18 December 08 | Chad W. Post

We’re all about Melville House . . . in addition to the forthcoming post about Alejandro Zambra’s Bonsai, we also just posted this new review of Kevin Vennemann’s Close to Jedenew another book from Melville House’s Contemporary Art of the Novella Series.

This review was written by Douglas Carlsen, who is the director of Whitman College Bookstore and has been making his living from books in one way or another since 1970. He’s also an actor, director, poet, short story writer, and co-owner of Willowbend Farm.

His very thoughtful review begins:

“We do not breathe.”

So begins Kevin Vennemann’s Close to Jedenew. The story of an event. A day in July, 1941. A moment between evening and night. Between “what was” and “nothing remaining.” A survivor’s tale—of movement from the “we” to the “I.” A story of loss—“in the evening we sit, nine in number, at night we are six”—until no one but the narrator remains.

Living just outside the small farming community of Jedenew in eastern Poland, a Jewish family

“[sits] behind the house in the midsummer evening sun on the narrow wooden dock that leads out into the pond behind the house, [they] sit and lie and swim in the sun and sit together reading and drink the first and last summer punch of the year.”

The first and last summer punch. The last evening. The tale of a family’s personal Kristallnacht, and following holocaust, at the hands of longtime neighbors and friends—

“On this evening, this last evening, it is Antonina who says softly: They’re coming.” For hours the Jedenew farmers sit in the woods behind the house and drink and laugh and sing and play, and only after hours go by do we finally hear them coming out of the woods, singing at the top of their voices and marching over the ridge into the garden.

What happens in the twilight we are never told.

The rest can be found by clicking here.


Comments are disabled for this article.
....
Walker on Water
Walker on Water by Kristiina Ehin
Reviewed by P. T. Smith

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. . .

Read More >

The Nightwatches of Bonaventura
The Nightwatches of Bonaventura by Bonaventura
Reviewed by J. T. Mahany

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. . .

Read More >

Pavane for a Dead Princess
Pavane for a Dead Princess by Park Min-Gyu
Reviewed by Christopher Iacono

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. . .

Read More >

Tram 83
Tram 83 by Fiston Mwanza Mujila
Reviewed by Caitlin Thomas

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. . .

Read More >

Twenty-One Days of a Neurasthenic
Twenty-One Days of a Neurasthenic by Octave Mirbeau
Reviewed by Lori Feathers

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. . .

Read More >

Sphinx
Sphinx by Anne Garréta
Reviewed by Monica Carter

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. . .

Read More >

Morse, My Deaf Friend
Morse, My Deaf Friend by Miloš Djurdjević
Reviewed by Vincent Francone

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. . .

Read More >

The Crimson Thread of Abandon
The Crimson Thread of Abandon by Terayama Shūji
Reviewed by Robert Anthony Siegel

The Crimson Thread of Abandon is the first collection of short fiction available in English by the prolific Japanese writer and all-around avant-garde trickster Terayama Shūji, who died in 1983 at the age of 47. This collection would be important. . .

Read More >

Life Embitters
Life Embitters by Josep Pla
Reviewed by Christopher Iacono

Last year, NYRB Classics introduced English-language readers to Catalan writer Josep Pla with Peter Bush’s translation of The Gray Notebook. In that book, Pla wrote about life in Spain during an influenza outbreak soon after World War I, when. . .

Read More >

The Physics of Sorrow
The Physics of Sorrow by Georgi Gospodinov
Reviewed by Izidora Angel

“Your bile is stagnant, you see sorrow in everything, you are drenched in melancholy,” my friend the doctor said.
bq. “Isn’t melancholy something from previous centuries? Isn’t some vaccine against it yet, hasn’t medicine taken care of it yet?” I. . .

Read More >

The next few events from our Translation Events Calendar: See More Events >