screen-shot-2016-10-29-at-11-06-58I am a long way from reading books in the 500s and 600s. 2018, I’d guess.

But I can’t keep myself from buying the Adelphi books for the beauty. I only buy Adelphi if the book was originally written in Italian, or if it hasn’t been translated into English (Hello Sándor Márai!) and it makes most sense to read it in Italian.

Most of my Italian books come from Rizzoli. Particularly on rainy days when I feel out of sorts, it is nice to swing through and see if they have anything I do not yet own. I thought maybe the newer ones would be there (Landolfi, Gaddo) but no luck. Sciascia, however, had appeared. He wasn’t there a few weeks ago.

screen-shot-2016-10-29-at-11-12-08 This cover is by Alberto Savinio, called Atlantide, from 1930-31. It’s in a private collection, which makes this even more interesting. Whose, Mr Calasso? Whose collection? Alberto Savinio is also an author published by Adelphi, in the Biblioteca and the Piccola series, among others. 23 books, to date. He composed operas. Who was this man? I’ll get to that later, in my growing social graphs, he is a fascinating center of many nets.

screen-shot-2016-10-29-at-11-12-28This is by Giuseppe Modica, called Palatino, it is from 2007. Sicilian, it seems, from Trapani, and his work is lovely. I particularly like his grids of windows and floors.

I wonder how his work and his existence fits into the fabric of Adelphi. I don’t know, except to say that when I map the cover artists over time, some one in that organization has a fabulous eye both for what Will Become and for the connection between cover and text.

More threads to pull at.


Adelphi has published 14 books so far this year.

This morning I was looking at the latest, Gadda and Landolfi. I am secretly pleased when they publish Italian authors, as I have taken to popping in the Rizzoli and buying them. I am far from reading them, but the pleasure in owning the editions combined with the belief that by the time I get to the mid 600s my Italian will be so much more fluent that I may understand even the Gadda.

04bb59d7a5932e3f58a50b99654a1e89_w240_h_mw_mh_cs_cx_cyOk, well, in Gadda’s case Italian language fluency alone won’t help me. I need a handful of dialects, and understanding of their relationships, understanding of Italian language context, word usage, and levels of politeness. I may never understand Gadda — but if you do, I may come sit by you and ask you endless questions — but this is not the worst thing ever. At least I know I don’t understand it.

[Gadda cover image: Luciano Bonacini, Impera… è il sandalo che fa per voi (ca 1939). Collezione Salce, MIBAC, Soprintendenza per i beni storici, artistici ed etnoantropologici per le province di Venezia, Belluno, Padova e Treviso, in deposito presso i Musei Civici di Treviso.]


Creation and consideration

If you follow my instagram feed, you’ve been watching me build out studio space, so The Adelphi Project has room of its own.  The space has belong to two friends before me, in an artist’s building in LIC. screen-shot-2016-10-26-at-3-36-41-pm Paul passed it to Jenn, and Jenn to me, when she moved away a few weeks ago.

There is something about a space whose history is known.  I started with a beautiful light-filled room, one which I knew had spent years full of love and creativity, and to this amorphous soup of history, I will add my own.

The first thing I moved in was the books. All of the books, which had been spread in four locations – one apartment, one house, one storage space and one car.  There are a lot of screen-shot-2016-10-26-at-3-38-23-pmthem, there needs to be fewer, but it’s a start. I bought bookshelves. Clearly, I discovered, not enough. More shall be arriving in a few weeks.

I created a second chalk wall, as I’ve discovered I like to write on the walls, so I can sit with a coffee and ponder the information I’ve put up, and consider how it flows togescreen-shot-2016-10-26-at-3-36-29-pmther, what it means, what it is missing. (See the previous post for the current Russian wall, which is in my flat.)

What I haven’t yet put in my studio is any technology beyond an old school radio. I have books, paper, chalk, pens. And the radio.

I find I am considering leaving it this way, devoid of wifi, computers, printers, and the general tools of this modern era.

What would happen, I wonder, if all the creation came from my mind and my hands?  If I felt no pressure for speed, or connection, if the work unraveled as it unraveled, into what ever form happens to be around me.  Compelling.

The project is interesting, because the output doesn’t want to be words, or not words alone.  I find myself creating in other forms, so perhaps what it needs, for now, is this space, to fill in whatever it wishes to be.

One of the joys of this project has always been that I don’t know what it is, where it is going, what it will be. This space without computers seems to further that, something hums along, helps me to see, something happy, something analog.


More Russians

I’ve made some progress, reading, but more, perhaps in the  tracking.  (I also seem to be collecting chaos at the bottom of the wall).  As I said, the ones with the tick marks are on the List, the others, context. unnamedI am still amazed by the aggregations of brilliance. 1856-1907 sees a lot of brilliant writers born. I need to map this for other nations, to see if it is due to the size of the country, or if there was something specific to place and time. There is an early bit too, with Tolstoy and Dostoevsky, Turgenev and Lermontov born in just a few years.

I’ve been collecting some folks on the top left, publishers and editors mentioned in occasional forwards, and ‘thaw’ authors suggested by a friend. I haven’t decided if I want to include them in the main list or not, yet.  Or perhaps its a space issue, with the list.

I still don’t know nearly enough. Vasily Grossman still makes my heart thump, but there is much to read. After a friend’s book launch celebration last week, I added in a forgotten Bulgakov. It’s been so long since I’ve read him, I want to do that right now. It is interesting, though, that in all the lists of authors I’ve been pulling and books on Russian lit, he is never included. Why is this?

And finally, and perhaps where I should have started, I still struggle to ‘feel’ what it would be like to be an unperson, and why the concept of posthumous rehabilitation resonated with those who were left behind. I keep reading, hoping, like in most foreign languages, that one day the concept will make sense, absorbed, at last, into my consciousness, where translation is no longer required, it has become visceral, and thus, real.


The Russians

I am starting to read the Russians. Earlier in the project, I read Leskov’s The Enchanted Wanderer (#280), which requires so much context, that I didn’t feel I had done it justice. After a chat with a Russian friend, I decided I would at some point have a ‘Russian Period’ and dig into them all as well as re-immerse myself in Russian History, which has been to the wayside for more than a decade.

I read Grossman’s Everything Flows a few days ago, and am beginning to track the history and authors on my wall. I have a right column to add, of the Adelphi proper Russian authors. They are marked upon paper, but need to be transfered. I sit with my morning coffee and ponder this view, as the sofa sits across from my chalkwall.


The history — what can I say? It is intense, dismal, overwhelming in scope, at times. To even imagine letting 5 million people starve to death, in a few years, imagine if most of NYC starved to death?

There are 26 Russian authors, or more precisely, authors who write in Russian, nationality is still too complex to be a simple categorization. Russian Empire, Russian Federation, Soviet Union, Russia SFSR, and those born to Russian parents outside Russian lands, Ukrainians, and on it goes.

Next week I shall spread the Russian maps of these times, and the books and stories and poetry across the studio, and begin to consume it and digest it as a chunk, to see if I can experience something beyond the points in time.

Getting back to the list

I have been moving things about for the new studio space, and haven’t been attending to writing.  I am reading very out of order, because I can’t recall what I own (and my spreadsheet, I think, is incorrect). So the later I read, the more sure I am I do not have these books.   I am trying to get back on track to the book-a-day plan as well.  So far this week:

  • Hindoo Holiday, J.R. Ackerley (651)
  • Everything Flows, Vasily Grossman (572)
  • Dirty Snow, Simenon (240)
  • The Widow Couderc, Simenon (277)
  • A Lost Lady, Willa Cather (223)