30 May 2012

Books people buy

After ordering a book from The Book Depository, I watched their live streaming of what books are being bought where.

They can be addicting. Buying and watching.

29 May 2012

A panel on writing, editing, and publishing literature in the Americas

Craig Epplin: César Aira is the writer I thought of when I heard the topic for tonight’s discussion, in particular, a passage from one of my favorite novels by him, a novel that hasn’t been translated into English, called The Flyer.  And in the passage, the novel itself is a flyer, a long flyer that spins out of control and becomes a novel, and at one point the narrator tells us how he is composing this, and he is carving the blocks, he is carving his own font, and then he’s going to print it out using a mimeograph, because he can’t afford a typewriter and he can’t afford to make photocopies.  So in this little scene, writing, publishing, and editing, it was all there.  I thought we could start with this general question: How do you see these three practices reflected in your own work?  Writing, editing, and publishing.

Read the full panel on "Writing, Editing, and Publishing in the Americas" here. It features John Reed, Justin Taylor, Carlos Labbé, and Andrés Neuman. Craig Epplin moderates.

28 May 2012

Spanish Language Lit Month

Stu of Winstonsdad's Blog and Richard of Caravana de recuerdos, two of the most discriminating readers that I know, will be hosting a month-long festival of Spanish language literature.

July is the golden month of opportunities for encountering Spanish literature in the original or in translation. The line-up of reading/film viewing is as follows.

  • Week 1, 6-8 July: Group viewing of the 1976s classic film Cria Cuervos, written and directed by Carlos Saura
  • Week 2, 13-15 July: Reading of A Brief Life by Juan Carlos Onetti
  • Week 3, 20-22 July: Reading of Bartleby & Co. by Enrique Vila-Matas
  • Week 4: Link round-up

The Vila-Matas week is a shoo-in for me. And I'm eyeing other enticing titles as well. 

You can register for this challenge at Stu's or Richard's post.

Japanese Literature Challenge 6

Dolce Bellezza just announced the 2012 cycle of Japanese Literature Challenge (JLC). Now on its 6th year, the JLit challenge starts every June and runs for eight months till the end of January of the following year. It has become a hub of JLit readers for its showcase of critical book reviews and its enabling of blog conversations.

One of my groups in LibraryThing focuses on Japanese writing the entire year so this is a happy duplication. It's my third year of participation in JLC. I started reading translated Japanese books only in 2009. My exposure to Japanese fiction prior to that was through the work of English novelist Kazuo Ishiguro. But in the past three years I've collected and read some excellent modernist Japanese writers. My favorite writers are Natsume Sōseki, Ryūnosuke Akutagawa, Jun'ichirō Tanizaki, Yasunari Kawabata, Kobo Abé, Ryū Murakami, Kōno Taeko, and Yūko Tsushima. With this challenge, I'm sure the list will be expanded.

You can join JLC6 here.

15 May 2012

Zombie story

Oscar Villalon, former book editor of The San Francisco Chronicle, reads an extract from "The Colonel's Son" by Roberto Bolaño, one of the pieces from The Secret of Evil.

Tyrannical cover

For Peter Bush's upcoming retranslation of Tyrant Banderas, a dictator novel by Ramón del Valle-Inclán (1866–1936), the NYRB (final?) cover is freakish (understatement).


13 May 2012

On why César Aira doesn't run out of fictional material

He accepts invitations.

When the Buenos Aires International Film Festival invited him to be a member of the jury, nobody seriously expected a positive answer. Much to the organizer’s surprise, however, César Aira accepted the invitation and turned out to be an extremely discerning, competent and witty juror. Afterward he disappeared as discreetly as he had appeared.

Half a year later, the festival was surprised to receive a short story by Aira entitled Festival.

Festival may not be coming out in English anytime soon. But here's another story of Aira's appropriation of a true story he heard from Kent Johnson (here--somewhere in the comments, retold here) as basis of the opening of one of his recent books (not sure which).

On reviewing translations

A panel during the recent PEN World Voices Festival of International Literature discussed the strategies and issues on criticism of translations.

Video link (via)

03 May 2012

Marías on Lampedusa's The Leopard

There is no such thing as the indispensable book or author, and the world would be exactly the same if Kafka, Proust, Faulkner, Mann, Nabokov and Borges had never existed. It might not be quite the same if none of them had existed, but the non-existence of just one of them would certainly not have affected the whole. That is why it is so tempting – an easy temptation if you like – to think that the representative twentieth-century novel must be the one that very nearly didn’t exist, the one that nobody would have missed ...

--For the 23rd issue of Five Dials, an essay by Javier Marías on an almost non-novel by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa.
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01 May 2012