Sunday, February 01, 2009

Links "too intellectual, too obscure, too foreign"

Thomas McGonigle offers some advice on how to sift through the "avalanche of shit" scheduled for publication this year, an avalanche set in motion by "a large core of six figure salaried pencil pushers who have to be wined and dined to suit their personae as wise leaders who know what is good for the reading public." We need help like this all of the time. In the second part of his blog, he recommends books by publishers who have "never forgotten what their job really is". As blogs seem to be the main way to promote and discuss such publications, here are a few additional forthcomings behind the avalanche:

Alma Books' Bloggerel takes delivery of its new edition of Dante's Rime and posts a sample from the book. They reckon it's a disgrace that this volume - "compared, in many ways, to that of Shakespeare’s Sonnets" - is the only mainstream edition available in the English market. I concur, though do wonder why have they not sent a review copy to Britain's most prominent litblogging Dante fan or even included him on the flippin' blogroll.

Continuing with poetry, for some time Fernando Pessoa's The Book of Disquiet was a touchstone for literary bloggers. Now Shearsman Books is to publish the Collected Poems of Álvaro de Campos Vol. 2 : 1928–1935. De Campos "along with Ricardo Reis and Alberto Caeiro is one of Pessoa's most important poetic heteronyms". With uplifting eccentricity, volume one follows next year.

In the same month, and turning to fiction, Schocken publishes Aharon Appelfeld's Laish: "A caravan of Jews wanders through Eastern Europe at the end of the nineteenth century. [...] Among them is Laish, a fifteen-year-old orphan, through whose eyes we observe the interactions within this ragtag group of dreamers, holy men, misfits, and thieves as they battle with one another."

Not in English yet, but Gwilym Williams reports on Suhrkamp Verlag's presentation of Thomas Bernhard's Meine Preise, featuring readings from Burgtheater actor Gert Voss. See also Bureaucratic Imagination's link to a scholarly paper on American Writers Reading Thomas Bernhard.

Enough news for now. In the ancient past, newspapers' book pages were our only means of protection from the avalanche. Some, such as the recent edition of the TLS that, in its fiction pages, ran reviews of untranslated non-English language novels only, still warm frozen hope. However, McGonigle's anecdote, of writing for the Washington Post's Book World, suggests the mountain of Purgatory awaits for those relying on print:
The last book I reviewed for them in 2002, commissioned by Michael Dirda, was Maurice Blanchot’s Aminadab. I never reviewed for them again and when I asked I was told that Marie Arana and the younger editors at the paper decided that my review of this novel by the most influential French critic of the 20th century was exactly the sort of book they never wanted reviewed in the paper. It was too intellectual, too obscure, too foreign. It sent the wrong message as to what they were really interested in.


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