Sunday, December 14, 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)
"Walls"

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
Anne Gédéon Lafitte, Marqius de Pelleport (France)
"Writer's Nose" (on Lafitte's The Bohemians)
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

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)
"Pastoral"
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
Messerli
"The Time That Has Yet to Exist" (on Javier Marias' Dark Back of Time) by Douglas
Messerli

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

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)
"Attic"

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)
"Attila"

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
"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)
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
Borges)
"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 | "The Dissipating Poem" (on Christopher Middleton's Loose Cannons: Selected Prose)


the dissipating poem
by Douglas Messerli

Christopher Middleton Loose Cannons: Selected Prose (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2014)


In his brief Prologue to this new selection of Middleton’s significant contributions of literature, the writer argues that Loose Cannons should be recognized as a short prose work different from both the short story and the prose poem—elements of which these works outwardly share. Alluding to the writings of John Earle, Ben Jonson, Pascal, Georg Christoph Lichtenberg, Franz Kafka, and Kenneth Patchen (Borges and Robert Walser also come to mind), British writer and German translator Middleton suggests that his work belongs to a genre that displays “a resistance to the tendency of written prose to prolong itself, to expand.” For him, his writing process relates to what he calls an “antigram,” “a variety of imaginative writing which revolts against and may reverse the programmatic.” What interests him, he makes clear, is “something not-said, a hiatus, a vestige of mystery,” as opposed, presumably, to prose fiction’s thrust to delineate meaning through accumulation, if nothing else.
     “The antigram calls for (and should arouse),” Middleton asserts, “the most scrupulous thrift, panache, and refinement in writing as such.” 
      As a lover of genres, I’m always willing to accept the notion that an author is attempting to mine new territory, is exploring boundaries of what we think we know or, more importantly, how we read something that, simply because of its surface appearance, we think we recognize but does not necessarily conform to what we have experienced in the past. Any knowledgeable reader can cite numerous instances of significant authors’ works being dismissed simply because they didn’t seem to fit into the confines of more normative perceptions of a particular genre. I have often repeated in these My Year volumes just such occurrences in connection with writings by Djuna Barnes, Wyndham Lewis, and numerous others. And even as the publisher of two books from which nine of these 33 prose works were selected—In the Mirror of the Eighth King (1999) and Depictions of Blaff (2010)—I must admit that I originally had difficulty, despite my immediate appreciation of the writing, defining their genres. The works of the former volume I simply ascribed to be very personal prose meditations, and the works of Depictions of Blaff I suggested to myself and to others as being an unusual kind of short prose fiction. And I must admit, that rereading those works in the context of the others, I more thoroughly enjoyed them as being cryptic and mysterious prose works with no narrative solution to their meanings.
     Middleton is also one of the well-read and informed academics (without being an academic writer) I know, and some of his remarkable prose works read somewhat like satires of pedants discoursing on esoteric information—a bit like Raymond Queneau’s OULIPO-inspired writings—ramblings of a charming madman. Certainly all of the Blaff works might fall into that category, as well as pieces such as “From the Alexandria Library Gazette,” “Manuscript in a Lead Casket,” the frightfully futuristic “A Memorial to Room-Collectors,” and “The Turkish Rooftops.” 
     Other works focus their attention on intense observation, revealing what is clearly Middleton’s art-critical facilities, often featuring a work or a series of works of art—prose works such as “Louis Moillon’s Apricots (1635),”  “The Execution of Maximilian,” “Le Déjeuner,” “A Polka in the Evening of Time,” or, on a more enigmantic  level, often involving what is not seen or is only somewhat visible in “Balzac’s Face” and “The Gaze of the Turkish Mona Lisa.”
      Still others appear almost to be meditations on history or, more specifically, the possibilities of history or, at least, recreating what might soon become history: “The Birth of a Smile,” “A Bachelor,” “Nine Biplanes,” “Or Else,” “Cliff’s Dwarf,” and “In the Mirror of the Eighth King."
     But all do share what the Introducer of this work, August Kleinzahler, describes as forces of that are “subversive” and “ludic,” “liminal” and “disruptive,” in favor of any pre-conceived or determinative experience. Time and again, what might at first seem narrative, is transformed through metaphor into an animistic or even spiritual moment which one might describe as dissipating any plot- or character-based evocation. Although “Nine Biplanes,” for example begins with what seems to be a very specific time and narrator, an “I” located in 1940, the author redirects the reader’s attention throughout until what began as a concrete image has been miraculously transformed into a grotesquely unseen world, invisible from the eyes of the work’s original seemingly narrative voice. The work begins:

                    Summer 1940: I opened the double glass front door of the
                    rambling country mansion, school, and saw nine biplanes
                    flying low, in close formation, and slow; the lower edge
                    of what I saw is a ruffled green mass of trees.

What immediately declares itself to be a story in which any seasoned reader can predict will be a tale of the discovery of evil in an seemingly innocent world, a tale of gradual recognition of the child-like narrator that within the “beauty” of what he first excitingly glimpses, there is all the horror of destructive hate. In a sense, Middleton’s prose work, indeed, is about just such issues, but the way he reveals that is radically different from what we might expect. By constantly shifting viewpoints after that introductory paragraph to other scenes within the school, moving in and out of different adult and child perspectives, and by placing events is a shifting time that jumps from place to place—from Hué, An Loc, Barcelona, Norfolk, a French road, a certain Moscow elevator in 1937, etc.—Middleton pulls us out of a limited here and now to a surrealist perspective that questions our very assumptions. Yes, by work’s end, we do indeed encounter an evil world, but it surely is not the like one we first expected:

 

                    A child, instead of looking downward, now looks outward,
                    and still cannot awake, the inability to awake being, like an
                    arm’s reach or the tilting of a head, part of his condition.
                    With hacked-off hands he constructs for himself someone
                    else, old, scribbling. Amid the droning clatter of the motors,
                    a bell of pink fire suddenly sounds. …he listens to the flying
                    metal blare and does not see the girl’s head rolling across the
                    gravel to his toecaps.

As if this brutal image—all the more horrific because it goes unnoticed—were not enough, Middleton moves away from the purely visual human-based perceptions, to the aural and aromatic sensations of the now horrific landscape overseen by the animals who, with the destruction of human beings, continue to inhabit it alone:

                    The sounds are people running in plimsolls, knock of the
                    red leather ball on the willow cricket bat. A smell of linseed
                    oil in the thatched pavilion. But the pilot’s head is wrapped
                    in leather: the pilots are going to knock the Germans for
                    six, if they can find them, behind the pavilion, between
                    the pavilion and the woods, where you could hear the
                    cock pheasant scream before any thunderstorm, or, in
                    the evening twilight, quietly see rabbits feeding, their ears
                    laid back along their little skulls.

 I think no series of passages can better depict what Middleton, himself, has characterized of his work as being “the animular miniaturism of short prose.” He continues, apropos the work described above, “In the pregnancy of these antigrams, a naïve attention of curiosities of nature, as to outlandish freaks of behavior…has been interiorized and subtilized into crystalline intelligence fathoming its language at outer limits of the imaginable.”
     Accordingly, I’ll gladly go along with Middleton’s definitions of his own writing. Call these works “antigrams” if you want, a stunningly original genre that I hope others might emulate
     Yet, I can’t help feeling that part of the author’s insistence on our refraining from describing these works as “short short narratives” or “prose poems” has to do with Middleton’s somewhat old fashioned notions of the borders between prose and poetry. I’d be willing to describe all of Middleton’s writings, just like those of Gertrude Stein, as being variations of poetic expression. For it is, as Kleinzahler perhaps unintentionally argues, Middleton’s imaginatively lyrical approach to experience (what Kleinzahler calls the author’s “primal and unpredictable sources of lyrical expression”) that most characterizes his art, whether it be these short “prose”-oriented works or his more straight-forward “poems.” several volumes of which Middleton has published described as such.
     One cannot read the works of Serpentine, for example, without recognizing just how completely immersed in the linguistic as opposed to the narrative his writing is. The opening paragraph from “This Is Lavender,” for example, reads:


                This is lavender and how it grows large blue caterpillars
                run parallel up their slopes and down in convex furors never
                stop following contours a whole field of ripples flows in
                large blue caterpillars lavender caterpillars large and blue
                running and flowing up and down and whole blue ajoining
                fields are solid blue until you move and then the whole
                sold blue lavender field swishes open like a fan.

Another passage, this from his fractured fairy-tale, “From Earth Myriad Robed,” reads:


                Rope sole of a razouteur. Dust beaten out of it. A puff of
                dust beaten out of a rope sole in a small French hotel, old oak
                beams overhead. In the puff of dust, vestiges of a village
                dancing floor. A dancing floor in the dust in a land soaked
                in blood. The features of Elif: mop of tight black curls,
                dolphin eyebrows, immense dark eyes, small straight nose,
                her breath from lips parting. Elif in her satin dress, pale
                golden satin with a blue sash. And the pounding of the music,
                in the village dust, the puff of dust gone, Elif gone, into the
                smoke.

A moment later the female figure speaks in a language that might put the Russian Trans-rationalists to shame (after all, Middleton is also a brilliant translator):

                —Tais da efendim (so she said, standing near)
                    bu ghejeh
                    ti thelis ti theleis efendim
                    surieyebilir musunuz yakoondala
                —oosa ana tanta asnula kyriye
                    ishmek ishki inghiliz tek ort poro
                    tek ort poro yabanchuh…ti theleis?

                    [This goes on for another half page and into the next.]

I’ll grant, there may be more Turkish and even other European root-words in here than I can fathom. But it is clear, nonetheless, as I previously argued for the so-called fiction writer, Ronald Firbank (see My Year 2012), that any meanings we glean from these passages arise not from rational recognition of the signs, but from an emotional and perhaps irrational sensations of its semantics.
     Perhaps there is no other work that better describes Middleton’s poetic aspirations in all this new collection than the “prose” piece he titles “A Postcript of the Great Poem of Time.” In this work he speaks of a poem just as he does of the “antigram,” as a kind of spore that combines with other spores to become globules, which then collide with others of their kind to briefly articulate a kind of “rotary syntax” (like sestinas, or anagrams, or even the “speech of the dead”). The poet’s “spores” bounce (creating rhythm), smell (like “coffee…pinewoods, the iodine sea-coast, cordite, and many smells that exist, like ghosts, only in the memory”), and voice themselves. But their most notable quality, like nearly all of this poet’s works, is their “trailing off,” their transformation into “snippets”—something close to what I described earlier as the sensation of the work dissipating into space: 

                  Into each snippet, however, are built the outlines, now
                  marked, now fading, now gone again, of a waiting room.
                  Over the heads of the multitude inside, stiff in sedimenta-
                  tions or moving about as the travellers strike their
                  antiquated attitudes, the roof lifts majestically and on
                  every side the walls expand, roof and walls perform an 
                  immense and constant inhalation, constantly (in the illusion
                  of this idiom, rotary or anagrammic) the space expands, the
                  furniture dwindles, and it is less and less like that any transport
                  will ever arrive, for the waiting room is coming to encompass,
                  inescapably, whatever journey might have imagined itself into
                  these multitudinous heads.

    Whether you want to describe such a work as a antigram or simply as a very effective poem, I don’t care, but I will certainly join the writer in that “waiting room” in order to encounter his work, as he puts it, “at random,” as I get ready to “pass it by reading again.”

Los Angeles, February 15, 2015