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.
The last five days of the eleventh-century Icelandic politician, writer of sagas, and famous murder victim Snorri Sturleleson (the Norwegian spelling, Snorre, is preserved in the book) make up Thorvald Steen’s most recently translated historical fiction, The Little Horse. Murdered. . .
We all know Paris, or at least we think we know it. The Eiffel Tower. The Latin Quarter. The Champs-Élysées. The touristy stuff. In Dominique Fabre’s novel, Guys Like Me, we’re shown a different side of Paris: a gray, decaying. . .
One hundred pages into Birth of a Bridge, the prize-winning novel from French writer Maylis de Kerangal, the narrator describes how starting in November, birds come to nest in the wetlands of the fictional city of Coca, California, for three. . .
At 30, the Mexican writer Valeria Luiselli is already gathering her rosebuds. Faces in the Crowd, her poised debut novel, was published by Coffee House Press, along with her Brodsky-infused essay collection, Sidewalks. The essays stand as a theoretical map. . .
Fantomas Versus the Multinational Vampires: An Attainable Utopia (narrated by Julio Cortázar) is, not disappointingly, as wild a book as its title suggests. It is a half-novella half-graphic novel story about . . . what, exactly? A European tribunal, Latin. . .
Marie NDiaye has created a tiny, psychological masterpiece with her Self-Portrait in Green. In it she explores how our private fears and insecurities can distort what we believe to be real and can cause us to sabotage our intimate relationships.. . .
Reading a genre book—whether fantasy, science fiction, crime, thriller, etc.—which begins to seem excessively, stereotypically bad, I have to make sure to ask myself: is this parodying the flaws of the genre? Usually, this questioning takes its time coming. In. . .
The Sicilian Mafia has always been a rich subject for sensational crime fiction. The Godfather, Goodfellas, and The Sopranos worked the mob’s bloody corpses and family feuds to both entertainment and artistic value. Giuseppe di Piazza’s debut novel attempts this,. . .
Antoine Volodine’s vast project (40 plus novels) of what he calls the post-exotic remains mostly untranslated, so for many of us, understanding it remains touched with mystery, whispers from those “who know,” and guesswork. That’s not to say that, were. . .
It hasn’t quite neared the pitch of the waiting-in-line-at-midnight Harry Potter days, but in small bookstores and reading circles of New York City, an aura has attended the novelist Elena Ferrante and her works. One part curiosity (Who is she?),. . .