John Banville on Volume 3:
These were the years of Beckett’s triumph and burgeoning worldwide fame as a dramatist, and he was kept busy fielding inquiries from producers, directors and actors, and even more busy trying to control, down to the last, tiniest detail, the manner in which the plays would be staged. This well-nigh obsessive quest for perfection, as he saw it, is admirable, but it serves to remind us of the fact that Beckett came late to the theatre, that he regarded fiction as his real work – he described the plays as footnotes . . . continue reading, and add your comments
Tim Parks has an interesting enough new posting at the NYR Blog, but I think he’s missing the point a bit. His argument is that what societies “get” out of books is conversation.
What I’m asking is, what’s in it for society as a whole, or at least for that part of society that reads novels?
Conversation. A shared subject of discussion. Something complex for minds to meet around. This is particularly the case when we’re talking to people we don’t know well, people we meet, as it were, socially. This is particularly the case when we’re . . . continue reading, and add your comments
Fascinating interview with Simon Critchley. If you haven’t heard me say it before, read his books.
The other night I was reading a piece on Michael Jackson, which quoted him as having said, “Deep inside I feel that this world we live in is really a big, huge, monumental symphonic orchestra. I believe that in its primordial form, all of creation is sound and that it’s not just random sound, that it’s music.” You seem to fight against this romantic conception of the world and of art. You write, “Music like Bowie’s is not a way of . . . continue reading, and add your comments
I’m definitely overdue for some Can Xue.
The best descriptor for Can Xue’s latest novel, The Last Lover, is that it is unlike, well, anything else. The Beijing-based author calls her fiction “soul literature.” It probably sounds audacious; it’s more audacious than it sounds. Nor does she shy away from what the term implies about the stakes of the numerous short stories and several novels she has published since the 1980s. Her “stereoscopic stories” are not just one more postmodernist innovation in narrative; the cognitive adjustment they require from readers, she says in a 2010 interview, is . . . continue reading, and add your comments
Dan Green on The Sea-God’s Herb: Reviews and Essays:
Domini frames his argument by beginning with an essay from 2010, “Against the ‘Impossible to Explain,’” that makes a more general case that literary criticism “just hasn’t been doing its job” in grappling with adventurous fiction, either largely ignoring it or repeating the canard that it is too far removed from readers’ common experience. The latter complaint seems especially objectionable to Domini, who uses the bulk of the essay to look at the work of three writers who exemplify his contention that postmodern fiction does have “a . . . continue reading, and add your comments
Open Letter Books’ tribute to Michael Henry Heim, The Man Between: Michael Henry Heim and a Life in Translation, looks like a really fantastic book.
The Man Between is, as Sean Cotter writes in his Introduction, “not a Festschrift, but a conversation”, with and about eminent translator Michael Henry Heim (who passed away in 2012). The polyglot Heim translated from German, French, and a variety of eastern European languages, but was also an important figure in the teaching of translation, and in working towards a better understanding of its significance, both in the academy and outside; . . . continue reading, and add your comments
The moment you’ve all been waiting for.
I don’t know that I’d call this a biography. It sounds more like criticism that someone was able to cleverly sell to Bloomsbury (and the Times) as a biography.
Apart from a two-hour interview that took place in Mr. Franzen’s apartment, Mr. Weinstein said he would be relying on Mr. Franzen’s published autobiographical essays for details about his personal life. He also plans to include an analysis of Mr. Franzen’s next novel, a work in progress.
While I would agree with the reasons put forward in this article, I do think the author is missing one very simple explanation: monkey see, monkey do. If you’re in an environment where the people around you are constantly adopting certain usages, and if a sizable portion of your reading is saturated with certain kinds of recurring locutions and grammatical tics, then you’re going to start bringing those into your own prose, whether you like it or not.
This, incidentally, is one of the best arguments for consistently integrating amazing prose into your reading stacks: it makes . . . continue reading, and add your comments
Music & Literature has revealed the table of contents for Issue 5, and it is pretty awesome. Have a look.
If you don’t know M&L’s deal, the idea is that they pick 3 artists/authors/musicians for each issue and create in-depth folios of writing around their work. Said folios also include original work from the subjects themselves. It’s extremely impressive to see the level of contributors and collaborators that M&L has managed to tap in just over two years of existence as a journal.
In Issue 5, the foci are Kaija Saariaho, Can Xue, and Stig Sæterbakken, the . . . continue reading, and add your comments