Friday 15 July 2016

Teju Cole, Open City

My desk is renewed, cleared and cleaned back to an older self; as if I moved house but the view didn't change.

I've been reading Teju Cole's Open City, a week or two after Maggie Nelson's The Argonauts. I read about both books in magazines (Fence) (New York Review of Books) (New Yorker). I like their literacy, their Wittgenstein their Mahler and their Winnicott, but it is theirs, they remind me I have my own shout to look after my own sentences.

I would have expected to like Teju Cole, with his echoes of Sebald if not Baudelaire and even Walser, more than Maggie Nelson's abrasive account of herself and her partner and her baby. But this old-fashioned summer, mixed, warm in corners, damp some days, desultory then splendid, is nest enough for the abrasive to win.

Teju Cole is embedded in Western culture as much as in his own life. The veiled male. Maggie Nelson is a better Open City—her plainspeak, plainsong—than Teju Cole; and he is more of a wanderer in the manner of the Argonauts. Open City, High Seas, Race, Gender, Embodiment, Embeddedment.

Ireland is under a blight cloud; they should have that on the news. The truck that ploughed through the Promenade des Anglais in Nice on Revolution Day; and the blight cloud. Teju Cole in rainstorms in Brussels. Maggie Nelson injecting her partner with T (testosterone). Four new swallows in the woodshed.

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