Walser's Jakob von Gunten is pretty much my favorite novel, so I couldnt help but compare The Assistant to it. Bernofsky's translation, by the way, isWalser's Jakob von Gunten is pretty much my favorite novel, so I couldnt help but compare The Assistant to it. Bernofsky's translation, by the way, is terrific.
The Assistant was oddly conventional. Sure there are the Walserian reveries that are so wonderfully disorienting, and terminate with some sudden plummet into the mundane or inconsequential. But the story is actually really similar to Jakob von Gunten. Jakob attends a school for manservants and gradually takes over the school even as its matriarch dies and the school dissipates; Joseph is hired as an assistant to a wholly unsuccessful inventor and ends up being a manservant for the inventor's entire family as they head into financial ruin.
Actually there is an odd unconventional thing about this novel. Sometimes the narrator is the main character (Joseph) and sometimes it's an omniscient narrator that calls Joseph "the assistant." And then sometimes it seems like the narrator is Joseph using the third person upon himself. The effect isn't exactly disorienting so much as it vacillates between sincerity and ambivalence, like Joseph does to the family that he is assisting.
Yeah, it's not an ordinary novel in any way and if you are a Walser fan it's essential -- though every word is essential as there're just not that many books, frankly. ...more
This book changed me. I had been reading some Michael Palmer and cautiously liking it, and Palmer translated this, and o-blek made a very nice book-obThis book changed me. I had been reading some Michael Palmer and cautiously liking it, and Palmer translated this, and o-blek made a very nice book-object of it. Brian Schorn set and designed the book, and his aesthetic really appeals to be (Schorn's own book or poems on Burning Deck is good too). I remember standing in Bridge Street Books in DC, flipping through it to Hocquard's afterword. He describes his project for writing this book, which resonates with a writing project that I had underway at the time (which ended up being my forthcoming book "Irresponsibility"). Hocquard is a philosopher-poet and this book is a lyrical, phenomenological masterwork. It showed me how to apply the obsessive self-referential writing that I was stuck in. This book was a way through for me....more
The other day I was standing behind a couple in a grocery line, and what I saw between them was the spi actually wrote a blurb for elizabeth's book...
The other day I was standing behind a couple in a grocery line, and what I saw between them was the space between two phrases in Elizabeth Bryant’s *(nevertheless enjoyment* — both a gap unbridgeable in that Zeno’s paradox way, and a connection made brilliant by currents of thought and significance. I now see Bryant’s interphrasal spaces everywhere. And when I don’t see them, I make them. Rather than penning journal entries after reflection upon a day’s events, Bryant pushes cognition through her days with this book—opening up consecutivity, complexity, redundancy, and simultaneity in charged paragraph forms. Through episodes with birds, lovers, and ideas, *(nevertheless enjoyment* is nothing short of a field guide to sentience. It is a resource to take into the grocery stores, meadows, workplaces, and bedrooms of one’s days. It is a reminder that meanings are made, not found. Use this book....more