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.”
“I preferred the war to the plague,” writes Curzio Malaparte in his 1949 novel, The Skin. He speaks of World War II and the destruction it has wrought on Italy, the city of Naples in particular. But the plague he. . .
With the steady rise of feminist scholarship and criticism in recent decades, it is little wonder that the work of Louise Labé should be attracting, as Richard Sieburth tells us in the Afterword to his translation, a “wide and thriving”. . .
In Conversations, we find ourselves again in the protagonist’s conscious and subconscious, which is mostly likely that of Mr. César Aira and consistent with prototypical Aira style. This style never fails because each time Aira is able to develop a. . .
You are not ashamed of what you do, but of what they see you do. Without realizing it, life can be an accumulation of secrets that permeates every last minute of our routine . . .
The narrative history of. . .
Literature in translation often comes with a certain pedigree. In this little corner of the world, with so few books making it into this comforting nook, it is often those of the highest quality that cross through, and attention is. . .
Alessandro Baricco’s Mr. Gwyn is a set of two loosely interlinked novellas that play with narrative and the construction of character. Ably translated by Ann Goldstein, Mr. Gwyn plays some subtle metafictional games as Baricco delves into what it means. . .
I must admit upfront that I went into reading Saadat Hasan Manto’s Bombay Stories almost entirely blind. I have not read Salman Rushdie. I have read, perhaps, two short stories by Jhumpa Lahiri. I might shamefully add that I really. . .
Throughout his work The Gray Notebook, Josep Pla mentions many different authors, some of whom have inspired him to pick up a pen. One of them is Marcel Proust. Even though Pla normally prefers nonfiction, he lauds the French novelist. . .
On that September 11th I had a conversation with a professor friend who was teaching a creative writing class that evening. He questioned, “What can I possibly teach when all of this has happened?” While the dismay and grief were. . .
In a story of two emotionally distant people, Japanese author Takashi Hiraide expertly evokes powerful feelings of love, loss, and friendship in his novel The Guest Cat. The life of the unnamed narrator and his wife, both writers, is calm. . .