Tuesday, February 7, 2017

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
Ilse Aichinger (Austria)
"Things As Not What They Seem" (on Aichinger's The Bound Man) 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)
"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)
Archival readings of Louis-FerdinandCéline [link]
Review of Céline's Fable for Another Time, by Brian Evenson

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Miguel Delibes (Spain)
from The Holy Innocents

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ken Edwards (England)
"Us and Them"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jeff Harrison (USA)
"Two Tales"

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

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

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

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

Sigurd Hoel (Norway)
"The Idiot"

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

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

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

Roy Jacobsen (Norway)
"The New Window"

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

James Joyce (Ireland)
Joyce reading from Finnegans Wake

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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


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



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

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

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

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

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

Eugene Lim (USA)
from Strange Twins

Osman Lins (Brazil)
"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
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
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)
Marjorie Perloff (USA)
"Closed Out of Inclusion" (on Perloff's study of Austrian literature, The Edge of Irony)
"The Calvacade"
John Perreault (USA)
"Living Others' Identities" (on Perreault's Hotel Death and Other Tales), by Douglas Messerli

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)
"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
Jess Row (USA)
Review of Row's Your Face in Mine by Douglas Messerli [link]

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

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

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

Alberto Savinio (Italy)
"Attila"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Panos Spiliotopoulos (Greece)
"The Castaway"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Virginia Woolf (England)
Woolf's recorded voice

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

Douglas Messerli | Things As Not What They Seem (on Aicinger's The Bound Mand)


things as not what they seem

Ilse Aichinger The Bound Man and Other Stories, translated from the German by Eric Mosbacker (New York: The Noonday Press, 1956).

This past year the judges of The America Award for International Literature and I selected the Austrian writer Ilse Aichinger. Knowing of her advanced age, I had often checked on the internet to make sure that she was still living. But once the decision had been made, and we were preparing to announce the award, my assistant Pablo Capra, in attempting to obtain a picture of her, discovered of her death on November 11,. Sadly, we had to make another choice for that award.
       As a kind of memorial to her, I reread her small collection of stories, The Bound Man, published by The Noonday Press in 1956. There was only one copy available in the entire Los Image result for ilse aichingerAngeles City Public Library system.
       These marvelous works are less “stories” than, in the manner of Kafka, parables and fables that often obliquely say something metaphorically rather than creating a realist narrative. The title story, for example, is about a man who awakens to discover that he has been bound with rope. A first he struggles to free himself, hardly believing that someone had intentionally tied him up in the manner in which they have: with the rope allowing his legs some free play, “and that round his body it was almost loose”; “His arms were tied to each other but not to his body, and had some free play too.”
     Finally he stands, and attempts to unknot the rope, but he cannot loosen it. Discovering he can walk, he goes forward, ultimately reaching a village where, to get enough money to eat, he advertises himself as “the bound man,” kneeling, standing up, jumping, and even turning cart-wheels for the spellbound audience.
     His fame grows, and eventually joins a circus where he becomes quite famous, particularly since he remains bound night and day, sleeping and performing. 
     Many of the other performers, however, want him to untie himself offstage, but he and the circus proprietor refuse that privilege, and some attempt to burn off or untie his rope, upon which they fired. His very identity depends now upon his lack of freedom. And despite his condition he has now learned to do spectacular things, including choking a caged wolf to death.
     The proprietor’s wife, however, is determined to free him, and when he about to kill another wolf, suddenly cuts his ropes. As the wolf comes toward him, he now unable to physically take on the wolf, and, instead, grabs a gun and shoots him, running off with both members of the crowd and circus-members at the chase. He escapes, but he is no longer a special being, and ultimately loses his memory of his previous history.
      This fable, of course, might be about any member of a totalitarian system, who despite the restrictions of the life is still able to do accomplish amazing things. Aichinger, herself a survivor of the Nazi invasion, might metaphorically be speaking of herself.
     “Story in a Mirror” is presented almost as a series of commands in which the reader is asked to imagine himself dead with ability to move backwards through life. Indeed the story of this imaginary being is told in reverse, from death to birth, similar in some respects to the Fitzgerald story, retold in David Fincher’s film, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, and just as in that tale the unwinding of life is almost the same in either direction.
     The lesser and more comic fable, “Moon Story” tells of a beautiful beauty queen, a girl so lovely that contest organizers want to proclaim her Miss Universe. But to do that, of course, they must at least pretend to look beyond earth for another contestant. In pretense to this award, they fly her and themselves to the moon, expecting, of course, no one to turn up and permitting them to award her the prize. But the plan backfires when the lovely Ophelia, sea-weed still clinging to her body, shows up. She is indeed more beautiful than the other, and being  lonely for so long is ready to travel to earth, leaving the earthling on the moon in her place.  
     The earth woman, however, refuses, but seeing how lonely and beautiful Ophelia really is, she renounces her title of Miss Universe and attempts suicide by jumping into a river. She is saved, but when asked why she has so acted, claims that it was because she is ugly. Once again, in this tale, reality is reversed.
     “Angel in the Night,” one of Aichinger’s most lovely stories, is about two sisters, the younger of whom rises early every morning and arrives places earlier than the elder, claiming to have seen things, such as marvelous angels, that her sister cannot. Indeed at one point, the elder sister, angered with her sibling’s imaginative claims, yells at her “They don’t exist! They don’t exist! You lied to me!” 
     Rather than argue against the elder, the younger remains quiet, submitting to her sister’s more literal and ordinary truth. Yet that night, the older sister realizes that in her denial she has destroyed something in her sister’s nature, and regrets her actions. In fact during a snowstorm she either dreams or actually does spot an angel, and when morning comes is ready to wake before her sister for a change and tell her what she has seen and felt. The sister, however, is not in her bed, and later find her outside beneath the new fallen snow.
      “Speech Under the Gallows,” one of the harshest works in this book, represents the words of a criminal about to hung who chastises his audience for their hypocritical piety. If nothing else, he argues, he knows what he is dying for, setting fires to their haystacks and stealing. 
      In these and other tales, Aichinger reveals worlds in reverse, showing us again and again that nothing is quite what it appears to be, suggesting that it is important to imagine another way to see everything.

Los Angeles, February 7, 2017

Friday, September 9, 2016

Douglas Messerli | "Closed Out of Inclusion" (on Marjorie Perloff's Edge of Irony)


closed out of inclusion
by Douglas Messerli

Marjorie Perloff Edge of Irony: Modernism in the Shadow of the Habsburg Empire (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2016).


In her newest critical work Marjorie Perloff, as she did a few years back in her autobiographical study, The Vienna Paradox, again hones in on her Austrian roots; but this time her focus is not on family—although her grandfather, Richard Schüller, pre-World War I Austrian Sektionschef for commerce, does make a brief appearance—but is an intense study of the transition after World War I from the former Habsburg Empire to the small country of today’s Austria. 
        The former Empire, Perloff makes clear, while providing a solid German-language education to its citizens, was a multi-lingual world with a wide-range of languages; accordingly the writers we now perceive as some of the most noted German-language figures of the century—Perloff centers her study on Karl Krauss, Joseph Roth, Robert Musil, Elias Canetti, Paul Celan, and, as a “coda” Ludwig von Wittgenstein—spoke several languages, coming as they did from the far corners of that empire, none of them born or raised in Vienna. What these writers have in common, the author makes clear, is a sophisticated education within a multi-cultural perspective that allowed for intellectual perceptions that, in their erotic, linguistic, and, most importantly, ironic viewpoints, were far different from the more analytical and political concerns of authors of the German Weimar Republic. As Perloff expresses it:


           Weimar was the workshop for radical ideas, from Marxist theory
           to Heidegger’s ontological exploration of being-in-the-world to
           the film theory of Kracauer, Rudolf Arnheim, and Benjamin himself.
           But that is not to say that Austro-Modernism, from Freud and 
           Wittgenstein and Kraus, to Musil and Roth, to Celan and Bachmann,
           is to be understood as a weaker version of the strong intellectual
           formation of the Weimer Republic. It was merely different. Given
           the particular situation of the Habsburg Empire and its dis-
           solution, given the eastern (and largely Jewish) origins of its
           writers, it developed in another direction, its hallmark being a
           profound skepticism about the power of government—any gov-
           ernment or, for that matter, economic system—to reform human
           life. In Austro-Modernist fiction and poetry, irony—an irony linked
           less to satire (which posits the possibility for reform) than to a sense
           of the absurd—is thus the dominant mode. The writer’s situation is
           perceived not as a mandate for change—change that is always, for
           the Austrians, under suspicion—but as an urgent opportunity for
           for probing analysis of fundamental desires and principles.

 

      The writers she explores, all assimilated Jews (some of whom were even anti-Semitic) had been given, no matter whether they grew up in Czernowitz in Bukovina (later Romania, now part of Ukraine), Brody in the former Galicia (later part of Poland, now Ukraine), Brno (now the Czech Republic), Ruse (now in Bulgaria), or even as a London schoolboy, were classically educated in the German tradition; but their rich cultural backgrounds, along with their sudden sense of exile after World War I, made them far different writers than those who came of age in Germany itself, producing what Perloff hints, and I would more forcibly argue, a richer and denser, and certainly far more erotic sense of experience.

      These writers’ works may often seem, on the surface, less experimental than the European Dada, Futurist, and Surrealist writers; Kraus, Perloff argues, was often an early conceptualist, using (a bit like the American writer John Dos Passos) found materials; both Musil and Roth created highly plotted fictions whose stories interwove characters and events that, sometimes like musical symphonies, repeated and reiterated literary themes; Canetti used the autobiographical form to explore his literary concerns; Celan, in an argument by Perloff which surely might raise some hackles, wrote several of what she describes as “love poems” (she also offers us her own translations, which are fascinating for rendering his often clotted poems in translation much more clearly); and the philosopher Wittgenstein who, as we know, did not so much postulate philosophical concepts as question and challenge ideas in his notebooks, dialogues, and propositions.  
       Perloff engages us in separate chapters on every one of these important writers, exploring their differences in terms of their cultural Habsburg Empire backgrounds rather than the more standard approaches of their religious or other later national identities. It is important, the critic reminds us, to comprehend even Kafka’s work in the context of the Empire, rather than simply describing him as a German language Czech fabulist and absurdist. 
       Although Perloff is clearly better on writing about Kraus, Roth, Canetti, and Wittgenstein (on whom she previously devoted an entire book in Wittgenstein’s Ladder) than the always difficult and encyclopedic Musil—I’m convinced it is nearly impossible to write a simple essay on Musil’s vast and unfinished fiction which, like Proust, simply is best read than talked about—and the word-packed Celan (Perloff, to give her credit, does perceive him as a dense Holocaust poet, but simply features his not as dense love poems), all of her insights are memorable, and, to me, explain why I myself have always preferred Austrian literature (including pre-World War I writers such as Arthur Schnitzler, as well as post-World War II writers such as Heimito von Doderer,  Albert-Paris Gütersloh, Ingeborg Bachmann (to whom a great many of Celan’s poems were written), Thomas Bernhard, and Peter Handke—many of whom I have published and also written about--as opposed to Bertolt Brecht, Heinrich and Thomas Mann, Günter Grass, Heinrich Böll and other Germans. 
     Obviously, one doesn’t need to state a preference for one group of German-language authors over another, since all of these are important figures in world literature (and I have also more recently published a great many former East German poets, who wrote out of their own sense of exile). It is simply that the post-Habsburg world of desire and ironic loss is, for me, far more appealing. And thanks to Perloff’s brilliant new study, I now understand why.

Los Angeles, September 8, 2016