Stochastic Bookmark

abstruse unfinished commentary

about correspondence


Herding chats: assorted notes from all over

Reading is a solitary social activity. But that doesn't mean I don't get out a bit.

Maybe it's an ex-programmer glitch on my part, but I always have an Obi-Wan problem with the year N award for the best being for year N-1. Anyway, as I reported at WLF, last night the inaugural Best Translated Book Winners were announced at Melville House's bookstore in DUMBO. Chad Post opened the proceedings at 8PM, introducing Francisco Goldman, who, after prefactory remarks on the art of translation, announced the winners, first in poetry then in prose (I mean the winners not the presentation). Many worthy books to have to choose among, with Desnos, Castellanos Moya and Bolaño's 2666 among those honorably mentioned (see finalists in poetry and prose; the latter also lists the panelists, one of whom I'd the good fortune to know from Gotham Book days; of the panelists, only Scott Esposito was unable to attend). Attendence was large, the attendees largely in the biz in some aspect, but not unwelcoming to amateurs like myself; it was good to put faces to names, and to celebrate the attention that translations are receiving across a broad spectrum of interest. Nonetheless, thinking global it's imperative to act local: book-providers need more individual support as grants are curtailed by straitened finances (cf next graf). I also procured a copy of one of the finalists, Raymond Queneau's EyeSeas, as well as Heinrich Heine's Travel Pictures (as previously noted) and Gilbert Adair's The Death of the Author ... and thanks to ubuweb downloaded Helen R. Lane's translation of Claude Simon's Properties of Several Geometric and Non-Geometric Figures.

A couple of weeks ago, I attended a different sort of wordsmith confab at the Paley Center in Midtown, co-hosted by the Financial Times' blog ftalphaville, on translating dire numbers into words, with an audience predominantly of journalists, bloggers, and relational publicists; it happened that I was alone among the attendees in having previously worked with both of the guest presenters (same department, different times), Rob Passarella (who used to blog but now tweets) and Rick Bookstaber, both of whom had well-informed takes in their respective areas of expertise (in Rick's case more financial than blogging risk, but his was more a descrial of the factoid culture than of the medium).

Back to literary matter(s): I dropped a note to the Nabokov listserv on Clancy Martin's LRB diary entry; I'd like to see Senderovich & Shvarts extend their cross-sectional approach [pdf] on shop-windows as commercial balagan in Nabokov's writings.

Recent reading starts with musical offerings:
Manuel Puig, Heartbreak Tango (Suzanne Jill Levine) Who leads the dance, and with whom? Made up of many monologues, interior to epistolatory to forensic, with the music and the movies in the background.
Dumitru Tsepenaug, Vain Art of the Fugue (Patrick Camiller): Incidental variations on a theme, not unlike but not at all like Queneau's Exercises in Style, like a fish needs a bicycle, narration by path integral:
"As you can see, madam, words are getting staler and staler—you can't do much with them at all." The lady smiled with embarrassment. "And the reason is that idiots have used them like so many wheelbarrows, you know what I mean? They've loaded them up with all kinds of idiotic confessions, with all these ideas, each more stupid than the last—and if not stupid, then certainly destructive—in short, with what people call messages.
cf The Believer, complete's-review, TQC; an interview.
Walter Abish, Minds Meet: Unexpectedly this fit in with the Tsepenaug I just read. Taken individually the stories are sort of not quite Don Barthelme, but combination raises the collection, perhaps, including epigraph, as 13 ways of looking at a blank sheet of paper. cf on Abish, revisited, 5 yrs ago at the NYer; the current issue has Menand revisiting Barthelme, alas reg $ubs only, but there is audio for everyone.
Virginia Woolf, Orlando: I didn't think she had it in him. OK, too glib, but it struck me as too flash, oversumptuous, less profound (esp in style and subtlety) than her other writings of this period. Letting out all the stops let something else out, but then approaches to gender issues were constrained by the times, had to be fantastic, and in turn everything is overdone (she knows she's overdoing and lets you know she does), authorial intrusions included, even what is left unsaid is unsaid loudly (tho often to great comedic effect). For all that, behind Mrs. Dalloway, To The Lighthouse, and The Waves.


Blogger Perezoso said...

the current issue has Menand revisiting Barthelme, alas reg $ubs only, but there is audio for everyone.

I've read that Don Barthelme was quite a jazz and blues afficionado, and was wont to bless St. Zappa on occasion. Pynchon wrote something along those lines too--blurb for Barthelme, ah believe (though TP has a way of overdoing thangs, as he did in GR; though St. FZ does make a few appearance in Pynchon, as with that bodacious scene in Vineland with FZ morphing into Abe on Mt Rushmore..... Tom hates pigs at least, even ones who have memorized Capital). I have DB's 40 Stories, and really like 7 or 8 of 'em. The one story with the rats running in the streets of NY quite scawee: DB did not lack a certain Kafkaesque quality that many Lit-bots seem unaware of. Jus' saying.

9/3/09 13:44  
Blogger nnyhav said...

Speaking of audio, NYR&B has Lorimor on "How He Wrote His Songs" in text, and on a podcast (cf ...

(Sorry about post delay, moderation was made necessary.)

14/3/09 21:36  

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