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Posts Tagged ‘James Wood’

Tender Trap

July 10, 2015 | by

From the cover of Das doppelte Lottchen, by Erich Kästner, illustrated by Walter Trier.

From the cover of Das doppelte Lottchen, by Erich Kästner, illustrated by Walter Trier.

In The Parent Trap—and the German book, Das doppelte Lottchen, on which it’s based—two strangers arrive at a girls’ summer camp only to discover they are identical. “The nerve of her! Coming here with your face!” exclaims one roommate in the 1961 film. Of course, in The Parent Trap, they’re actually twin sisters. But as anyone who’s been compared to someone else knows, just the accident of resemblance is enough to cause an instinctive enmity.

I used to work at a store where this one customer would always remark on how much I looked like some friend of hers. She talked about it every time she came in. The friend was named Jen something. She was a potter. She lived in the Hudson Valley. The customer even brought in another woman to attest to this miraculous phenomenon.

“You may think you’re a unique person walking around in the world,” said the customer one day. (I guess I had thought that.) “But you’re not—you’re a copy of Jen.”

Obviously I had no alternative but to hate this Jen person. I imagine she felt the same way. Read More »

Knausgaard, Rock Star

May 19, 2015 | by

karldrums

Photo: Anders Grønneberg

I also bought a teach-yourself drums book, carved two sticks, placed some books around me in a circle on the floor, the one on the left was the hi-hat, the one next to it the snare drum, and the three books above the tomtoms. —My Struggle, Book 3

Reporting on a Karl Ove Knausgaard reading last summer, The Baffler wrote that “two young men kept comparing the event to a rock concert and complaining that they should have brought 40s … Knausgaard has become a rock star.” The writer himself has told of a German journalist “who compared me to a rock band. He said, the books don’t really have any focus, it’s just loose, it’s like just having some songs about drinking and they don’t have anything else … he saw pictures of me, he said, ‘You pose like a rock star.’ ”

But all this is soon to leave the realm of mere comparison. On Wednesday and Friday, as part of the Norwegian-American Literary Festival, Knausgaard will play the drums with his reunited college band, Lemen, thus sundering the flimsy membrane that separates him from full-on rock stardom. For this is what rock musicians have done throughout history: sundered membranes. Read More »

Same Time, Another Planet

May 18, 2015 | by

This Thursday, Gunnhild Øyehaug appears in conversation with James Wood and three more of Norway’s most promising young writers: Kjersti Annesdatter Skomsvold, Lars Petter Sveen, and Carl Frode Tiller. The story below was translated by Lydia Davis, who will interview Dag Solstad on Wednesday at Westway.

Both events are part of the Norwegian-American Literary Festival, a three-night series of readings, conversations, and musical performances in New York this week.

brokenheartrobotsantosgonzales

Image: Santos Gonzales, via Flickr

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Next Thursday, Meet Four of Norway’s Best Young Writers

May 13, 2015 | by

Next week, we’re delighted to cohost the latest Norwegian-American Literary Festival, a series of readings, conversations, and musical performances coming to New York for three nights. As the events approach, we’ll be telling you more about what’s in store.

On Thursday, May 21, at Chelsea’s 192 Books, James Wood will appear in discussion with four of Norway’s most promising young writers—we’re eager to introduce them to a new audience.

OEyehaug-GunnhildGunnhild Øyehaug has published poetry, essays, and novels, but she’s perhaps best known for her short collection Knots; “Every story [is] a formal surprise, smart and droll,” Lydia Davis wrote of her stories in the Times Literary Supplement. Her novel Wait, Blink was made into the acclaimed film Women in Oversized Men’s Shirts. She has also worked as a coeditor of the literary journals Vagant and Kraftsentrum. Øyehaug lives in Bergen, where she teaches creative writing.

 

Skomsvold-Kjersti-AnnesdatterKjersti Annesdatter Skomsvold, from Oslo, is the author of four novels and a collection of poetry; her work have been published in more than twenty languages. An English translation of her novel Monsterhuman will appear from Dalkey Archive Press. Bold, witty, and deeply existential, Monsterhuman is a bildungsroman that turns the story of a young woman’s chronic fatigue syndrome into an intellectual journey, at once grave and comic.

 

Ingrid NÊss-HolmLars Petter Sveen’s third book, the novel Children of God, made him a household name in Norway. Due in English from Graywolf Press, Children of God is set in the Bethlehem of Biblical times, where multiple narrators who have crossed paths with Jesus tell their stories. Sveen counts Cormac McCarthy among his influences, and his often violent stories present themselves as alternative gospels.

 

Carl Frode Tiller, forfatterCarl Frode Tiller has written three novels and three plays; he lives in Trondheim and plays in the rock band Kong Ler. His three-volume novel Encirclement tells the story of David, who suffers from memory loss—but also of the nine people who write letters to him trying to remind him who he was, simultaneously questioning and celebrating the act of storytelling.

 

 

 

Again, these writers will appear in conversation with James Wood at 192 Books next Thursday, May 21. The event begins at seven P.M.; it’s free and open to the public. See you there!

 

The Norwegian-American Literary Festival Comes to New York

April 28, 2015 | by

knausgaardband

Knausgaard’s band, Lemen.

You may have noticed a Knausgaard theme on the Daily today, between our interview with his translator Don Bartlett and Ian MacDougall’s probing analysis of the author’s scatological side. We’re celebrating the release of My Struggle’s fourth volume—but we’re also celebrating the latest Norwegian-American Literary Festival, a series of readings, conversations, and musical performances coming to New York for three nights next month.

The festival begins on Wednesday, May 20, at the Westway in the Meatpacking District, where Karl Ove Knausgaard’s reunited college band, Lemen, will take the stage. James Wood’s band, the Fun Stuff, will perform, too, and Lydia Davis will begin the night in conversation with Dag Solstad about writing family history. Solstad is one of Norway’s preeminent writers, the author of thirty-three books translated into thirty languages. Davis learned Norwegian by reading his latest novel, a four-hundred-page epic whose title translates, roughly, as The Insoluble Epic Element in Telemark in the Period 1591–1896. Read More »

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Mein Scheisse

April 28, 2015 | by

Knausgaard’s fecal fixation.

Kinderen die hun behoefte doen

Gesina ter Borch, Kinderen die hun behoefte doen (Children Relieve Themselves), ca. 1650.

“I’ve been reading Knausgaard,” I’ve heard on more than one occasion, over this Scandinavian-grade winter, from a friend across a barroom table. And a few minutes into the conversation, almost inevitably: “There’s this part in the third book about taking a shit … ”

It came as no surprise that my friends wanted to talk My Struggle, the Norwegian novelist’s opus on the everyday in six volumes. (The fourth is out in English translation today.) But the number of those friends who zeroed in on Knausgaard’s excretory musings was another matter.

And it’s not just My Struggle. The subject reemerged earlier this year when The New York Times Magazine published “My Saga,” Knausgaard’s two-part North American travelogue, in which a jaunt on the john in a Newfoundland hotel leaves him with a hopelessly clogged toilet. He recounts the aftermath at length. The episode was at the center of Knausgaard talk.

Lest readers think this focus is a factor of the company I keep—that I surround myself with prudish types offended by bathroom scenes, fetishists attracted to them, or the scatological-humor crowd—I direct them to James Wood, a critic at a venue no less proper than The New Yorker. In an interview with Knausgaard published in the Winter 2014 issue of The Paris Review, Wood says, Read More »