Ulli Lust: Trop n’est pas assez

March 15th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

Austrian Ulli Lust was one of ten women whose graphic novels figured among the Angoulême Festival’s 58 Official Selections this year. Her heady, liberating, life-hungry road memoir of punk youth in Europe, Trop n’est pas assez [Too Much Is Not Enough], from the small French press Ça et Là, was the only German-language nomination. It shared the Prix Révélation for best new talent with another memoir: Elodie Durand’s La Parenthèse [The Parenthesis], a somber chronicle of a battle with brain-tumor-related strokes and amnesia.

I had the pleasure to attend a public interview with her while at Angoulême. Lust speaks in English, and sits beside her interpreter, who relays her words to the French-speaking crowd of mostly teenaged girls. Halfway through the long festival day, in the hot and crowded indie comics tent, she looks a little like a bedraggled Charlotte Rampling, but the odd question brings her to rapt and startling life: a gush of gratitude or enthusiasm giving us a glimpse of the spiky-haired devil-may-care girl of 17 immortalized in her own book.

“I remember everything from when I was 17,” Lust muses. “Last year, not so much.”

Set in summer 1984, Too Much tells the story of Ulli and Edi, who sling a sleeping bag over one shoulder and set out with nothing—not even IDs—but the clothes on their backs. » Read the rest of this entry «

Mid-March Roundup

March 15th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

The Ides is a perfect time to cast a look round the interwebs:

  • Nicole Taylor’s first published short story, “The Excision,” has been up just over a month at the groovy spec mag Brain Harvest. This is only the beginning of her coming fiction domination, so get in on the ground floor.

“She buttoned up her shirt and stared into the mirror to see how obvious her bloodstains were. They looked like polka dots.”

  • Will Schofield moves his landmark blog A Journey Round My Skull to the spiffy 50 Watts, which is admittedly pretty and loads much faster. I’m a month behind reporting this change, just in time to report his syndication of my post on Belgian horror writer Thomas Owen, complete with Rorschach Test, has shifted accordingly, from here to here.

“If Ray is the “Belgian Poe,” what writer, then, to pick for Owen, most commonly considered his closest spiritual son? Machen? Blackwood? Lovecraft? Campbell? In fact there is no one in English quite like him, no one who has devoted himself so completely and single-mindedly to pursuing and refining what we might in English call the tale of supernatural horror to an almost anachronistic degree of classical purity.”

  • My translation of occasional fabulist Maurice Pons’ fine and moving story “The Baker’s Son” is out in the latest issue of Tin House, numbered 47: The Mysterious, which just hit stands the first of the month. I haven’t gotten a copy yet. Someone go take a look and tell me how it is! I’m pleased to report I was asked to write a preface providing context for the author’s work wherein I include some literary gossip.

“Pons has, since the seventies, the era of his profligacy, become something of a cult figure in French letters, his rare collections cause for delectation among a select readership. These tales, for which he is justly renowned, belong to what might be termed the “gentle impossible”; while most fantasy opens up a rift in reality, Pons is content to point out discreetly a crack in its seemly veneer.”

  • The latest issue of Georgia Perimeter College’s literary journal The Chattahoochee Review contains my translation of the first chapter from The River Will Kill the White Man (Fayard, 2009) by prolific French powerhouse Patrick Besson. It also features an exclusive interview I conducted with the author, which turned out rather nicely, but took some doing. I forwarded the list of questions I’d composed in French to his agent, who forwarded it in turn to the foreign rights manager at his French publisher. The notoriously hard-to-pin-down Besson was then summoned to the Fayard offices to dash off his responses on the spot, which he did with customary brio. The document was then sent back to me for translation. I provided a brief forward, and passed it on to Chattahoochee. It’s worth seeking out if you’re a fan of the author, or remember the chapter from his novel The Brothers of Consolation I published in 2008’s Two Lines XV: Strange Harbors. In the interview, Besson opines, “Heroism is the only thing a writer needs, along with a good editor and good translators.” To the either/or question, “Bonnie or Clyde?”, he says, “Which one was the woman again?”
  • My last post in January for Mischief & Mayhem before going on hiatus is a contemplation of magic. Disappearing trick not included.

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