Just to get this blog up to date with some audio interviews I’ve recorded in the last couple months.
Here’s me and Ottilie Mulzet with an hour-long, in-depth discussion on Seiobo There Below.
And here’s me, Lorin Stein, and Jan Steyn covering Edouard Levé’s books.
And lastly, recorded just this week, me and Sean Cotter on Blinding by Mircea Cartarescu.
Just figuring out the title was very complex, although the translator says it took him only a year to do.
GS: In the European Portuguese translation, the title is rendered as Piada Infinita, while you translate it as Graça Infinita. Explain. Doesn’t graça have mystical overtones, in the sense of religious grace?
coverCWG: Well, that’s the one I was afraid of…So here goes. First, there is the question of Brazilian versus European usage. Both piada and graça refer to jokes, or anything that is funny. But graça also has an extended meaning cognate with English “grace,” both . . . continue reading, and add your comments
. . . was actually the last one Don DeLillo wrote, and he had a devil of a time doing it. That and more at this fascinating look at annotations DeLillo made to a copy of Underworld for a charity auction.
DeLillo was given the option of annotating “Underworld” or “Americana,” but felt that his distance from the latter was too great. “I have fairly clear recollections of writing the book—the room, the desk, the painting on the wall, the feeling that after two years of work (of an eventual four years) I now considered myself a . . . continue reading, and add your comments
Adelle Waldman may very well be an excellent novelist (I haven’t read her work, but I know people who say great things about The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P.), but in this essay she hasn’t contributed any original or otherwise worthwhile insights on the novel as a form.
I understand the temptation (and pressure) for a place like The New Yorker to have people like Waldman write essays like this, but perhaps from time to time they would turn to the less glamorous, but perhaps more substantive, realm of professional critics for such tasks.
The prose here is a little overwrought (mostly on Giraldi’s side), and I find the Melville comparison a stretch, but all in all a good discussion of John Williams in the LARB.
And I couldn’t agree more about Augustus. You ask if Stoner can claim some of the same strengths as Augustus and I think it can, yes, to a point: it’s a beautiful book, beautifully written and modulated, perfectly controlled, deeply felt. Both Morris Dickstein and Steve Almond have written that it’s not only a beautiful novel but a great one, and I differ slightly with . . . continue reading, and add your comments
The Scotsman has a review of the latest of Modiano’s books to arrive in English, Suspended Sentences. It’s a good review, although this seems a bit harsh to me.
Should Modiano have won the Nobel against Gunter Grass, Thomas Pynchon, Marilynne Robinson, or A S Byatt? That is a question for the Stockholm unelected decideders to decide. I am glad to have read Modiano now, and will read his past and future books, but it seems as if his small canvas and personal obsessions – bad Dads, absent Mums, lost brothers – make his work strangely . . . continue reading, and add your comments
Some interesting observations here.
Then there’s the hoary old Great American Novel question: Might this be it? It seems to me the question is a red herring, since the Great American Novel (like democracy for Derrida) is something that is always and inherently to-come. But I would have no qualms about staking this book’s claim to be the Great German Novel; not in the sense, obviously, of being the best novel written by a German, but rather as a work in which the historical trajectory of German literary culture — the progression through Idealism and Romanticism to . . . continue reading, and add your comments
And people say print is dead.
The Basses have also tapped into New York’s great subsidizing resource: the global rich. If you’ve bought $15 million worth of living space on Park Avenue, it probably has a library, so what’s another $80,000 to fill those shelves? Make a call to the Strand with a few suggestions — “sports, business, art” — and a truckful of well-chosen, excellent-condition books will arrive. (Fred recalls that when Ron Perelman bought his estate on the East End from the late artist Alfonso Ossorio, the Strand had just cleared out Ossorio’s library; Perelman . . . continue reading, and add your comments
The past couple of weeks I have been plowing through Literchoor Is My Beat, Ian S. MacNiven’s excellent biography of New Directions founder James Laughlin. Although Laughlin is the clear subject of this book, it also doubles of a sort of history of a certain era/school of publishing. This is a hugely inspiring, educational read, and it should be required for anyone who is involved with literary publishing.
A couple of the things I love about this book: first, all of the crazy facts that one discovers, or is reminded of, while reading it. Like, for instance, . . . continue reading, and add your comments
At Full-Stop, Ryu Spaeth has a pretty good essay on William H. Gass, jumping off from NYRB Classics’s reissue of In the Heart of the Heart of the Country. The essay is a pretty good discussion of the fact that Gass inspired a lot of very passionate opinion, both good and bad, oftentimes in the same reader.
I’m decidedly one of the mixed Gassians. There’s no doubt that he’s been a sensitive reader and critic, and a person who has popularized a number of writers who might not still be read but for his critical energies. And . . . continue reading, and add your comments