Posts Tagged ‘fiction’
November 15, 2013 | by Adam Thirlwell
Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky was born in Kiev to a Polish-speaking family on February 11, 1887. At university, he studied law. In 1912, age twenty-five, he traveled through Europe, visiting Paris, Heidelberg, and Milan—for the young Krzhizhanovsky was the pure apprentice intellectual. After the First World War, and the 1917 Russian Revolution, he returned to Kiev, where he taught at the Musical Institute and the Theatrical Conservatory. In 1922, age thirty-five, he left Kiev for Moscow, where he lived for the rest of his life. In Moscow, Krzhizhanovsky wrote articles and gave lectures, in particular at Alexander Tairov’s Drama Studio. He also worked as a consultant to Tairov’s Chamber Theater. Meanwhile, he wrote novellas and stories, which were never published—either due to economic problems (bankrupt publishers) or political problems (Soviet censors). Twenty years passed in this way until, in 1941, with Krzhizhanovsky now fifty-four, a collection of stories was finally scheduled for publication—but then the Second World War intervened, preventing even that collection from appearing. In May 1950 he suffered a stroke and lost the use of speech. He died at the end of the year. (His works—almost all of them unpublished—were stored by his lifelong companion, Anna Bovshek, in her apartment: in her clothes chest, under some brocade.)
Almost no one knew that Krzhizhanovsky was writing fiction, since the state never allowed its publication. They knew him in other guises—as a lecturer on theater, or essayist, or occasional playwright. In 1939, Krzhizhanovsky, despite his restricted publication history, was nevertheless elected to the Writers’ Union—which meant that posthumously he was eligible for the process of “immortalization.” In 1953, Stalin died, and three years later Khrushchev’s “Secret Speech” to the Twentieth Party Congress instituted a revisionist anti-Stalinist thaw. In 1957—the same year as Pasternak’s Doctor Zhivago—a commission was set up to examine Krzhizhanovsky’s literary legacy. It lasted two years and was then disbanded, having drafted a publishing plan that was never implemented. Then, in 1976, Vadim Perelmuter, a poet, literary historian, and essayist, discovered Krzhizhanovsky’s archive. He had to wait until 1989 and the full thaw of perestroika before he could publish one of Krzhizhanovsky’s stories. Between 2001 and 2008, Perelmuter finally edited a handsome five-volume edition of Krzhizhanovsky’s works. Read More »
August 22, 2013 | by Sadie Stein
“You can’t learn to write in college. It’s a very bad place for writers because the teachers always think they know more than you do—and they don’t. They have prejudices.” —Ray Bradbury, the Art of Fiction No. 203
July 29, 2013 | by Katherine Hill
We’re tournament people, my husband and I. The way some people climb rocks or brew beer (I don’t know: What do other people do?), we draw sloppy 64-berth brackets in coffee-stained spiral-bound notebooks then set to vigorous, regimented discussion, rationally whittling down the field until an undisputed champion emerges. Notable competitions past include Most Intriguing City (Helsinki def. Buenos Aires) and Favorite Animal (Polar Bear def. House Cat). Most times, Matt is the tournament master, the committee of one who conceives and presents the field to me, which I then imperiously adjudicate, usually while reclining on a couch or airplane seat and eating something packed with butterfat. It’s a good arrangement, because he is a historian who likes categories and I am a writer who likes making things up.
For tournament people, the next bracket is always a gift. Matt’s mom visited last month, and she brought with her a 32-person field of literary characters for each of us to complete. Our champions were to be not the greatest or most iconic or most influential figures, but the characters we’d most like to have as friends.
“Would you want to be friends with Humbert Humbert?” Claire Messud had recently demanded of Publishers Weekly.
She had a point. We took Alexander Portnoy instead. Read More »
June 13, 2013 | by Sadie Stein
January 11, 2013 | by Evan S. Connell
Our great contributor Evan Connell died this week. His best-loved novel, Mrs. Bridge, began as a short story in the Fall 1955 issue of The Paris Review. See below for the full text.
The black Lincoln that Mr. Bridge gave her on her forty-seventh birthday was a size too long and she drove it as cautiously as she might have driven a locomotive. People were always blowing their horns at her or turning their heads to stare when they went by. The Lincoln was set to idle too slowly and in consequence the engine sometimes died when she pulled up at an intersection, but as her husband never used the Lincoln and she herself assumed it was just one of those things about automobiles, the idling speed was never adjusted. Often she would delay a line of cars while she pressed the starter button either too long or not long enough. Knowing she was not expert she was always quite apologetic when something unfortunate happened, and did her best to keep out of everyone’s way. She changed into second gear at the beginning of any hill and let herself down the far side much more slowly than necessary.
Usually she parked in a downtown garage where Mr. Bridge rented a stall for her. She had only to honk at the enormous doors, which would then trundle open, and coast on inside where an attendant would greet her by name, help her out, and then park the formidable machine. But in the country club district she parked on the street, and if there were diagonal stripes she did very well, but if parking was parallel she had trouble judging her distance from the curb and would have to get out and walk around to look, then get back in and try again. The Lincoln’s seat was so soft and Mrs. Bridge so short that she had to sit very erect in order to see what was happening ahead of her. She drove with arms thrust forward and gloved hands tightly on the large wheel, her feet just able to depress the pedals all the way. She never had serious accidents but was often seen here and there being talked to by patrolmen. These patrolmen never did anything partly because they saw immediately that it would not do to arrest her, and partly because they could tell she was trying to do everything the way it should be done. When parking on the street it embarrassed her to have people watch, yet there always seemed to be someone at the bus stop or lounging in a doorway with nothing to do but stare while she struggled with the wheel and started jerkily backward. Sometimes, however, there would be a nice man who, seeing her difficulty, would come around and tip his hat and ask if he might help.Read More »
December 24, 2012 | by Frederic Tuten
We’re out this week, but we’re re-posting some of our favorite pieces from 2012 while we’re away. We hope you enjoy—and have a happy New Year!
Then Maria came in and I said do you want café or café con leche, and then Bebe came in and I said do you want a café con leche or a mescal. Maria said she wanted a mescal with a fat worm and then Bebe said she wanted a clear tequila, then Maria said Verlaine is a better poet than Rimbaud who turned Verlaine from anapest to pederast, then Luiz came in with a kitchen knife and started cutting his dick right in front of us, but when Maria, who came from Xochimilco and whose father was a tram conductor and whose mother had run a small brothel in Taxco before she saw the light of Jesus and married and had Maria and several other Brats as Maria called them, and Maria said stop cutting that huge magnificent dick of yours or at least don’t do it here in the kitchen, and Luiz said he was going to start a magazine and publish only nuns and queers. Fuck you, I said, fuck you, chinga tu madre! Then two guys I didn’t know came in high from pot and giggling like tweens, Maria said hello Paco, hello Paquito. They were the twins from Guadalajara and wrote for a magazine called Anal Retention and they were stars in the poetry world faction that sided with Quevedo against Gongora and said they would stomp anyone who read that pussy Quevedo, but they were frail and I could not imagine their stomping a sleeping cockroach drunk on pulque, then I said, Hey! Twins, you want a café solo or a café con leche or a diet Coke or a zero Coke or maybe a Fanta lite, or maybe an Aztec cola but just then Maria took me by the arm and said come with me, I have to tell you something. And we went to the bedroom where a young woman was sleeping off the night before and Maria said don’t mind her, that’s just Silvina, she’s blind and gives handjobs for five pesos, and an extra five if you come on her face. She must make a lot of money I said. She does, she’s rich and owns property in Pedregal and in Chapingo but nobody knows so don’t tell, anyway I wanted you to know I don’t love you and that I will never sleep with you no matter what you do so don’t write any poems for me because that won’t work the way it did when you fucked my sister, Leche de Amor—I never fucked her I said. Yes you did she said, Carlota el Camino told me and Leche de Amor told her. I saw bright lights flash in the window, then the slam of a car door, then two huge guys the size of shipyards barged in pistols in hand. “Where is that faggot Noche de Azul?” one said, spitting out a plank of a toothpick cut from plywood.
“Where is that Quevedo faggot?” the one with the flat nose said; “We have a little present for him,” the other with a flatter nose said.
“Who’s looking?” I asked.
“The Gongora twins,” they answered with flames.