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Showing posts from March, 2013

Sophie Calle - I found an address book on the Rue des Martyrs... I will contact the people whose names are noted down. I will tell them, “I found an address book on the street by chance. Your number was in it. I’d like to meet you.”.... Thus, I will get to know this man through his friends and acquaintances. I will try to discover who he is without ever meeting him

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Sophie Calle, The Address Book, Siglio, 2012.
The Address Book, a key and controversial work in Sophie Calle's oeuvre, lies at the epicenter of many layers of reality and fiction. Having found a lost address book on the street in Paris, Calle copied the pages before returning it anonymously to its owner. She then embarked on a search to come to know this stranger by contacting listed individuals--in essence, following him through the map of his acquaintances. Originally published as a serial in the newspaper Libération over the course of one month, her incisive written accounts with friends, family and colleagues, juxtaposed with photographs, yield vivid subjective impressions of the address book's owner, Pierre D., while also suggesting ever more complicated stories as information is parsed and withheld by the people she encounters. Collaged through a multitude of details--from the banal to the luminous, this fragile and strangely intimate portrait of Pierre D. is a prism thr…

Urs Widmer - a moralist certainly lurks in Urs Widmer, but a moralist with humour and linguistic wit who recognises the human comedy implicit in tragedy and knows the melancholy of cheerfulness

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Urs Widmer, My Father's Book, Trans. by Donal McLaughlin, Seagull Books, 2012.

In this companion to Urs Widmer’s novel My Mother’s Lover, the narrator is again the son who pieces together the fragments of his parents’ stories. Since the age of twelve, Karl, the father, has observed the family tradition of recording his life in a single notebook, but when his book is lost soon after his death, his son resolves to rewrite it.

Here, we get to know Karl’s friends—a collection of anti-fascist painters and architects known as Group 33. We learn of the early years of Karl’s marriage and follow his military service as the Swiss fear a German invasion during World War II, his political activity for the Communist Party, and his brief career as a teacher. We are told of Karl’s literary translations of his favorite French books, and, most important, the eerie and ever-present coffins outside the houses in the home village of Karl’s father, one reserved for each individual from the day he or s…