Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Two voluptuous pleasures of this afternoon have chased away the gloom of a chilly gray morning. I don't read a lot of novels, but at the library sale I acquired for twenty-five cents a copy of A.S. Byatt's Possession and have been reading it in a continuous swoon—I finished it a few minutes ago. A novel that loves poets and poetry and academics too (though it tweaks them a bit, and its satire of a deconstructionist, feminist academia is now rather dated, I should even say sadly dated), full of cunningly wrought dead-on imitations of 19th century Victorian verse. Very good too on the compulsions of narrative, which Byatt manages to raises suspicions about while simultaneously indulging the reader to the final degree of fulfillment of what she calls the dated and unfashionable desires for coherence and closure. A different kind of pleasure stems from being able to handle, and look at, and read, a mock-up of Fourier Series that just arrived from my publisher. The black-and-white cover somehow manages to be baroque and simple at the same time, with a hint of the sinister as well; the paper stock is handsome and creats the feel of a European book. The inside looks good too; the book is square, which makes the most sense given the quadrant format. Very exciting! Ron says this is the age of the chapbook, and he may be right—there's a lot to be said for the relative speed with which they can be produced, and the length too is better suited for giving an image of what's happening in poetry NOW. But I hope I will be forgiven for taking great sensual pleasure in the size and shape and heft and look of a full-length, bonafide book of one's own.

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