- William Faulkner, As I Lay Dying. A few weeks ago I said I had reread Thomas Hardy's Jude the Obscure and found it not as good as I remembered. Rereading Faulkner on the misbegotten Bundrens and their misguided quest to put Addie under the ground, I take it as much better than I remembered. A kind of a parlor trick, sure, but so dense and textured you find the characters leaping right off the page--not that you are always glad to see them. I'm left with only one question: is there a difference between a buzzard and a vulture?
- Mori Ogai, The Wild Goose. Per the introduction, Ogai was highly regarded in Meiji Japan, not least for this slender tale published first published serially in 1911-13 (sic, two years? But it is only 166 pages). It's a deft and delicate recitation of what could have been a much thicker novel--remarkable how much Ogai can convey by indirection and economy. Apparently in its own time it counted as a "recreation" of an earlier world, specifically the 1870s and 1880s. One oddity: the plot seems to echo Chekhov's Seagull almost beyond the play. Did Ogai (who was, I gather, well versed in European culture) know Chekhov? Did he know the play?
Oh, and as to buzzards and vultures: apparently the answer is yes, sort of.