9 July 13 | Chad W. Post | Comments

This morning the Arts Fuse ran a great review by John Taylor about Marguerite Duras’s L’Amour, which we’ll officially be publishing in just a couple weeks . . .

Is L’Amour then a novel? Yes, in the ordinary and hardly helpful sense that there is a story (or rather, several intermingled, fragmentary stories) and that the book, with its 98 pages of text, is longer than a novella. But from onset, the writing is novelistic in no mainstream way whatsoever. It is script-like without being a script, focused on the real world and on an initial character without being realist and hauntingly poetic without being a poem. [. . .]

Whatever the puzzling blend of hazy or composite characters and fragmentary storytelling there is in L’Amour, I would suggest that Duras is closer to truth than to fiction. Life can be like this. We see a woman or a man, and another woman or another man superposes him—or herself on the former. We project ourselves into others and project others into others—especially when amorous attraction and attachment is at stake. Duras was fascinated by the force and the pain of amorous emotions, as well as by indeterminacy as one of the fundamental aspects of our being in the world and our being with others. Because the voice of the narrator is so essential to and salient in a book like L’Amour, it can be deduced that this narrative indeterminacy accurately reflects the levels of consciousness of this outside observer who speaks so enigmatically yet authoritatively. [. . .]

For those of you who have never read Marguerite Duras, L’Amour is an invigorating place to start.

You can buy this now directly from our website, or, if you want to try your luck, we’re giving away 5 copies through GoodReads—just click below to enter yourself in the contest.


Goodreads Book Giveaway

L'Amour by Marguerite Duras

L’Amour

by Marguerite Duras

Giveaway ends July 15, 2013.

See the giveaway details at Goodreads.

Enter to win


27 March 12 | Chad W. Post | Comments

The latest addition to our Reviews Section is a piece by Vincent Francone on Jacques Dupin’s Of Flies and Monkeys, which is translated from the French by John Taylor and available from Bitter Oleander Press. (Probably easiest to order this directly from SPD.)

“Vincent Francone” is one of our regular contributors. (In fact, he has a “25 Days of the BTBA” piece coming out on Friday.) Additionally, he’s a writer and a reader for TriQuarterly Online.

Here’s the opening of his piece:

My head hasn’t been in poetry lately. Call it burn out—last year I read mostly poems—or attribute it to grad school killing my love for poetry, but I have been reading more prose as of late. Subsequently, my recent poetry reading has mostly been out of obligation.

That being said, it takes a lot to get me excited about poetry. Jacques Dupin’s work is, thankfully, the kind of poetry that does intrigue, delight, and reward, making it the ideal poetry to reignite my old love. The recent release of three of his works, collected under the title Of Flies and Monkeys, makes the case for Dupin’s importance in the world of contemporary poetry. Dupin is an interesting figure. A contemporary of Yves Bonnefoy and follower of Francis Ponge, his name is not bandied about with the regularity of his peers. Add to that, his poems ride the crest between the legacy of surrealism and the state sanctioned aesthetic of political rumination. Neither of these trends suited Dupin, whose work is at once immediate and startling (“a clearing sodomoy / her saintly hem fucked / under the same low leaves”) even when the images veer into the obscure (“As if I were the moist imprint of her voice. The oil and the gathering of her endless worm-screws in the air”). Dupin’s images are both strong and subtle, suggesting a modern-day Artuad who pulls back just before his poems become clouded by the grotesque. This is a writer who understands his craft, and while he refuses to adhere to trends his work has the balance and grace of a trained master.

Click here to read the entire review.

27 March 12 | Chad W. Post | Comments

My head hasn’t been in poetry lately. Call it burn out—last year I read mostly poems—or attribute it to grad school killing my love for poetry, but I have been reading more prose as of late. Subsequently, my recent poetry reading has mostly been out of obligation.

That being said, it takes a lot to get me excited about poetry. Jacques Dupin’s work is, thankfully, the kind of poetry that does intrigue, delight, and reward, making it the ideal poetry to reignite my old love. The recent release of three of his works, collected under the title Of Flies and Monkeys, makes the case for Dupin’s importance in the world of contemporary poetry. Dupin is an interesting figure. A contemporary of Yves Bonnefoy and follower of Francis Ponge, his name is not bandied about with the regularity of his peers. Add to that, his poems ride the crest between the legacy of surrealism and the state sanctioned aesthetic of political rumination. Neither of these trends suited Dupin, whose work is at once immediate and startling (“a clearing sodomoy / her saintly hem fucked / under the same low leaves”) even when the images veer into the obscure (“As if I were the moist imprint of her voice. The oil and the gathering of her endless worm-screws in the air”). Dupin’s images are both strong and subtle, suggesting a modern-day Artuad who pulls back just before his poems become clouded by the grotesque. This is a writer who understands his craft, and while he refuses to adhere to trends his work has the balance and grace of a trained master.

The title work, “Of Flies and Monkeys,” is flanked by two other books, “Mother”—a series of mostly prose poems—and “Hazel Tree.” Of them, the middle section is the strongest. It is there that the reader sees Dupin vacillating between direct confessionalism and the unapologetically imagistic:

I write whenever

in the distance
fertilized by anguish

fear squirts out

and no longer has but words
but knives

to calibrate the suffering

If Dupin lapses into dreamy poetics, and risks alienating his readers, he does so in a manner that continues to engage:

As long as I breathe monkeys dance

A dance whose long arms dangle
voluble thoughts
a glass language a language

of sulfur
of iron pigments leading astray

the ocher of the excremental
eye

the firedamp blue of interstice.

To significantly excite this reader, a poet needs to involve me in the process of reading the poem. In short: craft is not enough. I need something more to hang my hat on. Lesser poets churn out works riddled with empty vulgarities, which I find dull, or capitulate to the trends of academia, which I find unforgivably dull. Dupin’s work extends itself, inviting one in even as it does the reader no favors. There are no easy answers in his work, but however elliptical these poems may be they remain engaging and graceful, excrement and all.

14 January 11 | Chad W. Post | Comments

Absinthe 14 arrived in yesterday’s mail, and is loaded with interesting authors and pieces, including:

  • An excerpt from Wieslaw Mysliwski’s Stone Upon Stone, which was translated from the Polish by Bill Johnston and recently published by Archipelago books. (Actually using this in the “Translation & World Literature” class I’m teaching this spring.) Since there’s nothing about issue 14 on the “Absinthe website” quite yet, below is a description of the novel from Archipelago. And click here to hear the Reading the World Podcast episode featuring Bill Johnston.

Myśliwski’s grand epic in the rural tradition—a profound and irreverent stream of memory cutting through the rich and varied terrain of one man’s connection to the land, to his family and community, to women, to tradition, to God, to death, and to what it means to be alive. Wise and impetuous, plain-spoken and compassionate Szymek, recalls his youth in their village, his time as a guerrilla soldier, as a wedding official, barber, policeman, lover, drinker, and caretaker for his invalid brother. Filled with interwoven stories and voices, by turns hilarious and moving, Szymek’s narrative exudes the profound wisdom of one who has suffered, yet who loves life to the very core.

  • An excerpt from Agnomia by Robert Gal, translated from the Slovakian by Michaela Freeman and Jim Freeman, and opening interestingly enough:

They select some man, sufficiently experiment with him and only then identify him as the object of the experiment. They slip him hidden meanings of his multisense expressions which, for them, are univocal. They let him deal with it for years. What they tie in a knot through definition in a moment, he is forced to spend years untying through conscientious interpretation. In the meantime, their definitions are petrified solid. His interpretations appear, as if they were made of butter and deliberately throw them on his head, so that they could laugh at these babbles.

  • A bit about Mateiu Caragiale’s The Rakes of the Old Court, which was published in 1929 and was recently voted “the Romanian novel of the twentieth century.” This bit from the intro by Paul Cernat makes it sound pretty interesting:

For those who wish to gain a closer knowledge of the peculiarities of the Balkan mindset, a reading of this text, which has the value of an emblem of national identity, is, I might say, obligatory. Of course, we are dealing with a “Balkanism” that has been filtered through the work of Huysmans and Edgar Allen Poe, captured in a hypnotic narrative whose density of meanings has led literary theorist Matei Calinescu to compare it with Borges’ El Aleph. It is an unusual narrative, whose effects are those of an addictive literary drug.

There’s also a piece by Thomas E. Kennedy called “A Visit to Hunger 120 Years Later,” and book reviews of The Other City by Mchal Ajvaz (reviewed by Jeff Waxman) and When a Poet Sees a Chestnut Tree by Jean-Pierre Rosnay (reviewed by John Taylor).

As mentioned above, the Absinthe site for issue 14 is still coming together, but you can order the issue by clicking here.

....
The Truce
The Truce by Mario Benedetti
Reviewed by Adrianne Aron

Mario Benedetti (1920-2009), Uruguay’s most beloved writer, was a man who loved to bend the rules. He gave his haikus as many syllables as fit his mood, and wrote a play divided into sections instead of acts. In his country,. . .

Read More >

I Am a Season That Does Not Exist in the World
I Am a Season That Does Not Exist in the World by Kim Kyung Ju
Reviewed by Jacob Rogers

Kim Kyung Ju’s I Am a Season That Does Not Exist in the World, translated from the Korean by Jake Levine, is a wonderful absurdist poetry collection. It’s a mix of verse and prose poems, or even poems in the. . .

Read More >

Kingdom Cons
Kingdom Cons by Yuri Herrera
Reviewed by Sarah Booker

Yuri Herrera is overwhelming in the way that he sucks readers into his worlds, transporting them to a borderland that is at once mythical in its construction and powerfully recognizable as a reflection of its modern-day counterpart. Kingdom Cons, originally. . .

Read More >

The Invented Part
The Invented Part by Rodrigo Fresán
Reviewed by Tiffany Nichols

Imagine reading a work that suddenly and very accurately calls out you, the reader, for not providing your full attention to the act of reading. Imagine how embarrassing it is when you, the reader, believe that you are engrossed in. . .

Read More >

A Simple Story: The Last Malambo
A Simple Story: The Last Malambo by Leila Guerriero
Reviewed by Emilee Brecht

Leila Guerriero’s A Simple Story: The Last Malambo chronicles the unique ferocity of a national dance competition in Argentina. The dance, called the malambo, pushes the physical and mental limits of male competitors striving to become champions of not only. . .

Read More >

The Little Buddhist Monk & The Proof
The Little Buddhist Monk & The Proof by Cesar Aira
Reviewed by Will Eells

Aira continues to surprise and delight in his latest release from New Directions, which collects two novellas: the first, The Little Buddhist Monk, a fairly recent work from 2005, and The Proof, an earlier work from 1989. There are a. . .

Read More >

Agnes
Agnes by Peter Stamm
Reviewed by Dorian Stuber

The narrator of Peter Stamm’s first novel, Agnes, originally published in 1998 and now available in the U.S. in an able translation by Michael Hofmann, is a young Swiss writer who has come to Chicago to research a book on. . .

Read More >