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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Thursday, August 14, 2014

Seno Gumira Ajidarma, Jazz, Perfume & the Incident (1996)

What is "the Incident?"  I'll let the translator, Gregory Harris, describe it (I suppose this is one of those times where you'd say "trigger warning"):
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Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Mochtar Lubis, Twilight in Jakarta (1963)

So in this one, Bella and Edward decide to take an Indonesian vacation.  The flight over is uneventful (though a number of passengers who are trying to sleep are annoyed by the sparkliness), but when they get there, it turns out that the Volturi--what?  But I just--no!

[The management would like to apologize for the extreme lameness of that joke.  Appropriate disciplinary measures have taken against the responsible parties.]
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Sunday, August 10, 2014

Pramoedya Ananta Toer, The Buru Quartet

(Probably wise when reading this to keep in mind that I lived in Indonesia for four and a half months, and while that means that I know more about the country than the average westerner, probably, it doesn't make me some sort of expert; while I don't THINK I'm full of shit on any of this, it's entirely possible that my history is mixed up or that I'm mischaracterizing things; I'm very aware that it could very easily look as though I'm positioning myself as being far more authoritative than I actually am.  So take it all with a big ol' grain of salt.)
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Sunday, August 03, 2014

Why don't you hate who I hate kill who I kill to be free?

I was on vacation in a somewhat remote part of Indonesia when all this latest Gaza violence began and thus remained blissfully unaware for some time.  It was only when I got back to the States that it started to dawn on me, in a horrifying way, what was happening.  
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