Geoff Dyer, Yoga for People Who Can’t Be Bothered to Do It. Facile and complex, light and heady, a curious combination (one to aspire to) turning out to be the perfect follow-up to Terrible Fate: Ethnic Cleansing in the Making of Modern Europe, by Benjamin Lieberman, which was one big bowl of misery guaranteed to increase my misanthropy. As empires (Austro-Hungarian, Russian, Ottoman, Nazi, Soviet, etc.) fell, once multiethnic conglomerations pulled apart, rent by nationalist poison and even democratization itself (the majority rules version); groups convinced of their own victimization decided they had to chase off, loot, and kill their former neighbors and friends before they did it to them. Victimization, particularly in mythological self-histories, is kindled like a sacred flames: look at the Serbs, to take only one example, still whimpering over “their” defeat at the Field of Blackbirds, in 13fucking89. The record of population transfers through the 20th century is particularly stunning. What wretchedness, particularly considering how, genetically, these “nationalities” are all intermixed.
Claudia Emerson’s Late Wife, a consistently fine poetry collection, reminds us that individuals are the only way to appreciate human beings.
Home Ground: Language for an American Landscape, a book I really wanted to love, but ended up only liking. Not least, the design is lame, which is inexcusable this day and age.