22 November 11 | Chad W. Post | Comments

I do have some serious things to say about ALTA 2011, which took place in Kansas City last week, but I’m trying to power through a few big things here before the Thanksgiving vacation, so I’m probably going to reserve those legit posts for next week. Instead, let’s talk about riding a mechanical bull.

Kansas City is a fun place that is filled with bar-be-que, concealed weapons, and mechanical bulls. To celebrate this fine heritage, I thought it would be fun if a big group of translators went down to PBR Big Sky (the PBR stands for “Professional Bull Riding,” FYI) to ride a mechanical bull and shoot bullets into the sky try on cowboy hats.

To make this more interesting, I thought this could be the first of the “Feats of Translators” series here at Open Letter Books. See, rather than spending all this time reading and evaluating books, I think we should institute a new editorial policy whereby certain books are published based on which translators win particular contests. Like, you know, a scavenger hunt, or a Words With Friends tournament, or bull riding . . .

Based on the enticing possibility of having a book published by Open Letter, about 100 9 of us went to PBR and rode that bull. Actually, all of us rode the bull except for Scott Esposito, who decided that he wasn’t “manly” enough. (Which is maybe why he overcompensates at the beginning of this video by yelling “F*&^ you, Chad Post!” Some people . . . )

There are videos of all the riders, but I thought I’d just post mine since I decided that I won. (Our “timekeeping” sort of malfunctioned, so I win by default of having gone first. Publisher’s rules!)

Enjoy. And yes, “Wild Thing.”

Rambling Jack
Rambling Jack by Micheál Ó Conghaile
Reviewed by Vincent Francone

“Rambling Jack—what’s that?”
“A novel. Novella, I guess.”
“Yeah, it looks short. What is it, a hundred pages?”
“Sorta. It’s a duel language book, so really, only about… 50 pages total.”
“50 pages?”
“Including illustrations.”
“And this—what. . .

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The Things We Don't Do
The Things We Don't Do by Andrés Neuman
Reviewed by Tiffany Nichols

Many authors are compared to Roberto Bolaño. However, very few authors have the privilege of having a Roberto Bolaño quote on the cover of their work; and at that, one which states, “Good readers will find something that can be. . .

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Private Life
Private Life by Josep Maria de Sagarra
Reviewed by Christopher Iacono

In Josep Maria de Sagarra’s Private Life, a man harangues his friend about literature while walking through Barcelona at night:

When a novel states a fact that ties into another fact and another and another, as the chain goes on. . .

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Dinner by César Aira
Reviewed by Lori Feathers

César Aira dishes up an imaginative parable on how identity shapes our sense of belonging with Dinner, his latest release in English. Aira’s narrator (who, appropriately, remains nameless) is a self-pitying, bitter man—in his late fifties, living again with. . .

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We're Not Here to Disappear
We're Not Here to Disappear by Olivia Rosenthal
Reviewed by Megan C. Ferguson

Originally published in French in 2007, We’re Not Here to Disappear (On n’est pas là pour disparaître) won the Prix Wepler-Fondation La Poste and the Prix Pierre Simon Ethique et Réflexion. The work has been recently translated by Béatrice Mousli. . .

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The Queen's Caprice
The Queen's Caprice by Jean Echenoz
Reviewed by Christopher Iacono

Even though the latest from Jean Echenoz is only a thin volume containing seven of what he calls “little literary objects,” it is packed with surprises. In these pieces, things happen below the surface, sometimes both literally and figuratively. As. . .

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French Concession
French Concession by Xiao Bai
Reviewed by Emily Goedde

Who is this woman? This is the question that opens Xiao Bai’s French Concession, a novel of colonial-era Shanghai’s spies and revolutionaries, police and smugglers, who scoot between doorways, walk nonchalantly down avenues, smoke cigars in police bureaus, and lounge. . .

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