Monday, December 14, 2015

Table of Contents

AUTHORS INCLUDED (alphabetical listing)

Kathy Acker (USA)
"Grandmother to the Brat Pack" (on Acker's Literal Madness and Florida), by Douglas Messerli

James Agee (USA)
"The Silent Stars Go By" (on James Agee's A Death in the Family), by Douglas Messerli
"Invention Serves Remembrance" (on Agee's A Death in the Family: A Restoration of the Author's Text), by Douglas Messerli

César Aira (Argentina)
"Appropriations" (on Aira's The Literary Conference) by Douglas Messerli
"The Last Innocent Moment" (on Aira's An Episode in the Live of a Landscape Painter), by Douglas Messerli
"Attending the Dead" (on Aira's Ghosts), by Douglas Messerli
"A Gap in the Wall" (on Aira's How I Became a Nun), by Douglas Messerli
"The Elements of Fiction" (on Aira's The Seamstress and the Wind), by Douglas Messerli

Eliseo Alberto (Cuba/USA)
"Responsible Parties" (on Alberto's Caracol Beach), by Douglas Messerli

Tereza Albues (Brazil/lived USA)
"A Bouquet of Tongues"

João Almino (Brazil)
from The Five Seasons of Love

Jorge Amado (Brazil)
"Julio Jurentio and Ilya Ehrenburg"

Eleanor Antin (USA)
from Conversations with Stalin
"Magnificent Obsessions" (on Antin's An Artist's Life by Eleanora Antinova) by Douglas Messerli
"The Third Act" from An Artist's Life by Eleanora Antinova
Review of Antin's Conversations with Stalin, by J. Hoberman

Reinaldo Arenas (Cuba)
Review of Reinaldo Arenas' The Color of Summer, or, The New Garden of Earthly Delights), by Lee Siegel

Ascher/Straus (USA)
from Hank Forest's Party

John Ashbery and James Schuyler (USA)
"Life in Duluth" (on John Ashbery and his Schuyler's A Nest of Ninnies) by Douglas Messerli

Margaret Atwood (Canada)
Review of Margaret Atwood's The Blind Assassin by Merle Rubin

Paul Auster (USA)
"Beyond" (on Auster's Oracle Night), by Douglas Messerli

Gerbrand Bakker (Netherlands)
"Being Alone" (on Bakker's The Twin), by Douglas Messerli

Russell Banks (USA)
Review of Russell Banks' The Angel on the Roof by Paul Binding
"Something to Be Touched" (on Banks' Lost Memory of Skin) by Douglas Messerli

Djuna Barnes (USA)
"Abandonment, Involvement, and Surrender" (on Djuna Barnes' Ryder), by Douglas Messerli

Dennis Barone (USA)
"Precise Imprecision" (on Barone's Precise Machine), by Douglas Messerli

Frederick Barthleme (USA)
Review of Frederick Barthelme's The Law of Averages: New and Selected Stories by Will Blythe
"A Thing of Chance" (on Barthelme's There Must Be Some Mistake), by Douglas Messerli

Charles Baxter (USA)
Review of Charles Baxter's The Feast of Love by Joseph Clark

Marcel Béalu (France)

Jurek Becker (Germany)
Review of Becker's Die Boxer, by Klaus Phillips

Samuel Beckett (Ireland/France)
"Moving Forward by Standing Still" (on Mercier and Camier) by Douglas Messerli
Beckett reading from his fiction Watt

Mario Benedetti (Uruguay)
"Holding In, Holding On" (on Benedetti's The Truce) by Douglas Messerli

Thomas Bernhard (Austria)
"Falling Trees" (on Woodcutters) by Douglas Messerli

Mohammed El-Bisatie (Egypt)
"The Voice in the Chest" (on El-Bisatie's Clamor of the Lake), by Douglas Messerli

Bjarni Bjarnason (Iceland)
Review of Bjarnason's Borgin bak við orðin, by Kirsten Wolf

Jens Bjørneboe (Norway)
"Between Fire and Ice" (on Bjørneboe's Powderhouse)

Adolfo Bioy Casares (Argentina)
"On Adolfo Bioy Casares" by Suzanne Jill Levine

Juan Bonilla (Spain)
"The Shrew Mice"

Jorge Luis Borges (Argentina)
"Borges Walker Wessells" (Wendy Walker and Henry Wessells in conversation on Borges)

Elizabeth Bowen (England)
"Caught in the Whirl" (on Bowen's Eva Trout) by Douglas Messerli)

Jane Bowles (USA)
"Prophets of the Ordinary"(on Bowles' Two Serious Ladies) by Douglas Messerli

Lee Breuer (USA)
"Porco Morto"
"Barnyard Philosophers" (on Breuer's Pataphysics Penyeach: Summa Dramatica and Porco Morto), by Douglas Messerli

Christine Brooke-Rose (England)
Review of Brooke-Rose's Next, by Brian McHale

Laynie Browe (USA)
from The Ivory Tower

Jeremy P. Busnell (USA)
"Bird Talk"

Olivier Cadiot (France)
"The Perfect Servant" (on Cadiot's Colonel Zoo), by Douglas Messerli

Italo Calvino (Italy)
Bibliography of Fiction
Review of Calvino's The Path to the Spider's Nests by David Ian Paddy

Veza Canetti (Germany)
Review of Veza Canneti's Yellow Street, by Harry Zohn

Finn Carling (Norway)
Review of Finn Carling's Gepardene by Tanya Thresher

Louis-Ferdinand Céline (France)
Archival readings of Louis-FerdinandCéline [link]
Review of Céline's Fable for Another Time, by Brian Evenson

Inger Christensen (Denmark)
"Pictures Resembling Creatures" (on Christensen's Azorno), by Douglas Messerli

Hugo Claus (Belgium/writes in Dutch)
"Rickabone's Fault" (on Claus' Desire and The Swordfish), by Douglas Messerli
"The Scream" (on Claus' Wonder), by Douglas Messerli

Marina Colasanti (b. Eritrea / Brazil (writes in Portuguese)
"The Girl Weaver"

Ivy Compton-Burnett (England)
"The Man Who Would Not Die" (on Compton-Burnett's Manservant and Maidservant) by Douglas Messerli
Short Review of Compton-Burnett's The Present and the Past by Douglas Messerli

Gabrielle Contardi (Italy)
Review of Contardi's Navi di carta, by Francesco Guardiani

Robert Coover (USA)
Review of Robert Coover's Gerald's Party by Geoffrey Green

Julio Cortázar (Argentina)
Review of Julio Cortázar's Final Exam, by Gregory Howard

Domício Coutinho (Brazil/lives USA)
from Duke, the Dog Priest
"To the Dogs" (on Coutinho's Duke, the Dog Priest) by Douglas Messerli

Alexis Curvers (Belgium/writes in French)
Short Review of Alexis Curvers' Tempo di Roma by Douglas Messerli

Guy Davenport (USA)
"Writers from the Diaspora of Truth" (on Davenport's The Jules Verne Steam Balloon) by Douglas Messerli

Lydia Davis (USA)
"The Beginning of the Story" (on a reading by Lydia Davis) by Douglas Messerli

Denyse Delcourt (Canada/writes in French)
Gabrielle of the Spirits (on Delcourt's Gabrielle and the Long Sleep into Mourning), by Douglas Messerli

Miguel Delibes (Spain)
from The Holy Innocents

Don DeLillo (USA)
"Hiding Out" (on DeLillo's The Body Artist) by Douglas Messerli

Nigel Dennis (England)
"Transformations" (on Nigel Dennis' Cards of Identity) by Douglas Messerli
Review of Dennis' Cards of identity, by Jessica Winter

Mohammed Dib (Algeria/France)
"A Quiet Man in the Vast and Chattering Desert" (on several books by Dib) by Douglas Messerli

Isak Dinesen (Denmark)
"Lies in a World of Lies" (on Dinesen's Ehrengard), by Douglas Messerli

Michael Disend (USA)
"Rider of the Jade Horse"

Heimito von Doderer (Austria)
"The Walls Come Tumbling Down" (on von Doderer's Divertimenti and Variations) by Douglas Messerli

Jose Donoso (Chile)
"Bodies That Howl and Insult and Grope" (on Donoso's Hell Has No Limits) by Douglas Messerli

José Maria de Eça de Queirós (Portugal)
"The Dreamer and the Critic" (on Eça de Queirós' Correspondencia de Fradique Mendes) by Douglas Messerli

Jean Echenoz (France)
Review of Jean Echenoz' Big Blonds, by Susan Ireland

Ken Edwards (England)
"Us and Them"

Herbert Eisenreich (Austria)
Review of Eisenreich's Die blaue Disel der Romantik, by Thomas H. Falk

Sam Eisenstein (USA)
Review of Sam Eisenstein's Cosmic Cow and Nudibranchia by Joseph Dewey

Willem Elsschot (Belgium/writes in Dutch)
"Cartoon in the Mirror" (on Elsschot's Will-o'-the-Wisp) by Douglas Messerli

Per Olav Enquist (Sweden)
"The Black Flame: Truth in a World of Lies" (on The Royal Physician's Visit) by Douglas Messerli

Jenny Erpenbeck (b. East Germany/Germany)
"Hunger and Thirst" (on Erpenbeck's The Old Child and Other Stories), by Douglas Messerli
Review of Erpenbeck's Visitation, by Christian House

Brian Evenson (USA)
"The Torn Curtain" (on Evenson's The Open Curtain) by Douglas Messerli

William Faulkner (USA)
"Rereading Faulkner" (on Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury) by Douglas Messerli
"The Dreadful Hollow" (on Faulkner's As I Lay Dying) by Douglas Messerli

Raymond Federman (b. France/USA)
"Reflections on Ways to Improve Death"
Review of Federman's Take It or Leave It and The Twofold Vibration by Matthew Roberson
Returning to the Closet (on Federman's Smiles on Washington Square and The Twofold Vibration) by Douglas Messerli

Ronald Firbank (England)
"Firbank as Poet" (on Firbank's Valmouth), by Douglas Messerli

Daniela Fischerová (Czech Republic)
"The Emperor Is an Emperor Is an Emperor" (on Fischerová Fingers Pointing Somewhere Else) by Douglas Messerli

Thomas Frick (USA)
Review of The Iron Boys by Douglas Messerli

Jean Frémon (France)
from The Botanical Garden
Fremon's Island of the Dead

Serge Gainsbourg (France)
Review of Gainsbourg's Evguénie Sokolov by Perry Friedman

Gao Xingjian (China)
Review of Gao's Soul Mountain by Jonathan Levi

Liliane Giraudon (France)
Review of Liliane Giraudon's Fur by Carolyn Kuebler

Witold Gombrowicz (Poland)
"The Serving Class" (on Gombrowicz's Ferdydurke, Bacacay, and Cosmos) by Douglas Messerli 

Jaimy Gordon (USA)
"Horse Sense" (on Gordon's Lord of Misrule) by Douglas Messerli

Juan Goytisolo (b. Spain/lives Morocco)
"Truth-telling in a World of Lies" (on Goytisolo's The Garden of Secrets) by Douglas Messerli

Julien Gracq (France)
Review of Julien Gracq's La forme d'une ville by John Taylor
"The Intrusion" (on Gracq's The Castle of Argol) by Douglas Messerli
"Circling Forward" (on Gracq's The Peninsula) by Douglas Messerli

"How Things Are" (on Gracq's King Cophetua) by Douglas Messerli

Günter Grass (Germany)
Review of Günter Grass' Two Far Afield by Thomas McGonigle
"The Tin[n]y Beat" (on Günter Grass' Die Blechtrommel [The Tin Drum]) by Douglas Messerli

Henry Green (England)
"So and So" (on Green's Party Going) by Douglas Messerli

Mohsin Hamid (Pakistan)
Review of Mohsin Hamid's Moth Smoke by Umber Khairi

Knut Hamsun (Norway)
"Testing His Creations" (on Hamsun's The Women at the Pump), by Douglas Messerli

Jeff Harrison (USA)
"Two Tales"

Marianne Hauser (b. Germany[Alsace]/USA)
"A War Against Death" (on the works of Marianne Hauser), by Douglas Messerli
[works discussed include Dark Dominion, The Choir Invisible, Prince Ishmael, A Lesson in Music, The Talking Room, The Memoirs of the Late Mr. Ashley, Me & My Mom, Shootout with Father, and The Collected Short Fiction]

John Hawkes (USA)
"Life Force" (on Hawkes' The Beetle Leg), by Douglas Messerli

Franz Hellens (Belgium/writes in French)
"Leaving Elsinore" (on Hellens' Memoirs of Elsinore), by Douglas Messerli

Gustaw Herling (Poland)
"Against Common Sense" (on Herling's The Noonday Cemetery), by Douglas Messerli

Sigurd Hoel (Norway)
"The Idiot"

Yoel Hoffmann (b. Romania / Israel)
Review of Yoel Hoffmann's Bernhard, by Allen Hibbard
"The Thing Itself and Not" (on Hoffmann's The Heart Is Katmandu), by Douglas Messerli
Review of Hoffmann's The Shunra and the Schmetterling, by Leslie Cohen

Spencer Holst (USA)
Review of Holst's Brilliant Sentences by Karen Donovan

Alois Hotschnig (Austria)
"Not at Home" (on Alois Hotschnig's Die Kinder beruhigte das nicht), by Douglas Messerli

Roy Jacobsen (Norway)
"The New Window"

Arthur Japin (Netherlands)
Review of Japin's The Two Hearts of Kwasi Boachi by Michael Pye

James Joyce (Ireland)
Joyce reading from Finnegans Wake

Ismail Kadare (Albania)
Review of Kadare's Elegy for Kosovo by Maria Margaronis
Review of Kadaré's Clair de lune by Robert Elsie

Richard Kalich (USA)
Review of Kalich's Penthouse F by Christopher Leise

Daniel Kehlmann (Germany)
"The Last Innocent Moment" (on Kehlmann's Measuring the World) by Douglas Messerli

Danill Kharms (USSR)
"The King, the Outlaw, and the Blacksmith" 
"First of All and Second of All"

Karl O. Knausgaard (Norway)
"Extinguishing the Fire" (on Knausgaard's A Time for Everything), by Douglas Messerli

Tadeusz Konwicki (Poland)
Review of Konwicki's Bohin Manor, by Brooke K. Horvath

 Dezső Kosztolányi (Hungary)
"The Writer's Other Self" (on Kosztolányi's Kornél Esti) by Douglas Messerli

Laszlo Krasnahorkai (Hungary)
"The Frightened Rabbit Flattens Against the Grass" (on Krasnahorkai's The Melancholy of Resistance), by Douglas Messerli
"To Begin Is to Never End" (on Krasnahorkai's War & War), by Douglas Messerli

Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky (USSR)
"Forgetting to Notice" (on Krzhizhanovsky's Memories of the Future), by Douglas Messerli

Milan Kundera (Czech Republic)
Review of Milan Kundera's The Farewell Waltz by Paul Maliszewski

Tom La Farge (USA)
"On The noulipian Analects"
"Language Writhing Machines" (on La Farge's 13 Writhing Machines, vols. 1 and 2), by
Douglas Messerli

"Sir Echo" (on La Farge's 13 Writhing Machines, vol. 3), by Douglas Messerli
Anne Gédéon Lafitte, Marqius de Pelleport (France)
"Writer's Nose" (on Lafitte's The Bohemians) by Douglas Messerli

Carment Laforet (Spain)
"Nothing Left Behind" (on Laforet's Nada) by Douglas Messerli

Halldór Laxness (Iceland)
"The Voice of a Country" (on Laxness' The Fish Can Sing) by Douglas Messerli

Harper Lee (USA)
"Re-Righting the Story" (on Lee's Go Set a Watchman) by Douglas Messerli

Stansław Lem (Poland)
Review of Lem's The Investigation, by Tom J. Lewis

Alexander Lernet-Holenia (Austria)
Commentary on Lernet-Holenia's Beide Sizilien, by Robert von Dassanowsky

Stacey Levine (USA)
"The Water"
"Frictions of Desperate Serverity" (on Levine's The Girl with Brown Fur), by Douglas Messerli

Wyndham Lewis (England)
"Murdering to Create" (on Lewis' The Roaring Queen), by Douglas Messerli
José Lezama Lima (Cuba)
Review of José Lezama Lima's Paradiso by David Auerbach

Jonas Lie (Norway)
"How to Destroy Your Children" (On Lie's Niobe), by Douglas Messerli

Eugene Lim (USA)
from Strange Twins

Osman Lins (Brazil)
Osman Lin's book Nine, Novena

Øystein Lønn (Norway)
"The Calf in the Sea"

Maria Machado de Assis (Portugal)
"To the Dogs" (on Machado de Assis' Philosopher or Dog?), by Douglas Messerli
Colin MacInnes (England)
Review of  The London Novels by Douglas Messerli [link]

Amin Maalouf (Lebanon)
Review of Amin Maalouf's The Gardens of Light by Jamal En-nehas
John Henry Mckay (b. Scotland / Germany)
"Forbidden Love" (on Mckay's The Hustler)

Thomas Mann (Germany)
"The Will to Happiness"

Javier Marías (Spain)
"Coincidence and Contradiction" (on Javier Marias' When I Was Mortal) by Douglas
"The Time That Has Yet to Exist" (on Javier Marias' Dark Back of Time) by Douglas

F. T. Marinetti (Italy)
"Metaphorphosis" (on Marinetti's The Untameables), by Douglas Messerli

Carmen Martín Gaite (Spain)
Review of Martín Gaite's Behind the Curtains, by Brooke K. Horvath

Xavier de Maistre (France)
"Parenthetical Digression"

Harry Mathews (USA/lives France)
"Our Wonderful Lives" (on Mathews' My Life in CIA and The Journalist, by Douglas Messerli

David Matlin (USA)
"Moths Will Suck First"

Friederike Mayröcker (Austria)
Review of Friederike Mayröcker's Fast ein Frühling des Markus by M. Goth
Review of Mayröcker's Brütt oder Die seufzenden Gärten, by Susan Cocalis

Cormac McCarthy (USA)
Review of McCarthy's Cities of the Plain by Brian Evenson
"The Ultimate Road Trip" (on Cormac McCarthy's The Road), by Douglas Messerli

Douglas Messerli (USA)
Introductory Statement
from Twelve Tyrants Between Acts: Eighty Tiny Tales

Ivo Michiels (Belgium)
"The Cry" (on Michiels' Book Alpha and Orchis Militaris)
Ivo Michiels Book Alfa and Orchis Militaris, Vol. 1 of The Alpha Cycle $5.00

Christopher Middleton (England/lives USA)
"The Weathervane Oiler"
Christopher Middleton's book and ON NET editon of Deptictions of Blaff

"The Dissipating Poem" (on Middleton's Loose Cannons: Selected Prose) by Douglas Messerli
Mo Yan (China)
Review of Mo Yan's The Republic of Wine by Jeffrey C. Kinkley

Félix Morisseau-Leroy (Haiti/writes in Creole)
"Eminans, a story for singing"

Kajii Motojirō (Japan)
"Underneath the Cherry Trees"

Harry Mulisch (Netherlands)
"Voices from the Dead" (on Mulisch's Siegfried), by Douglas Messerli

Murakami Haruki (Japan)
Review of Murakami Haruki's Norwegian Wood by Kim Hjelmgaard
"The Lone Wolf" by Ben Naperstek

Péter Nádas (Hungary)
Review of Nádas' A Book of Memories, by Irving Malin

Martin Nakell (USA)
"Five Works from Stories from the City Beneath the City"
"Everything But Life Itself" (on Nakell's Settlement), by Douglas Messerli

Richard Bruce Nugent (USA)
"Between Heaven and Hell" (on Nugent's Gentleman Jigger), by Douglas Messerli

Joyce Carol Oates (USA)
Review of Joyce Carol Oates' Blonde by Mary Gaitskill

Flannery O'Connor (USA)
"Strange Bird" (on Brad Gooch's Flannery: A Life of Flannery O'Connor and
O'Connor's fictions), by Douglas Messerli

Oë Kenzaburo (Japan)
Community of Thought (on Oë Kenzaburo's A Personal Matter), by Douglas Messerli

Toby Olson (USA)
"Possibilities of Coincidence" (on Olson's Write Letter to Billy and Dorrit in Lesbos), by Douglas Messerli
"Lockup""The Poetics of In and Out" (on Olson's The Bitter Half), by Douglas Messerli
"Talking to the Dead" (on Olson's Tampico), by Douglas Messerli

Orhan Pamuk (Turkey)
"The Smell of Death" (on Pamuk's My Name Is Red), by Douglas Messerli

Viktor Pelevin (USSR/Russia)
Review of Pelevin's Buddha's Little Finger by Keith Gessen

Benjamin Péret (France)
"The Four Elements"

Christina Peri Rossi (Uruguay)
"The Calvacade"

Fernando Pessoa (Portugal)
Review of Pessoa's The Book of Disquiet, by Phillip Landon

Dennis Phillips (USA)
from Hope

Antonio José Ponte (Cuba)
"Leaving the Door Open" on Antonio José Ponte's In the Cold of the Malecón and Other Stories), by Douglas Messerli

Jacques Poulin (Canada/writes in French)
"Transport of Love" (on Poulin's Translation Is a Love Affair), by Douglas Messerli

Anthony Powell (England)
"International Relationships" (on Powell's Venusberg) by Douglas Messerli

Richard Powers (USA)
Review of Richard Powers' Plowing the Dark by Charles B. Harris

Reynolds Price (USA)
"An Attack of the Heart" (on Price's The Tongues of Angels), by Douglas Messerli

José Manuel Prieto Gonzalez (Cuba)
Review of Prieto Gonzalez' Nocturnal Butterflies of the Russian Empire, by Nicholas Birns

Soledad Puértolas (Spain)
Review of Puértolas' Bordeaux, by Kay Pritchett

James Purdy (USA)
Review of James Purdy's Gertrude of Stony Island Avenue by Brian Evenson
John Rechy (USA)
"Even the Heart Rebels" (on Rechy's City of Night) by Douglas Messerli

Marie Redonnet (France)
"Ist and Irt"

Ishmael Reed (USA)
Brief Commentary on Ishmael Reed's The Free-Lance Pallbearers by Elizabeth MacKienan
Brief Commentary and Selections on and from Reed's Mumbo Jumbo by Dennis Cooper
Review of Reed's Cab Calloway Stands in for the Moon by Michael Boccia

Kathrin Röggla (Austria)

Peter Rosei (Austria)
"The Blur" (on Rosei's Metropolis Vienna), by Douglas Messerli
Gerhard Roth (Austria)
"Two Fragmentary Fictions" (on Roth's The Will to Sickness) by Douglas Messerli

Joseph Roth (Austria)
"Secret Lives" (on Collected Shorter Fiction of Joseph Roth), by Douglas Messerli
"Pomp and Circumstance" (on The Radetzky March), by Douglas Messerli

Philip Roth (USA)
Review of Philip Roth's The Human Stain by Igor Webb
Jess Row (USA)
Review of Row's Your Face in Mine by Douglas Messerli [link]

Helga Ruebsamen (Netherlands)
Review of Helga Ruebsamen's The Song and the Truth by Claire Messud

Aksel Sandemose (Norway)
"The Melancholiacs and the Missing Bucket" (on Sandemose's The Werewolf), by Douglas Messerli

José Saramago (Portugal)
Bibliography of Fictions
Review of Saramago's Blindness, by Philip Landon
"A Vision of Uncertainty" (on Saramago's The Cave), by Douglas Messerli
Review of Saramago's The History of the Siege of Lisbon, by Mary Sarko
Review of Saramago's All the Names by Richard Eder
"Trying to Pass" (on Saramago's The Elephant's Journey), by Douglas Messerli

Alberto Savinio (Italy)

Hans Scherfig (Denmark)
Review of Scherfig's Stolen Spring, by Brooke K. Horvath
Moacyr Scliar (Brazil)
"Another War" (on Scliar's The War in Bom Fin) by Douglas Messerli

Cathleen Schine (USA)
"Doggone" (on Schine's The New Yorkers), by Douglas Messerli

Ingo Schulze (b. DDR/Germany)
Review of Ingo Schulze's Simple Stories by Peter Rollberg

W. C. Sebald (Germany/lived England)
Review of W. G. Sebald's Vertigo by Joyce Hackett
"At Odds" (on Sebald's Vertigo), by Douglas Messerli

Ana Maria Shua (Argentina)
"Four Microfictions"
Eva Sjödin (Sweden)
"Two Fragmentary Fictions" (on Sjödin's Inner China) by Douglas Messerli

Josef Skvorecky (Czechloslavakia / now Czech Republic)
Review of Skvonecky's The End of Lieutenant Bouvksa, by Brooke Horvath

Gilbert Sorrentino (USA)
"Writers from the Diaspora of Truth" (on Sorrentino's Rose Theatre), by Douglas Messerli
"The Novel Against Itself" (on Sorrentino's Aberration of Starlight and Mulligan Stew), by Douglas Messerli
"Seeing Red" (on Sorrentino's Red the Fiend), by Douglas Messerli
"Runaway Moon, or The Duchess of Flight" (on Sorrentino's The Moon in Its Flight), by Douglas Messerli

Saša Stanišić (b. Bosnia-Herzegovina/Germany)
"When You Can't Cut Fog" (on Stanišić How the Soldier Repairs the Gramaphone) by Douglas Messerli

Gertrude Stein (USA)
"Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Stone" (on Janet Malcolm's Two Lives: Gertrude and Alice), by Douglas Messerli
"Distribution and Equilibration in Stein's Three Lives" by Douglas Messerli
"A Fiction Requiring History and Faith" (on Stein's Mrs. Reynolds) by Douglas Messerli
"Not Real but Really There" (on Stein's Paris France) by Douglas Messerli
"O Brave New World (on Stein's Brewsie and Willie) by Douglas Messerli
"Tender Buttons as Narrative Fiction" by Douglas Messerli
"A Time Gone Mad" (on Stein's Wars I Have Seen) by Douglas Messerli
"Out of Order" (on Stein's The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas), by Douglas Messerli

Robert Steiner (USA)
Review of Steiner's Bathers, by Jack Charters

Panos Spiliotopoulos (Greece)
"The Castaway"

August Strindberg (Sweden)
"Selling Out" (on Strindberg's The Red Room), by Douglas Messerli

Antonio Tabucchi (Italy)
Review of Antonio Tabucchi's The Missing Head of Damasceno Monteiro by Thomas Hove

Inagaki Taruho (Japan)
from One Thousand One-Second Stories

Nivaria Tejera (b. Cuba/Canary Islands)
"Looking Down" (on Tejera's The Ravine), by Douglas Messerli

Jáchym Topol (Czech Republic)
Review of Jáchym Topol's City Sister Silver by Jaroslaw Anders

Esther Tusquets (Spain)
Review of Tusquets' Never to Return, by Brian Evenson

Jane Unrue (USA)
"A New Way of Seeing" (on Unrue's The House)

John Updike (USA)
"Before the Curtain Rises" (on Updike's Gertrude and Claudius), by Douglas Messerli

Urmuz (Romania)
"Ismail and Turnavitu"
"Algazy and Grummer"

Miklós Vámos (Hungary)
"Fallen Stars" (on Vámos' The Book of the Fathers), by Douglas Messerli

 Luis Fernando Verissimo (Brazil)
"Easting Oneself to Death" (on Verissimo's The Club of Angels) by Douglas Messerli

William T. Vollmann (USA)
Review of Vollmann's Butterfly Stories, by Steven Moore

Antoine Volodine (France)
Review of Volodine's Naming the Jungle, by Jack Byrne

Wendy Walker (USA)
"Art, Writing, and the Untellable: An Interview between Wendy Walker and Douglas Messerli" [link]
"Burning Blue" (on Walker's Blue Fire) by Douglas Messerli
from The City under the Bed
"Sexual Stealing" (on the Gothic Novel)
"Borges Walker Wessells" (Wendy Walker and Henry Wessells in coversation of Jorge Luis
"The Forgotten Dream" (on Walker's The Secret Service) by Douglas Messerli

Robert Walser (Switzerland)
Review of Robert Walser's The Robber by Stephen Clair
Mac Wellman (USA)
from Linda Perdido

Eudora Welty (USA)
"Conversations with Nature" (on Welty's The Optimist's Daughter), by Douglas Messerli
"A Solid Wall of Too Much Love " (on Welty's Delta Wedding), by Douglas Messerli
"The Encounter between History and Myth in Welty's The Golden Apples," by Douglas Messerli
"A Battle with Both Sides Using the Same Tactics" (on Welty's Losing Battles), by Douglas Messerli
"When Language Doesn't Mean" (on Welty's The Ponder Heart) by Douglas Messerli

Nathanael West (USA)
"Looking for Love" (on West's Miss Lonelyhearts), by Douglas Messerli

Dallas Wiebe (USA)
Brief Commentary on Dallas Wiebe's Going to the Mountains by Elizabeth MacKiernan

Oscar Wilde (USA)
"The Hidden Self" (on Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray) by Douglas Messerli
John A. Williams (USA)
"A Very Crazy Place" (on Williams' Clifford's Blues) by Douglas Messerli

Virginia Woolf (England)
Woolf's recorded voice

Unica Zürn (Germany)
"A Real Doll" (on Unica Zürn's Dark Spring), by Douglas Messerli

Douglas Messerli | "Another War" (on Moacyr Scliar's The War in Bom Fim)

another war

by Douglas Messerli

Moacyr Scliar The War in Bom Fim, translated from the Portuguese by David William Foster(Lubbock, Texas: Texas Tech University, 2010)

Description: described as the major Jewish author of Brazil, Moacyr Scliar, who grew up in the South of the country in Porto Alegre, died this year on February 27, soon after Texas Tech University had published his earliest fiction, The War in Bom Fin in English.
     Originally published in 1972, this fiction appears, at first, to be a kind of magical realist tale of the mostly Jewish immigrant community of Bom Fim during World War II in the 1940s. And in that context the work, at times, might remind one of a kind of mix between Sholom Aleichem and Neil Simon, as the story weaves in and out of descriptions of the poor Jewish citizens and their lives, involving two young boys, their father Samuel, his loveable and somewhat resistant mare, Malke Tube, their fearless mother Shendl, and magical events that define this Yiddish-speaking society, including the omnipresence of Chagall and his “floating violinists,” whom the narrator transports to the streets of Porto Alegre along with the possibility of Kafka living nearby. On the other side of this somewhat nostalgic vision exists the games of the young brothers, Joel and Nathan, as they and their neighborhood friends imaginatively fight a war against the Nazis, who unknown to the adults, have invaded a nearby beach. With Joel as their leader, Nathan as a flying savior, and every child and beast at their side, the city of Porto Alegre is amazingly saved again and again, even when, at the end of the war, Hitler attempts to hide out in a nearby mansion.
     This part of the story, which takes up a larger portion of the book, presents a sort of wonderfully and innocently benign picture of the dying Jewish community; but as the boys begin to grow up, and the older parents begin to leave the neighborhood, things gradually turn grimmer, finally collapsing into a series of absolute horrors that demonstrate that despite their primarily symbolic battles with hatred, this community is affected as well by anti-Semitism and the abandonment of social and religious values.
     From the earliest pages of the book, moreover, there are clues that not everything in Bom Fim is right. The local dog, Melâmpio, hates Jews, and barks on winter nights to point the way to their house for Stukas and Messerschmitts. The author’s insistence of mentioning—every time he describes the large tree-lined Redenção Park in the middle of town—the benches of waiting pederasts seems almost homophobic; and, ultimately, one of the children, Alberto, is described as letting "himself be buggered." Rosa, a young girl, is raped in the park and leaves home. With the end of the war, new shops and high-rise apartments come to Bom Fim, making it more and more difficult for Samuel to sell his meager wares from his cart.
     But these are only the rumblings of far more terrifying events that bring down the curtain on Scliar’s seemingly rhapsodic recollections. The younger, frailer brother, Nathan, suddenly dies. Joel’s mother goes insane and is locked away in an institution. His father, Samuel, is grotesquely trapped under his beloved mare, and must disembowel the beast to escape. Joel, himself, leaves Bom Fim as he becomes increasingly assimilated into a non-Jewish world, and ends up selling jewelry. One by one the poor homes of Bom Fim are torn down to be replaced by newer and larger structures. 
     Near to where old Samuel now lives is a German bartender, who, trying to keep a low profile, endures the occasional tirades of Samuel and other Jewish customers. For his birthday, however, his two reprehensible sons, capture Samuel, hoping to show him off their father, as they threaten to burn him as in the Nazi death camps. The terrified old man attempts to run off, but falls, hitting his head, and dies. To hide the crime, the sons cut up the body into pieces at the very moment that their mulatto mother returns home from a night of sexual pleasures, and, witnessing the pieces of meat before them, is insistent that they continue with what she perceives to be a barbecue. Inviting several other friends, she, her friends, and the speechless, now sickened brothers, sit down to a cannibal feast.  
     In another part of the city, Joel attempts to entice a wealthy young girl to have sex. Ultimately, realizing that any relationship with her will be impossible, he steals a car and, in with a strong sense of nostalgia and self-pity, determines to visit his father to talk in Yiddish with him about the old times. So ends Scliar’s memorial to his Jewish past, none of which now appears to be salvageable or to represent any possible salvation. 
     Joel’s ending realization that “the war is over,” may also signify his inability to perceive that another war—a war to win back his heritage and meaning—has just begun.

Los Angeles, May 23, 2011
Reprinted from Rain Taxi (Summer 2011).

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Douglas Messerli | "A Very Crazy Place" (on John A. Williams' Clifford's Blues)

a very crazy place
by Douglas Messerli

John A. Williams Clifford’s Blues (Minneapolis: Coffee House Press, 1999)

“I keep wondering what the world will be like when this is all over, when the inmates of this great insane asylum get free of the
keepers. And what about the rescuers who’ve waded in blood to save us? The world will be, I think, a very crazy place.”

Clifford Pepperidge, in Williams’ Clifford’s Blues 

When I read in the news that fiction writer John A. Williams had died in July, suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease, I immediately felt that I needed to read a work by the author, something which I’d previously never found the time to do. I thought that perhaps I might read his well known bestseller, The Man Who Cried I Am, which might be interesting to discuss within the context of the racial issues which I was considering in the 2015 volume of My Year. That book, however, appeared to be out of print, and the copies that did exist had been marked up to rare book prices. Most of his other titles also appeared to be rare, with the only readily available title being his 1999 work, Clifford’s Blues. I had no idea what this fiction was about, but quickly ordered it on from Amazon.
     As one might imagine given the two-volume break down of this My Year volume, with its emphasis on identity and how those issues have been represented throughout the 20th century and into our own times, a great many books stood on my nightstand ahead of Williams’ fiction, numerous volumes of which concerned the Weimar years in Germany, the rise of Nazism, and the terrible consequences of World War II and after. 
     When I finally got round to reading Clifford’s Blues I was startled to discover that it too was concerned—like Stephanie Baron’s New Objectivity art show, the study of sexuality in Berlin by Robert Beachy, the four works I had written about Stein’s wartime experiences, and Martin Sherman’s play, revived in Los Angeles in 2015, Bent, along with two recent volumes on Eichmannwith issues of homosexuality, artistic expression, and the brutality of the wartime years, remarkably, moreover, from the point of view of a black man. As I read the book over several weeks, I begin increasingly to feel, as I have felt so often over the years about many of the writings, events, and performances I have encountered over the years, that coincidence, fate—whatever you want to call it—had led me to this work. I was destined to read it, and perhaps could only come to comprehend its value and significance in the year of Williams’ death.
     Accordingly, I have the very personal relationship with Clifford’s Blues that I feel toward many works, but that is difficult to describe. It is almost as if this fiction was written to be read by me at the this time in my life, and while I am sure that sounds inordinately selfish, I cannot dismiss my feelings of being part of a pre-ordained audience for this creative effort. It spoke deeply to me at the very moment when I needed to read it.

     That is not to say that Clifford Pepperidge, the desperate hero of Williams’ fiction, is someone with whom I might immediately identify. Growing up the rural south and tortured by his experiences with white racism, escaping to the famed Storyville of New Orleans before high-tailing it to New York where he briefly worked with seemingly legendary black bands such as Sam Wooding’s, with whom he travels to Berlin where, in the whirl of that Weimar city, Clifford and his fellow players discover an open audience and appreciation they might never have encountered in the US. That Clifford is a piano player and singer, puts him into the position of a central figure, which, along with his sexuality, makes him a memorable character within the context of his Berlin years; yet that very “recognition” puts him in terrible danger when suddenly he discovers himself, apparently a man of no great political perception, stranded in a country which has suddenly turned racist and homophobic. If we might be terribly saddened about his situation, we feel somewhat distanced by his self-pity, the tears and prayers he proffers early in the book—in part because we know the future that millions of others, in even more vulnerable and  terrifying situations, must face. Indeed, although Clifford cannot know it, he is almost immediately put into a situation that makes him better off than almost in anyone else in the terrible world that Dachau represents.
      Dieter Lange—a queer (and in the context of this fiction, this is the right word) pimp—recognizing the musician, immediately pulls him out of the line for pink triangles, and gets him not only a better designation, but a job working as his butler. Unbelievably, Lange, having joined the Nazi party, has become head of the camp canteen and, in order to free himself from any sexual insinuations, has married a stupid, plump farm girl, Annaliese, who presumes that Lange’s sexual inattentions and proclivities (he prefers anal sex) are absolutely normal. By drawing  Clifford into his household, Lange finds himself not only a desirable sexual partner when his Anna isn’t around, but a man who can cook, manage his store (and later keep his books) and even entertain for the couple. Moreover, as we soon discover, in Clifford, the ambitious Lange has a wonderful entertainer for private parties which, at least temporarily, provides him his further social connections with the likes of Major Bernhardt and his wife Lily.
      Anna, however, turns out to be not so dumb, as she quickly discerns, through an incident in which she accidently observes Clifford slapping her husband’s face, the relationship between their black servant and her lover; and simultaneously she begins a secret affair with Bernhardt. The politics, accordingly, shift, as Bernhardt, now in the know, gains the upper hand, using Clifford and a few other musicians from the camp to establish a small jazz band who, in stolen tuxedos, perform at his home until the Nazi administration finally outlaws all black bands.
      Because of the “specialness” of  Clifford’s world and the fact that Williams evidently felt that he need mention all the significant historical black figures from Josephine Baker, Bricktop, Ma Rainey, Paul Robeson, Bessie Smith, Louis Armstrong, Kid Orey, Fletcher Henderson, and Duke Ellington, to all the major Nazi figures such as Eichmann, Goering, and Himmler, I was originally a bit put off by the author’s beginning narrative, feeling that the list of texts he references at the end of this novel were a kind of academic expression of his fictional virtuosity.
     But as the narrative slowly grows through Clifford’s diary entries, we begin to encounter numerous fictional characters that reveal the various aspects of this daily growing factory of death. The vast accumulation of data, ultimately—the daily addition of information, events, and tortures—not so very different from Stein’s fiction Mrs. Reynolds, ultimately begins to build up a fiction that is absolutely remarkable in the sense that we get to know the camp terrors and the increasing frenzy of the Nazis to arrest nearly anyone, of any ethnic background  (Poles, Russians, Gypsies, etc), religious beliefs ( Jews, the Jehovah Witnesses, etc), color (the Americans and African Blacks),  sexuality (mostly homosexuals), and German criminals that did not accord with their idealized notion of Aryan superiority. At the same time, through Cliffords’s experiences and writings, we perceive the not-so-gradual breakdown of the German leaders’ lives and psyches.
     Sexual affairs gradually transform into orgiastic encounters (Clifford is forced into threesomes with Anna and her friend Ursula, and later with her husband and her), the desire of quick profits increasing grows into utter greed (as Lange grows more and more wealthy in his accumulation of foodstuffs and materials, others take over his illegal activities, using him merely as a front), and fear and boredom is transformed into nightly drunkenness. 
      Bit by bit, both the reader through the narrator see his friends die, masses murdered, and thousands of others tortured through experimental medical tests. Through it all, Clifford himself gradually loses his soul, having to force himself into a place in which he can no longer feel. Having lost his gentle sexual companion, Memmo (a gay member of the Jehovah Witnesses) and a totally innocent friend, young black boy, Pierre, who, near death, finally commits suicide, the black musician tries to eliminate all emotional responses, and nearly wastes away in the process. Used, again and again, by others within Lange’s house and throughout the camp as a sexual object, a route to escape (at one point he is kidnapped by two Germans who try to escape to Switzerland with him), and, most importantly, but just as troubling, as a witness, Clifford becomes a shell of a human being, who can only observe the surrounding horrors with muted amazement.
    The communists, socialists, and Russians, particularly, some of the strongest of the Dachau prisoners, include him in conversations wherein they reveal horrific actions and name the perpetrators, hoping that, if he survives, he may able to testify to the horrors everyone there has experienced. Their daily memorization of names and places cannot but remind one of “living books” of Bradbury’s fiction and Truffaut’s film Fahrenheit 451.
      Williams’ journalistic fiction is particularly good in not only the slow accumulation of its details, but, again like Stein’s Mrs. Reynolds, in the presentation of events regarding the Americans, seen by everyone as the potential saviors, but whose approach to those in complete desperation appears almost to move in glacial speed:

                    They’re coming, but it’s taking forever. The days
                    seem like weeks, the weeks like years. We’ve even
                    gotten used to the bombers going and coming. They
                    have little to do with us except for the companies of
                    Himmelfahrtskommandos that march to the trucks to
                    dig bombs out of Munich’s belly (while singing 
                   “Lille Marlene,” which they hope will get them some
                    bread and marmalade, maybe a cup of coffee from a
                    civilian). We want the planes to come, not by the
                    thousands, but by the hundreds of thousands—but
                    every time they come, a mess of prisoners goes into  
                    Munich to die. Why the hell can’t they bomb this
                    place, bomb all the camps, destroy the factories and
                    rails everywhere, since the prisoners are dying anyway?


Yet, if Americans are the heroes to everyone in camp, Clifford knows a kind a truth that no one really wants to hear: that things are far from perfect in his own country, fearing that even if he is freed, his return home will not necessarily mean a better world for him.
     Finally, with Anna recovering from typhus and Clifford, himself, infected by Lange with a case of syphilis, the two sent out on foot toward the American line, hoping that they might reach safety and escape the camp’s certain death sentence. 
     We never know whether or not they reach safety or find a new life beyond the one to which they have been sentenced. And the saddest thing of all, it seems to me, are the book-end letters to Clifford’s entries between two figures from the 1980’s future, presumably a jazz musician and a publisher, who have found a better life than in the US than Clifford had even known. 
     On a trip to pick up his daughter, who has just spent her junior year of college abroad, a figure named Gerald Sanderson (nickname “Bounce”) describes how is has come into the possession of Clifford’s journal, which he has copied and passed on to his publisher friend, Jayson James.
      Between jocular greetings, the two discuss their admiration for what Clifford has written, without, somehow, really being able to speak openly of his horrifying testimony. And in James’ comments, particularly, the author seems to acknowledge how this awful communication might be received by any potential readers at the end of the frightful 20th century: 

                   I’ve now finished reading the diary you sent—some
                   package! I will try my damndest to get it into the right
                   editorial hands, but do understand that we have a severe
                   generic problem in this business….

                   The diary is a heavy thing, Bounce. Bet you a sideline
                   ticket on the forty the next Super Bowl that they’ll be
                   celebrating that war from the invasion of Normandy 
                   until its end—without looking too hard behind or 
                   between the lines. People don’t know, and probably
                   don’t care, about the black people in those camps,
                   not that there’s any honor in having been in one. You
                   wouldn’t wish that on your worst enemy.

     Have we truly come to that, I pondered? Yes, probably. I wonder how many copies of William’s Clifford Blues its small press publisher, Coffee House Press, sold: 500, 1000, 2000?
     I can only tell you that after a year of reading so many works of such perversity and despair, it is still nearly impossible to comprehend the horrors that our fellow citizens, who lived through the 20th century, perpetrated upon one another. And it is comprehensible perhaps, if despicable, that we no longer want to hear about them.
     Why do I still feel, I often puzzle, as if it is my responsibility, born after all, after that War’s end, to read, listen, and explore these nightmare realities? 
     If I am nothing at all like Clifford Pepperidge, I know I might have been, I could have been. And I myself, accordingly, am tortured by his and all the others’ suffering.

Los Angeles, November 11, 2015