Friday Catalogs: New Directions

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Published in hardcover last year but still worth mentioning is the paperback release of Roberto Bolaño’s Amulet. (May) If you haven’t read it yet, this is a good one to tide you over between the publication of Nazi Literature in the Americas and 2666, currently slated to come fro FSG in November. (As a sidenote, I really like what New Directions is doing with the covers to Bolaño’s paperback releases.)

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As mentioned earlier on this blog, B.S. Johnson’s famous "book in a box," The Unfortunates will be published by New Directions in its originally intended format. (May)

I’m intrigued by Senselessness, forthcoming from the Honduran Horacio Castellanos Moya. (May) The book has to do with a bohemian author hired by the Catholic Church to tidy up a 1,100 page report documenting the massacre and torture of thousands of indigenous in an unnamed Latin American country.

Notable in light of the recent publication of Autonauts of the Cosmoroute is the release in paperback of Julio Cortazar’s Final Exam. (July) One of his earlier novels, it’s billed here as his "allegorical, bitter, and melancholy farewell to Argentina" with "daring typography, shifts in rhythm," and general stream-of-conscious mayhem.

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And lastly, I am intrigued by Lands of Memory by Uruguayan Felisberto Hernandez, which New Directions is publishing in paperback. (July) This NYT review sums up what makes me intrigued:

He published sparsely; one story first saw print in the almanac of the State Insurance Bank. He read Freud and Proust and made memory his particular subject, but in tiny, idiosyncratic works that sometimes have to be either pieced together or filleted before they can be read. Some of his work is in shorthand that has yet to be deciphered. His first novel is 21 paragraphs long. Even without the enthusiasm of the likes of Borges, Calvino and Cortázar, and the dubious title ”father of magic realism,” he’d be a shoo-in for the avant-garde academy: seriously unsuccessful, randy, individual to the brink of solipsism, a textual challenge and sometimes literally unreadable.


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New Directions has had some magnificent lists in recent seasons, continuing their long tradition. Looks like this one is no different.

Senselessness is a fantastic book. I read it in Spanish last year. Horacio Castellanos Moya seems to be a Thomas Bernhard fan, by the way, and his long sentence prose style reflects that.
You can read an excerpt here:
Senselessness
And you can read the wonderful rant, El Asco, with an intro from Roberto Bolano, in the Words Without Borders anthology:
El Asco

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