Showing posts from October, 2013

Junji Ito - A masterpiece of horror manga, one of the greatest horror stories ever told, in any medium.The story concerns the people of a small Japanese town who become obsessed by the occurrences of natural and artificial spirals around them. The result of this obsession is a slow transformation into something other than human, leading to a gruesome, realistically-depicted death

Junji Ito, Uzumaki, VIZ Media LLC, 2013.

Read it here or here 

Kurôzu-cho, a small fogbound town on the coast of Japan, is cursed. According to Shuichi Saito, the withdrawn boyfriend of teenager Kirie Goshima, their town is haunted not by a person or being but by a pattern: uzumaki, the spiral, the hypnotic secret shape of the world. It manifests itself in everything from seashells and whirlpools in water to the spiral marks on people's bodies, the insane obsessions of Shuichi's father and the voice from the cochlea in our inner ear. As the madness spreads, the inhabitants of Kurôzu-cho are pulled ever deeper into a whirlpool from which there is no return!

The coastal town of Kurouzu-cho is infested with spirals. They manifest in ramen, on pottery wheels, in the fields and sky. The obsession with spirals seizes the town’s residents like a fever, causing intense paranoia, fear, madness and eventually complete transformation. Slow-moving students transform into snail…

Karen Green - This exquisite book is an impressionistic miracle, an assemblage of short text fragments and collages by an artist trying to make sense of her husband’s suicide. That this husband was David Foster Wallace is beautifully beside the point, for the focus here is on the experience, the bleak and necessary journey of grief

Karen Green, Bough Down, Siglio Press, 2013.

With fearlessness and grace, Karen Green has created a profoundly beautiful and intensely moving lament. In this unusual narrative constructed of crystalline fragments of prose interspersed with miniature collages, Green conjures the urgency and inscrutability of a world shaped by love and loss.
In charting her passage through grief, she summons memories and the machinations of the interior mind with poetic precision, a startling sense of humor, and an acute awareness of contradictory truths and of the volatility of language. Like the snippets of Billie Holiday lyrics scattered throughout, Green distills each moment, locating the sweet and the bitter, with the emotional gravity of music.
In counterpoint, tiny visual collages punctuate the text, made of salvaged language and scraps of the material world. Made not to illustrate the words but as a parallel process of invocation and erasure, pilfering and remaking, each collage—and …

Felix de Azua - Mordantly funny, at times horrifying, always invigorating. Through eight months of dense diary entries, it recounts the distractions of an apparently mediocre man in post-Franco Barcelona who embraces banality and drifts on the tide of the city. But the diarist's piercing irony keeps his descent a sharply told, energetically written tour that sometimes resembles a Baedeker of the underworld as edited by James Joyce

Felix de Azua, Diary Of A Humiliated Man, Trans. by Julie Jones, Brookline Books, 1996.

This work presents eight months in the life of a hopelessly banal individual, told in the form of increasingly disjointed notebook entries -entries that detail episodes of drunkenness, minor crime, minor sex, acerbic ruminations on liturature and the protagonist's inability to create anything more than his own dissolution.
Diary of a Humiliated Man ultimately rises above the moral squalor in which it is mired. It is, in the narrator's own words, "a modest book full of hope."

Selected by Publishers Weekly as one of the Best Books of 1996.
Mordantly funny, at times horrifying, always invigorating, the first novel of this Spanish writer to appear in English benefits from a supple translation by Jones. Through eight months of dense diary entries, it recounts the distractions of an apparently mediocre man in post-Franco Barcelona who embraces banality and drifts on the tide …

S: Semaines de Suzanne - The mix of American and French writers collaborating on S. concoct a humorous and beautiful exquisite corpse, or rather exquisite S., who embraces absurdity, black humor, and beauty—the perfect surrealist woman who fears neither sex nor the bohemian lifestyle

Harry Mathews, Jean Echenoz, Mark Polizzotti, Florence Delay, Olivier Rolin, Sonja Greenlee, & Patrick Deville, S: Semaines de Suzanne, Brookline Books, 1997. [1991.]

"A joyful exercise in style by seven authors in total complicity." Le MondeS., written in collaboration by a group of American and French writers, is at once a challenging literary collage and a novel of rare elegance and depth. With pathos, humor, and sheer verbal inventiveness, it imagines the extraordinary life and times of Suzanne—or Susie, or Susana, or Sue—an uncommonly resourceful woman who finds herself by turns the catalyst of a brutal murder, the obsession of a fanatical avant-garde poet, and the leader of a Cuban contraband ring. Although each of its seven episodes is by a different hand, the story retains a remarkable unity; the enigmatic Suzanne, seen in a variety of perspectives and fictional styles, emerges as an engagingly human, wholly unforgettable character.  Suzanne's story is a no…

Chris Tysh newly translates Notre-Dame-des-Fleurs, compressing Jean Genet’s disturbing 1943 novel into cuttingly charged verse

Chris Tysh, Our Lady of the Flowers, Echoic, Les Figues Press, 2013.

In Our Lady of the Flowers, Echoic, Chris Tysh newly translates Notre-Dame-des-Fleurs, compressing Jean Genet’s disturbing 1943 novel into cuttingly charged verse. In the blue hours of the Parisian underworld, pimps, drag queens, and butchers in bloody aprons are joined by Divine, Mignon Dainty-Feet, and the young assassin Our Lady, three saintly figures in a forbidden realm of the senses. Tysh cuts Our Lady of the Flowers, Echoic into a ghostly song that traces the path from prose to lyric where Divine switches gender and names “as if passing under a scarlet awning.” Suturing sexual otherness to an aching of gendered expectations, Tysh’s cadences embrace postmodernism’s emblematic penchant for all manner of appropriation, and recycling finds a radical iteration in the fashion of fairies, queens, and stool pigeons.
“…like Genet, Tysh is something of a snake charmer, or the snake itself? — lyricism unfolding kaleidosco…

Josef Kaplan - the poem presents us with 68 pages of alphabetized poets’ names, grouped in sets of four, each identified as ‘rich’ or ‘comfortable’

Josef Kaplan, Kill List, Cars Are Real, 2013.
Available as

It’s been a big year for lists in poetry. I don’t feel at all threatened or the least bit offended by Josef Kaplan’s most recent Kill List. In fact, it’s hard for me to believe anyone out there really would be. Flavorwire and Seth Abramson offended me much more. But of course, I am an oh-so jaded rich poet myself, and it’s the grandmas and granddads of U.S. Conceptual Poetry who have jaded me already. I have one urgent critique of Kaplan’s poem: and it’s that the work comes off as didactic, transparently so. And to argue for this transparency as a virtue in itself undermines the integrity of conceptualism as a vanguard movement worth rooting for in contemporary poetry. Maybe I care too much. But why not make the poem a hundred pages longer? Slam Poetry is similarly didactic…something like Elliot Darrow’s “God Is Gay” which was written up in Time magazine earlier this month. Both Darrow and Kaplan espouse a kind of viral poe…