The writing on this can get pretty annoying at times, but there are some interesting findings in Tom Bissell’s profile of William T. Vollmann. For instance: apparently, Viking is getting a little too tired of Vollmann’s doorstoppers. (And after Last Stories, who can blame them?)
Vollmann told me that Viking, which has been publishing his Dreams for decades, was currently “sadly contemplating” the publication of The Dying Grass, volume five, about the Plains Indian wars of the late nineteenth century. For the first time in Vollmann’s career, Viking had begun to impose page limits in his contracts. For . . . continue reading, and add your comments
Fantastic interview here with Ottilie Mulzet, translator of Seiobo There Below and AnimalInside.
One of the great things we learn here is that there are three new Krasznahorkai translations on the way:
Two translations haunt me as we speak. One is Destruction and Sorrow Beneath the Heavens, which I’m translating now. It’s literary reportage based on Krasznahorkai’s extensive travels in China, and, if anything, it’s even more relevant today than when it was first published in 2002. The other is The World Goes On, an amazing collection of short stories. George Szirtes, who won the . . . continue reading, and add your comments
Tim Parks at the NYR Blog has got beef with people claiming My Struggle is a bestseller:
One could be forgiven, then, for imagining that this is one of those books which periodically impose themselves as “required reading” at a global level: Umberto Eco’s Name of the Rose, Jostein Gaarder’s Sophie’s World, Peter Hoeg’s Smilla’s Sense of Snow, Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom all spring to mind, literary equivalents of internationally successful genre works like Stieg Larsson’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code, and E. L. James’s Fifty Shades of Grey.
Well, as of . . . continue reading, and add your comments
I owned this book for quite a while before I noticed this,
So translator Chris Andrews wrote a book on Bolaño: Roberto Bolaño’s Fiction: An Expanding Universe. I’m pretty excited for this one. Andrews is one smart guy, and he’s a fantastic translator who has been extremely close to a number to Bolaño’s best novels.
Publishers Weekly gave this book a starred review.
This is how I first came across this book. An amazing list of the murders recounted in “The Part About the Crimes” from 2666 and their real-life analogues.
And here’s Andrews discussing Bolaño and Aira at The Quarterly . . . continue reading, and add your comments
New issue of Asymptote, with some intriguing pieces by Cesar Aira and Sergio Chejfec.
In Aira’s piece, the Argentine pays praise to his literary father, Osvando Lamborghini:
The first publication of Osvaldo Lamborghini (Buenos Aires 1940 – Barcelona 1985), shortly after his thirtieth birthday, was El fiord; it appeared in 1969, but had been written several years before. It was a thin book, and for a long time it was sold in a single bookstore in Buenos Aires via the discreet method of asking for it from the salesperson. Though it was never republished, it traveled over a . . . continue reading, and add your comments
David Auerbach makes an intriguing case for the novel Oil on Water by the Nigerian writer Helon Habila.
What transported me most in Oil on Water was the chronology. Our intrepid but callow reporter Rufus heads into the Niger Delta with a very flawed father-figure, Zaq, originally intending to meet up with some rebel guerrillas (under the leadership of the shadowy “Professor”) to negotiate for the return of a hostage. The hostage, Isabelle Floode, is the wife of a bigshot oil executive, and thus seemingly a pawn in the fight between the rebels and the Nigerian military, . . . continue reading, and add your comments
The New York Times and I agree, Vollmann’s latest book is not very good.
I feel like, recently, Vollmann’s been a lot better at nonfiction than fiction. It’ll be interesting to see what happens with the next installment of his “Seven Dreams” series, in theory publishing next year.
A cool list by Janice Lee at Entropy mag.
Might the novel, as a form, signal a sort of failure inherent in its own slightly paradoxical but insistent existence? There is something that a novel, often in its ability to pause, or in its longness or sheer density, can achieve that other forms cannot. But in the ambition to get at something so indescribable that the mere attempt requires an entire novel to represent the attempt at its description, this is a failure in itself, the epic as a sort of fabrication or proportional importance to conduct or . . . continue reading, and add your comments