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Showing posts from February, 2014

Giulio Mozzi - In the eight stories of this collection, we see a steady reworking of the idea of the world as a fallen Eden. Here, in Mozzi’s garden, quasi-allegorical characters seek knowledge of something beyond their shaken realities: they have all lost something and react by escaping, retreating from reality into a world, as Mozzi says, that is “fantastic, mystical, absurd”

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Giulio Mozzi, This Is the Garden, Trans. by Elizabeth Harris, Open Letter Books, 2014.
excerpt

“I read Giulio Mozzi’s first book with real enthusiasm. What struck me most was his everyday language. Even when his subjects rely on metaphor, his words are plain, and so turn mysterious.” 
Federico Fellini

Giulio Mozzi’s first book, This Is the Garden (winner of the 1993 Premio Mondello), astonished the Italian literary world for its commanding vision and the beauty of its prose. In the eight stories of this collection, we see a steady reworking of the idea of the world as a fallen Eden. Here, in Mozzi’s garden, quasi-allegorical characters seek knowledge of something beyond their shaken realities: they have all lost something and react by escaping, retreating from reality into a world, as Mozzi says, that is “fantastic, mystical, absurd.” A purse-snatcher mails his victim’s letters back to her, including a letter of his own. An apprentice longs to be a real person, a worker, in an anonymous…

Jürg Laederach here pursues the ambition of forcing all of human existence into a single novel. space is compressed to the suffocating dimensions of a single mind, while single moments are expanded cubistically into entire landscapes. Bodies are vivisected and reassembled, and language is invaded, exploded, and reassembled

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Jürg Laederach, The Whole of Life, Trans. by Geoffrey C. Howes, Dalkey Archive Press, 2014.

“I can assure you that no movie will ever achieve the speed of prose. Human beings just haven’t realized that yet.” —Jürg Laederach.

With tongue resolutely in cheek, saxophonist, critic, poet, and one-time enfant terrible of Swiss literature Jürg Laederach here pursues the ambition of forcing all of human existence into a single novel. The Whole of Life tells the story of a man, Robert “Bob” Hecht, in three sections: “Job,” about work and looking for work; “Wife,” about sex during a bout of impotence; and “Totems and Taboos,” in which Bob himself ruminates on the limitlessness of human limitation. In Life, space is compressed to the suffocating dimensions of a single mind, while single moments are expanded cubistically into entire landscapes. Bodies are vivisected and reassembled, and language is invaded, exploded, and reassembled. The Whole of Life sees Laederach composing a novel by taking it…

Markus Werner - a Chaplinesque comedy of disintegration, never knowing if it’s coming or going: Zündel seems on the verge of falling to bits, as do his words, thoughts, wife, and world—will there be anything left, and anyone to hold the pieces?

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Markus Werner, Zündel’s Exit. Trans. by Michael Hofmann, Dalkey Archive Press, 2013.

Scrounged from his notebooks and hearsay, this is the story of a schoolteacher named Konrad Zündel: a philosopher, a wanna-be writer; scattered, self-conscious, glum, anxious, unlucky, discontent . . . At the end of his rope, he decides to flee his workaday life at all costs, only to find escape always a little beyond his reach. First his tooth falls out in the sight of other travelers, then he finds a severed finger in a restroom on a train. In fact, Zündel seems on the verge of falling to bits, as do his words, thoughts, wife, and world—will there be anything left, and anyone to hold the pieces? Zündel’s Exit is a Chaplinesque comedy of disintegration, never knowing if it’s coming or going.


Originally published in German, the straight-faced comedy Zündel's Exit follows the wanderings of Konrad Zündel, a thirty-three-year-old amateur philosopher who leaves his wife for a three-week bender in …

Violette Leduc - An obsessive and revealing self-portrait of a remarkable woman humiliated by the circumstances of her birth and by her physical appearance

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Violette Leduc, La Bâtarde. Trans. Derek Coltman. Dalkey Archive Press, 2003. [1964.]

An obsessive and revealing self-portrait of a remarkable woman humiliated by the circumstances of her birth and by her physical appearance, La Batarde relates Violette Leduc's long search for her own identity through a series of agonizing and passionate love affairs with both men and women.
When first published, La Batarde earned Violette Leduc comparisons to Jean Genet for the frank depiction of her sexual escapades and immoral behavior. A confession that contains portraits of several famous French authors, this book is more than just a scintillating memoir--like that of Henry Miller, Leduc's brilliant writing style and attention to language transform this autobiography into a work of art.

“At the age of five, of six, at the age of seven, I used to begin weeping sometimes without warning, simply for the sake of weeping, my eyes open wide to the sun, to the flowers. . . . I wanted to feel a…