30 January 08 | Chad W. Post

So, the highly-anticipated fourth season of Lost premieres tomorrow night, picking up where last season and its mind-blowing flash forward left off. And I for one can’t wait. (Especially for episode 4 . . . feel free to scroll to the bottom if you want to know why.)

I unabashedly love Lost, and over the past few years have encountered a ton of other literary people who feel the same way. Ranging from Amy Stolls at the National Endowment for the Arts to Nicole Rudick at Bookforum to Margarita Shalina at St. Mark’s, among many, many others. We shoot e-mails off the morning after each episode, speculating, pontificating, wishing the week would go by faster . . . It’s been said before (and more eloquently), but there’s something special about this show—it’s not the kind of program you watch and enjoy, it’s the kind of show you obsess over for days.

In my opinion, one of the reasons for this is the high literary content of the show. Not only does it unfold like an epic Victorian novel (with the winks, nudges, ambiguity, and paranoia of the most postmodern of works) with layer upon layer ripe for the analysis, but the writers incorporate literature and philosophy in ways that encourage dedicated viewers to read and learn about other works of art—works that end up adding significantly to the Lost viewing experience. (Like knowing who Mikhail Bakunin is, or John Locke, or Rousseau, or . . .)

Lost is one of the few shows on TV that operates within a much wider artistic context. It’s not completely self-contained in its one-hour bits, instead via the internet games (like the Lost Experience) and literary references (like The Third Policeman, Laughter in the Dark, Our Mutual Friend, The Turn of the Screw and many more) it is something so much more.

The books aspect is what really fascinates me, for obvious reasons. When a book appears on Lost—be it as part of the Others’ book club, being read by Sawyer, or on a bookshelf in the Swan—there’s a sort of cult validation of the book in question and a burning need (for me at least) to immediately read this book. These books are deliberately chosen, not to give away “secrets” or to “explain WTF is going on,” but to set a tone and to give the reader/viewer something else to contemplate.

In other words, I’m a fan of the show.

But seriously, books are important to Lost writers. In fact, Gregg Nations—writer and script coordinator—is going to be on a panel with me at BookExpo America in June talking about how Lost has created a readership for various books, etc.

More importantly—I know that was a really long-winded intro to my little secret—there are two fantastic books that are going to be in the fourth episode of the season (entitled “Eggtown” and airing February 21st): Philip K. Dick’s Valis and Adolfo Bioy Casares’s The Invention of Morel.

Not going to go into why I know this, but I do want to say that I’ve long held the belief that Morel (published by the wonderful New York Review Books) was the perfect book for Lost fans, and hopefully this will help expand its readership. (Same goes for Valis, which is also amazing, but since PKD has a bigger fan base, I’ll skip that for this post.)

If you’re not familiar with The Invention of Morel you really should pick up a copy. Borges was a fan of this nasty little book, and it was the inspiration for Robbe-Grillet’s Last Year in Marienbad. I don’t want to give away much, but it’s the story of a man on an island who is seeing some strange things . . . It even begins with the perfect Lost-like line: “Today, on this island, a miracle happened: summer came ahead of time” and includes mad scientists, different temporal dimensions . . .

I promise, fan of Lost or not, I can’t imagine anyone picking this up and not falling in love with this perfectly crafted book.

Oh, and watch Lost tomorrow. It’s on ABC.


Comments are disabled for this article.
....
The Odyssey
The Odyssey by Homer
Reviewed by Peter Constantine

Now goddess, child of Zeus,
tell the old story for our modern times.

–(The Odyssey, Book I, line 10. Emily Wilson)

In literary translation of works from other eras, there are always two basic tasks that a translator needs. . .

Read More >

I Remember Nightfall
I Remember Nightfall by Marosa di Giorgio
Reviewed by Talia Franks

I Remember Nightfall by Marosa di Giorgio (trans. From the Spanish by Jeannine Marie Pitas) is a bilingual poetry volume in four parts, consisting of the poems “The History of Violets,” “Magnolia,” “The War of the Orchards,” and “The Native. . .

Read More >

Joyce y las gallinas
Joyce y las gallinas by Anna Ballbona
Reviewed by Brendan Riley

This review was originally published as a report on the book at New Spanish Books, and has been reprinted here with permission of the reviewer. The book was originally published in the Catalan by Anagrama as Joyce i les. . .

Read More >

Lost in Translation: An Illustrated Compendium of Untranslatable Words from Around the World
Lost in Translation: An Illustrated Compendium of Untranslatable Words from Around the World by Ella Frances Sanders
Reviewed by Kaija Straumanis

Hello and greetings in the 2017 holiday season!

For those of you still looking for something to gift a friend or family member this winter season, or if you’re on the lookout for something to gift in the. . .

Read More >

The Size of the World
The Size of the World by Branko Anđić
Reviewed by Jaimie Lau

Three generations of men—a storyteller, his father and his son—encompass this book’s world. . . . it is a world of historical confusion, illusion, and hope of three generations of Belgraders.

The first and last sentences of the first. . .

Read More >

Island of Point Nemo
Island of Point Nemo by Jean-Marie Blas de Roblès
Reviewed by Katherine Rucker

The Island of Point Nemo is a novel tour by plane, train, automobile, blimp, horse, and submarine through a world that I can only hope is what Jean-Marie Blas de Roblès’s psyche looks like, giant squids and all.

What. . .

Read More >

The Truce
The Truce by Mario Benedetti
Reviewed by Adrianne Aron

Mario Benedetti (1920-2009), Uruguay’s most beloved writer, was a man who loved to bend the rules. He gave his haikus as many syllables as fit his mood, and wrote a play divided into sections instead of acts. In his country,. . .

Read More >

I Am a Season That Does Not Exist in the World
I Am a Season That Does Not Exist in the World by Kim Kyung Ju
Reviewed by Jacob Rogers

Kim Kyung Ju’s I Am a Season That Does Not Exist in the World, translated from the Korean by Jake Levine, is a wonderful absurdist poetry collection. It’s a mix of verse and prose poems, or even poems in the. . .

Read More >

Kingdom Cons
Kingdom Cons by Yuri Herrera
Reviewed by Sarah Booker

Yuri Herrera is overwhelming in the way that he sucks readers into his worlds, transporting them to a borderland that is at once mythical in its construction and powerfully recognizable as a reflection of its modern-day counterpart. Kingdom Cons, originally. . .

Read More >

The Invented Part
The Invented Part by Rodrigo Fresán
Reviewed by Tiffany Nichols

Imagine reading a work that suddenly and very accurately calls out you, the reader, for not providing your full attention to the act of reading. Imagine how embarrassing it is when you, the reader, believe that you are engrossed in. . .

Read More >

The next few events from our Translation Events Calendar: See More Events >