Thursday, October 10, 2019

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)

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
Leonora Carrington (b. England / lived Mexico)
"The Surrealist Satires of Leonora Carrington" by Douglas Messerli [link]

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 
Rebecca Goodman (USA)
"Finding Home" (on Goodman's Aftersight) 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

Peter Handke (Austrial"
"Acting and Perceiving" (on Handke's On a Dark Night I Left My Silent House) 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 andMy 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 The Assissted Living Living Facility Library by Douglas Messerli
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
"Starting Over" (on Levine's Frances Johnson) 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
William McPherson (USA)
"A Lost America" (on McPherson's Testing the Current) 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"

Marjorie Perloff (USA)
"Closed Out of Inclusion" (on Perloff's study of Austrian literature, The Edge of Irony)

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

Murray Pomerance (Canada)
"A Force of Madness" (on Pomerance's Edith Valmaine) by Douglas Messerli

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

James Purdy (USA)
Review of James Purdy's Gertrude of Stony Island Avenue by Brian Evenson

John Rechy (USA)
"Even the Heart Rebels" (on Rechy's City of Night) by Douglas Messerli

Marie Redonnet (France)
"Ist and Irt"

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

Kathrin Röggla (Austria)

Peter Rosei (Austria)
"The Blur" (on Rosei's Metropolis Vienna), by Douglas Messerli

Gerhard Roth (Austria)
"Two Fragmentary Fictions" (on Roth's The Will to Sickness) by Douglas Messerli

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

Philip Roth (USA)
Review of Philip Roth's The Human Stain by Igor Webb

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

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

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

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

Alberto Savinio (Italy)

Hans Scherfig (Denmark)
Review of Scherfig's Stolen Spring, by Brooke K. Horvath

Moacyr Scliar (Brazil)
"Another War" (on Scliar's The War in Bom Fin) by Douglas Messerli

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

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

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

Ana Maria Shua (Argentina)
"Four Microfictions"

Eva Sjödin (Sweden)
"Two Fragmentary Fictions" (on Sjödin's Inner China) by Douglas Messerli

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

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

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

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

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

Panos Spiliotopoulos (Greece)
"The Castaway"

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

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

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

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

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

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

Frederic Tuten (USA)
Review of My Young Life: A Memoir by Douglas Messerli

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Robert Walser (Switzerland)
Review of Robert Walser's The Robber by Stephen Clair

Mac Wellman (USA)
from Linda Perdido

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

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

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

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

Virginia Woolf (England)
Woolf's recorded voice

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

Douglas Messerli | "Acting and Perceiving" (on Handke's On a Dark Night I Left My Silent House)

To read an essay of Peter Handke's On a Dark Night I Left My Silent House, "Acting and Perceiving" by Douglas Messerli, go here:

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Douglas Messerli | "Sweet Regrets" (on Frederic Tuten's My Young Life and Richard Kalich's The Assisted Living Facility Library)


Frederic Tuten My Young Life (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2019)
Richard Kalich The Assisted Living Facility Library (read in manuscript). 2019

By sheer coincidence within a three-week period I read an autobiographical fiction by a writer I twice published, Richard Kalich, The Assisted Living Facility Library (in manuscript) and a new memoir by another friend, Frederic Tuten, My Young Life. These two works were equally fascinating, self-critical, and quite humorous—despite the fact that they were written at a time when both men were facing old age, Kalich born in the same year that I was, 1947, and Tuten a few years earlier.
  I usually do not like reviewing books simultaneously. I believe that every author deserves his or her own attention, and round-ups or gatherings of books together do not fully allow one’s full feelings to be expressed about individual literary contributions.
      But, in this case the two books, read back-to-back, contained so many similarities in tone and matter that I simply could not resist yoking them, and explained to both authors that I was about to do so.
      Of course, both works, even if one of them poses as a fiction, are autobiographical, and in both heterosexual men speak of their regret for not establishing longer relationships with women, even though Tuten, by the end of his memoir, describes a brief marriage. Kalich, unlike his twin brother, who married, speaks of his books and his love of literature as having replaced a long-term relationship.
     What I hadn’t know, moreover, is that both, obviously intelligent New Yorkers (Tuten growing up in the Bronx and Kalich in Manhattan), recognize that at times they were not living up to their full potential. Even more startingly, both attended City College in New York, finding in the City College cafeteria--as Tuten describes it “stretched along the dark basement of Shepard Hall, like the mess halls in black-and-white prison movies”-- a kind of home in which for hours (not fully described in Kalich’s fiction, although in a personal note he spoke strongly about it), but almost the center of Tuten’s book. I asked Tuten, who describes hanging out with the “Bohemian group,” whether he knew David and Eleanor Antin, and he admitted that they were, in fact, at the center of that group. In short, City College becomes almost an unspoken center of their youthful activities, a place that helped to determine their futures, much like the role the Ratskeller at the University of Wisconsin played out for Howard and me.
     Both of these figures sought out adventure in foreign shores, Kalich, primarily, through his large collection of books, which in his fiction he must now winnow down to just a few titles before moving into an assisted living facility. I’ve visited him in his South Central Park apartment, and cannot imagine making such a drastic selection.* For Kalich, reading is as good as traveling.
     The dreamer Tuten imagines himself in Paris but can only afford such a trip beyond the confines of his youthful memoir, although he does spend some time in Mexico, which appears to be transformative.
   And both writers are often haunted and controlled by their loves for their mother. In their adventures out of the home-bound indentures, they seek close companionship with males, Kalich with his twin brother and in Tuten’s life the writer John Resko (author of a novel, Reprieve), an artist who in his youth had been imprisoned but was himself eventually and quite miraculously “reprieved,” and other artists such as Jack Micheline and his “Hippie girls.” And yes, there are numerous books such as The Magic Mountain in his life as well. And then, later, Tuten became close friends with Roy Lichtenstein and other artists.
     These are both self-made men who grew up in households of lean finances, who amazingly became writers and intellects that in their youth they might never have imagined. And their writings are both highly literary and yet comically self-deprecating in a way that only a figure like Woody Allen might have imagined. Both works contain an underlying, almost surrealist, sense of fate, suggested in Kalich’s work in his strange “Mother and the boy” trip to Central Park’s Ramble—a favorite gay hangout—and in Tuten’s work by his tea parties with John Resko and his beautiful wife. They live in worlds nobody else might even have imagined, and they are stronger for it. They are survivors in a scrappy world that might truly have delimited them if they hadn’t perceived how literature, how writing and reading, might inoculate them from the worlds into which they were born.
     These self-biographers were not, after all, so very different from Benjamin Franklin, a self-made genius who kept in touch with the common his entire life, despite his adventurous time in Paris. Symbolically speaking, both have been touched by the lightning of the imagination, and reading their texts, you too will surely be enlightened.

Los Angeles, February 8, 2019

*Instead of selecting 50-100 titles to save, I gave all of my thousands of treasured volumes to the Chapman University Library, keeping only a few books I still intended to read at home.  

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Douglas Messerli | "A Force of Madness" (on Murray Pomerance's Edith Valmaine)


by Douglas Messerli

Murray Pomerance Edith Valmaine (Ottawa, Canada: Oberon Press, 2010).

Reading Murray Pomerance’s fiction, I always feel like I’m entering another era, an older time when storytelling was more magical and unpredictable than today’s often realist-bound tales of social and psychological turmoil, redemption, and escape. His 2010 fiction, Edith Valmaine, for example, reminds me intensely of something that Elizabeth Bowen might have written, such as  The House in Paris or even Eva Trout, wherein you follow characters who, revealing themselves as inexplicable being, do not really know where they are going; and their tales, instead of being impeccably plotted and detailed, literally stumble around the edges of their life, much like they feel they are doing in their own fictional existences. The characters of this Pomerance fiction, at least, almost bounce off one another, creating a different kind of dialogue than that which occurs in Bowen’s work, but is just as witty and, most importantly, totally unpredictable.
      If Pomerance’s work might be described as a dialogue fiction, it is a dialogue between the central figure, Marcel, a young university student, and himself—except that since this handsome young man is so intellectually rough and unhewn that he really doesn’t have another self within to whom he might speak. Although Marcel lives in a small, seemingly intellectualized world, among the bindings of Freud, the obscure writings of the ecclesiastic Umberto Sorrego, and numerous other writers that might remind one of the decadent Jean des Esseintes of J. K. Huysman’s Against Nature, the young would-be intellect has never been able focus on any of the books surrounding him, and has no idea about human relationships whatsoever. He is a true innocent, unable, as we gradually discover, to uncover any true relationship between himself and any other human being he encounters.
      Although he is studying aesthetics and philosophy, he cannot even coherently follow the logic of a simple sentence. He is, what Cole Porter might describe, “all at sea,” utterly confused in a world of subtle gossip, deep romance, and hidden afternoon assignations. And Marcel, like Bowen’s Eva Trout, is unable to make the simplest of connections.
      In order to move his story forward from the whorls and whirls of Marcel’s Sargasso Sea-like imagination, Pomerance forces the reader to serve as the intelligent other of Marcel’s pointless attempts at dialogue, a man who can hardly finish a complete sentence. It works, as any good reader will willingly attempt to explain what the handsome young man’s problems are.
      And numerous figures are utterly attracted to him, including a kind of boulevard intellect and mock-aesthete, Valmaine, who frequents the young man’s bars, embracing him as a friend, presumably seeing much more in the young man than the man himself comprehends. In a strange way, Marcel is a bit like Kosinki’s anti-hero, Chance: the less he coherently expresses, the more others perceive him as a deep thinker.
      The young student is amazed by Valmaine’s knowledge of the world, and enjoys his company, in particular because Valmaine often treats the poverty-stricken youth to drinks and dinner.
      Valmaine seems to have everything the young man might seek, a lovely apartment, money, and—most importantly—an absolutely beautiful wife, although Marcel has seen her only briefly, wrapped in a netted hat, on the street.
      The only problem for Valmaine, who absolutely adores his wife, is that she is a sex-fiend, preying on every man to whom Valmaine might introduce her.
      Although Valmaine attempts to deal with the facts peaceably, even Marcel recognizes the he is totally disturbed by her sexual excesses, and is a man who is continually on “the edge,” ready to leave her at any instance.
      We know, almost from the outset of this delicious fiction, what has to happen. The completely innocent Marcel, who seemingly has never sexually experienced a woman’s love, must inevitably fall in love with Edith. After one visit to his friend, where he encounters the wife, he is swept away, as lovers might describe themselves, in her charms—although, at first, attempting to escape this siren’s embrace. Yet the two eventually do have an affair, Valmaine catching them in the act of the floor of his apartment.
      So, the worldly reader might ask, doesn’t this happen every day in Paris, the city of adulterous love? Surely not to the confused Marcel, who goes into a deep feverous sleep for weeks, kept alive only by the constant visits of his school friends, D’Argot and Lamanderie, apparently rather wealthy young things who bring him charcuterie (in D’Argot’s case) and endless sweets, in Lamanderie’s. Lamanderie, in particular, is powerfully attracted to Marcel, watching him sleep, for long hours, with what even Marcel recognizes, is a kind of loving regard that speaks of some inexplicable dream world. Marcel presumes he simply wants to sketch him, without realizing, obviously, that his school chum is desperately in love with the stricken boy.
      Even after a younger schoolboy, Praslin—who everybody describes as having “no girl”—shows up and demands Marcel join him in a wild motorcycle ride, where Marcel is forced to cling on to the young man’s thighs, and, incidentally, becomes almost irrationally excited in the voyage, the excited student does not quite comprehend. Praslin has taken him to a heaven and back, and to a kind of magical world, where the itinerant child has lived for a brief period of time; yet Marcel does not recognize that his joys might be involved with a sexual male/male relationship. He is so clueless, that even the young Praslin has to admit that he, himself, is a total innocent, presumably by even imagining the Marcel might come out of the shell into which he has burrowed himself.
       Pomerance tells this story with such a studious objectivity that the reader might have thought she or he was imagining all these things. After all, the Paris the author presents us  itself is so wondrous and impossible to pin down that we realize anything is bound to happen.
      When the now completely demoralized Marcel, suddenly refusing to even attempt to read the books we now know he will never comprehend, determines to return to the Valmaine apartment, he realizes it is not to reencounter Edith, but to be embraced in the now lost love and friendship of her husband, a kind of lover/father figure who might finally offer him what he has been seeking, or, at least, release him from his own stupidity and guilt.
      Alas, it is all too late. Despite the fact that Valmaine does indeed embrace him, causing an almost mystical revelation for the poor Marcel, as they return for a cognac on the Paris streets, the police chase the elderly man down, and reveal to the clueless boy that Valmaine has cut up his wife and thrown her into the river. Even here, Marcel cannot believe what he has previously fantasized.
      It is now clear, that Marcel’s life is also at an end. Although he now proudly declares Valmaine to be a friend, he has missed out in any possible relationship he might have enjoyed. He is doomed, a bit like Jean des Esseintes, to sit out his life with nothing but the artificial possibilities of what existence might mean. He has missed all the opportunities he was offered for love. If he has betrayed others, he has, most of all, betrayed himself.
       Through Pomerance’s beautiful fiction, Paris has never been more alive and dead. In order to be “gay,” (as in “gay Paree”) you have first to love life, a fact our poor, searching hero has never comprehended. The “force of madness” which he now ascribes to the Paris police force, is, in fact, what he has himself become.

Los Angeles, October 12, 2017

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Douglas Messerli | "The Surrealist Satire of Leonora Carrington" (on Carrington's The Complete Stories) [link]

For a review by Douglas Messerli of The Complete Stories of Leonora Carrington, click here:

Douglas Messerli | "Starting Over" (on Stacey Levine's Frances Johnson)

starting over
by Douglas Messerli
Stacey Levine Frances Johnson: A Novel (Astoria, Oregon: Clear Cut Press, 2005)

About a third of the way through reading Stacey Levine’s new novel, Frances Johnson, I commented to a friend that, unlike so many American fictions which seem to plow through plot and character like a thresher moving down rows of corn (if rows might be understood as chapters), this was a wonderfully lazy narrative, a story that seemed to have no particular place to go and all the time in the world to take you there.

The jacket cover of this Green Integer-size paperback compares Levine’s writing to that of Jane Bowles, and there is a certain truth to that observation, particularly in the eccentricity of Bowles’s characters who act less out of determination than from whim and behave with an almost passive acceptance of forces beyond their control. Behind Bowles’s writing, however, there are generally exotic, strange worlds (Panama, Guatemala, Morocco, etc) that transform or at least inform both characters and text. Although Levine has set her new fiction in Florida with a nearby volcano to possibly stir things up, the small town of Munson —despite the daily rumblings of the natural forces around it — is a drab world of dirt and mud. Buildings, streets, homes, and general landscape are rarely described, and when they are it merely confirms the feeling that the town and its citizens are perpetually in a fog, enervated, unable to act. Accordingly, the fiction, unlike more normative realist presentations with emphasis on place, centers itself on character —particularly upon the thinking processes of its central figure, Frances Johnson. And it is the languid revealing of this figure that seems to slow the story down and to allow it to move in the multiple directions in which Frances feels driven and pulled.

Midway through the book, as Frances arrives at the house of her close friend Nancy (a house, incidentally, which the author does describe and observes it as being “lovelier than any dwelling in Munson, and perhaps for this reason folks bore her [Nancy] grudges”), Levine admits to the very method of storytelling I had noted:

“Frances, you recently told me you had several
dreams about chopped onions,” and Frances nodded
rhythmically, smiling happily as the two women
found the thread of a familiar, meandering dialogue
that proceeded in the halting yet serene manner of a
snail crossing a road over hours, unaware of time; and
forgetting the time indeed, not interested in turning
back, the friends talked, less in a conversation with
a point than in a kind of unstoppable practice that
neither woman wished to end.

Faced with such a linguistic construction it would be almost pointless to describe the fiction’s “plot.” The story —for those who must have one —is about a few days in Frances’ life in which she suddenly takes stock of herself and feels drawn to make decisions about her life: should she leave the small and grungy town of Munson and enter the world; should she abandon her sexless relationship with Ray Mars, who the rest of the townspeople, including Ray’s brother Kenny, feel is not good enough for Frances; should she attend the annual town dance and be swept away in the arms of the new town doctor Mark Carol?

These are the issues, along with others, that suddenly face our hero, and are posed, along with questions with which the author directly confronts the reader in her own series of interrogations such as “To which places would Frances Johnson go?”

In search of answers, Frances goes many places: to visit her friend and doctor Palmer, to speak to the owner of the local diner, Mal, and, as previously mentioned, to visit Nancy. Yet none of these people can answer for her, and each helps only to instill yet more confusion as to what she should do. Mal insists she is sick and will die of some dread disease; Palmer encourages her to leave town in search of vast oil deposits that he needs for a balm he has concocted; and Nancy, who Frances suddenly perceives is more ordinary that she imagined, asks her to help out in cleaning and cooking for the impending visit of her children.

In the end none of these choices seem to matter. Frances’s mother, a determined small-town woman who in her dominance of her daughter has obviously helped to generate the young woman’s passivity, insists that she attend the dance, where Frances is, so to speak, swept away into the arms of Doctor Carol. But even this event has little significance as the author hilariously pulls the rug out from under character and reader by sending the mother back to the clearing where she has left her daughter lying beside both Mark and Ray, to announce that the community has suddenly determined Mark Carol is a no-good “crumb-bum!” “There are others, though, Frances: you’ll see.” The story, accordingly, has the potential to start over. And the reader —like Frances and Nancy in their conversations — has taken so much pleasure in the telling of the story that, indeed, he is willing to read the book —and experience these few days of her life —again.

Los Angeles, October 25, 2005

Reprinted from The New Review of Literature, Vol. 3, no. 2 (April 2006)

.Reprinted in Douglas Messerli, My Year 2005: Terrifying Times (Los Angeles: Green Integer, 2006).