About Shigekuni

“Writing about poetry, I realize, is for me less a matter of grasping a totality than it is trying to articulate local pleasures or displeasures, coming to terms with my experiences of individual poems of books. It’s not mapping, but a species of fields notes, of local observations. Local observations and field notes can be used to support grander projects, more encompassing attempts to describe landscapes and terrains. […] But I’m content to let the pieces gathered here stand in their own particularity and localness.”
Mark Scroggins

These words by a poet and critic I admire are, I find, an excellent summary of what this blog is about. I articulate my “coming to terms with my experiences of (…) books” elsewhere too, in German (auf Faustkultur) and English (for example for Review 31, or Strange Horizons or Full-Stop.), but this blog is the primary hub for my notes on reading and dealing with books and words and things (the full list of the things I have recently published elsewhere can be found on my linktree.)

As for me, I am Marcel Inhoff. I am a half-German, half-Russian academic and a poet – as of writing this introduction I have written countless papers for conferences, published several of them. i have published one collection of poetry in German and one chapbook in English. My poetry and prose, including a novel-in-process, draw on my heritage and intuitions of someone living and working between languages and cultures. They draw equally on my mental health struggles as someone who suffers from severe dysthymia and related issues.

As an academic, my focus is on autobiography, gender, and religion, specifically with a focus on American poetry, more exactly mid-century American poetry. I am completing a thesis on the way midcentury poetry interacts with nascent modern and postmodern ideas of autobiography.

But this blog (why’s it called Shigekuni anyway?) is not that – like Scroggins said: “I’m content to let the pieces gathered here stand in their own particularity and localness.” This has started as something else, but now primarily contains book reviews and very small personal essays And yet there are patterns – obviously. For one, the books I review here are overwhelmingly German or American – but I include a large amount of international books and books in translation. I have a weakness for big complicated books, though I also admire short complicated books. I have strong opinions on some awards – see my 2016 picks for the Nobel Prize in literature, or my summary of the annual Bachmannpreis. Over the past years of occasionally writing reviews, I have developed specific opinions on what good science fiction is, for example (Dark Matter is not it, for example). My interest in long and short books has changed. I’m sure there’s a larger pattern of pecularities here – but what it is all connected through is my personal obsession with literature (are you interested in my personal canon?). I live with and among books. I don’t know if I am more writer than reader or vice versa. This blog is…well, I just can’t help it.

Please comment!

You can contact me at shigekuniblog (at) rocketmail (dot) com

Or find me on Twitter or Instagram.

If you want to support my work or my blog in doing so, you could click on the paypal “Donate” button, which you can find in the column on the left of this blog. My paypal ID is i_marcel(at)web.de. I am deeply thankful for everybody who has so far decided to help.

I will read anything provided it has a nice cover and is not written by Paolo Coelho or Terry Goodkind. I like poetry mostly because it appeals to my short attention span. I also watch an insane amount of TV. I listen to music, because I have no talent in making it, but I paints pictures although I don’t have any talent for it. Honestly, I love a good party, too. I loathe bad parties and will leave a punitive Coelho in your apartment if you invite me to one.

The bottom line is that I plain love books and I use this blog to engage with my obsessions and interests. I can’t review everything so here’s my reminder for you to read more Jean Rhys, Arno Schmidt, Ingeborg Bachmann, Julián Ríos, William Gaddis, and Uwe Johnson. And for the love of God please read more poetry.

34 thoughts on “About Shigekuni

  1. I love your blog. It’s so full of everything, it’s a total joy just to look at, without actually getting in to reading it all. I think I’m going to be here for a while… I’m ‘steffee’ everywhere else, by the way.

  2. Shig, I love your blog, and the way you like to shake things up. You have a brilliant mind and are so completely unafraid to ask the hard questions and tackle the hard answers. Great job!!!

  3. Thanks for the review of Lydia Davis. I can’t understand all the raves that are written about her. I like the short form and there’s one piece by her called The Sock that I read in an anthology and led me to get her novel… But really most of her stuff doesn’t fly.

  4. thunderstruck by how acute your review of “Winter In the Blood” was. I’m making a film of that book, and have been living with it for 30 years, but found fresh meat in your post. Good for you for doing this.

  5. this is the kind of blog i wanted to find. i never imagined i will, of course, but it has just happened.

    by the way, stop smoking, may i have your socks?, what’s the best book you’ve ever read?

  6. Mr Poet,

    Went to see a man singing called Ghostpoet in Dublin last night – good gig but trying company with friend who doesn’t do big talk or small talk, just lots of silence. Thanks be to jesus for the music. Stumbled upon you while looking for information on Serbian artist in Jakic as quoted In a Strange Room. I also thought the book was amazing and have just finished The Quarry very Becketidian indeed. Have you read Dead Mass by John Gray on the demise of capitolism very good. Poetry Vera Groark Spinthrift is good – unlike my spelling.


  7. I can’t even remember how I stumbled onto your blog (sometime around 3:45 this morning, jet-lagged from 32 straight hours of travel from China to California). What I can remember, however, is that I then spent the next three or so hours hooked on it. What a trove – I’m agog over your blog – you even managed to dispel my irritation with Padget Powell’s “The Interrogative Mood” – something no other reviewer has been able to do.

    Buy you dinner? For sure.

  8. You once wrote that you missed me on WLF. My turn to say the same to you. Is anything wrong? You have been aux abonnés absents for some time now… Quite honestly, WLF is not nearly so interesting anymore.
    Muss zugeben, mache mir doch Sorgen um Dich.

    PS Have no idea how else I can get in touch other than via your wordpress site. You have my email address and I hope you’ll get in touch one way or the other.

  9. Pingback: Tumbling « shigekuni.

  10. Hello! I love your blog. I guess everyone does, but I’m just beginning to explore here and I’m delighted. Your passion for words comes through and feeds my own.
    Again, I’m new here so maybe there’s already a bit of this out here, but I’d enjoy seeing some of your recommendations on english translations for great works.
    Thanks for doing what you do.

  11. I enjoyed reading your thoughts on Roth’s Nemesis, but rather than Achilles, I think it is the Hercules myth that informs the characterization of Bucky Cantor.

  12. I think I see where you are coming from. One of the central aspects, however, of Bucky is his weakness, isn’t it, I think that’s what made me think of Archilles. Hercules had no such clear weakness. I would be really interested in your reasoning.

  13. 11/14/2013
    Dear shigekuni:
    I read your piece on J. P. Donleavy’s Gingerman. I am so old to have read it when it was first published in the U.S. As you are presumably much younger than I, I wondered if you have heard of or read John Kennedy Toole’s Confederacy of Dunces. If so, have you ever compared that work to the Gingerman? I have, and would like to read your juxtaposition of these two chef d’oeuvres.

  14. I just wanted to let you know, in one of my ultimately spontaneous acts so impossible to follow, that I still absolutely and undisputably adore and love you. Thanks for the card, btw. Eli

  15. I have come to this site as a result of reading “The Lyre of Orpheus.” the third in the Cornish trilogy by Robertson Davies. I have come to discover that Mr Davies, now deceased for some time, was quite knowledgeable in a wide variety of topics. He mentions ‘Later Murr’ and I wondered if this was real.

    Should you desire a great read, start with “Rebel Angels,” go on to “What’s Bred in the Bone,” and then finish with “Lyre.”

    Kater Murr comes up as a result of a young musical genius woman trying to get her Ph.D by finishing an alleged opera about King Arthur that ETA Hoffmann never finished.

    So now I know. Thank you.

  16. Pingback: Linkradar: Bowies Bücher, Chaussee der Enthusiasten, Literaturhaus München – Lesen mit Links

  17. What a treasure you are, thank you for sharing your self in this way! I got here originally by googling “dark matter toxic masculinity” when I was struggling to articulate to friends why I thought it was garbage. Your review totally made my day and sparked a way better conversation than I was managing on my own.

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