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.
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. . .
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. . .