Friday, September 19, 2014

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)
"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
"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

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)
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

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

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

Carment Laforet (Spain)
"Nothing Left Behind" (on Laforet's Nada), 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

Halldór Laxness (Iceland)
The Voice of a Country (on Laxness' The Fish Can Sing), 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

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

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

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

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

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
"No Real but Really There" (on Stein's Paris France) by Douglas Messerli
"Tender Buttons as Narrative Fiction" 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)
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

"Burning Blue" (on Walker's Blue Fire), 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

Virginia Woolf (England)
Woolf's recorded voice

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

Douglas Messerli | "Two Fragmentary Fictions" (on Gerhard Roth and Eva Sjödin)

two fragmentary fictions

       How did Kalb endure the inconclusive events in his brain? The word-fragments

    that were caught incessantly by his ear, his absorption of idiosyncratic time, bits

    of incidents, snippets of events? What made him suffer through this uninterrupted

    series of fragments? What made him experience these agonizing circumstances as

               —Gerhard Roth, The Will to Sickness

Gerhard Roth Die Wille zur Krankheit (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 1973). Translated by

    from the German by Tristram Wolff as The Will to Sickness (Providence, Rhode Island:

    Burning Deck, 2006).

Eva Sjödin Det inre av Kina (Stockholm: Norstedts Förlag, 2002). Translated from the Swedish

     by Jennifer Hayashida as Inner China (Brooklyn: Litmus Press, 2005)

Made up of 99 paragraphs and a short section of 34 “notes,” The Will to Sickness tells the story—if you can describe this as a “story”—of a man named Kalb who wanders about an unnamed city encountering various visual and visceral sensations that, in their ability to set off a series of reactions in his brain, are ultimately painful, and lead to his recognition that he is undergoing the “symptoms” of some strange sickness. The astute reader recognizes the “symptoms” quite easily as those of a man of the edge of despair, a man whose connection with others is limited primarily to unsatisfactory meetings with prostitutes, waitresses, barkeeps and others he accidentally encounters on the streets, in restaurants and offices.

     The financially and emotionally impoverished Kalb spends most of his time alone in his room or simply wandering, like the hero of Hamsun’s Hunger, following various individuals and, occasionally, even attempting some vague sort of communication with them—all to no avail. Kalb’s most daring interchanges include an occasion in a restaurant where he approaches a man at another table, asking for his glass; when the puzzled man nonetheless reaches for it, Kalb “boxes he ears” and is dragged to the door by the waiter.  In another restaurant a middle-aged woman nods to him, and as Kalb sits down at her table she puts her hand upon his knee. Later, while drinking cognac on a sofa, the two suddenly undress each other and engage in sex.

     By this time in Roth’s surrealist-like tale, however, we recognize that what seems to be happening may in fact be a hallucination, for as the narrator has told us, “Kalb hallucinates reality.” By the end of this short fiction, what we formerly thought might be a mimetic description has slipped into utter fantasy:


            Through the telescope of his isolation he examined the image of the street.

            Today’s dream came in green and red. The elderly lady hauled a jug of milk

            along the sidewalk, overtook and tread upon her own shadow, which ac-

            companied her anew immediately thereafter, on the other side of her body.


            Two flies buzzed about angrily. He engaged them in psychic congress….


Combined with Roth’s medical-like examination of Kalb’s surroundings and the author’s inclusion in the text of various scientific terms, The Will to Sickness presents, in fact, a dream-like reality that may suggest a complex subtext, but also self-mockingly recognizes itself to be the delusions of a fláneur, an aimless intellectual trifler.

     Accordingly, any great significance we seek in these 99 paragraphs, given its completely fragmentary structure, is of our own making. But that is exactly why this fiction is so compelling. For we cannot help ourselves: it is almost impossible not to attempt to connect the pieces with which one is presented and discern a significance in their whole. Of course, that is exactly what we do in every day of our living experiences; we make meaning often where there is none. Is that a sickness? Yes, the symptoms are clear; as with Kalb “the physiognomy of objects [touch] us” just as the safe societally-condoned distances at which we remove ourselves from others equally draws us toward them, for it is only through our connection with the world and one another than we can comprehend who, what and where we are.  Man not only desires meaning, he demands it, must have it in order to survive. It is a grand sickness, and living life is to accept that one is willingly infected with the disease.
ödin_Eva_1.jpgSwedish author Eva Sjödin’s Inner China may at first appear to be a short narrative poem. The publishers, however, describe it as a “tale,” and I am inclined, despite the work’s obvious poetic aspirations, to agree with them. Like Austrian-born Roth’s The Will to Sickness, Sjödin’s work is a fragmentary fiction. The two works are similar in other ways as well. As in Roth’s work, Inner China is a story of sickness, different kinds of sickness. The central narrator is a young girl whose sister Edith is obviously retarded. The mother, evidently, is a alcoholic (or suffering some other drug or drugs) who spends most of her life in bed, coming only to life when she can bed a passing lover. Forced to be the caretaker of her sister, the young narrator creates a world outside of the home—in the forest, fields, deer and other habitats around their troubled house—a world apart from the emptiness within her supposed domicile. Creating a fantastical world of lost children amid dangers of kidnap and death, the young girl “plays” the game of Tehseng and Laiseng, two imaginary Chinese children subject to various rules and regulations of her creative imagination.

     Like Kalb, these two explore a world of visual and physical sensuality as among the rocks and fir trees they eat dirt, dog biscuits, worms and other debris. Although the two are never sexually accosted, they are approached by a man and sense sexual danger everywhere in the rural world they inhabit. Neighboring children mock Edith, and in one instance, as they attend a village festival, an old woman appears to attempt to lure Edith away, but just in time her protector-sister steers her in another direction, warning her never to trust anyone in the town.

      Ultimately, welfare workers, recognizing that the often sick child is not being properly cared for, take her from the home. Almost at the same moment, the young girl’s dog grows ill, and she if forced to carry it to the village veterinarian, who recognizing it is beyond saving, mercifully kills it. The girl takes the body home, forcing her unwilling mother out of bed to watch her bury it.

     The fiction ends with the young girl caring for her own now child-like mother almost as she has previously had to care for Edith, forcing a bit of porridge into her Mother’s mouth while the older woman whimpers: “I-do-not-want-to-I-do-not-want-to.” She too has become another being who the young girl must take into her the unknown terrain of “inner china.”

     I should qualify my statements above, however, by saying that this summary represents my reading. Others will take these same poetically fragmentary paragraphs and weave the tale together in another pattern, willing these evocative germs of meaning into another kind of “sickness unto death.”

Los Angeles, January 21, 2008

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Eleanor Antin | "The Third Act," Chapter 7 of An Artist's Life by Eleanora Antinova

The following selection is from a new work by artist Eleanor Antin from the An Artist’s Life by Eleanora Antinova . Some of these pieces were published decades ago, others are currently being written. “The Third Act” represents one of the most recently written pieces in the book.

Chapter 7    

“The Third Act”
By Eleanor Antin

I danced with Diagheliv for 10 years. Where did they go, those years? Here. In my head. They are all in my head. And when I’m gone – phsaw… They were my family. Sergei Pavlovitch was our father. We were sisters, brothers. We slept four to a bed. It was cheaper. Two bargained for the room while the others sneaked up the back stairs. And took the best places. You should remember the friends who share your bed. But the nights blend into one night. Sometimes I can’t remember any night…I’m ashamed to confess this – I hope you won’t misunderstand – I can’t help it – to this day – I am partial to Russians. I feel friendly to them. Maybe not friendly, but familiar. A Russian is a Russian, even a bad one. I remember St. Petersberg better than London or Paris and I was never even there. By my time, most of the Russian girls hadn’t been there either. Paris rats. The last they saw of Mother Russia was racing through the ice fields of Finland on a sled. But there is no St. Petersberg anymore. What’s the new name? A ridiculous name, very likely. I always get it mixed up with Moscow but it isn’t. Moscow was always there. Stanislavsky was from Moscow. Chaliapin, too, I think. Leningrad. That’s the new name. A stupid name. Tanks, not white nights. Am I a snob? It’s hard to live with Russians and not be a snob. Even Lenin was part of the family. There’s no getting around it. A Russian is a Russian.

 I knew the girl he lived with in Paris. She found him in a café. He was starving. She took him in and fed him like a stray cat. They say she was very beautiful, one of the famous artists’ models. All the girls in those days were from Martinique, Jamaica, Haiti. She was from Martinique. I was the little girl from America. They felt sorry for me. They looked at me like I was a savage. But that was later. I came later. By the time I knew her, she was over the hill. Absinthe. Syphilis. People didn’t know about health then. Later, when Lenin made a name for himself, they wrote to him for help, but he wouldn’t answer their letters. They say he had a hard heart. But why should he remember those days? What was there to remember? That he was poor and wretched? Now he was an important person. He lived in Kschessinska’s palace and made revolutions. I think Kschessinska was secretly proud that he chose her palace. They made the revolution from that palace. And it was only a little palace, new, not very important. So look at Eiffel. That was only a tower.

Indeed, she was a great ballerina, Mathilde Kschessinska, but narrow in her outlook. A terrible snob. We were all terrible snobs. Not a penny in our pockets but we sailed through the doors of the Ritz as if we owned the place. We did. Kschessinska’s Grand Dukes were the doormen. Grand Duke Andrei formally pinched our bottoms. It was an honor. Wasn’t he the Tsar’s brother? “Go little flowers,” he would say. “There are two counts from Alsace. They are old and ugly but their pockets burn with gold.” Our stomachs rumbled. We lived on piroschkas and café au lait. Dounia adjusted the veil of her red hat. That afternoon we lunched on oysters and frog’s legs and escargot and salmon roe and wines from the private cellars. Everything fell before Dounia’s delicious red hat. It had a spirit, that hat. And why not? It came from a corpse.

Though she wasn’t always a corpse – the tall skinny lady who crept close to the walls of the pension and never smiled. “Opium!” Dounia announced. “She is rich but will not last long.” Dounia had spies everywhere. She gave the maid some extra francs. When the poor lady died in her sleep, the maid knocked on our door. Later Dounia showed up with a red hat. A Chanel dress. Silk underthings. She gave me a pink chemise. She was furious. “That whore Katya. We fought over every piece. What does a slut like her need with a Paul Poiret dress.” We were shocked. A Paul Poiret dress! What couldn’t we conquer with a Paul Poiret dress?

 For who knew how the day would end. Fortune came and went. There was no reason. No cause and effect. Things happened. Fortune came or it didn’t. By not coming, it didn’t. So much of the time, it didn’t… I never did what I should do. I always did what I wanted to do. In the end that’s what I did. What I wanted to do. And the dances I made. I made the ones I wanted to make… Did it matter? I don’t know. In the end it’s all the same, isn’t it? Gone every one, except here in my head. Was that what it was all for? For some pictures in my head? A couple of phrases, an embarrassment or two? Yes, I still cringe when I remember some of the things I said and did…I’m so ashamed… In life things come out wrong…as in the theatre – events cross, mix up, mask, pretend – like life… But it all works out in the third act. There was a ballet I wanted to do, nobody would produce it. If there is nobody to produce it, there is nobody to dance it. I called this ballet “Act 3” All ensembles. No solos. The corps de ballet working in perfect harmony… I loved third acts… You are happy in the third act… I never even got to the third act……

When Diaghilev died there was nothing for me in Europe and I came home. To a desert. America was a desert. The roads were empty then. And the nights. The skies were black. The lights weren’t on all over the country yet. You saw the stars. How many moons did I see over Kansas? The country was silent. It was waiting for cars. The diners waited. The filling stations. We rode the buses down those empty roads to one nighters in church halls and movie houses. Sometimes we did 3, 4 shows a day. Between Carole Lombard and Ronald Coleman. Ballet was a foreign word. What was an American dance? The people were harvesting the wheat, rolling steel, making cars to ride the empty roads. America was singing. I heard her. I was a native, after all.

Europe was decadent. I came home to find my roots. The intelligentsia was in a ferment. They were searching for an American idiom. A new culture was at hand. We had high hopes…but it was not meant to be. The Great Depression. Those were terrible times.

Theatres were closing left and right. Bookings were very hard to come by. People were on breadlines. Jumping out of windows. I worked up some lighter numbers. I had to eat. I heard the Ballets Russes was starting up again in Paris under the Count de Basil. I had hopes. There was talk. But it was a new generation. The baby ballerinas were in demand. Still things were looking up. I did a number in the Greenwich Village Follies which was well received. The young Martha Graham was on the bill. A couple of shows. A safari number with an elephant. He was dropped in New Haven.

America was a Corsica. What did she know of the dance? So many unemployed dancers. Though I was fortunate. The American girls were all running off to have babies. But after 10, 12 years of training, a Russian girl does not run off to have babies without a good return on her investment. That was how I met Orlando. In Madame Albierti’s studio where I taught the beginning classes in exchange for attending the advanced classes. His last girl…pfft…off to have babies. “I have lost 3 in one year,” he wept. “I am a doomed man.” I had been living off of a snappy little diamond but the proceeds were running out. “I have no babies,” I said. “They all say that,” he shouted. “It is a plot to kill me before my time.” I looked at him closely. This man was no spring chicken despite his powdered face and darkened hair. “I do not know of what time you are speaking,” I said. ”But I have no use for midgets.” We went on that night. It may not have been Swan Lake but it was an honest job. The theatre had a real dressing room. And the manager did not run off with the money. 

We took to the road. Did a lot of touring over the next couple of years. They were very lonely those tours.  For years I lived in trains and hotel rooms. I was always cold. I used to wear a coat even in June. And after spending so many years with Russians, Americans said I talked funny. “I am from Azerbaijan, Bessarabia, Kazmestan, Shirvan, Karabagh,” I said. “Take your pick.” It was safe to say the name of a rug. They were less worried about my dark skin, which wasn’t exotic here like it was in Paris.

At first we danced acrobatic ballroom numbers. It was the vaudeville circuit, after all. But maybe we should try something classier. Perhaps dance for a better element. Orlando had ballet training. We worked up some interesting numbers. Audiences seemed to like them. We would try them out on the road, then hit L.A., New York. We dreamed of the big time again.

For a while, I had a friend who was like a daughter to me.  A little soprano with a sweet voice. She sang old mountain songs about her home in Tennessee. Later, I told her  about Paris and the Russian dancers. The dear little soprano hugged me. “How lucky you are, Eleanora.” Her nasty husband sneered. He was a pirate, that one. Kept pinching me under my coat. But maybe he was right. Maybe it was a fairy tale. The snow was falling all around us. It fell in my heart, my soul. In the morning it stopped. A white blanket covered the windows. We heard the whistle. We kissed. Promised to look each other up. We knew we wouldn’t. But it warmed the heart to say it. The camaraderie of the road. The family of artists. And who could tell? The next week you could hit it big. We had some good club gigs. A show here and there. A couple of films. We started a school but nobody came. I still dreamed. A letter would come. A phone call. “Eleanora, return to us. We are starting a new ballet company.” But everywhere there are spies. Toumanova’s mother spies in Los Angeles. Slavenska’s sister in Houston. They will say terrible things about me. They are not to be trusted. I have danced with the Russian Ballet. I know what’s what. There will be no letter.

The hotels are such nasty places. Evil smelling closets. Often there is no window. It is the custom here to give the show people the first floor rooms. They are over the kitchen. We are always awakened before the sun rises. We are lower than the salesman on the second or third floor. He appears for breakfast smiling, rested, hungry. He rubs his hands with vigor. Let the day begin. He will sell many bibles today. We look at him. Our eyes are red. Our hair is wild. How ugly we look. “The hotel is empty,” I protest. “There are only three salesmen in the dining room. Give us rooms upstairs. We must sleep.” Is there a species lower than the hotel clerk? “This is a fancy establishment,” he shouts. “Every room is spoken for.” He jumps up and down. He is indignant. “We don’t want your kind here.” Rita, our strong lady,  comes to my aid. “Leave her alone, you two-bit jerk.” She makes a fist at him. The muscles ripple up her arms. The clerk is respectful. He drops back. “That is how they treat us,” she says. “Stinking cowards!”

At night, after the last show, I come back to the hotel. My trunk waits at the door.

“You are mistaken, ”I say. “I am not leaving till the end of the week.”

He is jumping up and down again. “Your room is rented.”

“You are very nervous for one so young,” I advise him. “You will get apoplexy. You will die of a stroke.”

 ”’You people always cause trouble,” he says.

 “I do not want to cause trouble,” I say. “I am tired. I want to sleep.”

He pounds the bell on the counter. Two men come out of the back office, One is chewing on a greasy turkey leg. They are old but there are two of them.

“Call the sheriff. One more colored down there cain’t make no difference.”

My companions are not robust. Even my friend Rita, the strong lady, turns away. After holding up 500 pounds of chairs and wriggling bodies over her head 4 times a day, her muscles are weary. Her soul droops. She does not want to be noticed. She wants to sleep.

Greasy fingers reach for me. “I am an American citizen. I have done nothing.”

“Yeah, well,” he sneers. “I thought you was a princess from India. This is a free country. We got no princesses here.”

I turn away. I’m bored with the whole business. I’m not even angry anymore. Just tired.

But the bastard won’t let up.

“You aint nothin’ but a dirty nigga, aint ya. Comin’ in here tellin’ lies. False pretenses, that’s what it is. False pretenses.”

“Yeah,” the senile one grunts, waving his turkey leg in the air. “False pretenses. That’s a crime, surely.”

‘Go to hell, “ I say, while Rita hoists my trunk onto her shoulders and walks me back to the theatre. “I’m sorry,” she says. Her eyes avoid mine. We kiss and she goes back to the hotel. The old super lets me into my miniscule dressing room. I make a place for myself on the floor and wrap myself in my old fur coat. I am comforted, But first I take some crumbs from my pocket and place them neatly on the floor in the shape of a heart.

A little boy, an acrobat, used to perform here. They say he was tops. His father had big plans. He wouldn’t let him eat. ”Later you can eat,” he would say. “When you are a star in the big time.” He wasted away. But he was beautiful. He flew through the air like a glittering bird. He tried to hold on until the big time. He dreamed of chocolates and lollypops. But he grew weaker. The show people slipped food to him when his father wasn’t looking. It only made him sadder. “I must become a star first,” he would say. ”Then I will eat and eat and eat.” On Christmas Eve there was a party. The little acrobat sat up on the ropes. The smell of chocolate maddened him. His friend, Dainty June, waved a chocolate angel. “Finish up honey. Its Christmas.” With a cry of pain the little acrobat offered her his shaking hands. The old super is a hundred years old. He saw him fall. He just broke, he said.  They could hear him crack. And to this day you must leave food for his ghost or he will keep you up crying into the night.

But vaudeville is dying. Old timers work for $10. a day. My friend Rita, the Strong Lady, tears telephone books in half. It goes over big with the yokels. But this is a 4-a-day house. She must tear up four telephone books a day. A book costs 50 cents. That’s $4 a day. $14 a week. “I have to steal them”, she confesses. “I am so ashamed.” She even saves the nails she bends. She just bends them back before the next show. These are terrible times. I must get out of this business. I am looking into the nightclubs. They are patronized by gangsters. Gangsters can be very generous. I know a singer in Chicago who did very well with a gangster. A handsome fellow with satin lapels and Derby hats. They put on the dog together. When the bookies shot him, she wore white fox to the funeral. She looked stunning. Now she has a new gangster. Not so handsome perhaps, but generous. There is no shortage of them, it seems. I am not so snobbish as I was. One gets older. There are setbacks. A girl must look out for herself.

Time is irresistible. In Seattle, I remember a singer, Sylvia Froos. “The Little Princess of Song.” When she skipped out on stage shaking her Shirley Temple curls, the band played “My Heart belongs to Daddy.” Once she was a class act in the big time. And she still dresses like one – pink frocks, petticoats – long white gloves with rhinestones. Once I saw her without gloves. When she saw me she hid her hands behind her back. But I saw how wrinkled those hands were. Like an old woman’s. She cries in her dressing room. Drinks.

Life is short. Memory is longer. I think sometimes of “Before the Revolution”, my most famous, perhaps my least understood work. It was the only ballet that was mine all the way. It was produced during what turned out to be our final season, since Diaghilev died soon after in Venice. He always knew he would die on the water and he did though I don’t believe he ever dreamed it would be Venice. He loved it so much. Maybe that should have been a clue. They say all men kill the thing they love. But maybe its the other way around. 

We were at a real low point that spring and money was scarce. Besides the old man seemed to lose all interest in the company. Perhaps it was his way of saying goodby. So I had little trouble convincing them to let me dance the role of the white queen.

Marie Antoinette was the first, and as it turned out, the only role I ever danced that fit my own skin. She was my balletic swan song. The White Queen dancing through the empty streets of peasant villages and dairy farms was the spirit of ballet…as the flightless white swans gliding swiftly over the little pond in the Bois de Bologne was its soul. She neither touched history nor was touched by it. The revolution erupts in her dream and kills everybody with a fountain pen. Like ballet she had the innocence of childhood…and its cunning. Her dance was as lovely and futile as swans on the royal pond. …I wonder if there are still swans in Paris….My friends are gone, of course. They’re all dead except for the ones who are still dying. Pascin too died a long time ago though he was still a young man. How generous he had been, how kind. But he painted in an unfashionable manner. Later he killed himself. Art is not generous to her children. A young man asked me recently how one knows that a work of art will last. Nothing lasts! All those years I worked and dreamed. Some mornings I woke up famous. I don’t think I ever woke up feeling understood…Sometimes I wake up in the dead of night and can’t remember where I am….

Copyright ©2014 by Eleanor Antin.