Earlier this week I asked him what he was reading. His reply:
I find myself reading big books right now. In fiction, Anna Karenina, in the Louise and Aylmer Maude translation from 1918--part of my "classics I've never gotten around to reading" list, but not for long, I hope. Also, One Hundred Years of Solitude in the original Spanish. I read the brilliant Rabassa translation what seems like a hundred years ago (My Bard/Avon paperback cost $1.95) and loved it. My distant memories of that are helping to guide me now, at least a little--what a beautifully dense, interwoven world it presents.Read Don Bogen's bio at The Cincinnati Review and learn more about An Algebra at the University of Chicago Press website.
I much prefer reading poets' individual books rather than big collected editions, but two have engaged me recently: Robert Hass's The Apple Trees at Olema: New and Selected Poems (Ecco, 2010) and the Irish poet Ciaran Carson's Collected Poems, which came out in 2009 in that great list of contemporary Irish poetry from Wake Forest University Press. I'd read Carson's two recent books, On the Night Watch and Until Before After--both haunting, lyrical collections--and I'm reading back from that to his earliest work in the 1970s and 1980s. Belfast Confetti from 1989 is an especially evocative look at the city where he grew up and still lives. I'm impressed in general by the range and energy of his work. As for Robert Hass's new Selected, going through it really makes me think about the essential unity of his career--the depth of thought, sensuous description, and distinctive voice underlying it all. The new work in the book, particularly the sequences he calls "Notebooks," is among the most moving poetry I've read in quite a while.