I Think I’m Going to Read J. M. Ledgard Now . . .

If you’re like me, you’ve been hearing a lot about J. M. Ledgard lately, particularly his novel Submergence. This is the essay that made me finally think I need to put him on my must-read list.

The greater surprise, rather, is in these two books’ composition. In attempting to tell a story, many novelists simply follow a single character, or an interconnected group of characters, chronologically through a specific time and place. Giraffe, however, splits its narrative of bringing a herd of giraffes from eastern Africa to landlocked Czechoslovakia—and their eventual, stomach-churning massacre—among six narrators across a three-and-a-half–year span, with a seventh narrator providing an epilogue twenty-eight years after the novel’s beginning. Submergence eschews even this idea of chronology, adopting a chiasmic structure by tracking the perpendicular lives of a male British spy captured by jihadists and a female marine biologist both before and after the short time of their meeting one Christmas on France’s Atlantic coast.

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Me too! Took a drive down to B&N on my lunch break. First time I’ve stepped inside a B&N in months. Of course they didn’t have a copy of Submergence in the store.

So I ordered it on Amazon.

Very interested to see what you make of Submergence. I thought that it was smart, with some rich ideas and a few lyrical passages, but that his editor let him down a lot. Also, thanks for this site and for your work elsewhere!


The Surrender is Veronica Scott Esposito’s “collection of facts” concerning how she embraced her true gender.


Two long essays of 10,000 words each on sex in—and out of—literature . . .

The first essay dives in to Nicholson Baker’s “sex trilogy,” explaining just what Baker is up to here and why these books ultimately fail to be as sexy as Baker might wish.

From there the book moves on to the second essay, which explains just why Spaniard Javier Marías does right what Baker does wrong . . .


5 essays. 2 interviews.

All in all, over 25,000 words of Latin American literary goodness.

3 never-before-published essays, including “The Digression”—a 4,000-word piece on the most important digression in César Aira’s career.

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