Yes, it is as close to perfect as a novel can be. And yes, you should read it today. Do as the Dutch do.
“Why isn’t this book more famous?” asked the writer C.P. Snow about John Williams’s Stoner in 1973, eight years after it was first published by Viking Press. A straightforward yet brilliant novel about an ordinary Missouri English professor, it seems almost fitting that for nearly 40 years, Stoner was quietly revered by its fans without being widely read. But by 2013, approaching its 50th anniversary, the novel is seeing a somewhat surprising . . . continue reading, and add your comments
“The last drops of arsenic (arsenicum album) dissolve in my mouth, insipidly, comfortingly.”
From this very first line of Where There’s Love, There’s Hate, we are inescapably in Bioy’s universe. It has all the hallmarks of his off-kilter, proper-but-also-slightly-looney voice. There’s a little masculine bravado about it, yet also delicacy, vulnerability. It’s the kind of pointless, red-herring detail he loves to toss at a reader for seemingly no other reason than pique, yet that also gives his universe its particular feel.
The sentence hinges around that word, arsenic. It’s eye-catching, immediately raises twenty questions, has a hint . . . continue reading, and add your comments
No doubt Brian Gresko didn’t like James Salter’s All That Is, but I don’t find this a satisfying explanation of why he didn’t like it:
I don’t mean to come across as cavalier, because I am a great fan of the Modernists, but when distilled to topic (men who love parties, art, women, and Europe, and are haunted or wounded by war) and attitude, Modernism could be just as limiting as any genre, and the ways in which Salter’s new novel conforms to its conventions is both a strength and a weakness. Because no matter how . . . continue reading, and add your comments
Fans of either ye olde James brothers or creative criticism, or both, will want to have a look at Wm & H’ry by J.C. Hallman. The book deconstructs the brothers’ correspondence, a rather enormous collection of verbiage, and puts it back together into something idiosyncratic, intriguing, and fleet.
Reviewed at ForeWord:
Brothers William and Henry James are rightfully famous within their respective fields of philosophy/psychology and literature. But their influence on each other is seldom discussed, a failure remedied in J. C. Hallman’s Wm & H’ry, an outstanding overview of the voluminous correspondence . . . continue reading, and add your comments
Horacio Castellanos Moya, probably best known in English for Senselessness (review), has published a new novel: El sueno del retorno.
Here’s the publisher’s page. Sounds like it has some potential:
En 1991, Erasmo Aragón vive en México, donde trabaja como periodista, y está a punto de regresar a San Salvador para emprender una nueva vida y participar en la fundación de una revista. Antes de partir, acude desesperado a la consulta del doctor Chente con la esperanza de que pueda aliviarle unos terribles dolores estomacales. El doctor lo somete a varias sesiones de hipnosis . . . continue reading, and add your comments
Anakana Schofield, voice of tomorrow, picks up the First Novel Award for Malarky. I was down with this one before it was cool.
Irish-Canadian writer and literary critic Anakana Schofield was named winner Wednesday of the 37th annual Amazon.ca First Novel Award for her debut novel Malarky, the story of an Irish mother coping with grief, betrayal and desire.
Good group of people to be a part of.
The First Novel Award recognizes and rewards outstanding achievement by first-time Canadian novelists. Recent winners include David Bezmozgis (The Free World, 2011), Eleanor Catton (The Rehearsal, 2010) . . . continue reading, and add your comments
William Giraldi at The New Republic:
The gears of the Kafka industry will turn into perpetuity because the sources of his self-punishing perspective are obscured within his mellifluously baffling work.3 This is also precisely the reason “Kafkaesque” refuses definition: because Kafka himself contains too many meanings—the Talmudic-Catholic admix, the self-sabotaging disgust for women and sex, the father who haunts from far and near, our vassalage to a mechanical and mysterious bureaucracy, man’s spiritual isolation under an empty firmament, the criminally overlooked comic irony, the parabolic reaching for an elusive truth, the maddening impulse to shame and guilt, . . . continue reading, and add your comments
In case previously untranslated writing from Laszlo Krasznahorkai, paintings by Max Neumann, George Szirtes on translating Krasznahorkai, essays galore on the author, Chejfec on Bela Tarr, and a 10,000-word interview/preview with Seiobo translator Ottilie Mulzet was not enough to convince you to grab the second issue of Music & Literature, maybe the endorsement of The Paris Review will.
I had previously read Jonathan Rosenbaum’s excellent essay on Sátántangó (both László Krasznahorkai’s novel and Béla Tarr’s radical film adaptation) online, so I was excited to finally get my hands on Music & Literature’s second issue—and it doesn’t . . . continue reading, and add your comments
I’m a little afraid this might one day come to pass.
Although there are discrete crevasses of the Bolaño canon—“The Prefiguration of Lalo Cura” is one—more obviously disposed to cinema, there is no reason in the age of Spielberg and the Wachowskis to privilege “a kid’s silly celluloid fantasies” over raw baroque grandeur. In fact, the blockbuster potential of 2666 should be obvious to any reader who has braved its something-like-900-page-length. It is manifestly what György Lukács, creator of the Star Wars franchise, called “the epic of an age in which the extensive totality of life is . . . continue reading, and add your comments
Tell that to Philip Roth.
Joking aside, I’m surprised this point isn’t made more often, particularly when someone who has made a very successful career off of writing novels tells us that they’re dying. The form doesn’t exist separate from the actual human creatures who keep making them every generation. Whether or not novels have more cultural currency now than they did 20 years ago (debatable), they continue to live insofar as people who can make them do.
One thing he’s clearly not paranoid about is the state of literature. Despite a steady stream of laments about . . . continue reading, and add your comments