Excellent essay by David Auerbach.
Literature has reason to be embarrassed next to music. Music was quite forwardlooking when it came to technology. Composers like George Antheil had been working with electronics from at least the 1920s – possibly earlier if some of his eccentric mechanical monstrosities count. Today composers and performers regularly use laptops with signal-processing software more powerful than anything studio professionals could use twenty years ago. Landmarks such as Xenakis’ La Legende d’Eer, Karlheinz Stockhausen’s Kontakte and Telemusik, Pauline Oliveros’ Bye Bye Butterfly, James Tenney’s Collage #1 (“Blue Suede”), and the oeuvres of Pierre . . . continue reading, and add your comments
In the NYRB.
Marías likes murder. While he has translated Sterne, Faulkner, and Nabokov into Spanish and learned a great deal from them on the way, he has also translated Stevenson, Kipling, and Conrad. Thus the yarn—the adventure story told at length that holds the audience—belongs to him as much as any set of playful narrative voices. At the heart of the trilogy Your Face Tomorrow is a spy story. His novel A Heart So White, which, at one level, is a murder story, may be his best work to date because it offers an ingenious balance . . . continue reading, and add your comments
Somehow I missed Tom LeClair reviewing Lydia Davis’s Can’t and Won’t. At the B&N Review.
“Let be be finale of seem,” says Wallace Stevens in “The Emperor of Ice-Cream.” Davis is celebrated for eschewing or mocking all those old-fashioned fictional conventions of “seem”: words artfully arranged, characters that appear to be people, passages of discourse that seem to be conversation, pages that might be mistaken for a narrative. She is the Empress of Ice-Cream, queen of transient small pleasures served cold. In Can’t and Won’t the Empress is barely clothed with her short shorts. The most distinctive . . . continue reading, and add your comments
Nice review of Gabriel Josipovici’s Hotel Andromeda. At M&L, by David Winters.
How can art address those aspects of life that elude direct expression? In his remarkable book Art Matters, the aesthetic theorist Peter De Bolla describes his encounter with a particular painting (Barnett Newman’s enormous Vir Heroicus Sublimis) whose powerful presence leaves him “struck dumb.” Searching for words to express this unsettling experience, De Bolla poses a series of questions. Firstly, he asks, “how does this painting determine my address to it?” Next, as an aspect of that address, “how does it make me feel?” . . . continue reading, and add your comments
Holy mother of god, Dave Eggers’ new novel is already out. This sounds bad . . .
Thomas, the novel’s corroded protagonist, methodically kidnaps a handful of people, among them an astronaut, a retired congressman, a grade-school teacher and his own mother. They’re handcuffed to poles in separate buildings at Fort Ord, a decommissioned Northern California Army post. This isn’t a plot, exactly. The story doesn’t turn on the question of whether Thomas and his captives will escape, and Eggers only barely sketches out how they were captured (formaldehyde, etc.). He is just blocking the stage for . . . continue reading, and add your comments
I really don’t understand the point of things like this. Like a lot of writing of this genre, Tim Parks’s entry starts out reasonably enough, but then quickly veers into “IT’S IMPOSSIBLE TO READ ANY MORE” territory. To wit:
Now, on the contrary, every moment of serious reading has to be fought for, planned for. . . . Only yesterday a smart young Ph.D. student told me his supreme goal was to keep himself from checking his email more than once an hour, though he doubted he would achieve such iron discipline in the near future. At . . . continue reading, and add your comments
I’m not one to reflexively hate the use of computers and statistical analysis in literary studies. Data and statistics can be as worthwhile a way into a text as any. In my opinion, it comes down to how sensitive a critic is in interpreting the data. As always, it’s all about determining the interesting questions to ask and finding interesting ways to express your chosen answers.
This, of course, makes the digital humanities very different from hard science, where there’s a very clear method to implement and a very narrow leeway for interpreting the results. People who try . . . continue reading, and add your comments
Stephen Marche’s LARB essay on the state of the contemporary novel reads as extremely half-baked to me.
To start, it’s full of all sorts of off-base observations, such as:
The narrative forms that thrived in the mid-nineties — minimalism, with its descriptions of poor and rural men; magical realism which incorporated non-Western elements into the traditional English novel; the exotic lyricism of John Berger or Michael Ondaatje — have been pushed to the side
That’s a remarkably strange way to describe magical realism—as an offshoot of the “English novel” instead of a genre of its own that . . . continue reading, and add your comments
Just adding in on the comments here, one reason I will mildly defend Amazon is that it gets the books to people who have no other way to get the books. In a lot of places Amazon (or Barnes & Noble) is the only valid way to get books, which does count for something (and which makes it even worse that they’re warring with Hachette by cutting off access to books).
If you’re lucky enough to have a good indie within your range, they will often custom order books for you at no extra cost to you. . . . continue reading, and add your comments