Thursday, September 17, 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

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

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
"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
"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 | "Re-Righting the Story" (on Harper Lee's Go Set a Watchman)

re-righting the story
by Douglas Messerli 

Harper Lee Go Set a Watchman (New York: HarperCollins, 2015)

Upon the death of play- and screen-writer Horton Foote in 2009, I revisited three films for which he had written the screenplays, the first of which was the noted film, based on Harper Lee’s famed novel, To Kill a Mockingbird. While admitting that I enjoyed the fiction when I first read it as a 16-year-old in Norway and that the movie is one I have seen, with joy, numerous times, seeing that film again and rereading Lee’s novel, I had a negative response this time round, particularly given the fact that, despite all the good intentions of the obviously high-minded and well-meaning Atticus Finch, nothing in the world of Scout and Jem really changes. As I wrote in 2009:

          Given the events of both film and novel…despite any moral
          lessons and perceptions gleaned by the Finch children and the
          audiences of the movie and book, the world to which Jem
          will awaken in the morning (the familiar last lines of both
          being the adult Scout’s words about her father: “He turned
          out the light and went into Jem’s room. He would be there all
          night, and we would be there when Jem waked up in the
          morning.”) is no better than the one in which he was nearly
          killed that night. Atticus Finch may represent a hero, but his
          actions in such an isolate world in which the Finch’s exist, have
          little effect. And in that respect the work embraces the status
          quo, and the moral indignation of the readers of Lee’s classic
          and the viewers of the Mulligan/Foote adaptation can only
          represent a kind of righteous pat on the liberal back.

As I noted a bit earlier in my essay, concerning the sheriff’s argument that they should keep secret Boo Radley’s involvement in the murder of the evil Bob Ewell:

          Frankly, given the outcome of Tom Robinson’s trial, we may
          find it hard to imagine that the “good” ladies of Maycomb
          would award the murderer of Bob Ewell, who has convinced
          their kind that his daughter has been raped by a black man.
          Is it any wonder then that Tom Robinson, despite Atticus’ advice
          to “not lose faith,” runs “like  a rabbit” to escape the police.
          The fact that he is shot and killed, despite the deputy’s
          proclamation that he meant just to wound him, is, perhaps,
          given the racists attitudes of the community, inevitable.

In short, this time reading through the book and reviewing the film, I discerned that despite Gregory Peck’s impeccable acting skills, and the lovely nostalgia and romanticized literary writing of Lee, there was something empty about the book, as if, for all its good intentions, we were being asked to sentimentally align ourselves with this obviously beloved but also somewhat sanctimonious small-town Alabama lawyer. Although I didn’t directly speak it, I truly felt that the book almost all high school children throughout the country were required to read, was somehow, if not an not an outright lie, at least a kind of fantasy that embraced the Southern values of the racial status quo.
     I recognized that my new perspective was clearly controversial, and many of my friends, including my spouse Howard, snorted at my stubborn insistence that the nobility of Atticus Finch didn’t ring true.

     Having just now finished Lee’s fiction Go Set a Watchman, the work she originally wrote before being encouraged by her then-editor Tay Hohoff to recast it as the very different To Kill a Mockingbird, that I was absolutely right! Hohoff may have been an excellent editor, and surely she knew how to turn a difficult and more complex work into a more populist and appealing bestseller, but I would have, as an editor who has worked with hundreds of brilliant writers, politely asked Miss Lee to change her title and promptly published her book just as she had written it—with maybe just a minor tweaking of the debate between Jean Louse (the adult Scott) and her father near the end of this “new” work. Thus, we might have lost the beloved classic, but certainly had a more honest piece of writing about race, sex, and familial relations than the creaky theatrics of Mockingbird.

      Several critics have argued that we should read these two books together, in which I am in complete agreement; but I do not all agree that Go Set a Watchman is an inferior work, not even stylistically. If one might miss the dark and somber events such as Atticus’ jail encounters with the lynch mob or the high theatrics of the nuanced courtroom trial (perfect for cinema adaptation), in this work we have a lovely comic childhood tale of Jem and Scout’s dramatic reenactment of a back country baptism in a neighborhood fishpond, with their friend Dill’s (in real life Truman Capote) robed in a sheet, playing the Holy Ghost. 
     Lee sends up the various local lady groups in a wonderful satire of their various accents and viewpoints, while the still tom-boy adult Jean Louise moves back and forth between their conversational modes serving coffee and sandwiches in a kind of down-South version of something Wyndham Lewis might have written satirizing the British establishment.
      In an honest depiction of childhood sexual realities, at times writing almost at a level of other adventurous writers of the 1950s such as J. D. Salinger, Vladimir Nabokov, and James Purdy, Lee recounts the painful experiences of young Scout’s first menstruation and her very touching and frightening presumption that she is pregnant because a young boy has stuck in tongue into her mouth to demonstrate his gratitude for her scholarly help. That series of events almost leads to Scout’s suicide as she ponders leaping from a nearby tower, from which, fortunately, she is plucked before the ever-wise black servant Calpurnia finally explains all things sexual to the motherless child. This long passage alone is worth the price of the book.
     And then there’s the wonderful intellectual ramblings of her uncle Jack that take Jean Louise’s frantic anger into completely illogical linguistic territory, as if she had suddenly come up against the a combination of the Wizard of Oz and Lewis Carroll’s Madhatter. Along with her aunt Alexandra’s endless pronouncements (a character also in the original book, but stricken from the movie) representing nearly all the old-fashioned values of the South, these passages help us to recognize Lee as a wry humorist.
     In this work, moreover, the adult Jean Louise has a boyfriend, Henry, whom, despite her long residence in New York City, she is expected by everyone in town to marry, and might have married, if only…. Well that’s where this fiction gets even more interesting. Henry, an obviously caring and loving being, the protégé of Atticus, is destined to go far in the Maycomb county political system, and clearly is determined to bring to the community what Atticus attempted to do in his younger days. But as we learn by fiction’s end, Henry has a deeper psychological problem in evaluating himself within the narrow limits of Maycomb’s calcified social distinctions.
      The trouble is, as the heroine of Go Set a Watchman quickly discovers, Atticus Finch was not truly the man she imagined him to be in To Kill a Mockingbird. Threatened by the Supreme Court decision of 1954 (Brown v. Board of Education) and the increasing N.A.A.C.P “intrusions” into their isolated life, Atticus, like so many in the South, is a determined libertarian, willing to fight against the governmental decisions that, remind us today, of the reactions of many Southerners to the Supreme Court Decisions about gay marriage. In the very same courthouse where the young Scout and Jem proudly embedded themselves in the all-black gallery to witness her father’s impassioned defense of a black man, his daughter now watches her father and Henry plotting with the worst of the segregationists to speak out against black equality. 
      Although today it is somewhat uncomfortable when the 26 year-old character Jean Louise describes herself as being “color blind”—how can one be blind to the color of someone’s skin, as if he might have not really seen the other? You can embrace one’s equality and humanity, but you cannot, I would argue, any more than you can ignore one’s sex, pretend that people don’t have different complexions and tonalities—she obviously cannot bear the reality of what she perceives as her father’s radical shift to ultra-conservative values. Certainly, she can longer pretend that she might be able to return to Maycomb (and one wonders, accordingly, how Harper Lee felt when she actually did return to her hometown). 
     In a final long debate with her father, still a skilled lawyer bent on convincing her of her illogical thinking, Atticus Finch, despite his commanding view of history, sounds very much like a paternalistic white autocrat, arguing that the blacks of his community are not ready for equality, not ready to attend white schools, not capable of leading their communities, are ignorant of all the fine things his white society has denied them.
      Jean Louise’s own views hardly might be described as enlightened; she admits to having been furious with the Supreme Court decision. But unlike her father, she recognizes that it is a time for change, and that she can longer embrace her father’s, Henry’s, or anyone else’s values in Maycomb, suggesting, without quite saying it, that the community which has betrayed the blacks among them by refusing to allow them a good education, financial opportunities, and simple friendship and camaraderie, now condemns them for not having any of these. 
      As an editor, I might have argued for Harper Lee to rethink some of the elements of her substantial political discourse, but I certainly would have insisted that she retain the often intelligent debate—so advanced from most of the empty racial discussions of today—with her father, Henry, uncle, and aunt. For hers is the voice of a young, pre-feminist woman who has learned her lessons perhaps all too well to be able to accept the hypocrisy of the white spokesmen of the 1950s South. If the novel ends in another kind of stasis, Jean Louise, is now in control, comfortably placed behind the steering wheel, driving her old father back home.
      In many ways, this is a brave work, far braver that the novel her editor demanded she create in its stead. The only braver act would been to have cast herself, as many perceived her to be—I have no knowledge of Lee’s actual sexual inclinations, and I truly don’t care—as a lesbian.    
      Go Set a Watchman is not a great fiction any more than To Kill a Mockingbird was. Lee is no Faulkner, no Flannery O’Connor or Eudora Welty, or even a Carson McCullers or Truman Capote. But, in this book at least, she was brilliantly honest, witty, and committed. Perhaps if we read both of her works, the powerful earlier assessment and the feel good fantasy, one by one, we can comprehend the dreams and the failures of all lives, black and white, in so many small American towns.

Los Angeles, August 17, 2015