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.
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. . .
Jocelyne Saucier’s Twenty-One Cardinals is about the type of unique, indestructible, and often tragic loyalty only found in families. For a brief but stunningly mesmerizing 169 pages, Twenty-One Cardinals invited me in to the haunting and intimate world of the. . .
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!. . .