Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Annë Bronte, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall (1848)

Doomed to be forever known as The Other Brontë, I think we should give her her due nonetheless, don't you?  

The idea is that A mysterious young widow, Helen Graham, comes to live a secluded life in a small farming community with her young son, where a gentleman farmer, Gilbert Markham--our narrator (for inexplicable reasons, it's an epistolary novel--Markham is writing all of this to an apparently quite indulgent friend)--comes to fall in love with her.  Does she love him back?  Maybe, but troubles and misunderstandings are a-brewin.'  Eventually, she lets him read her journal so he can understand her history and her strange behavior; said journal takes up the better part of the novel.

Spoilers to follow…
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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Haruki Murakami, Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and his Years of Pilgrimage (2013)

Haruki Murakami.  Yeah, there's no question--I should try to come to terms with the guy.  I cannot feign a lack of interest; at this point, I haven't read ALL of his novels--because IQ84 is like a thousand pages, dude, and it got kinda mixed reviews even among the faithful (who tend to be, uh, very faithful).  BUT THE FACT REMAINS: I've read twelve of his novels.  And also the short story collections The Elephant Vanishes and After the Quake.  So the evidence strongly suggests that I am, in some sense, a fan.  But I'm the most ambivalent fan ever, I'll tell you that much.   
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Monday, August 25, 2014

Robert Coover, Pricksongs and Descants (1969)

It seems I've never written about Robert Coover here.  He hasn't spent all that much time in my literary consciousness, but I've read a few of his novels, and most significantly (for a very limited definition of "significantly") I wrote a dissertation chapter on his novel The Public Burning (1977), which is about the execution of the Rosenbergs in 1953, and is a hell of a fucking book.  If anyone tries to argue that postmodernism is a milieu that just emptily reflects and pastiches, incapable of any real moral force, you should present them with a copy of The Public Burning.  Is what I'm saying.
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Saturday, August 23, 2014

Mochtar Lubis, The Outlaw and Other Stories (1987)

This is in poor taste, but I'm saying it anyway: what do you call big fans of Mochtar Lubis?  Mochtards.  OKAY THEN.
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Friday, August 22, 2014

Mochtar Lubis, A Road with no End (1952)

In 1942, Dutch occupation of the Indies ended when the Japanese took over--a real out-of-the-frying-pan kind of situation.  It wasn't good, but after Japan's surrender, they relented, and Indonesia was finally a free country.  Unfortunately, that wasn't all: the Netherlands--in a serious asshole move--tried to reestablish their rule, leading to four years of bloody war before final independence was at last established in 1949.  
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Thursday, August 21, 2014

Mochtar Lubis, Tiger! (1975)

I'm in a tizzy--a tizzy, I tell you!--trying to figure out whether I should call him "Mochtar" or "Lubis."  I'll level with you, people: I still don't totally understand how Indonesian names work.  I've basically just been going with what wikipedia or the introductions to the books themselves say.  I'm pretty sure Pramoedya is meant to be Pramoedya.  And I WAS pretty sure that Lubis was meant to be Lubis, but now I am in doubt, because this copy of Tiger! I read is not internally consistent: he's referred to as "Lubis" in the translator's introduction, but a pull quote on the back and the author bio in the front both call him "Mochtar."  WHAT A MYSTERY.  It may the case that they're just sort of more casual with these things in Indonesia--worth noting that the president-elect is universally referred to by a nickname--but I simply do not know.  I'm just going to alternate between the two when referring to him.
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Monday, August 18, 2014


Dammit, I want to point to this SOMEWHERE, even if doing so IS a little déclassé.  In my English translation of the Italian duck story "Donald and the Treasure of Saturnin Farandoul," I included a Barthelme reference.  The trouble is, it's almost certain that no one who's read it recognized it as such.  These translations of mine are generally downloaded by somewhere between fifty and a hundred people, and the odds of any given person in that cohort recognizing a reference to a Barthelme story, even, as Barthelme stories go, a pretty well-known one?  Low, I would say.  But at any rate, at one point the ducks find themselves in the South American country of "Paparaguay," and I wrote THIS:


Donald Barthelme, Forty Stories (1987)

Man, I adore Donald Barthelme, and I've read Sixty Stories and all four novels, so why the heck did it take me so long to get to the second omnibus of his short fiction?  I think I must be some kind of asshole.
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