Madeleine LaRue reviewed Maidenhair by Mikhail Shishkin in the Winter 2013 issue of The Quarterly Conversaiton.
The bleak, poetic universe of László Krasznahorkai’s Satantango absorbed me completely. I am continually in awe of the sense of urgency in Krasznahorkai’s books, and of the harsh beauty of his unstoppable sentences.
I was also hugely impressed with Mikhail Shishkin’s Maidenhair. Such an ambitious tangle of stories might easily have become unwieldy or simply irritating in the hands of a less masterful storyteller, but Shishkin proves himself a worthy heir to the best of his Russian predecessors.
Ivan . . . continue reading, and add your comments
Francois Monti is the European Editor of The Quarterly Conversation.
2012 was the year life caught up with literature, but I’m still happy I managed to force some commitments to make way for a few great books. Here is a short selection, in chronological order of reading:
Yuri Herrera – Los Trabajos del Reino & Señales que precederan el fin del mundo: two fantastic short novels about two phenomenon that have a huge impact on both Mexico and the United States : the former deals with drug overlords, the latter with illegal immigration. Novel length prose narco-corrido and the . . . continue reading, and add your comments
Malcolm Forbes reviewed Greg Baxter’s The Apartment in Issue 30.
The first real stand-out read of the year was The Little Russian by Susan Sherman (Counterpoint), a debut novel which was so accomplished it felt like a mid-career high. Authors like Hilary Mantel and Emma Donoghue are doing wonders to re-galvanize interest in the historical novel, but Sherman’s contribution deserves merit for focusing on less well-trodden terrain, namely the Ukraine and its bloody suffering at the beginning of the last century. There are no real stylistic tricks on offer, simply good old-fashioned storytelling.
On the . . . continue reading, and add your comments
John Lingan wrote on concert films for the Fall 2012 issue of The Quarterly Conversation.
Little, Big by John Crowley and The Slave by Isaac Bashevis Singer: The former is an epic, almost gothic contemporary fantasy set mostly in a shape-shifting New England mansion that’s inhabited by fairies. The latter is a dark, two-character parable set in 17th-century rural Poland. But in their final pages, Little, Big and The Slave both ultimately expand into powerful metaphors for how myths arise and endure. Crowley’s prose is lush while Singer’s is hard and sparse, but both of these . . . continue reading, and add your comments
Taylor Davis-Van Atta contributed an essay on Stig Sæterbakken to the Winter 2013 issue of The Quarterly Conversation.
1. Barley Patch & A History of Books by Gerald Murnane I’ll package these two books as a single recommendation because Murnane wrote them more or less concurrently and they read as companion volumes or as a sort of hall of mirrors. Nobody I know of writes even remotely like Murnane, an author who is forever obsessed with the way in which his mind forms and re-forms (and re-forms over and over again) memories as patterns of images, . . . continue reading, and add your comments
Daniel Medin is the Senior Editor of The Quarterly Conversation.
1. László Krasznahorkai: Satantango (New Directions) I love Krasznahorkai’s dark discerning humor, and was delighted to discover that this novel retains its power – and savage funniness – after rereading. It also contains scenes of uncommon beauty. Refracted glory to George Szirtes for his translation: sentence for sentence, Satantango has to be one of the most striking books published in English in 2012.
2. Mahmoud Dowlatabadi: The Colonel (Melville House) Unspeakably dark history of a revolution that devoured – and continues to devour – its children. . . . continue reading, and add your comments
K.T. Kahn reviewed Inland by Gerald Murnane in our fall 2012 issue.
1. Ice by Anna Kavan Kavan creates a world that is the stuff of nightmares, blending reality, dreams, and fantasy in an uncanny, unsettling way. Kavan certainly deserves a much wider audience.
2. Zazen by Vanessa Veselka A truly prescient novel that taps into many political, social, and personal anxieties prevalent in America today. Veselka’s prose is raw, unflinching, poetic: Zazen is a truly remarkable debut novel. Veselka has said that Zazen arose from her inability to process the 2004 school hostage crisis . . . continue reading, and add your comments
Scott Bryan Wilson is a contributing editor to The Quarterly Conversation.
*Death of a Hero (1929) – Richard Aldington – Penguin Classics is issuing a new edition of this next year; think Stoner-level bleak/intense about war
*The Keys to Tulsa (1991) – Brian Fair Berkey – the author completed this one novel before dying of a brain tumor; it’s incredibly funny and sharply written
*Crime and Punishment (1866) – Fyodor Dostoyevsky – you see, this guy commits a senseless murder OKAY I KNOW I KNOW I should have read this years ago
*Fathers and Sons . . . continue reading, and add your comments
Jeff Bursey’s most recent review for The Quarterly Conversation was of My Struggle by Karl Ove Knausgaard in the Winter 2013 issue.
#1: My Struggle, by Karl Ove Knausgaard. This hit me where I write and in what I think of family relations. To the first: the play of ideas mixed with the recitation of events is powerful. Too few writers think that ideas can be exciting, and they belabour plot and character instead. To the second: the re-appraisal of family relations means more to me now than it might have five years go, for example, . . . continue reading, and add your comments
Here are the 5 picks from TQC Poetry Editor Erica Mena.
1. The Keep by Emily Wilson This book demands to be consumed slowly, word by word. Each poem a dense wordscape that must be read and reread, immersed in and languished over. Its rich and lush and slow. Luxurious.
2. Voyager by Srikanth Reddy An immense work. Haunting, lyric, and perhaps the most successful erasure I’ve ever read. The three erasures construct three different takes on the horrors and strangeness of the twentieth century. The third, the bulk of the book, moves the fastest for me . . . continue reading, and add your comments