Showing posts from June, 2017

JR Carpenter - both a condensation of media history and a comment on the current environmental weight of clouds. This book reminds us that cloud computing is one of the backbones of contemporary culture.

JR Carpenter, The Gathering Cloud, Uniform Books, 2017. 

The Gathering Cloud aims to address the environmental impact of so-called 'cloud' computing by calling attention to the materiality of the clouds in the sky. Both are commonly perceived to be infinite resources, at once vast and immaterial; both, decidedly, are not. Fragments of text from Luke Howard's classic Essay on the Modifications of Clouds (1803) and other more recent online articles and books on media and the environment are pared down into hyptertextual hendecasyllabic verses. These are situated within surreal animated gif collages composed of images materially appropriated from publicly accessible cloud storage services. The cognitive dissonance between the cultural fantasy of cloud storage and the hard facts of its environmental impact is bridged, in part, through the constant evocation of animals: A cumulus cloud weighs one hundred elephants. A USB fish swims through a cloud of cables. Four million cute ca…

Gareth Twose - The poetry parodies political language, marketing spiel, and the mores of contemporary society; but it's overall feel is not one of anger, but of humanity and wit; the language resisting these political and commercial forces by its sheer effervescence.

Gareth Twose, Sven Types of Terrorism, Knives Forks and Spoons Press, 2017.
sample (pdf)

In a recent interview in The Paris Review, J H Prynne, commenting on a poetry reading he had just attended, said "These poems we heard this evening, some of them were quite witty, some of them were adept. But they're all poems written by a poet, and I could do without that." Prynne continues, "To hear poems that were written by a poet is to find them trapped in the poetic habits from which they originate." Gareth Twose's poetry, in this book, is not trapped in poetic habit. This is the opening of part 5 of Twose's sequence "Sven Types of Terrorism": "Born irritated. Norman killer. Check top right, Bayeux Tapestry, the guy aiming syringe into eyeball of English Boeuf head. No way does this guy queue. I mean, slowing down, stopping. Every road a race track. The name on my vest: Discovery: deep blue, the patches of planet earth as seen from spa…

Manuel Pérez Subirana - A moving, tragicomic novel about defeat, memory, and the seductive prospect of losing it all.

Manuel Pérez Subirana, Losing Is What Matters, Trans. by Allen Young, dalkey Archive Press, 2017.

When his marriage and career fall apart, a young lawyer sets out on a desperate mission to recapture the promise of his youth. His attempt leaves him stranded between a past he no longer recognizes and a life that’s no longer his—and he soon begins to suspect that the surest path to happiness lies in simply giving up. A moving, tragicomic novel about defeat, memory, and the seductive prospect of losing it all.

“Mature, free-flowing prose with Proustian comparisons and images—very rare for a first novel. An author endowed with a style in the tradition of the finest narrative, with a densely personal world.”
Joaquín Arnáiz

A Spanish lawyer’s life falls apart in the days after he’s dumped by his woman.
Spanish novelist Subirana plumbs the depths of despair in this philosophical portrait of a man whose life is becoming undone. We meet 33-year-old attorney Carlos Mestres Ruiz in the hours aft…

Jan Křesadlo - A complex torrent of black humour mixed with rollicking slapstick clowning, of sexual exploitation mixed with warm family love, of sharp, pointed, observations mixed with bizarre and fantastic episodes reminiscent of Meyrink and Kafka

Jan Křesadlo, GraveLarks, Václav Z J Pinkava,Jantar Publishing, 2016. [1984.]excerpt

Set in Stalinist-era Central Europe, GraveLarks is a triumphant intellectual thriller navigating the fragile ambiguity between sado-masochism, black humor, political satire, murder, and hope. Zderad, a noble misfit, investigates a powerful party figure in 1950s Czechoslovakia. His struggle against blackmail, starvation, and betrayal leaves him determined to succeed where others have failed and died. This extended edition includes critical texts and analyses with illustrations by Jan Pinkava, Oscar-winning animator. GraveLarks is a fictionalized account of the life of French troubadour poet Villon set in 1950s Stalinist Czechoslovakia. The vagabond and ""bohemian"" Villon is transposed into the vagabond intellectual and ""bohemian"" Zderad. Singing, drinking, deviant sex, and blackmail ensue. The author and publisher Josef Skvorecky described the text a…

Roberto Arlt - Brutal, uncouth, caustic, and brilliantly colored, The Seven Madmen takes its bearings from Dostoyevsky while looking forward to Thomas Pynchon and Marvel Comics

Roberto Arlt, The Seven Madmen, Trans. by Nick Caistor. NYRB Classics, 2016.

A weird wonder of Argentine and modern literature and a crucial work for Julio Cortázar, The Seven Madmen begins when its hapless and hopeless hero, Erdosain, is dismissed from his job as a bill collector for embezzlement. Then his wife leaves him and things only go downhill after that. Erdosain wanders the crowded, confusing streets of Buenos Aires, thronging with immigrants almost as displaced and alienated as he is, and finds himself among a group of conspirators who are in thrall to a man known simply as the Astrologer. The Astrologer has the cure for everything that ails civilization. Unemployment will be cured by mass enslavement. (Mountains will be hollowed out and turned into factories.) Mass enslavement will be funded by industrial-scale prostitution. That scheme will be kicked off with murder. “D’you know you look like Lenin?” Erdosain asks the Astrologer. Meanwhile Erdosain struggles to determine t…