1 July 08 | Chad W. Post

This is the thirteenth Reading the World 2008 title we’re covering. Write-ups of the other titles can be found here. And information about the Reading the World program—a special collaboration between publishers and independent booksellers to promote literature in translation throughout the month of June—is available at the official RTW website. There’s also a podcast discussing RTW available from World Books.

One of the first books to receive a NEA International Literature Award, Amanda Michalopoulou’s I’d Like is also one of the few works of contemporary Greek literature to be published in the States over the past few years. (She’s also one of the few authors I’ve stumbled across with a Red Room page.)

This book—translated by Karen Emmerich—is a collection of 13 stories that interweave and intertwine in a way that’s playfully metafictional and quite intriguing. (None of the descriptions of this book really do it justice, so instead, here’s a bit from the author’s “Clarification of What I’d Like”:

My original objective was to write a few short stories to supplement the twenty of so I’ve published here and there in the past few years. When I started to write, the old stories didn’t fit in anywhere—they scurried back to the anthologies they’d come from. So a new objective took shape: to write stories that would read like versions of an unwritten novel. Or, better, to write the biography of those stories as well as of their fictional writer.

This game is evident in the openings of the first two stories. The first is the title-story, “I’d Like”:

“Now! He’s alone!”

Vandoros is standing across the room from us, scratching his reddish beard. With his leather gloves and penetrating gaze he looks just like a fox.

“What are you waiting for?” I hiss.

My husband loosens his bow tie and crosses the room in his characteristic bouncing gait. He’d come up to me just like that, years ago, at a movie theater in Athens. “Don’t tell me you liked that film,” he’d said then. No, but I had liked his peculiar blend of awkwardness and chivalry.

And then from the second story, “A Slight, Controlled Unease”:

“Now! He’s alone!”

Vandoros is standing across the room from us, scratching his reddish beard. With his leather gloves and penetrating gaze he looks just like a fox.

“What are you waiting for?” I hiss.

I’m waiting to see where you’ll take it. The characters don’t convince me, with their gloves and their penetrating gazes. Give me a story. I want to dive in and splash around in the sense of a story. I’d like, as you say. What an idiot: I choose a book by its title.

We will be running a long review of this title in the not-too-distant future, but I definitely think it’s worth checking out. And hopefully one day, Michalopoulou’s other titles will make their way into English as well.


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