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, . . . 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 . . . 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, . . . 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 . . . 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 . . . continue reading, and add your comments
Mark Polizzotti on translating Patrick Modiano. His translation of Suspended Sentences comes out next month from Yale University Press.
The Occupation has been described as the “black hole of French memory.” Modiano’s particular talent has been to extend that void, to expose the profound moral ambiguities it covers over and the responsibility for those ambiguities in the most mundane aspects of his characters’ daily lives. Similarly, the Nobel citation focused on “the art of memory with which he has evoked the most ungraspable human destinies and uncovered the life-world of the Occupation.” At the same . . . continue reading, and add your comments
Another review for Volume 3 of Samuel Beckett’s Letters. The Independent.
The success of Waiting for Godot is still warm and he faces a world of admirers in new translators, writers, journalists (“the bastards”), actors and directors: “people, people, signatures, smiles, confusion of names”. These are the years when Harold Pinter first meets Beckett and Beckett first meets Buster Keaton, each to their heroes. Beckett marries his partner, Suzanne Deschevaux Dumesnil, and falls for his lifelong confidante to be, Barbara Bray.
The pull of two languages is mirrored by the pull of two private lives. Success . . . continue reading, and add your comments
Busy day today, so I don’t have the time to catalog all the absurdities here, but needless to say Matthew Yglesias should stick to industries he understands. And he might want to learn to write like a grown-up.
Here’s a little real talk about the book publishing industry — it adds almost no value, it is going to be wiped off the face of the earth soon, and writers and readers will be better off for it.
The fundamental uselessness of book publishers is why I thought it was dumb . . .
What is indisputably true . . . continue reading, and add your comments