Since basically no one is going to be in the office this week, rather than try and write up longer, informative posts, I’m going to try and post a round-up a day of interesting links/blog posts, etc., etc. No guarantees this will actually happen—I’m pretty skilled at starting projects that I never finish . . .
There’s an interesting interview with Gunter Grass over at Speigel Online mostly focused on his new book, “Grimms’ Words. A Declaration of Love,” which is about the Grimm Brothers:
SPIEGEL: What do you find appealing about the brothers?
Grass: Their uncompromising nature, most of all. In 1837, they protested in Göttingen against the abolition of the constitution (of the Kingdom of Hanover) and thus against the power of the state. Like the other rebellious professors in the group known as the Göttingen Seven, they lost their positions. And the task they embarked on after that was basically impossible: a German dictionary filled with quotations and example sentences. And they only made it to the sixth letter of the alphabet. Others completed the dictionary.
SPIEGEL: More than 120 years later.
Grass: That lengthy period of time also fascinates me. German studies specialists from both parts of Germany worked on it over the last 15 years. In the middle of the Cold War, they sat quietly at their desks in East Berlin and Göttingen and collected footnotes for a pan-German dictionary. It’s a reflection of the same German history I talk about in “Grimms’ Words.”
The NY Times Style section really is one of the greatest newspaper sections in the world. If it’s not super-expensive aquariums and colorless fish, it’s a piece about how ebooks overcome the isolation of reading. Now, I think I know what she’s getting at, but this paragraph sounds a bit crazy to me:
“There may once have been a slight stigma about people reading alone, but I think that it no longer exists because of the advancement of our current technology,” she said. “We are in a high-tech era and the sleekness and portability of the iPad erases any negative notions or stigmas associated with reading alone.”
A stigma about people reading alone? Do most people read together in groups? I think I’ve been doing this all wrong . . .
This is a pretty sweet deal for an international writer interested in spending a year writing in Central New York. (Teach one class in the fall, a online tutorial in the spring, get $70K AND a place to stay—not bad.) Geneva is pretty nice, and HWS students are pretty brilliant. (Secretly hoping one of our authors will get this. Or at least someone we can invite to participate in the Reading the World Conversation Series.)
God damn Ayn Rand fans. All so batshit crazy. Or at least all the ones I’ve met. Or read about.
And nice try “Nick Newcomen” with your website. In case you haven’t noticed yet, the sections where you’re recommending people buy her books are totally blank . . . Kind of hoping this whole thing was a sarcastic joke to make everyone realize that Ayn (rhymes with “mine”) Rand-ians are insane. If so, well played. Very well played.
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. . .
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. . .