Bless the crew at Small Beer, who are holding a wee giveaway of Advance Review Copies of Georges-Olivier Châteaureynaud’s A Life on Paper. For anyone just tuning in, this book of stories spanning the career of this major French fabulist, selected and translated by yours truly, is due out in May. Only your enthusiasm can make it the event the author merits. Head on over to Small Beer’s Not a Journal blog; it’s easy to enter: “post something interesting about you, France, French things (not Freedom Fries, but anything else goes) in the comments and in a week or so we’ll randomly pick five and reward them with an advance review copy which we hope you the happy winner will dive into and enjoy the way we have and maybe even go on TV and rave about it in a bouncing-on-the-couch-aliens-told-me-to-do-it fashion that gets talked about for years after. Ok? Ok!”
by Brigid Brophy, Michael Levy, and Charles Osborne (1967)
“Praises of the unworthy are felt by ardent minds as robberies of the deserving.” ~ Coleridge
On Hamlet: “There is a fatality in public taste which, faced with an author so ineffably great that he cannot be ignored, often contrives to pick on and treat as ‘central’ his weakest or nearly weakest work.”
On “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud”: “The reason Wordsworth writes of daffodils and clouds as though he had never really set eyes on either of them is that he is an essentially baroque artist, to whom flowers are invisible unless transmuted into precious metal and to whom clouds are merely what sweep apparitions down on the astounded beholder.”
On Pickwick Papers: “Pickwick Papers appears to have been written in a series of jerkily spasmodic bouts of inane euphoria.”
On Walt Whitman: “Footnote: Was it not Walt who posed for a photograph of himself with a butterfly lovingly fluttering on his index finger? The butterfly was discovered to be a dead one, mounted on a ring the poet was wearing.”
On Mark Twain: “It is a vision which can be achieved only by that ruthless dishonesty which is the birthright of every sentimentalist… With these literary standards there really is no hope for sivilization.” » Read the rest of this entry «
Unlike the year before, I compiled the 2009 list less from hope of starting conversation than for reasons of internal housekeeping. Last year’s list is really pretty thin, less than a book a week on average and many of them short; I’ve already read half as many books in the first two months of this year. I can’t account for this meagreness, except to hope I read a lot of short stories I didn’t keep track of, and to cite six summer weeks where I read only the work of Clarion contemporaries. Yet again, I’ve been less than scrupulous about listing graphic novel reads, though a few are grouped at the bottom.
Again, the rules: this doesn’t count books I re-read, books I read ¾ of and abandoned, or essay and story collections I dipped into once, twice, or repeatedly, but failed to finish cover to cover. Nothing’s here unless I read, for better or for worse, every word. That means excluding many fine books I wanted to pore over more closely, and at greater length, prolonging the pleasure so to speak, and collections where, for one reason or another, I left a few stories unread. Similarly, however, if I began reading a story collection the previous year, but didn’t finish it until this year, it appears here. » Read the rest of this entry «
Up at WWB this month (and in virtual perpetuity), Jamie Richards’ translation of Baudelaire, The Metaphysical Ostrich, by Marco Arnaudo and Paolo Di Tonno.
And A Softer World by Emily Horne (pictures) and Joey Comeau (words), a strip two friends introduced me to almost simultaneously, though it is of long standing, and I am later to the party than is fashionable. But I liked it enough that it made me pick up Comeau’s book, Overqualified, about which I have so many good things to say that I will limit myself to them, instead of picking nits. Let’s just say it’s what I thought A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius would be when I first heard about that book, but much better, because it has fewer words. For as Roland Jaccard reminds us, “Few know that not writing is also the fruit of long, arduous labor. It requires a force of character those who write do not have. Besides, is writing anything at all but a small, unimportant misunderstanding?”
Some long overdue congratulations to friends from my Clarion class. They’ve been published! Go read them!
Kenneth Schneyer’s story “Liza’s Home” appears in the latest issue of GUD, pictured above.
Shauna Roberts’ “The Hunt” is up at Jim Baen’s Universe.
Liz Argall’s “Cracked Leather” is available in its entirety at The Pedestal Magazine.
As is Nicholas Bede Stenner’s “Lily Can’t See Men” at Joyland (Vancouver). We had the pleasure of workshopping these last two stories last summer.
Matt London’s “Mouja” is forthcoming in J.J. Adams’ anthology The Living Dead 2.
There’s more news but it can’t break yet. » Read the rest of this entry «
OK, so… not quite Magritte. But I did resist altering a kitten photo and spelling “Have” as “Hazz.”
Now I can be pretentious and ride around on public transport reading a book I had a hand in (Small Beer Press has graciously given me a cover credit). In fact, I will be doing so, while preparing an essay on the author. Having a bound copy in hand is such a pleasant way to review one’s work. Hence the “R” in ARC, I suppose.
And two new recent Châteaureynaud acceptances have joined the Châteaureynaud Central page: I’m proud to report “The Excursion” will feature in Joyland (San Francisco) in May, and “Another Story” will be appearing in the summer issue of The Southern Review.
Meanwhile, if you read French you might want to check out the author’s new novel, Le corps de l’autre, now out in France, as well as the first book-length critical study of his work, Christine Bini’s Le marbre et la brume.
Author Joe Hill, in the Onion AV Club interview for Horns: “Terror is the desire to save your own ass, but horror is rooted in sympathy.”
Critic John Clute, in the Strange Horizons review of the two-volume Library of America’s American Fantastic Tales, edited by Peter Straub: “I might still mildly suggest that volume one is given over mostly to discovery, which is Terror, and that volume two focuses more on experience, which is Horror… we near the end of terror. We begin to enter horror.”
The latest issue of Subtropics is now available for purchase and perusal online and in print (at discerning periodical purveyors nationwide), featuring my translation of Belgian Bernard Quiriny’s “A Guide to Famous Stabbings” from his debut collection Fear of the First Line (Phebus, 2005). The entire story is also available online at the journal’s website, where you’ll also find in English and the original French an interview the author graciously agreed to give, wherein he muses on sundry topics of interest including author Enrique Vila-Matas, the writing process, other stories and characters from the collection, what it means to be a Belgian Francophone writer, and the Belgian fantastical tradition known as the Belgian School of the Bizarre.
Comments welcome from any and all readers, who may wonder on the basis of this story that I characterize Quiriny as a fabulist. Without referring to other stories that would vindicate the appellation beyond doubt, I would say only this: Borges ventures that “at least one of the following four elements must be present in a narrative for it to be fantastic: 1) contamination of reality by dream, 2) a work of art within a work of art, 3) travel in time rather than in space, and 4) the presence of a doppelganger.”
I live in a world preparing to release upon hordes palpitating with sweaty-palmed anticipation this summer a remake of The Tap Dance Karate Kid starring Will Smith’s son: set in China, despite the misleading titular martial art, with Chinese kids instead of Cobra Kai, and featuring Jackie Chan in the role formerly made famous by Pat “Happy Days” Morita. A small step for Jackie, but surely a giant step for race relations, especially with our brothers from another sensei. Plus ça change…
At this point all members of the target audience wishing to protest but it might be good, whose parents weren’t even having unprotected sex yet (aw, it was the early ’80s. Who wasn’t having unprotected sex?) when the Ralph Macchio original came out, should shut up, grasshopper and listen to their elders, who were all in third grade when this movie made them go and take karate classes with a bearded man named Sensei Stan at their local YMCA, which they can remember being driven to on Saturday mornings pointless with rain. Or maybe they did this because their parents hadn’t let them see this movie they’d heard about from all their friends. They can remember the smell of the rain and the smell of the station wagon backseat and the smell of the gym when they walked in, chilly in an overstarched gi fastened by the orange belt a few months of katas and faithful attendance had earned them, which kept coming undone even though they’d knotted it tightly as they could. » Read the rest of this entry «