And I saw myself standing in my dining room holding the book, reading the opening couple lines, thinking to myself I was going to only sample it, and then I was turning past the first page, and then I was moving to the living room, sitting down on the couch, and this is what I needed right now, I saw...
...Ahem. I started reading Septology by Jon Fosse, translated by Damion Searls, last night. I'd read Trilogy somewhat recently and loved it, and picked up Septology about as soon as Transit Books came out with their single-volume edition. Then he won a little prize called the Nobel, which is pretty cool for him.
This is one of those books I've been kind of holding on to, thinking it was going to be one of those very precise right-mood-right-moment kind of books, and I guess that moment was last night, when I did literally pick it up thinking it wasn't going to be the next book I started reading, I didn't think I was ready for another 500+ page book—I started the year with Our Share of Night by Mariana Enríquez, translated by Megan McDowell, and that was pretty great, I've got some draft words about that lying around here somewhere, those claws, those claws—I was just curious how it started again, and then I remembered what a spell-caster Fosse is, based on my limited previous experience with him, because dang it if I didn't find myself almost fifty pages in before I had to go to sleep. He makes this kind of thing go down so smooth, it's great.
I am no stranger to the long-sentence book; Septology, which is sort of told in an unbroken-sentence format—I mean, technically, there's no periods that I've come across, plenty of question marks and exclamation points though, and he breaks the paragraph format for dialogue, which it all feels simultaneously pedantic to point out and also noteworthy in that it does mean the rhythm of the book is much more complex and interesting and generally modulated than it could perhaps be otherwise—immediately brings Ducks, Newburyport to mind, obviously (...the fact that I haven't reread Lucy Ellmann's masterpiece honestly kind of shocks me, the fact that I wasn't blogging much when I actually read it honestly kind of bums me out, the fact that I can basically only point to a bit of addendum on this newsletter post about that book, the fact that the snake is kind of chasing the snail here because I got into Jon Fosse accidentally because of Lucy Ellmann when I ordered Miss MacIntosh, My Darling from Dalkey Archive Press because of an Ellmann comparison I picked up somewhere and I tossed a random-to-me slender volume by Jon Fosse into my cart on a whim, the fact that now here I am reading a Jon Fosse book which also features a very, very long sentence, the fact that it's real hard not to do the Ellmann pastiche, the fact that the only way out is through...), and also, obviously, it of course puts me in a Stephen Dixon mindset, in the sort of way where I want to immediately run out into the street and find all the cool kids reading Jon Fosse and start shoving copies of Frog into their hands.
And now I'm here with Septology and it feels like it's going to be another sort of what do you do with the camera in an unbroken long-shot kind of books, and part of that seems to involve just floating, floating in and out of the consciousness of the narrator, floating into the observed and back from it again, looking into the mirror and then back out from the mirror—sometimes at the narrator, sometimes at a reflected stranger, who reflects back inward on himself. The prose is elegant and rhythmic and compulsive, easily digestible, and yet still light and dreamlike in a way that feels like the right place to land at the end of yet another cold, dark midwestern day. Is there such a thing as anti-summer reading? This is perhaps that.
As for content it's so far contained both a brilliantly concise description of the need to get images out of one's self and onto canvas, and one of the most compelling uses of a seesaw in any literature I've read. Up. Down. Up. Down.