A couple of months after that, in February 2011, Béla Tarr presented the world premiere of The Turin Horse at Berlinale by declaring that it was going to be his last film: was this as the definitive victory of disillusion and pessimism?
The following interviews with Tarr, cinematographer Fred Kelemen, and composer Mihály Víg—made in early 2014 via phone calls and e-mail exchanges—originated from the sentence Tarr has been repeating in every press conference for the past three years: “The Turin Horse is my last film as a director.”
However, instead of considering The Turin . . . continue reading, and add your comments
This is a pretty fair assessment of Bolaño: A Biography.
Denied access to papers in the Bolaño estate, the Argentine journalist Mónica Maristain has sought instead to unveil the “real” Bolaño through a series of Q & A format interviews with his publishers, former lovers, student friends and literary rivals. While Maristain’s book has much to say about Bolaño’s place in Latin American literature, ultimately it reads more like a preliminary sketch to be coloured in later. For all its occasional insight into Bolaño’s mind and his fiction, it is no more or less than an essay-length . . . continue reading, and add your comments
Very honored to be among the esteemed list of “Literary Advocates” named by Entropy magazine for 2014.
The list of literary-type activities I’m involved in these days is pretty eclectic, but if there is one thing that runs through them all, it’s the idea of advocacy. And the root of that is simply that I believe in books—I love them, I think everybody should spend time with them—and I deeply believe in the people who are involved with creating them and making them available to the public. So, really, being able to spend my time advocating for . . . continue reading, and add your comments
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