Lance Olsen and Ingo Schulze @ TQC

We start your week off with an interview and an essay at The Quarterly Conversation.

The interview is my conversation with experimental novelist Lance Olsen, discussing his latest novel, Head in Flames, a book that will remind a lot of people of David Markson, and possibly Don DeLillo.

Olsen must be one of my favorite writers, both as a novelist and a critic, and I think you’ll find a lot of worth in our conversation. Here’s a quote:

I’ve always been interested in the two things fiction can do that film can’t: textured language and deep consciousness. If not those, then why aren’t you writing a screenplay or piece of journalism? Head in Flames, although filled with external action, is at the end of the day all about external action perceived, all about interior spaces, how the mind moves—how, as Henri Bergson and phenomenologists like Husserl reminded us, time is a completely different (and completely elusive) experience when sensed from the inside out.

The other piece is Marcel Inhoff’s argument for why Ingo Schulze isn’t worth reading, despite being one of Germany’s most lauded novelists and one of the few contemporary Germany authors to have made significant inroads into English-language publication.

Ingo Schulze must be one of the more famous living German writers. He sells well in Germany, has won a wide variety of prizes and every new book is sure to receive broad attention and a nomination for one of the major German literary prizes. Additionally, he’s also widely translated into different languages, and has received positive write-ups in Anglophone and Francophone newspapers. In a climate where many readers and critics are concerned about the lack of attention accorded to translations, writers like Schulze are a success story. And he’s the best example that they shouldn’t always be, because Schulze is a deeply mediocre writer, and the attention he receives arguably takes away time and space from better contemporary writers in German, whose voices should be heard.

We happen to publish this just a week after Schulze’s latest English-language publication, One More Story: Thirteen Stories in the Time-Honored Mode, which received a starred review from Booklist.

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Let me just congratulate you on the interview. Riveting, truly. I quickly ordered Head in Flames from Amazon, as well as Rebel Yell, Olsen’s book on creative writing. The interview was everything one could hope for, especially in discussing Olsen’s narrative theories and approaches to writing. Thanks!

Nice. What a smart, articulate man. He really makes evident what, at least for me, David Shields made unnecessarily abstruce in Reality Hunger. I’ll definitely check out Head in Flames. Thanks.


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