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Showing posts from July, 2015

Luc Lang encapsulates the brutality of everyday life. Each tale is an admixture of tragedy, comedy, ridicule, and pain. Compassion lurks somewhere, perhaps, but pity is conspicuous by its absence.

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Luc Lang, Cruel Tales from the Thirteenth Floor, Trans. by Donald Nicholson-Smith, University of Nebraska Press, 2015.
excerpt
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In sixteen ferocious short stories, French author Luc Lang encapsulates the brutality of everyday life. Each tale is an admixture of tragedy, comedy, ridicule, and pain. Compassion lurks somewhere, perhaps, but pity is conspicuous by its absence.
Lang’s curt, agitated prose disassembles daily life with a swift, unflinching hand and examines it with a sharp, analytic eye. Skinning quotidian moments to bare, raw impulses, confusions, and the agonies underneath, the stories in Cruel Tales from the Thirteenth Floor show the mundane grind of the everyday forces that are fueled by cruel calculation and amoral happenstance and shot through with bizarre surprise. The results are at once coldly comic and powerfully tragic.
Interpreting human interactions as a series of precise jabs and desperate flailings, Cruel Tales from the Thirteenth Floor tells t…

Sándor Tar - thirty-one stories centered on the inhabitants of Crooked Street, the tail end of a small village in southern Hungary bounded at one end by a down-and-out bar where most of the characters find their consolation in alcohol, banter, sex, yearning for love, and recounting far-flung tales. Each story of Our Street reflects on and extends the next, whereby a gallery of memorable characters emerge to reveal even more, an incisive portrait of a society in disintegration

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Sándor Tar, Our Street, Trans. by Judith Sollosy, Contra Mundum Press, 2015.
excerpt  and here and here (pdf)

Our Street, Sándor Tar's fifth book, is comprised of thirty-one stories centered on the inhabitants of Crooked Street, the tail end of a small village in southern Hungary bounded at one end by a down-and-out bar where most of the characters find their consolation in alcohol, banter, sex, yearning for love, and recounting far-flung tales. Each story of Our Street reflects on and extends the next, whereby a gallery of memorable characters emerge to reveal even more, an incisive portrait of a society in disintegration. Honing in on each character's struggle to salvage their self-respect after the demise of communism and the 1989 regime change, Tar dramatizes the difficulties of survival as the people of Crooked Street face the loss of their jobs, the soil from under their feet, and their hopes. This gallery of distinctive characters includes Uncle Vida, an old man who gro…

Lorand Gaspar - The breadth and scope of his poetics is evident in the text's diversity, too, a complex synthesis of science, ancient history, medicine, geology, religion, archeology, linguistics, botany and more

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Lorand Gaspar, Earth Absolute & Other Texts, Trans. by Mary Ann Caws and Nancy Kline. Contra Mundum Press, 2015.
Lorand Gaspar: The Autobiographical Introductory Essay
Lorand Gaspar: Approach of the Word
Two Poems from Earth Absolute and Other Texts

Born in 1925 in Transylvania into a Hungarian family, Lorand Gaspar grew up speaking Hungarian, Romanian, German, and also French, which would become the language in which he wrote. Endowed with many gifts, all of which he grandly used, Gaspar is a surgeon, a poet, and a writer of scientific and lyric prose in addition to a translator of Spinoza, Rilke, Seferis and others. Sol absolu et autres textes, edited and translated by Mary Ann Caws and Nancy Kline, contains abundant evidence of Gaspar's gifts: an autobiographical essay, a reflection on scientific and medical matters, and poems from diverse periods and places. Earth Absolute, the book's central text, is Gaspar's long love poem to "the naked song of the Judean moun…

Matthew Beaumont - A captivating literary portrait of the writers who explore the city at night, and the people they met. Part literary criticism, part social history, part polemic, this is a haunting addition to the canon of psychogeography

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Matthew Beaumont, Night Walking, Verso, 2015.

“Cities, like cats, will reveal themselves at night,” wrote the poet Rupert Brooke. Before the age of electricity, the nighttime city was a very different place to the one we know today – home to the lost, the vagrant and the noctambulant. Matthew Beaumont recounts an alternative history of London by focusing on those of its denizens who surface on the streets when the sun’s down. If nightwalking is a matter of “going astray” in the streets of the metropolis after dark, then nightwalkers represent some of the most suggestive and revealing guides to the neglected and forgotten aspects of the city.
In this brilliant work of literary investigation, Beaumont shines a light on the shadowy perambulations of poets, novelists and thinkers: Chaucer and Shakespeare; William Blake and his ecstatic peregrinations and the feverish ramblings of opium addict Thomas De Quincey; and, among the lamp-lit literary throng, the supreme nightwalker Charles Dicke…

New American Stories - Collected here are practitioners of deep realism, mind-blowing experimentalism, and every hybrid in between. Luminaries and cult authors stand side by side with the most compelling new literary voices. Nothing less than the American short story renaissance distilled down to its most relevant, daring, and unforgettable works,

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New American Stories, Ed. by Ben Marcus. Penguin Random, 2015.read it at Google Books

In New American Stories, the beautiful, the strange, the melancholy, and the sublime all comingle to show the vast range of the American short story . In this remarkable anthology, Ben Marcus has corralled a vital and artistically singular crowd of contemporary fiction writers. Collected here are practitioners of deep realism, mind-blowing experimentalism, and every hybrid in between. Luminaries and cult authors stand side by side with the most compelling new literary voices. Nothing less than the American short story renaissance distilled down to its most relevant, daring, and unforgettable works, New American Stories puts on wide display the true art of an American idiom.

If a nationwide literary ration were instituted tomorrow and you were told you could have only one single, solitary book of contemporary short stories, you should spend your allotment on The Anchor Book of New American Short Sto…