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Posts Tagged ‘David Foster Wallace’

The Dogs of Men and War: Charlie Newman and His Lost Novel

June 14, 2013 | by

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It is best to dispense at once with the salacious stuff of Charlie Newman’s life: he was a drunk, a bastard, and a boor. His marriages did not last. His books did not bring fame. When not poisoning his liver or relations with both family and fellow writers, he taught college, smoked a pipe, and trained dogs.

Only the very last of these facts is relevant when reading In Partial Disgrace, a fantastically odd posthumous novel for those who like their beauty strange, their plots unruly, their ideas ambitious. It has been patched together by his nephew Ben Ryder Howe—a former editor at The Paris Review–and released this spring by Dalkey Archive Press. The book is set in a fictional European land called Cannonia, its history based on that of Hungary but its name quite clearly derived from the Latin for dog, canis. The main character, Felix Aufidius Pzalmanazar, is a dog breeder, and there are roughly 0.7 references to the canine species on each page of this gorgeous mess of a novel, which is what Pale Fire (a novel Newman adored) might have read like if given a heavy-handed edit by Cesar “The Dog Whisperer” Millan. Read More »

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When Authors Annotate, and Other News

May 30, 2013 | by

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  • This list of authors’ annotations to books in their personal libraries is truly fantastic. (The above is, obviously, David Foster Wallace’s.)
  • In a letter, Rudyard Kipling admits that “it is extremely possible that I have helped myself promiscuously” to material from other writers while writing The Jungle Book. Probable, even!
  • Now we’re all really self-conscious about how we pronounce pecan.
  • The National Book Critics Circle is introducing a new awards category, for first books in any genre.
  • “One hundred and eighteen miles north of London, in the town of Boston, England, there lives a retired newspaperman named John Richards who is experiencing an unusually rotten spring. Richards is the founder and chairman of something called the Apostrophe Protection Society. His world, at least as related to the tiny mark that denotes possessives and the omission of letters from certain words, appears to be crashing down around him.”

 

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Fun with Word Frequency, and Other News

May 8, 2013 | by

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  • See how many times a word or phrase is used in a book! Hours of … okay, maybe not fun, but hours.
  • New research suggests that there exists a family of “ultraconserved words”—including ashes, man, worm, and not—that have survived, virtually unchanged, for fifteen thousand years.
  • Amanda Knox tells the Times what she reads. Among others: Marilynne Robinson, Vladimir Nabokov, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Jonathan Safran Foer, and David Foster Wallace.
  • The Harper Lee copyright fracas inspires a list of literary lawsuits.
  • “I’ve been getting death threats.” Charlaine Harris on the end of Sookie Stackhouse.
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    Proust, Lost in Translation

    May 6, 2013 | by

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    The first volume of Marcel Proust’s In Search of Lost Time: Swann’s Way was published almost exactly a hundred years ago. Its opening lines make one thing inescapably apparent: Proust’s style is inimitable; there is much more to it than long sentences, pauses for reminiscence and brittle cookie breaks, and whatever other tropes readers have associated with Proust. It is a style that tussles with our notion of literary temporality itself. Over the last century, countless translators have struggled with these famous opening lines:

    Longtemps, je me suis couché de bonne heure. Parfois, à peine ma bougie éteinte, mes yeux se fermaient si vite que je n’avais pas le temps de me dire: « Je m’endors. »

    Nobody seems to be able to agree whether to translate the verb of the principal clause as a conditional or a past participle, because while in French it is obviously the latter, it seems to act as the former. We’ve had various degrees of “went to bed early,” “used to go to bed early,” “would go to bed early,” each meaning more or less the same thing, but none hitting the nail directly on the head.

    Scholars have found these lines, at once, undeniably charming and a huge pain to work with.

    But in this seemingly untranslatable sentence, even among translators—whose very job it is to take troublesome idioms and phrases and grammatical twists and make them legible and appropriate, and to do so by imparting as much of Proust’s style and as little of their own as possible—there is so much variety that it raises another important question: How would this sentence have been handled by other writers? Read More »

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    Poets Without Clothes, and Other News

    April 18, 2013 | by

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  • Talk about truth in advertising: meet Poets Without Clothes. [NSFW]
  • Check out this nifty animation of a 1996 DFW interview.
  • George Orwell’s northern Indian birthplace is being turned into a memorial … for Gandhi.
  • What are libraries doing with old books? Lots of things.
  • Pew: “About seven in ten of those who used a library over a twelve-month period did so to borrow print books or to browse the shelves.”
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    Eugenides on Moshfegh

    April 16, 2013 | by

    THE PARIS REVIEW Spring Revel

    Every year, at our Spring Revel, we give three honors: the Hadada Prize, the Plimpton Prize, and the Terry Southern Prize. This year, Jeffrey Eugenides presented the Plimpton Prize to Ottessa Moshfegh.

    The Plimpton Prize for Fiction is a $10,000 prize awarded to an author who made his or her debut in our pages in the previous year. Moshfegh had two stories in the Review: “Disgust” (issue 202) and “Bettering Myself” (issue 204).

    Nothing is harder for a writer than getting published for the first time. The road from the bypass to the byline is paved with misery. In fact, it’s not even paved—that’s the problem: you’re stuck knee-deep in a bog, and no one cares if you ever get out.

    Of equal difficulty, on the other side of the equation, is the task of finding an unknown writer. Reading through the slush pile is like looking for tigers in the jungle: they’re camouflaged not only by their stripes but their surroundings. An editor has to be unflaggingly alert and discerning, alive to any perceptible movement in the shadows. Read More »

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