Interesting thoughts on how McCarthy revitalizes the 18/9th-century prose he is known for being inspired by.
Aside from his restrictive rationing of the colon, McCarthy declares his stylistic convictions with simplicity: “I believe in periods, in capitals, in the occasional comma, and that’s it.” It’s a discipline he learned first in a college English class, where he worked to simplify 18th century essays for a textbook the professor was editing. Early modern English is notoriously cluttered with confounding punctuation, which did not become standardized until comparatively recently.
McCarthy, enamored of the prose style of the Neoclassical English writers . . . continue reading, and add your comments
Seagull is publishing 3 volumes of conversations between Jorge Luis Borges and Osvaldo Ferrari. Volume 1 is now out.
And the NYRB has an excerpt from one of the conversations.
Osvaldo Ferrari: Many people still ask whether Borges believes in God, because at times they feel he does and at times that he doesn’t.
Jorge Luis Borges: If God means something in us that strives for good, yes. If he’s thought of as an individual being, then no, I don’t believe. I believe in an ethical proposition, perhaps not in the universe but in each one of . . . continue reading, and add your comments
New essay of mine over at The White Review. It involves Abbas Kiarostami’s film Close-Up and me. I think you’ll like it.
Mark McGurl considers David Foster Wallace as a creature of the program era:
And, more importantly for my purposes here, isn’t his relation to institutions what makes Wallace, in literary historical terms, most interest-ing? For me, in any case, this relation is more interesting than his critique of American culture, which, while advanced with considerable verve, and unusually well attuned to the vicissitudes of ironic distance, amounts finally to a highly conventional morality tale about the ill effects of narcissism and TV. So, too, is it more interesting than the chaotically ambitious forms of his longer works, which . . . continue reading, and add your comments
There’s a nice essay on Juan Jose Saer in the current issue of the New York Review of Books, centering on La Grande, Saer’s biggest, and last novel (and probably his best). Unfortunately, the essay is behind the paywall, so you have to subscribe if you want to read it. but, on the plus side, this will get Saer a lot of new readers.
There’s also Marcelo Ballvé’s excellent essay on Saer in the current issue of The Quarterly Conversation.
La Grande is very much about people coexisting in isolated, parallel worlds. Gutiérrez, in particular, . . . continue reading, and add your comments
But, fortunately, probably not as good as Kafka.
Take the example of Casimir Adamowitz-Kostrowicki, born in Paris in 1880. Like Kafka, Adamowitz-Kostrowicki read his life’s work only to his friends, instructing one of them to burn it should he never return from the war. Only, unlike Kafka, his masterpiece was actually torched in a small bonfire on the street when it was mistakenly assumed that he died on the front.
The New York Review covers the latest book from the one many prefer to Stefan Zweig.
Hitler was named Reich chancellor on January 30, 1933. The very same day, Joseph Roth boarded a train from Berlin to Paris, never again to set foot in Germany. This writer—a renowned columnist for the Frankfurter Zeitung, an acerbic observer of German cultural and political life, the newspaper’s star reporter from Paris, a roving correspondent sent variously to the south of France in 1925, the Soviet Union in 1926, Albania and the Balkans in 1927, and Italy and Poland in 1928, and . . . continue reading, and add your comments
You really have to hand it to indie press people: leave it to us to collectively hyperventilate and continually apologize for a J Franz fave on the cover of a book.
But anyway, I can think of few better books to get whatever boost a Franzen fave gives than Nell Zink, whose debut novel (at 50 years of age) The Wallcreeper is truly something. I’m half convinced that Zink, who lives in Germany, is Helen DeWitt in disguise, or maybe just had a lot of drinks with DeWitt at some point.
The sentences that this woman writes . . . . continue reading, and add your comments
I’m not exactly sure why we need Jennifer Weiner to rehash the whole “blogs versus critics” thing.
Here’s an idea: if some random person on Amazon says something dumb about your book, you can ignore it. Chances are, most other people will find it as trivial and annoying as you do. And if you’re the author of a celebrity memoir: congrats, you’ve already won.
Still, I can feel Howard’s pain. Show me a writer who hasn’t felt savaged, misunderstood, unfairly attacked, or completely misread by an Amazon reviewer, and I’ll show you a writer whose books live in . . . continue reading, and add your comments
My contribution to Music & Literature Issue 5 is a long essay on Stig Saeterbakker that began in my reading of his essays. For this essay, I was given the really fortunate honor of reading a number of Saeterbakken’s essays (all published for the first time in English in this issue) before they were officially published.
“Sacred Tears,” which M&L has now made available on its website, was the first one that I read, and it’s amazing. The elegance and strangeness and power here . . . it still sticks in my mind. Saeterbakken knew just what . . . continue reading, and add your comments