I’m not even going to bother setting this one up—just read the opening of this review by Gregory Leon Miller from the San Francisco Chronicle:
Quim Monzó might just be the best writer you’ve never heard of. One could say he’s Catalan’s best-known writer – in fact, the publicity materials for Monzó’s books in the English-language markets routinely say so. But given our culture’s scant attention to literature in translation, such titles, however well meant, only accentuate a writer’s obscurity.
His latest, “A Thousand Morons,” is one of the strongest short-story collections I’ve read in years. Out of material too bleak perhaps for mainstream tastes, Monzó has crafted the funniest prose.
THIS IS ALL TRUE.
Monzó is one of the best—and one of the funniest—writers writing today. He’s an incredible person and deserves all this praise and more. But don’t forget about Peter Bush!
As a translator himself – he has produced Catalan versions of authors ranging from Thomas Hardy to Truman Capote – Monzó must surely appreciate the suppleness of Peter Bush’s work here. Bush gives us Monzó’s subtle complexity without any of the clunky moments that can deform translations of comic writing in particular.
Credit must also go to Open Letter (an imprint of the University of Rochester), whose devotion to literature in translation and unpredictable roster have quietly made it one of the most important small presses in the country.
Aw shucks. That’s a really nice compliment at the end as well . . .
So, just like in my last post, if you take out a year-long subscription to Open Letter I’ll throw in both A Thousand Morons and 18% Gray. (For current subscribers, I’ll still give you 12 books for $100—don’t worry.)
Actually, I’m going to take this one step further . . . If you email me at chad.post
at rochester.edu, I’ll send you a free Thousand Morons T-shirt. Just let me know what size you want. We have S, M, L, XL, and XXL.
One of the fall Open Letter titles that I’m most jacked about is Quim Monzó’s A Thousand Morons. I’ve been a huge fan of Monzó’s for a while now (maybe since I read, The Enormity of the Tragedy, I guess) and am so proud that we have him on our list. (If you want to check him out, I STRONGLY recommend checking out One Night which appeared in Guernica back in August.)
Anyway, to correspond with the release of this book, we’re going to be showing the movie version, A Thousand Fools, during ALTA. (To be specific, this will take place on Thursday, October 4th from 1:30 to 3:30 at The Little. And before the screening, translator Peter Bush will talk about Monzó, his work, and Catalan literature.)
There’s more to this event to share with you, but first, here’s a trailer:
OK, now thanks to the combined brilliance of George Carroll (our West Coast sales rep!), Paul Yamazaki (of City Lights), and Rick Simonson (of Elliott Bay), we’re going to be giving away t-shirts to promote this book. To be more accurate, we’ll be giving away one thousand t-shirts that look sort of like this (this is an low-res mock up):
And to drive home the promotional point of this, the back will be individually numbered, so each recipient will know exactly which “moron” he/she is:
So everyone coming to the showing during ALTA, all booksellers who are Open Letter fans, every single subscriber, bunches of friends, and any of you who email me can get your own free “Thousand Morons” t-shirt. The only criteria is that you take a picture of yourself wearing it and post it to our Facebook page. (You don’t have to do this, but it would be pretty awesome, and would make us feel loved.)
There you are: One more reason why you should come to ALTA.
It’s not very often that an Open Letter book is turned into a movie (in fact, aside from Duras’s The Sailor from Gibraltar and Ilf & Petrov’s The Golden Calf [which was actually made into three different movies] I don’t think any of our titles have become films), so it’s really exciting to find out about about this version of Quim Monzo’s A Thousand Morons (coming out in fall 2012):
There’s no IMDB listing for this movie, but it was part of the Seattle International Film Festival, which described it as such:
Dropped forks, high rise plunges, overzealous donators, and a fiercely liberated Virgin Mary are just a few of the subjects covered in director Ventura Pons’ masterfully random, occasionally interlocking collection of fifteen vignettes, delivered at a rapid-fire, pin-wheeling pace. Split into three parts and featuring a gaggle of Spanish stars, the film first delivers a variously blistering and tender take on modern foibles and breaches of etiquette, before moving on to a bawdy reexamination of classic myths and parables, all rendered in a delightfully chintzy silent film fashion. The final section, concerning a screenwriter’s exasperated relationship with his headstrong parents, finishes things off in fine form, with one last caustic sting in the tail. Moving with breathtaking assurance, SIFF favorite Pons (Life on the Edge, Forasters, Drifting) quick draws between savage black comedy and unexpected pathos to deliver an exhilarating and dazzlingly modulated ride. Everyone who sees it will have a different favorite part.
I don’t know exactly how this works, but hopefully someone will pick this up and distribute it across the U.S. . . . and maybe even here in Rochester. I’d love to see how Monzo’s wacky stories and viewpoint is converted to the screen.
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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. . .