So I took the opportunity in my review of Blinding to editorialize a tiny bit about the state of American fiction. My thesis: if you want epic ambition, look overseas.
I don’t think it’s controversial at all to say that in the past decade or so, the great majority of the real shoot-for-the-moon, thrilling novels published in English have appeared in translation. Things life Freedom and The Goldfinch may pack in a lot of pages, but in terms of style, theme, and structure, they’re extremely tame. They’re page-turners that are mean to be plowed through, . . . continue reading, and add your comments
Nice to see that Notes on Conceptualisms has been translated into Spanish, and is attracting some serious attention in that language.
Depending on who you are, that title is either going to really excites you or scare the shit out of you. If you’re part of the latter group, though, there’s no reason for it. The book mostly consists of aphoristic statements about art and literature, all of which are interesting in and of themselves, and even more so when read in order. Yes, as the title suggests, it’s mostly about conceptual art, but in a way . . . continue reading, and add your comments
Sergio Chejfec’s two main English-language translators, interviewed at Asymptote:
Let’s get back to the translating itself. You both have been very fortunate in that you live in the same city as your writers, which isn’t the case for most translators. What kind of collaboration do you have with Chejfec?
Carson: It was important to know Sergio personally and get a sense that he was invested in the project. He’s fascinated by what the translator is doing—it resembles, particularly in its uncertainties and ambiguities, the thought process of his narrator. I found Sergio to be very patient and generous . . . continue reading, and add your comments
Apparently the abomination is over: as Michael points out, the market has spoken, and it hates the original paperback covers for My Struggle, so FSG has gone with a change of design. Here’s how they compare.
Old (Lord have mercy!!):
True, these new covers are boring as hell and reflect the InDesign skills of roughly 95% of current high school seniors, but, by God, I think at this point we’ll all gladly accept non-offensively dull over the carnival-madman-vomit aesthetic of the originals.
I admit, I’m sad in . . . continue reading, and add your comments
A very insightful reading of Sheila Heti’s How Should a Person Be? at The Point.
Sheila and Margaux suffer from complementary forms of philosophical confusion. Sheila’s tendency to think of the self primarily in external terms, which never translate into what she wants them to be internally, is met by Margaux’s strong sense of her inner self, which in turn is threatened when translated into the outside world. How Should a Person Be? is hence more than a simple self-help book masquerading as a novel. Rather, it imaginatively stages both sides of a profound philosophical problem: Where . . . continue reading, and add your comments
Calamari Press has recently reissued the long-out-of-print Travel Notes (from here—to there) by Stanley Crawford (whom you might recognize as the author of the Log of the S.S. the Mrs Unguentine).
The LARB has a nice review of this book that doubles as an overview on Crawford:
STANLEY CRAWFORD’S CAREER has been as strange and surreal as many of his novels. As a young writer in the 1960s, published by such powerhouses as Simon & Schuster and Knopf, Crawford found that the all-powerful New York Times book section of the day met his books with . . . continue reading, and add your comments
Long-time readers to this blog know that I very, very rarely talk about books that are not directly related to literary fiction in this space. There are various reasons for that, but it’s a practice that I’ve tried to keep pretty consistent here.
So, it’s kind of a big deal that I’m going to go all out and beg you to read Capital in the 21st Century.And I’ll even make you this promise—yes, this is a book about economics that mostly deals with income inequality, but it also tells a compelling, genuinely new story about the 20th century. . . . continue reading, and add your comments
James Wood at The New Yorker:
“POLITICAL WORK OUGHT TO BE CONCRETE”: this is one of the rousing Soviet mottos recalled in Sergei Dovlatov’s novel, The Zone. Ironically, it is also what is said about good writing, and can one think of a more concrete contemporary writer than Dovlatov? Sentences compacted to aphoristic ingots: “One is born either poor or rich. Money has almost nothing to do with it.” Paradox, sharp wit, and swift one-liners: “Boris sober and Boris drunk are such different people, they’ve never even met.” Or: “What could I say to him? What do you . . . continue reading, and add your comments
So a little background: the poet Laura Simms is publishing this book called Fare Forward, which is basically her correspondence with the great innovative novelist David Markson. She recently did an event with Ann Beattie at The Strand where she discussed the book and Markson in general.
Here’s the video from the event. Definitely a thing to check out for the Markson fans in the audience.
Anyone who buys Kindle books is giving Amazon the right to steal what they think is their property at any moment Amazon wants. There’s no reason to do it when you can generally get an ePub file without a lot of extra hassle.
According to Martin Bekkelund, a Norwegian Amazon customer identified only as Linn had her Kindle access revoked without warning or explanation. Her account was closed, and her Kindle was remotely wiped. Bekkelund has posted a string of emails that he says were sent to Linn by the company. They are a sort of Kafkaesque . . . continue reading, and add your comments