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So, I start writing this column on a patio in Petaluma, listening to a set by the band “Fox & Woman” founded by friends I met through the 16th & Mission poetry scene. Also present is Evan Karp, Litseen editor and Quiet Lightning cofounder and Ransom Stephens, novelist. I am among artist friends. An artist among artists. Is that important to my creative work? Heavens, yes. (I’d say Hell, yes, but I just spent a week in a monastery, remember?)
After a week in retreat, chanting with the monks, I am ready for this more secular community. And yet, I realize that the communities are not that different when I think about it. Read the rest of this entry »
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Here’s another reason to pledge allegiance to the Center for the Art of Translation: last month they formed a partnership with the Center for Writers and Translators at the American University of Paris to produce That Other Word, a podcast that will offer “discussions on classic and contemporary literature in translation, along with engaging interviews with writers, translators, and publishers”.
So far, they’ve aired two episodes. Below are summaries I’ve taken directly from their site, where you should go for time-specific tables of contents and to listen.
Episode #1 [listen]: Daniel Medin and Scott Esposito chat about the accidental poetry and reasonable plausibility of César Aira’s Varamo, the miraculous strangeness of László Krasznahorkai’s Satantango, and the hopping city at the heart of Robert Walser’s Berlin Stories. They also mention recent and upcoming events at their respective centers, including the CWT’s publication of the latest inThe Cahiers Series, A Labour of Moles by Ivan Vladislavić, and the upcoming visit of Jay Rubin and J. Philip Gabriel, translators of Haruki Murakami’s 1Q84, at the Center.
Afterward, Scott Esposito is joined by Lorin Stein, editor of The Paris Review and former senior editor at Farrar, Straus and Giroux. They discuss editing the English version of Jean-Christophe Valtat’s 03 (translated by Mitzi Angel), procuring the rights to Roberto Bolaño’s works and editing Natasha Wimmer’s translations, failure and what separates translation from other kinds of writing, “living with books,” and why The Paris Review publishes what it does. The conversation concludes with Edouard Levé, touching on his aphoristic influences, his humor, his suicide, and his book Autoportrait, which Stein has recently translated from the French.
Episode #2 [listen], Scott Esposito eagerly anticipates the Dirty War in Sergio Chejfec’s The Planets, and Daniel Medin shares a delightful description of a freeloader from Nescio’s Amsterdam Stories. They discuss Daniel Sada’s Almost Never—a remarkable book—and the general robustness of contemporary Mexican fiction, attempt to explain why reading Can Xue’s Vertical Motion is like running downhill in the dark, then hesitate over whether to call Daniel Levin Becker’s Many Subtle Channels a memoir or a work of criticism, but agree that it is about Oulipo and very candid.
Daniel Medin then speaks to Petra Hardt, head of the rights department at Suhrkamp Verlag and author of Rights: Buying. Protecting. Selling. Suhrkamp is one of the most prestigious presses in Germany and in Europe, and since its founding in 1950 has published not only many of the greatest German-language writers of the twentieth century — among them Paul Celan, Theodor W. Adorno, and Thomas Bernhard — but foreign authors as well, including Samuel Beckett, Marcel Proust, and Julio Cortázar. In a series of wonderfully engaging anecdotes, Petra describes her work in rights and foreign rights, how that work is changing in the digital age, and why her book is intended for new presses in the Middle East, Asia, and Africa.
If all of this has you excited (first of all, subscribe to their podcast, but then) check out the CAT’s next event on May 8 at 111 Minna Gallery: Lit&lunch with Argentine Author Sergio Chejfec (12:30p, free).
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The Bee-Loud Glade is an invitation into the mind of a man, Mr. Finch, hired as a paid hermit. He is rescued from his post-firing depression by a wealthy eccentric to live on an estate in the garden cave, take a vow of silence and be watched. He fills his days with introspection: “I tied long chains of dandelions to wind around tree trunks and rocks for no other reason than I was there and so were they.” Occasionally, Finch’s quiet meditative journey is interrupted by the whims of employer: to play a flute, or meditate at sunrise.
This book is an honor to read. The prose is chisel-perfect, the humor hearty, the descriptions fresh. The characters and scenario are wholly unique. This book is not the regurgitation of an old story. Himmer’s book is new, witty, surprising, and wonderful. Like the ecstatic taste of Finch’s first vegetable grown in his own garden, the discovery of this book gives the same impression: how did I live this long without?
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Apr 14, 2012 2
The Storming Bohemian will not be writing a column next week. Why? I am going on retreat at a Trappist monastery in the countryside outside Chico. For five days. The rules: no cellphone, no computer, no internet, no music but the monks’ traditional prayer service. Books, notebook, a medieval schedule of chapel prayer in Gregorian Chant, silence. I may bring my bicycle. I may, perhaps, shop a bit for food or visit the gym in Chico. Otherwise, its going to be a time machine back to the Middle Ages. Read the rest of this entry »
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This Wednesday, April 11th is the opening reception for the culmination of a yearlong project curated by Megan Wilson and Maw Shein Win entitled Broadside Attractions | Vanquished Terrains that features a profusion of Bay Area artists and writers teaming up for Intersection for the Arts. The reception from 7–9pm, is free. Details and subsequent gallery hours below: Read the rest of this entry »
I read Gandhi: a Manga Biography by Kazuki Ebine on a lark. I didn’t even realize it was a comic book before I ordered it. What a pleasant surprise, both in format and content.
The book covers the major events that shaped Gandhi’s life and earned him the reputation as one of history’s great leaders. As a new writer, I constantly get the feedback: “show don’t tell.” Kazuki Ebine’s art shows. It shows the emotions behind the stories (the distain on the face of a South African train conductor stands out in my mind). Before reading the book I thought of Gandhi in terms of slogans; now I think of him as a person. Read the rest of this entry »
Apr 7, 2012 0
I started out wanting to be an actor, went to school for it, performed in quite a few plays before moving on to means of expression more suitable to my talents. Play acting, though, has always been for me a kind of ur-creativity, the first creative effort of children, that’s the act of make-believe. “Pretend you’re the Daddy!” “Let’s pretend I’m the princess!” “Let’s pretend I’m Batman!” “Let’s put on a circus!” Nobody teaches children to act; they just do it. Read the rest of this entry »
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