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This Week's Reading

What We’re Loving: Boar Hearts, Panic, and Shirley Jackson

May 24, 2013 | by

  Laurel Nakadate, Kalispell, Montana #1, 2013

Laurel Nakadate, Kalispell, Montana #1, 2013.

I stayed up much too late finishing Shirley Jackson’s newly reissued Hangsaman—and then was so spooked it took me another two hours and a warm milk to finally fall asleep. The novel, loosely based on the unsolved 1947 disappearance of Bennington College student Paula Jean Welden, is as scary as The Haunting of Hill House, as chilling as “The Lottery,” and as weird as We Have Always Lived in the Castle. (And that’s saying something!) Perfect reading for a gloomy weekend, if not a work night. —Sadie Stein

“Head shot for boar! Open him up! There’s no taste like live boar-heart while it’s still beating in your hand!” Thus Hermann Göring in The Hunters of Karinhall, a movie script by Terry Southern. The script was never produced, oddly enough—but it is newly excerpted in Hot Heart of Boar & Other Tastes, a little chapbook of Southern snippets and outtakes and put-ons that had me laughing before my second cup of coffee. —Lorin Stein

Thanks to the location of our new digs, I can go gallery-hopping anytime. And no sooner am I freed from the confines of Summer-issue production then a show of new work by Laurel Nakadate opens a few blocks away. The costar of our Summer 2011 portfolio, Nakadate has produced twenty large color photographs of strangers and distant relations (discovered through DNA testing), all of whom she invited to meet her in remote corners of the United States and Europe—at night. The results are, like the rest of Nakadate’s work, startling and stunning. Lit only by a spotlight, the moon, and the stars, her subjects manage to convey something of themselves while also displaying eccentricities that seem to unite them. —Nicole Rudick

Every morning when I wake up, I experience a brief moment of panic. What is this bed I’m sleeping on in this foreign room? Whose body is brushing up against mine? Then, my eyes start to focus on the world around me—the picture frames on the wall, the quilt covering my feet, the scent of my fiancée’s perfume. Ivan Vladislavić’s A Labour of Moles begins very similarly. “If I was dreaming, the scene could change—but no, everything was exactly as it had been before.” However, in the narrator’s case, reality is as strange as—even stranger than—than a dream. Vladislavić’s strength lies in translating a place, one that is as recognizable as anything in our everyday lives but that reveals truths that have been standing in front of us the whole time. “I’ve spent all my time trying to figure out where I am,” the narrator realizes near the end, “when I should be trying to find out what I stand for.” —Justin Alvarez

I’m reading Emily Hahn’s Congo Solo, an account of Hahn’s eight-month stay in the Ituri rainforest in 1931. Hahn travelled extensively during her lifetime—including trips across 1920s America dressed as a boy, and a multiple-year sojourn in China during which she picked up an opium habit. She wrote about her travels in more than two hundred articles for The New Yorker and fifty-four books spanning subjects as diverse as feminismChinese cooking, and the relationship between women and apes. —Brenna Scheving

Two translations stand out in the new issue of The White Review: Yves Bonnefoy’s poem cycle “The Present Hour,” translated by Beverley Bie Brahic, and an excerpt from Edouard Levé’s Oeuvre, translated by Jan Steyn. Bonnefoy is generally regarded as France’s great living poet, and he has attracted plenty of strong translators over the years, but his limpidity is hard to get across in English. Lines like these are so easy to screw up: “Those who loved him / Soon saw only a bright remains / Of colour, his red, under this sky ...” (Ceux qui l’aimaient /N'aperçurent bientôt qu'un reste clair / De sa couleur, un rouge, sous le ciel ...). With Brahic the English comes out clean. As for Levé, he is someone I've tried to translate, but to my ear Steyn does a better job of capturing his funny quiet music (as in this description of a notional art work: “A house designed by a three-year old is built”). Like the previous six issues of The White Review, this one is alarmingly elegant—you want to put on a pair of gloves—and the manner-to-matter ratio in the essays is correspondingly high, but especially with Granta on ice it’s good to see young Londoners doing a little magazine with style. —L.S.

 

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  1. J. D. Daniels | May 24, 2013 at 3:21 pm

    WOLKENSCHATZ (at a loss)
    I’ve nothing to tie the vein off with, Your Excellency.

    GOERING (disgusted)
    Oh for God’s sake! Use your head, will you?
    (He looks around.)

    WOLKENSCHATZ
    A boot-lace perhaps?

    Goering’s eye falls on a two-foot length of boar’s intestine lying nearby. He seizes it, ties it around his bare arm above the elbow, holding one end of it (classic ‘Man With Golden Arm’ style) in his teeth.

    GOERING (muttering between clenched teeth)
    Ingenuity! Where do you think the German people would be today without it? Hit me, Colonel, hit me!

    Wolkenschatz deftly makes the injection.

    — as reprinted in Lee Hill’s “A Grand Guy: The Art and Life of Terry Southern,” 2001.

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