if not terror, apathy) from anything that even mildly resembles homework. Second, and more importantly, I'm a voracious, addicted reader, which means every time the list might seem to be coming to a conclusion, some new literary enthusiasm would likely hove into view on the horizon to disrupt my dreams of teleological perfection. I've taken to keeping a reading diary - a pretty comprehensive one, too - to try and even some of these problems out, but in the short term, what this all comes down to is: there's no list as yet. Sorry.
But I'm of the old fashioned opinion that problems and failures are really nothing of the kind, but represent, rather, opportunities in occluded form. Hence this email: I'm far more taken with the idea of producing a prolonged exchange of ideas and enthusiasms for semi-public consumption on Gists and Piths, which is partly due, I'll admit, to a combination of shame and envy - shenvy? - towards George's productive capacities of late. Shame, because I don't want him to feel he has to do all the literary grunt-work in the absence of any viable contribution from me; and envy due to the gently combative, McCartney-Lennon-esque relationship I have with the Ttooulster, whereby we each keep driving the other to greater, more demented heights of creativity. (Which suggests, if you're of a pessimistic persuasion, that I've still got my own 'Frog Chorus' waiting impatiently to be born; whilst George is only three steps away from the conceptualist excesses of 'Revolution 9', and has a full decade of over-eager confessional poetry and primal screaming to look forward to. Woohoo!)
As this is our first foray into the world of G&P 'Conversation Pieces' (c), I thought it best to keep the parameters of discussion and digression as open as possible: indeed, the more digression, the better. (What is a conversation, in fact, but an organised digression?)
With that in mind, I'd like to kick things off with potentially the most open-ended question I could think of (short of "How are you"): What are you reading at the moment? What's stood out for you, and why? Actually, that's two questions, but they pertain to the same subject, so I don't think I'm overstepping trading standards. In the interests of full disclosure, my own most recent reading (counting back from the novel I'm currently in the midst of) is as follows:
Michael Ondaatje, 'Coming Through Slaughter'
Eve Babitz, 'Slow Days, Fast Company'
Iris Owens, 'After Claude'
Sarah Manguso, 'The Guardians' + 'The Two Kinds of Decay'
Renata Adler, 'Speedboat'
David Shields, 'Remote'
Jenny Offill, 'Dept. of Speculation'
Christy Wampole, 'The Other Serious'
(Lots of essays there, and what fiction there is, for the most part, looks like anything but fiction. Read into that what thou wilt).
Right, that's more than enough from me. Over to you, Mr Loveard.