This week’s podcast is focused on crime and detective books—both fiction and nonfiction. First off,
we talk I monologue about Errol Morris’s A Wilderness of Error: The Trials of Jeffrey MacDonald and my recent Twitter fight with Joe McGinniss about this case, then we move on to talking about Wolf Haas’s Brenner and God and what makes this book (and detective books in general) fun to read.
I do apologize for the long diatribe about Joe McGinniss and Blind Vision, but after reading A Wilderness of Error and then coming across this article about the new trial, I
was am a bit enraged at the smarmy way McGinniss is using this situation to his own benefit. As I explain in the podcast, McGinniss seems incapable of acknowledging that his book is part of the dominant discourse about this case, and that Morris’s much more comprehensive investigation illustrates the way in which we tend to interpret ambiguous facts (or ignore totally them) to fit the discourse/narrative we’ve decided to believe in. I think that Morris’s book makes it very clear that regardless of innocence or guilt, MacDonald did not receive a fair trial and that this is a travesty of justice. For McGinniss to use this situation to try and shill his book is really gross. Not just because of the fact he refers to MacDonald’s 40+ year imprisonment following the murder of his wife and two daughters as the “#FatalVision hearing,” but because it seems like he’s much more concerned with being “the truth” about MacDonald’s case rather than acknowledging that the man deserves a fair trial in one of the most compelling and strange mysteries of the past half-century . . .
/no more drunken tweeting
Anyway, this week’s music is In a Big City by Titus Andronicus—the best song from their new album.
Prose translators will likely disagree, but I believe translating poetry requires a significant level of talent, a commitment to the text, and near mania, all of which suggests that the undertaking is the greatest possible challenge. The task is to. . .
The biggest issues with books like The Subsidiary often have to do with their underpinnings—when we learn that Georges Perec wrote La Disparition without once using the letter E, we are impressed. Imagine such a task! It takes a high. . .
Following The Infatuations, Javier Marías’s latest novel seems, like those that have preceded it, an experiment to test fiction’s capacity to mesmerize with sombre-sexy atmospheres and ruminative elongated sentences stretched across windowless walls of paragraphs. Thus Bad Begins offers his. . .
Death by Water, Kenzaburo Oe’s latest novel to be translated into English, practically begs you to read it as autobiography. Like The Changeling, as well as many other works not yet released in English, Death by Water is narrated in. . .
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We know so very little; so little that what we think to be knowledge is hardly worth reckoning with at all; instead we ought to settle for being pleasantly surprised if, on the edge of things, against all expectations, our. . .
Many of Virginie Despentes’s books revolve around the same central idea: “To be born a woman [is] the worst fate in practically every society.” But this message is nearly always packaged in easy-to-read books that fill you with the pleasure. . .
Ilja Leonard Pfeijffer’s La Superba is appropriately titled after the Italian city of Genoa, where, after escaping the pressures of fame in his own country, the semi-autobiographical narrator finds himself cataloguing the experiences of its mesmerizing inhabitants with the intention. . .
It took reading 44 pages of Intervenir/Intervene before I began to get a sense of what Dolores Dorantes and Rodrigo Flores Sánchez were up to. Recurring throughout these 44 pages—throughout the entire book—are shovels, shovel smacks to the face, lobelias—aha!. . .
As presaged by its title, contradiction is the theme of Peter Stamm’s novel, All Days Are Night. Gillian, a well-known television personality, remains unknowable to herself. And Hubert, a frustrated artist and Gillian’s lover, creates art through the process of. . .