Stochastic Bookmark

abstruse unfinished commentary

about correspondence


Hypermodern Openings

August continues to provide uniformly hot reading.

Gombrowicz's Ferdydurke was, as promised, his best. Condemned by Nazis, Stalinists and Polish Communists in turn; you gotta love something that can bring people together like that, even in a chaotic mass of limbs. Translator Danuta Borchardt's decision to retain pupa adds a resonance in English of things unfinished in this reverse transformation.

Robero BolaƱo's Last Evenings on Earth are excellent short stories by a more excellent novelist. Some stories, as with By Night in Chile, pivot on the final paragraph, or sentence; for others, that point is beyond the ending. "Anne Moore's Life", among others, brought to mind Dylan's "Tangled up in Blue". Only the last story, "Dance Card", didn't work for me, a departure from form. As for the novels, Amulet, also translated by Chris Andrews (who won the Valle-Inclan prize for translating Distant Star), will be next from New Directions, and his magnum opus 2666 is one of those selected for a 2007 translation grant through NEA. (Of forthcoming titles, besides this only Pynchon's Against the Day piques more interest.)

Robert Pinget's Recurrent Melody (Passacaille) is best described as Brian Eno's "Discreet Music" transcribed to prose. Like a short story, this novella really requires reading in a single sitting. His comment to the translator, Barbara Wright:
The object of Passacaille is to exorcise death by magical operations with words. As if the pleasure of playing with the vocabulary could delay the fatal issue ... and not just vocabulary: form (e.g., a shift to 1st person 2/3 of the way through), chronology, perspective are all in play, without markers, moving (without passion), "something broken in the mechanism" but it works, murmuring indistinctly, marginally. In Hollywords, Robbe-Grillet does Faulkner (unfair to all concerned, sure). Pinget to Wright, again:
Don't bother too much about logic: everything in Passacaille is directed against it.


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31/8/06 13:55  

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