Amazing. I am just continually knocked away by Duras's work. This seems to be, in a way, revisiting Moderato cantabile, though with transpositions, th...moreAmazing. I am just continually knocked away by Duras's work. This seems to be, in a way, revisiting Moderato cantabile, though with transpositions, the love turned to madness, the man turned to a woman relation, non-sexual, the dialog taken as interrogation.
Duras's form here, the interview, and in the first section, the interview along with commentary on an audio cassette, is so brilliant, the way the story takes shape, the witnesses to nothing but conversation, an endless circle. The protagonists all seems insane, in that specifically Duras-ean way, circling around an idea that's never quite attainable... the idea of the head, where the head sits, seeming so important, the refusal, the acephalic intentions, so many levels, Duras's books take such depths. The space of fiction, Duras is just without equal, really.(less)
Full review forthcoming, but I imagine somewhere around Dalkey's publication date. This is a tough book, in a way, though it also astounds and does a...moreFull review forthcoming, but I imagine somewhere around Dalkey's publication date. This is a tough book, in a way, though it also astounds and does a lot that I really like. (less)
In its brevity, its condensation, the way the text is spread across so many pages, echoing the movement, the pauses (I really want to know if Duras's...moreIn its brevity, its condensation, the way the text is spread across so many pages, echoing the movement, the pauses (I really want to know if Duras's manuscript looks like this, or if it's mere "thinning" so the publisher could have a short-book out of a short story--I'd like to think it's Duras, but I suppose I'll never know). The realization of the shape the narrative is taking: reductively: eye-contact, blow job, penetration, exhaustion, death-- I almost laughed when I realized the pivotal moment of this tale was a blow job, but in my laughter I had the realization of how fucking brilliant Duras is, to be able to take such a base act that often cannot be described without vulgarity (I'm not speaking of morality here, simply the way language unfolds)! It's a fever dream, haunted, so perfect, as if the bodies described were posturing eurythmy! It feels so beautifully like movement. (less)
This book sits, virtually, as a re-telling of The Malady of Death, which is an utter masterpiece--although, here, there are more details, things are m...moreThis book sits, virtually, as a re-telling of The Malady of Death, which is an utter masterpiece--although, here, there are more details, things are more fleshed out; and the man, the man who suffers, is explicitly homosexual here, never actually explicitly 'penetrating' the woman--I'd argue that the man in Malady of Death is more pointedly heterosexual, but Duras of course has said in interviews, upon being asked, that the sexuality of the man (in Malady of Death) more or less "doesn't matter," which seems to have found critics running wild with the idea of the man being a homosexual, building upon other comments Duras has made in interviews to develop a sort of idea of Duras's own, for lack of a better word, homosexist tendencies? I don't buy it (and Blanchot, in The Unavowable Community, doesn't either).
But here there is no argument about the man's sexuality, but there is also less of an accusatory malady present-- both man and woman here are not presented as equal, but both find themselves very close to death, in a sort of inverse sense of the precipice...
Duras writes in closed circuits, loops, repeating while changing narratives that shift into new spaces and occupy territory that seem to haunt her, and because of this there's a level of this haunt that carries the reader into the text-- one cannot find empathy in representation here, that is denied, because the texts (at least post-Moderato cantabile and excluding the repeated narrative most known in The Lover) are simultaneously private and open. Shattered, fragmented, despite being ostensibly linear (though in a static capacity).
Being as close to Malady of Death (which is one of, in my opinion, the most perfect texts ever written), one can't help but to compare it, and unfortunately Blue Eyes, Black Hair falls short. The brevity, the minimalism is what carries the former text, while this text, the latter, despite its slim page-count, seems bloated at times. However, once the melancholic non-space of the center is passed, as we near the end, new 'events' proceed into more beautiful text, refusing the banalized staticity that mars the middle.(less)
The final (& third) of Karapnaou's books available in translation, and the only one I had yet to read... well, it's completely fantastic, as would...moreThe final (& third) of Karapnaou's books available in translation, and the only one I had yet to read... well, it's completely fantastic, as would be expected, but I almost wish I had waited because now there's nothing to do but re-read (which is fine, I guess) the three that I've already read. Oh, the cries of the damned!
The Sleepwalker finds Karapanou fleshing out her most, err, involved story yet-- circulating almost like an Altman film, the book follows an "ensemble cast" on a Greek island that is half foreign artists who do nothing but drink, smoke, fuck & try to make themselves make art & half Greek residence, most of whom find the foreigners eccentric if not annoying, but recognize how they can use the foreigner's presence to their advantage.
It seems that I've managed to read these three Karapanou books inside out--there's been a progression. Kassandra and the Wolf focuses primarily on the singular & often subjective experience of a young girl, Rien Ne Va Plus finds its locus in the two members of a failed relationship (and the detritus of individuals walking in and out of a plot that follows), whereas here, in The Sleepwalker, there is no character that is truly central--there might be more "page time" for Manolis, Luka & Mark, but it's the operative forces of the island that give the narrative its hold.
There's a cataclysmic insistence that, in a way, reminds me of Kavan a bit, though the sexual miasma that centers the novel to any sort of recognizable stance (because what can humans understand more than sexual desire?). Karapanou writes gay male characters with a strangeness that's honest (which reminds me a bit of Duras & her later works, though I think Karapanou doesn't despise the male homosexual as much as Duras does--for the homosocial nature of the gay male removes accesibility, but the Duras issue is a complicated one that shouldn't be squeezed into a parenthetical comment here).
At the end of the day, Karapanou's book does something very surprisingly and inspiring, it collides this world with an older one, but doesn't moralize the characters out of an acceptable modernity, rather she lets them sleepwalk (hence the title) through the occasionally nihilistic waves of late-capitalist malaise that are doomed to haunt any international zeitgeist until the world booms to oblivion.(less)
I wanted to read this in the middle of my recent Blanchot journey, as it has been remarked as the sort of book that transitions Blanchot from his réci...moreI wanted to read this in the middle of my recent Blanchot journey, as it has been remarked as the sort of book that transitions Blanchot from his récits to the 'fragmented anti-books' of The Writing of the Disaster & Step Not Beyond. It's also, perhaps, the last bit of "narrative" writing Blanchot wrote (aside from The Instant of My Death /Demeure: Fiction and Testimony, though that's just 10 pages writing a biography--I should note that I haven't read said text yet). Is it difficult? Yes, though as most of it sits in dialog, in many ways it becomes more "readable" (whatever that means) than the récits, which sit mostly in oblique narration. I have really sincerely been enjoying Blanchot since I started reading him again, and the spots of his works I've read throughout the years have begun to resonate more the more I read.
The way narrative works here, however, is fascinating. Once again there is really no movement, just a stasis, but it resounds the heaviness of waiting--there's no humor, even in the Beckettian sense, there's only the static infinitude of knowing something has happened before and perhaps something will happen later. The bits of "story" that sneak into the narrative (which, I suppose, is a cyclic conversation) never manage to derail the circuitous speech of an invented man and a woman in an invented room. And the presence of the narrator who is perhaps the only character. There is no way, I think, to achieve the totality of Blanchot's writing, especially not in a single reading. The density here is fantastic though, and I look forward to trawling in place again some time in the future.(less)
A short collection of short, very short, and not-quite-so-short stories that cull together a narrative capacity that exists in a contained universe. W...moreA short collection of short, very short, and not-quite-so-short stories that cull together a narrative capacity that exists in a contained universe. Which is to say, of course, there's a continuity in the event-abstraction, the outlying fantastic that carries the narratives: cults, islands, basements, a sense of something wrong, moving through houses, a lack of a present first person narrative, holes & the city. The titular story, the longest in the book, could have used a bit more breathing room to really open up to the content it holds, but the page-condensation of independent publishing certainly has me not holding it against any one. Fantastic narrative, told with a panache that reveals an attention to language and how language and narrative interact.(less)
Wildly profane, sometimes hilarious, often "immature" and occasionally, in a weird way, sort of hot? About half way through I literally had the though...moreWildly profane, sometimes hilarious, often "immature" and occasionally, in a weird way, sort of hot? About half way through I literally had the thought "man all this heterosexuality is getting tedious" and then the next story finally had some homosex in it, so can't really complain about that; it's a nice 180. Fun, really.(less)
I feel like this is a welcome addition to a growing continuum of books that use pre-adolescents & adolescents as characters to explore the reality...moreI feel like this is a welcome addition to a growing continuum of books that use pre-adolescents & adolescents as characters to explore the reality of the fucked up world via the fantastic & horrific violence. A lineage I would sight (and perhaps there are more obvious examples, but within what I read) beginning with Strange Landscape, carrying on (sort of) with Holy Terror, continuing with much of Dennis Cooper's work, the super dark boneyard, and more contemporaneously, Jordaan Mason's The Skin Team & including my own Variations on the Sun. The interesting thing is that all of the books mentioned include some conception of queer characters, whereas Jackson's is the first with a really heterosexual bent. Which is not, to say, a fault, as it still navigates the territory with grace.
The book is actually wonderful, and the telling of the narrative occasionally fragments off into heterogeneous forms (something that formally I always find interesting if done well): a series of narrative prose-poems (for want of a better descriptor) open the book an introduce us to our character of Jeff Jackson, vague in the way one's memory of being six should be, but enticing and open nonetheless.
There are some fun formalities in the structure too, a claim of authorial authenticity, the play of reality versus fiction, memory and fact. Dream life and allegory. But ultimately overall the book interrogates a new world the way fiction should do, and while there are occasionally problematic elements, there's still a dark magic guiding us through the maze.(less)
Regarding Bela Tarr: I haven't seen any of his films other than The Turin Horse and The Man From Nowhere, (t...more(Film, fiction, for want of a better term)
Regarding Bela Tarr: I haven't seen any of his films other than The Turin Horse and The Man From Nowhere, (the former 3 times in theater, the latter once), if only because I can't deal, after my entirely overwhelming experience with The Turin Horse, with the idea of watching them on home video. As such, while I'm aware of occasional minutiae that overlaps here, I'm missing primary sources other than The Turin Horse. Nor have I read any of the novels the films are inspired by. With that said--
Damnation is very interesting. Formally, and by that I mean the form that it takes, I find it absolutely fantastic. Collecting tableau, linearly, of various "characters" (or, perhaps, symbols) from a town undergoing an apocalyptic affliction, brought upon by a book (which, of course, brings to mind both Mallarmé's great book as well as Jabès entire project), a darkness, a rain, a melancholy.
As such, it is easy and engaging to get lost in the scuffles, occasionally recalled via images from the films, heavy black and white, silence, long shots, a darkness--an omnipresent darkness. (less)
A delightful narrative, to be sure, though of course, due to my own obsessions, I wish the desert mansion & Meridian's BDSM "laboratory" were give...moreA delightful narrative, to be sure, though of course, due to my own obsessions, I wish the desert mansion & Meridian's BDSM "laboratory" were given more presence, despite not being the point at all. BUT, giving what is at stake here, the narrative moves along like a dream, penetrating various points of view as people change or don't change, with a major revelation to the "city-folk" that nature doesn't give a shit about humanity, the ultimate in geocosmic recognition. I found this book very pleasurable to read on this sunny afternoon.(less)
Despite its occasional bits of the utterly disgusting, there's so much lyricism running through the language here that it becomes so very lovely to re...moreDespite its occasional bits of the utterly disgusting, there's so much lyricism running through the language here that it becomes so very lovely to read. There's no tangent of empathy developed via psychology, so it's the language that carries the little novella through; language and narrative. I love bits with the sea, was brought to mind Andre Pieyre de Mandiargues for some reason, The Girl Beneath The Lion, perhaps in a twinned lyricism.
But really, even the diary format was very suitable, there's not too much going on, one could almost hope for more but I imagine it would become tedious after a bit. I'd be interested in reading more from Wittkop.(less)
This book is a lovely little thing. It twists & turns around narrative archetypes developed throughout the history of fiction, the fantastic, fair...moreThis book is a lovely little thing. It twists & turns around narrative archetypes developed throughout the history of fiction, the fantastic, fairy-tales, adventure stories, etc, but is weighted down by a sadness, a nihilism, and this makes it an amazing thing. The opening section, perhaps, is what is most amazing, but at the closing there's such a sadness, it creeps in in a way--perhaps--similar to Jahnn, there's just always something off, something wrong, something not quite working.
What I admire most about this book is it's construction, the way it's put together, and how Schwob was smart enough to know how parts can make up a stronger whole. This sort of fragmentation is something that I'm specifically interested in, both as a reader and a writer, so I love a good example of it working right.(less)
I think it is more than likely that I'll be writing about this more (and in a further expanded form) in the future, so for now I'll keep this brief: t...moreI think it is more than likely that I'll be writing about this more (and in a further expanded form) in the future, so for now I'll keep this brief: this is an excellent book. Ken Baumann has possibly written the first "anti-novel" that is compellingly readable. It's not exhausting, but it's also not exhausted, it flows with events and images and words and builds up to a solid, engaging whole. Recommended.(less)
This was an excellent little surprise; picked it up because it's one of the limited Atlas Press subscription pamphlet things, and the work is ASTOUNDI...moreThis was an excellent little surprise; picked it up because it's one of the limited Atlas Press subscription pamphlet things, and the work is ASTOUNDINGLY terrific.(less)
I've never quite bought the hype-machine of Bolano, but the few books I've read by him I've enjoyed. Multiple people, however, told me to check this o...moreI've never quite bought the hype-machine of Bolano, but the few books I've read by him I've enjoyed. Multiple people, however, told me to check this one out, so I filed it in the back of my head, figuring that when it was the right time it would come to me. Yesterday I saw the paperback (what a lovely cover!) staring back at me at Dog Earred Books on Valencia and decided that it was the right time. I've read it over the last 24 hours, reading it while I smoke, while I shit, while I stand up in my room in the sun.
This mode of reading fits the book. & The book does things that I love--there are fragments that exist on their own, almost as prose poems, but also ultimately add up to a much larger thing upon the completion of the book; the work circles around a narrative, hints at it, suggests characters, but never dregs into the certainty, and this is an amazing thing for a book to do.
This is the second book titled Antwerp that I've read, and both books have had some sort of bizarrely direct-to-my-brain elements; the other book, though pretty shitty, was a neo-noir murder mystery set in Antwerp that takes Harry Kumel's filmography as it's structure (!? yeah, seriously)--Kumel one of my favorite film makers. & Here, Bolano takes a structure that I'm excessively fond of adapting in my own writing. Maybe I should just automatically start reading all books that are called "Antwerp." Maybe I should go to Antwerp. (less)
There are two things that are, outside of the narratives found insider of here, really exciting about this book. First, there's a wide variety of form...moreThere are two things that are, outside of the narratives found insider of here, really exciting about this book. First, there's a wide variety of forms found inside here, each story almost has a different skin than the one before, a new permutation on similar themes. This keeps each story exciting even if the narrative ground is ground that's been covered before. Secondly, this is explicitly a balls-to-the-wall book of horror stories. There is no genre-shame here, and the writing is also good enough to force one to recognize that you don't have to write like an asshole to write horror. Horror is a terrific genre that's been explored to more heady levels in cinema, so it's exciting to see it happen in language without the obnoxious cage of the mass market genre fiction (or just in general 'traditional storytellin') marring the power.
Aside from that, the book is also fun. It's verisimilitude offers everything from ancient demons devouring children's insides to find a son eating his sister as dad pulls his hair out in terror, the post-apocalypse in a biblical sense after a man finds the 5-9th dimensions beneath his wisdom tooth, the uncanny placement of technology that overtakes the world in a few brief evenings, and more. There's both horror-for-horror's sake, but there are also moments that indicate the horror that's present in the actual world without any speculative creatures filling the haunt: humanity itself is terrifying.(less)