R.I.P. André-Marcel Adamek

August 31st, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

as of this morning in Belgium. One of Belgium’s finest contemporary storytellers, he wrote more than fifteen books of fiction, poetry, and teleplays. An autodidact in everything he set his hand to, he was, over the course of his varied career, a cruise ship steward, a toymaker, a paper wholesaler, a goat farmer, an editor, and a ghost writer. He invented and patented a stackable bottle carrier a speaking crib. His many awards include the Prix Jean Macé, the Prix triennal du roman, the Prix du Parlement de la Communauté française, and the Prix Rossel, Francophone Belgium’s top literary prize.

Although he scarcely considered himself a fantasist–more a pessimistic humanist–he made liberal use of folktale, magic, and the fantastic in his penetrating studies of human nature, and the ways our lives  mimic mythical patterns, striving clumsily but indefatigably for some eternal quality. His rich language lent realism to the brocade of legend. When I visited him at his farm in Fisenne in early June, lung cancer had already away taken one lung. His prostate cancer was inoperable, and he had recently fractured his shoulder blade. His sturdy house overlooked cows at pasture in the green Ardennes. He smoked a pack and a half of Pall Malls during dinner–“one of the few pleasures left to me“–and the glimmer in the future then animating him was the prospect of being a guest conductor for a December concert of the orchestra in Namur: the realization of a lifelong dream. The efforts he made to show me every courtesy and mask his own suffering were heartbreaking. I only met him once, and I mourn him. He is survived by two sons and his widow Ingrid.

Birkensnake $4

August 25th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

is out and now available for purchase! Featuring killer robots, occasional nudity, and science. Also my translation of selections from Belgian fabulist Thierry Horguelin‘s “The Night Voyager.” Now, you could just consult this online, as the entire issue is available there, as well as in epub, pdf, and html formats, for free. But then you would miss out on the wonderful cover by Joe Potts. Besides, as editor Brian Conn reminds us,

“The print edition of this issue comes with a small bag of gray powder which reveals secret messages; it is extremely wonderful and you will not want to miss it.  Nor will your friends and admirers want to miss it.  Tell them!  Tell them not only about the new very pink website, but also about the small bags of gray powder and how this experience can be theirs for only four dollars.”

The Coffin Factory Debuts

August 11th, 2011 § 3 comments § permalink

its smashing first issue, available at a discounted rate directly from the site before it hits newsstands October 1st.  Holy A-list, Batman! Check out that literary lineup! Saramago, Bolaño, Kundera, Tagore, Joyce Carol Oates, and more… I lucked out smuggling a Bernard Quiriny story into that bunch! Go check it out!

Maurice Pons: A Literary Pilgrimage now at Tin House

August 9th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

“Is this how you pictured the world of Maurice Pons?”asked a Paris-based Colombian filmmaker. We were walking through an evening light that seemed, in the long summer day, not to have changed since early afternoon. It fell in shafts, where gnats danced, past a canopy of leaves onto the gravel path that led uphill toward dinner. A turtled rowboat, an abandoned tennis court… As we rose, the far bank unfurled its golden fields of shorn wheat; the placid Seine, a hundred kilometers downstream from Paris on its way to the sea, only added to the idyll.

“No,” I replied. “I didn’t think it would be this beautiful.”

Inside the millhouse, glass panels have replaced fallen-through patches of plaster flooring, giving vertiginous views of the great wheel hoisted from the green waters below. A steeply peaked roof supervises eclectic decoration—oil murals, copper cookware, chairs of sizeable sag and faded upholstery; a round cushion of brown velour tossed on a massive original millstone turns it into a seventies modernist sofa fit for a sunken living room. At every hour of the day, light bathes a blond wood baby grand by the window.

Read more at the Tin House blog!

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