I’m leaving tomorrow morning for BookExpo America (aka BEA, aka ABA, well, OK, ABA is more than a bit outdated, but I think some people still say this), and with E.J. in Norway things might be a little quiet around here for the next few days.
This year BEA is in L.A., which is always nice and sunny. And somewhat inconvenient, since the fair has to be split up between two halls, forcing most people to walk back and forth and back and forth all day . . . but whatever. It’s still 72 every single day. And the parties are a bit more glamorous than the ones in Chicago.
In case you’re not familiar with BEA, this is an annual gathering of booksellers, publishers, reviewers, etc. It’s a chance for publishers to show off the books they’re bringing out over the next year and to touch base with independent booksellers from across the country. And yes, there are lots of parties. Overall, a good time is had by all.
I was talking to a professor here the other day about the difference between the Modern Languages Association annual conference and BEA. MLA is so high-pressure, both in terms of interviewing and having to present papers. You have to be on your game at MLA.
On the other hand, BEA is more of a celebration for surviving another year. (And really, when talking about indie bookselling, you can’t overplay the survival aspect.) A time to re-energize, to get excited about books all over again with a few thousand of your closest friends. Oh, and did I mention the parties? (This year there’s one at the Chateau Marmont.)
But seriously, BEA is the place where National Book Award buzz starts being generated, and where dudes in costumes walk around giving free hugs. It’s occasionally over-the-top, it’s frenetic, it’s crowded—it’s all of that, but it’s also a lot of fun to see everyone again and at least have a chance to touch base and, you know, congratulate them on surviving for another year.
In addition to mingling and picking up new galleys, there are a ton of educational events, including three panels on translation. (I’m on two of them, both on Saturday. One about funding for translations, the other about marketing them. Which, from what I’ve heard, is just a bunch of hype. And speaking of the marketing one, we have a late scratch—Gregg Nations from Lost won’t be able to attend since he’s “going dark” following Thursday’s season finale, which I take to mean that the finale is going to be “game changing” . . . )
Also on Thursday, we’re having the annual Reading the World party. This year it’s being held in collaboration with Bookforum and will take place at the REDCAT Theater (631 West 2nd St.) from 6-8pm. Anyone interested in going should e-mail me at chad.post at rochester dot edu.
I’ll try my best to blog the BEA, but generally there’s not a lot of downtime. May turn into one long recap next week . . .
Linn Ullmann’s The Cold Song, her fifth novel, is built much like the house about which its story orbits: Mailund, a stately white mansion set in the Norwegian countryside a few hours drive from Oslo. The house, nestled into the. . .
Karel Schoeman’s Afrikaans novel, This Life, translated by Else Silke, falls into a genre maybe only noticed by the type of reader who tends toward Wittgenstein-type family resemblances. The essential resemblance is an elderly narrator, usually alone—or with one other. . .
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. . .
There are books that can only wisely be recommended to specific types of readers, where it is easy to know who the respective book won’t appeal to, and Kristiina Ehin’s Walker on Water is one these. What makes this neither. . .
Imagine the most baroque excesses of Goethe, Shakespeare, and Poe, blended together and poured into a single book: That is The Nightwatches of Bonaventura. Ophelia and Hamlet fall in love in a madhouse, suicidal young men deliver mournful and heartfelt. . .
In 1899, Maurice Ravel wrote “Pavane pour une infante défunte” (“Pavane for a Dead Princess”) for solo piano (a decade later, he published an orchestral version). The piece wasn’t written for a particular person; Ravel simply wanted to compose a. . .
Fiston Mwanza Mujila is an award-winning author, born in the Democratic Republic of Congo, who now, at 33, lives in Austria. From what I could find, much of his work is influenced by the Congo’s battle for independence and its. . .
Twenty-One Days of a Neurasthenic is not a novel in the traditional sense. Rather, it is a collection of vignettes recorded by journalist Georges Vasseur in his diary during a month spent in the Pyrenées Mountains to treat his nervous. . .
Founded in 1960 by such creative pioneers as George Perec, Raymond Queneau and Italo Calvino, the Oulipo, shorthand for Ouvroir de littérature potentielle, came about in when a group of writers and mathematicians sought constraints to find new structures and. . .
There’s little to say about a series of prose poems that willfully refuse to identify pronoun antecedents. Or perhaps there are a million things. The poems in Morse, My Deaf Friend— the chapbook by Miloš Djurdjević published by Ugly Duckling. . .