I just noticed that it was one year ago yesterday that Three Percent went live. (E.J. and I “practiced” for a while, but unless you’ve scoured the archives, you probably never saw those posts.)
Ironically—well, maybe—the first post was actually a rant about how stupid it was that Grey’s Anatomy was nominated for an Emmy, but Lost wasn’t. (I still totally stand by this. And I feel vindicated that this year both Lost and Mad Men are nominees for Best Drama series, whereas Grey’s Anatomy is nowhere to be found . . .)
That first post was appropriately titled Not Necessarily the Place For It and following in that vein, I think today’s the perfect day to write about this awesome, recently resurrected hoax that sort of, tangentially, relates to translated literature.
Back in 1999, Josh Glenn was the publisher of Hermenaut, one of my favorite magazines of all time, and a sort of precursor to N+1. Anyway, in 1999, Josh published a “Fake Authenticity” issue that contained excerpts from supposed correspondence between Samuel Beckett and Ernie Bushmiller, the creator of the Nancy comic strip.
In Beckett’s supposed letters, he praises Bushmiller for creating such a great existential comic, and offers up a few suggestions for plot lines. Here’s Bushmiller’s “response”:
I don’t know how well they’re going to work. I think the problem you’re having, Sam, is the same problem any literary man might have. You’re not setting up the gags visually and you’re rushing to the snapper. It seems to me you’ve got the zingers right there at the beginning, in panel No. 1, and although I have to admit you got Nancy and Sluggo in some crackerjack predicaments, I don’t see how they got there.
For instance, putting Nancy and Sluggo in the garbage cans is a good gag, but in my opinion, you can’t have them in there for all three panels. How did they get there? Same thing when you had them buried in the sand. I like to do beach gags, but I don’t think that having Nancy buried up to her waist in the first two panels and then up to her neck in the third one is adequately explained, and I’ve been at this game for a while now. Also, why would Sluggo be facing in the opposite direction when he’s talking to her?
Most people would assume this is a hoax—“crackerjack predicaments”? Sluggo facing the opposite direction while Nancy is buried up to her neck in the sand? (check out the link to “Nancy’ above though—sort of ironic)—but last week, Editor & Publisher ran a story about this correspondence. . . . The Stranger picked up on this as well, and a hoax was born again, nine years after it first took place. Fantastic.
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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In Joris-Karl Hyusmans’s most popular novel, À rebours (Against Nature or Against the Grain, depending on the which translated edition you’re reading), there is a famous scene where the protagonist, the decadent Jean des Esseintes, starts setting gemstones on the. . .