I started doing an independent study at Open Letter in January in an attempt to fill out a Creative Writing minor that I took alongside two degrees: one in Brain and Cognitive Science, and the other in Linguistics. I’ve always loved to read, and I’m a native speaker of Polish, so it just seemed natural to get some credits for reading and reviewing translated works.
I expected to like it.
I didn’t expect to fall in love with it. It was classwork, after all. . .
But all of a sudden, my assignments didn’t feel like homework anymore. Granted, it was terrifying at first to have my reviews ripped to shreds by Chad, but I got over that quickly, and I still am surprised and exhilarated whenever I see one of my own reviews online. And they are much better than they started out as, courtesy of all of Chad’s advice!
So when the opportunity to intern at Open Letter was presented to me, I snatched it right up.
Now, having graduated from the University of Rochester, here I am! I’ll be taking over as the threepercent book review editor until the end of August.
If what I’ll be doing for the rest of the summer is anything like what I’ve been doing thus far, it’ll include a lot of coffee-drinking and copious soaking-up-of incredible books. It’s an added bonus to be able to get an early peek at the wonderful reviews I’ll be posting throughout the summer.
Sometimes I also stick labels to books and envelopes and send out stuff. Surprisingly, I enjoy that. It reminds me of sticker books.
Some random things about me: I bop around Open Letter wearing teddy bear sweaters and blouses embroidered to look like a Lite Brite. And I wear big glasses. I am often hard to overlook. In my free time I write short stories. I am handy with spreadsheets. I like kittens until I start sneezing because of said kittens, and then I like them decidedly less. Sometimes I’m too brutally honest for my own good and for other people’s feelings. It hasn’t become a huge problem yet. Nothing wrong with being passionate, right? I’d like to think it shows in my reviews.
Most of all though, I really adore working at Open Letter, and I hope that shows too! Feel free to comment here or send me an email (Aleksandra.email@example.com) if you have any questions or concerns about any of my posts, or if you just want to chat! I’ll try to get back to you as soon as I can.
‘Til then, enjoy threepercent!
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. . .