I Will Be Reading

November 30th, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

this Saturday evening (tonight), November 30, at 6pm. The venue: the wonderful indie love-child of Tim Johnson and Caitlin Myers, Marfa Book Co.



You Can Hear Me

November 29th, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

on Marfa Public Radio, KRTS 93.5fm, which will be airing an interview with me conducted by Rachel Monroe, today, Friday, at 10 am CST.

“It’s not working, let’s just drop it…”

November 28th, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink


Courtesy of Mon Maçon Était Illustrateur.

Ma macon ENG - cupidite


Available NOW: Jean Ferry’s The Conductor and Other Tales

November 27th, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

From Wakefield Press, winner of a PEN/Heim Translation Fund Grant, the only book of prose fiction by ’Pataphysician, Surrealist, and fantasist Jean Ferry: The Conductor and Other Tales! First published to cult acclaim in 1950, in a print run of 100 copies, and since multiply revived by Gallimard (1953), Calmann-Lévy (1992), and Éditions Finitude (2011), this forgotten gem is finally in English for the first time, augmented by stories unearthed from the author’s papers. From this:


To this:

Ferry - Conductor

Available now from Amazon and other fine purveyors of the printed word.

No sooner have review copies been shipped out than reviews are already leaking in. Tosh Berman, famed Vian devotee and himself a fine connoisseur of things French—the publisher of TamTam Books and a buyer for LA’s indie favorite Book Soup

“Now we can read this rarity and marvel to Ferry’s mix of humor and dread… having and reading this is actually a very important part of the puzzle. 20th Century French literature is a large spider with its webs going towards different directions and areas. Here is one map one should own and read.”

Some stories from the collection are available online:
And others in print:

Eugène Savitzkaya and Pierre Bettencourt in Anomalous

November 25th, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

The 10th issue of Anomalous is out! Featuring my translations of Belgian poet and novelist Eugène Savitzkaya and French writer Pierre Bettencourt. The issue is available for reading and listening online or downloading, in its entirety, in pdf and mobi formats. My translations of short prose pieces by these authors include Savitzkaya’s “In the Rediscovered Book” and “In Memory of Tabacchino,” and Bettencourt’s “Taxidermy.”

Some excerpts:

“In the book rediscovered in the drawer of the Gordon press, in the white cellar of the house on the mountains in the land that knew so many plagues and disasters, you saw trucks rolling down a muddy road, their enormous wheels splattering cyclists, many cyclists, red, blue and green; you saw quite low over the woods the balloon in flames, and in a well-mown meadow, fallen oxen washed by rain; you saw, sitting on a stone shaped like an oval table, a young girl wearing a crown made from natural palm leaves soaked in varnish, plastic ivy leaves and pearl flowers, wearing a great black wool damask paletot, lined with gray squirrel glistening with dew, but browned in spots. No loupe was needed, all this was blindingly obvious.”

“Tabacchino was a child. Tabacchino was a dormouse. Tabacchino was a dog, a bird, a squirrel, an almond tree, a living being. Child, dog, dormouse, bird, squirrel, or almond tree, he breathed, drank water, had a clean smell, a unique charm, and grew old. He bore inside him sap that flowed groundward through openings planned and improvised. The wind would muss his hair, rumple him, refresh and sometimes torment him. The first Tabacchino to get the coup de grâce was the almond tree: drought, then woodcutters. They wept then, lovers of almonds, the child first among them. No one could put the tree back as it had been. The dormouse, terrified by an owl, succumbed to a heart attack, rotted, and was scattered to the winds. Not the slightest sign of that bird in the skies now. Seek the dog’s grave in vain. Then came the child’s turn: crushed, ground, and scattered.”

Born in 1955 to parents of Ukrainian descent, Belgian Eugène Savitzkaya has written more than forty books of fiction, poetry, plays, and essays. He received Prix triennal du roman for his 1994 novel Marin mon coeur. Rules of Solitude (Quale Press, 2004; trans. Gian Lombardo), a collection of prose poems, was his first book in English. His work is forthcoming in Unstuck.

“Dislocating the dummy’s limbs and knowing to fold oneself so as not to sit legs facing forward. No longer having to turn one’s head. Taking advantage of this at church and at the dinner table when a dish disagrees with you, or else during love, seated in the lap of the beloved, when the sight of genitals distresses you. Knees with a full range of swivel motion, rather than half-range.”

Writer, poet, and painter Pierre Bettencourt (1917—2006) was, despite coming from a prominent family, a retiring figure and lifelong outsider artist. He printed his first works on a family-owned press during the Nazi occupation, and later published Antonin Artaud, Francis Ponge, Henri Michaux, and Jean Dubuffet. A friend of Jean Paulhan, he was a frequent contributor to the Nouvelle revue française; Gallimard later put out a volume of his selected works. Ingeborg Kohn has translated a selection of his prose poems, Fables (2003), for the Tucson-based independent poetry publisher Chax Press. His work has appeared in The Collagist, and I have written on him at Weird Fiction Review.

Pierre Cendors in The Black Herald

November 24th, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

Black Herald 4

The latest issue of Paris-based literary revue The Black Herald, the innovative bilingual brainchild of Paul Stubbs and Blandine Longre, is now available for purchase in print and digital format. features my translation of a nonfiction piece by Pierre Cendors: “The Invisible Outside,” an excerpt from a book forthcoming from Éditions Isolato.

Here’s an excerpt:

Some places on earth overlap with the spirit’s untamed wilderness. Traveling to such places amounts to making a double voyage, a waking conversation between the senses and sense, ramble and ritual, geography and poetry. In this double movement, two aspects of the real, two faces of the same peak pierce the voyager’s consciousness, sometimes creating a calm and lucid kind of seeing, a trance state serene amidst the landscape’s unfurling.

Here in Hornstrandir, what is human comes after. After what? After what came before. Nature, the landscape of an isle that the elements shaped on a different scale, the timeless window it opens in our spirits—everything points to origins. That’s my starting point. The original fascinates me. I have contemplated it in Ireland, in Scotland, and in Greece… Now I contemplate it in Iceland.

Cendors, a French-Irish poet and novelist, was born in 1968, and has published more than eleven books, including the novels Adieu à ce qui vient (2011), Engeland (2010), and L’homme caché (2006) with Éditions Finitude, and Les fragments Solander with Editions La dernière goutte (2012).

The goal of editors Blandine Longre and Paul Stubbs is to publish original world writers, not necessarily linked in any way by “theme” or “style:
Writing that we deem can withstand the test of time and might resist popularization — the dangers of instant literature for instant consumption. Writing that seems capable of escaping the vacuum of the epoch. Where the rupture of alternative mindscapes and nationalities exists, so too will The Black Herald.
Issue #4 also contains work by Steve Ely, Paul B. Roth, Jean-Pierre Longre, Rosemary Lloyd, Boris Dralyuk, Georgina Tacou, John Lee, Cristián Vila Riquelme, Philippe Muller, Michael Lee Rattigan, Desmond Kon Zhicheng-Mingdé, Vasily Kamensky, David Shook, Oliver Goldsmith, Michel Gerbal, Gary J. Shipley, Anthony Seidman, Fernando Pessoa, Cécile Lombard, Anne-Sylvie Salzman, Heller Levinson, Jorge Ortega, and essays about Robert Walser, Arthur Rimbaud, Raymond Queneau, E.M. Cioran.

Pierre Mertens in Two Lines: Landmarks

November 22nd, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

Two Lines - Landmarks

Failure is one of my favorite themes, and marks many of my favorite stories, from The Great Gatsby to The Venture Bros. Landmarks, the latest volume of Two Lines, that estimable annual from San Francisco’s Center for the Art of Translation, is now out. Edited by Susan Bernofsky and Christopher Merrill, it features my translation of the story “What Happened to You?” by Pierre Mertens, a sophisticatedly bitter rumination on the promise of youth and its wastrel sequels. My translations of a chapter from Patrick Besson’s historical novel The Brotherhood of Consolation and François Ayroles’ short comic “I’m So Happy…” appeared in Two Lines XV: Strange Harbors and Two Lines XVI: Wherever I Lie is Your Bed, respectively.

Born in 1939, Pierre Mertens is Francophone Belgium’s perennial Nobel hope. He has published more than thirty works of fiction, drama, and essays. A specialist in international law known for his involvement in human rights, he runs the Center for the Sociology of Literature at the Université Libre de Bruxelles, and is a literary critic for Le Soir. His first novel, L’Inde ou l’Amérique (Seuil, 1969), won the Prix Rossel, Belgium’s top literary prize. His novel on German Expressionist poet and Nazi collaborator Gottfriend Benn, Les Éblouissements (Seuil, 1987), was awarded the Prix Médicis and translated by Edmund Jephcott as Shadowlight (Peter Halban, 1997). His novel Une paix royale (Seuil, 1995) earned him a libel lawsuit from the Belgian royal family. He is a member of the Belgian Royal Academy of Language and Literature and a Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres of France.

Here’s an excerpt from the story:

During all this time, things had changed for me too, unexpectedly and in the other direction. While others failed, I climbed the rungs of renown. (As though I’d boarded a train through whose windows I could, with a lump in my throat, contemplate a train on another track, at first parallel, then veering off, growing distant in the mist, becoming a ghost train bound for nothingness. In the time it took to pick out faces once familiar, even beloved, their features blurred, crumpled. Were they soon to fade from memory?) Oh, I succeeded almost despite myself. Without putting too much stock in it. First to be surprised… My life was turned completely upside down. Far too completely. Yet not completely enough, I suppose. As recently as last year, on the Rue de Verneuil, I ran into Patrice Bergeron, my best friend from the Lycée St.-Exupery in Lyon, who launched right into the story of his life, his marriage, his divorce, his layoff as advertising agency exec, and then, in fine, asked me no doubt from mere politeness, “But hey, old pal, what happened to you?”

On the Lam

November 21st, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

Lannan 3

or rather, the Lannan. Hidey-holed up snugly away in the high west Texas desert of Marfa, where everything is Marfa-lous…


Thierry Horguelin’s “The Man in the Yellow Parka”

November 20th, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

Belgian fabulist Thierry Horguelin’s story “The Man in the Yellow Parka” has been crowned with two U.S. publications, in the latest issue of Eleven Eleven (#15) and Dalkey Archive’s Best European Fiction 2014, edited by Drago Jančar. Both are available now!

Eleven Eleven #15 cover

Horguelin’s work was first (and last) seen in English in Birkensnake #4. “The Man in the Yellow Parka” is from his 2009 collection The Endless Night published by Quebec’s L’Oie de Cravan press, and winner of the Franz de Wever prize for best collection from the Belgian Royal Academy. “Parka” is a very contemporary fantastical puzzler of alternate realities, obsessive TV fandom, and the hazards of the images that keep us all enthralled. Here’s an excerpt:

It’s strange to watch a film or series while focusing on the backgrounds and edges of the frame. You develop a curious attentional walleye, and realize that most of the time you don’t really watch movies. On one hand, you keep following the unfolding plot despite yourself. You register names, facts; you sense a twist coming up; you figure out who’s guilty. On the other, you find that even the most conventional fiction is full of bizarre, surprising, incongruous, or simply poignant details, sometimes deliberately arranged by the director—whose reasons aren’t always clear—sometimes recorded unbeknownst to him by the camera, like the short-haired girl in Intimidation: fleeting, fragile moments, gestures all the more precious for being involuntary, forever imprisoned in the frame… Aren’t these, at heart, our most secret reason for loving movies? I noticed several such details in Simple Cops. Monica, the pretty precinct receptionist, had an inexhaustible collection of sweaters. She wore a new one every episode. Thaddeus, Bauer, and Mentell were all left-handed—three lefties on the same show? And what to make of the excessive proliferation of watches, wall clocks, clock radios, sometimes shot in close-up when suspense demanded it, but more often in the background or the edges of the frame, like a furtive, barely hinted obsession? And how to take all that graffiti in the form of cries for help—“Help!”, “Get me out of this!”—which showed up at regular intervals in exterior shots, spraypainted on walls or scribbled hastily in phone booths?

Horguelin runs an interesting blog, Locus Solus: check it out!

Best European Fiction 2014

All Thanks to PEN America

November 19th, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

for their continuing coverage of Jean Ferry’s The Conductor and Other Tales, forthcoming this month from Wakefield Press. Ferry’s only prose fiction collection, the book was one of this year’s PEN/Heim Translation Fund grantees. Since then, Pen has pushed it tirelessly, even putting an excerpt in a homemade chapbook for this year’s Brooklyn Book Festival in September. The PEN site also features a piece from the collection, “On the Frontiers of Plaster,” first published in The Coffin Factory (Issue #3), as well as a statement from the translator, yours truly.

Some stories from the collection are available online:
And others in print:

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