This is the first review I’ve read of the new Murakami book. My feeling is that Nathaniel Rich, representing The Atlantic’s point of view, could have done a lot better. Essentially, it reads to me like a bunch of clichés about Murakami’s writing, minus any actual critical judgment about this book, or any deep insight into how this book feels or works. To wit:
Yet we’re undeniably in Murakamiland. Nobody else could have written this novel, or dared to try. Then again, given the remarkable continuity of his fiction, nearly every Murakami novel feels like a new . . . continue reading, and add your comments
Bae Suah is one of the more astonishing authors I’ve discovered lately. So when I saw that an essays of hers on Sebald had been translated, I wanted to read it.
It was After Nature that got me hooked on Sebald. I opened the wings of the altarpiece that was Sebald himself and entered the world I found there, that world that had initially seemed as inscrutable as the man. Even now, it seems as though I’ve forgotten to go back to the world I’d known before. I discovered that for certain people, time is divided into . . . continue reading, and add your comments
Thanks to Michael Orthofer for this blast from the past. In his look back through the days of yore for various literary websites, it’s nice of Michael to include The Quarterly Conversation among the sites that have “moved up in the world.” Although it’s a little fuzzy now, I still remember those old Typepad days, as well as when I used to code each page of the site by hand in a text editor. Ahh, the memories, which reminds me, the site is due for an update one of these days . . .
The writing on this is horrifyingly bad, but there is some interesting information here about the things David Foster Wallace wrote in books he read.
Daniel Mendelsohn’s introduction to the NYRB Classics’ reissue of Augustus is now available online as part of the Aug 14 issue of the New York Review.
If you’re a fan of Williams, this book will seem different in some interesting ways. It’s much more obviously postmodern, in the sense that it’s a bit of a fantasia constructed on the life of a historical figure, and it takes place completely via fake historical documents (letters, diaries, etc) that Williams creates entirely. The preoccupations are the same, however, except perhaps that this book is much more interested in the . . . continue reading, and add your comments
I don’t expect The New York Times to have mastered the minutia of every single topic on earth, but it would be nice if the paper of record managed to correct the most glaring errors in this profile.
Here’s a hint of where to start:
That is not to say that Mr. Krasznahorkai is an easy read. He writes sentences that can go on for pages and pages: “The Melancholy of Resistance,” in which a bizarre circus wanders into yet another small town in the dead of winter, toting a gigantic stuffed whale, consists of a single . . . continue reading, and add your comments
A nice review at Music & Literature of the latest book from Gerald Murnane, A Million Windows. For those of you who have been enjoying Murnane’s late style, as seen in Barley Patch and A History of Reading, this is very much of a piece with that project. Although it’s also its own book, not simply a retread of what Murnane has done in those titles.
Interestingly, Murnane’s 40-year-old title A Lifetime on Clouds was recently re-released, and it’s very pertinent to A Million Windows. Murnane revisits (at length) one of the key images . . . continue reading, and add your comments
Writer Pierre Ryckmans, aka Simon Leys, died earlier this week. So, perhaps the kind memorial messages that are appearing will induce you to pick up some of his work. He was an extraordinary (and often combative) literary critic, as well as someone who wrote eloquently on translation. You can find all of that in his collected essays, The Hall of Uselessness, released last year by NYRB Classics.
Ian Buruma’s NYRB piece on said book is available here. And NYRB Classics has made one essay from the collection available on their Tumblr. And the Sydney Morning . . . continue reading, and add your comments
Stuart Jeffries reviews the new biography of Walter Benjamin, Walter Benjamin: A Critical Life, in The Guardian.
In the summer of 1932, Benjamin was very nearly at the end of his rope. Professionally, his dreams of academic tenure had been crushed and he was struggling to make a living as a writer at the moment when opportunities for a Jew publishing in Germany were, thanks to Hitler’s poisoning of intellectual life, about to dwindle almost to nothing.
His personal life, too, was in tatters. Acrimoniously divorced from his wife Dora, all but estranged from his only child . . . continue reading, and add your comments
Fans of Stoner-author John Williams (or just fans of great literature), NYRB Classics is soon releasing Williams’s final novel, Augustus. I’ve about 2/3 of the way through and it’s excellent.