Begins tonight with the season six premiere of Lost. And of course, since I lost the TV in my divorce (grr!) and have my kids tonight (yah! except for the no going over to someone’s house to watch Lost aspect), I’ll have to wait until tomorrow or Thursday to actually see tonight’s episode . . . So if anyone reading this is a fan, please, please don’t call/text/e-mail me any details. Begging.
Anyway, to celebrate the launch of the sixth and final season, the Wall Street Journal asked me to write a piece for their Speakeasy blog about the literary references, etc. I kind of went in a different direction, hoping for no clear resolution to all of the mysteries of Lost and pulling in one of my other non-translation based obsessions—The Crying of Lot 49.
The way “Lost” has set up opposing ideas and provided equal evidence for both arguments brings to mind “The Crying of Lot 49″ by Thomas Pynchon, a book that has yet to appear in the show but nevertheless might provide the perfect lens for understanding it and for predicting what the final scene of the finale might hold.
“The Crying of Lot 49,” published in 1966, is the story of Oedipa Maas, a young woman who becomes co-executor of an old lover’s estate. As she sorts through his life, she starts seeing a symbol — a drawing of a horn — everywhere (kind of like Lost’s numbers —4 8 15 16 23 42 — which appear time and again). Through a concerted investigation and pure chance, she figures out that this symbol is either a) part of a vast conspiracy for delivering messages among members of the underground or b) one big joke. As a corollary, Oedipa herself is either a) on the brink of comprehending something monumental or b) completely insane.
Yeah, I know I’m probably the only fan in the country who would be happier if the series ended with a lot of loose ends, but I have my reasons . . . Anyway, you can read the entire post here.
César Aira dishes up an imaginative parable on how identity shapes our sense of belonging with Dinner, his latest release in English. Aira’s narrator (who, appropriately, remains nameless) is a self-pitying, bitter man—in his late fifties, living again with. . .
Originally published in French in 2007, We’re Not Here to Disappear (On n’est pas là pour disparaître) won the Prix Wepler-Fondation La Poste and the Prix Pierre Simon Ethique et Réflexion. The work has been recently translated by Béatrice Mousli. . .
Even though the latest from Jean Echenoz is only a thin volume containing seven of what he calls “little literary objects,” it is packed with surprises. In these pieces, things happen below the surface, sometimes both literally and figuratively. As. . .
Who is this woman? This is the question that opens Xiao Bai’s French Concession, a novel of colonial-era Shanghai’s spies and revolutionaries, police and smugglers, who scoot between doorways, walk nonchalantly down avenues, smoke cigars in police bureaus, and lounge. . .
For the past 140 years, Anna Karenina has been loved by millions of readers all over the world. It’s easy to see why: the novel’s two main plots revolve around characters who are just trying to find happiness through love.. . .
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. . .