We start your week off with an interview and an essay at The Quarterly Conversation.
The interview is my conversation with experimental novelist Lance Olsen, discussing his latest novel, Head in Flames, a book that will remind a lot of people of David Markson, and possibly Don DeLillo.
Olsen must be one of my favorite writers, both as a novelist and a critic, and I think you’ll find a lot of worth in our conversation. Here’s a quote:
I’ve always been interested in the two things fiction can do that film can’t: textured language and . . . continue reading, and add your comments
At The Quarterly Conversation, Andrew Ervin ponders a writer’s responsibility to his privileged place in our society. And he does it in light of reading Wallace Shawn’s new play and book of essays:
Reading these Essays a couple times reminded me of the pressing need for white, male, middle- and upper-class authors like Shawn to think and write about race and class and all the issues our rich parents were too fucking polite to talk about in public. I can’t think of another American author more worthy of the Nobel Prize. He’s that good and that incendiary. In . . . continue reading, and add your comments
At TQC we’ve just published Donald Brown’s look at 42 years of American poet Mark Strand’s work, via his 2007 collected works, New Selected Poems.
Here’s a quote from the review:
Strand’s poems have always been inflected by a sense of words as symbolic more than descriptive. He’s about as far from being a nature poet, who yet describes a natural world, as could be. He’s also rather far removed from confessional verse, even though he does at times write about himself, or as himself. And that, to me, is the lesson of symbolist poetry: . . . continue reading, and add your comments
Lewis Manalo, the buyer for Idlewild Books in NYC, must be doing a good job. Though I’ve never been to the store, by all reports Idlewild has a great selection of world literature.
What’s more, Manalo has penned an op-ed where he describes his efforts to get books–often great works of world literature–that have never been published in the U.S. into the hands of his customers. At the very least, this is evidence against the claim that “culturally insular” Americans don’t want to read beyond their borders:
Telling your bookseller that you’ve tried every other shop in the . . . continue reading, and add your comments
We’re serializing John Domini’s essay “Against the ‘Impossible to Explain’: The Postmodern Novel and Society” in two parts, the first of which has just been published at The Quarterly Conversation.
The essay brings in a number of books and essays, and it covers three particular works in depth: Aureole by Carole Maso, Zeroville Steve Erickson, and Michael Martone by Michael Martone by Michael Martone. It’s a lengthy piece that’s a little difficult to summarize, but essentially Domini is writing against criticism that throws its hands up in the face of “difficult” books. Part of the . . . continue reading, and add your comments
In The Nation.
Graciously, Wimmer sends some kind words toward The Quarterly Conversation:
El asco struck a nerve not just in El Salvador but across Latin America. Photocopies of it were circulated where the printed book wasn't available, and in an interview with Castellanos Moya (published in the online journal The Quarterly Conversation, which does an admirable job of covering literature in translation), Mauro Javier Cardenas notes that everyone in Mexico City seemed to be reading it in the late 1990s. More than ten years after its publication, it is taught in at least one Salvadoran . . . continue reading, and add your comments
New review of a really intriguing new book at The Quarterly Conversation. Published by Dzanc Books, it’s called Kamby Bolongo Mean River and it sounds part-New York Trilogy, part-Beckett, and part Wittgenstein. Here’s a taste:
In Kamby Bolongo Mean River our protagonist is confined in an observation cell containing only a bed and a telephone. Behind the two-way glass, white coated doctors observe the incarcerated narrator as he chooses to answer or not answer incoming calls. The sudden ringing of the phone occasionally terrorizes the man whose frequent masturbation spells may or . . . continue reading, and add your comments
Our latest review is of an intense little novel:
Eugene Marten’s Waste is blurbed up by the Lish School (including Lish himself) so I was expecting a quirkily written, intelligent effort more concerned with the structures of its sentences than narrative cohesion; what I got is a brutal, disturbing little novel that works beautifully both for those who read for story and those who read for the artistry—or at least those who read for those things but who can deal with a shocking amount of physical and psychological trauma . . .
Recently, the Review of Contemporary Fiction published a very odd text for its summer issue. It kind of looks like Moby-Dick, but it also looks like some kind of automatic poetry.
What it is, actually, is Damion Searls’ abridgment of Moby-Dick by automatic means. A couple of years ago Orion Books published Moby-Dick in Half the Time, a book that turned Meville’s bizarre masterpiece into something resembling a psychological novel. In other words, Moby-Dick without everything that makes it distinctive.
Well, Searls’ text is everything that got cut. It’s a very interesting project, and we discuss it at . . . continue reading, and add your comments
We’ve just published the 17th issue of The Quarterly Conversation. The TOC is below.
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Now on to the issue.
Features From the Editors: On . . . continue reading, and add your comments