With the Frankfurt Book Fair practically here, we’re rushing around the Open Letter offices desperately preparing for all the
So things might be a bit quite online for the next few days. But come next week, we’re hoping to provide some image heavy posts about our first trip to the FBF.
I’ve heard that to be cool in Frankfurt, you have to be reading some hip, slightly obscure books that you can toss casually into late-night, half-drunk conversations.
I always have a hell of a time figuring out what to bring on these 6+ hour plane rides, but a few books just arrived that I’m really excited about and seem to fit this billing:
Autonauts of the Cosmoroute by Julio Cortazar and Carol Dunlop will be out next month from Archipelago. Unfortunately, I just finished reading this (and writing a review for The Quarterly Conversation), so I can’t bring it, although I plan on mentioning it every chance I get. Seriously—this book is amazing.
John Siciliano at Penguin just sent me the new translation of Knut Hamsun’s Growth of the Soil . I’ve heard over and over how great this book is, but refused to buy the crappy looking Vintage mass market edition (again, snobbery) . Thankfully, this is part of the Penguin Classics line now, in a completely readable format.
Finally, I’m also excited about Bohumil Hrabal’s In-House Weddings, which just came out from Northwestern. Here’s a clip from the jacket copy:
Inspired by “Mrs. Tolstoy and Mrs. Dostoevsky, whose biographies about their husbands have now been published in Prague,” Bohumil Hrabal decided to produce his own autobiographical work, ostensibly fiction, from his wife’s point of view. He would write, he said, “not a putdown about myself, but a little bit of how it all was, that marriage of ours, with myself as a jewel and adornment of our life together.”
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. . .