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Posts Tagged ‘The Milan Review’

What We’re Loving: Ackerley, Reichl, Loy

March 1, 2013 | by

tumblr_lo80tnSz9z1qm2bmho1_1280There are moods in which even a used bookstore can defeat you, when you can’t imagine why anyone ever bothered, when every first sentence is an effort and a rebuke. Next time you find yourself in that mood, look under A for Ackerley (J. R.). His memoir My Father and Myself is a masterpiece of calm self-hatred. My Dog Tulip is the unforgettable true story of how he gave up on human beings and fell in love with a German shepherd. But the book I needed, and found, the other night is Ackerley’s one novel, We Think the World of You. This too is a dog book. Without having yet read the introduction (I’m a few pages from the end), I suspect it too is autobiographical. Set in London just after the war, it concerns a middle-aged gay man, desperately in love with a young prison inmate, who transfers his overbearing affection to the man’s dog, Evie. Ackerley was, by all accounts, including his, an unpleasant guy. The magic is how clearly he sees himself, with a clarity almost amounting to forgiveness. He is also very funny. Four chapters in, behind two pints at a quiet bar, I felt ready to face the world. —Lorin Stein

 I still mourn the loss of Gourmet—the exquisite photography, like eighteenth-century still lifes; the insane, days-long dinners that I never intended to prepare—but I’m grateful to have been directed to Ruth Reichl’s Twitter feed. Her entries are haikus of deliciousness: “Gray. Rain coming. Curled up with the cat, a book, and a comforting bowl of lemon rice soup. Edible sunshine.” “So cold! Tiny tug shoves a big black boat up the river. Bowl of butter-toasted oatmeal. Almonds. Apricots. Brown sugar. Heavy cream. Warmer.” “Cold. Sunny. Blue Tiepolo sky, dappled with clouds. Fluffy pancakes. Lace-edged fried eggs from Barry’s hens. Smoky bacon. Maple syrup. Yes!” —Nicole Rudick Read More »

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What We’re Loving: Tropical Paradise, Anxiety, Translation

January 18, 2013 | by

When the novelist Adam Thirlwell told me his idea, I was skeptical: to publish a work of fiction in many translations, each version being a translation of the one before. But Adam Thirlwell is Adam Thirlwell, “schemey like a nine-year-old,” as one collaborator describes him, with “weird vibes, as if he does unorthodox things to the books he carries to the bathroom.” Multiples, the new issue of McSweeney’s, edited by Thirlwell, is an unorthodox thing of beauty, a stunt that only a kid would attempt, and an absolute pleasure to read—though almost nobody on earth will be able to read every page. What Thirlwell has done is to assemble new or obscure works by Kierkegaard, Vila-Matas, Krasznahorkai, et al., translated (and retranslated, and retranslated) by a dream team of polyglot writers. So, for example, Dave Eggers translates a Spanish translation by Alejandro Zambra of an English translation by Nathan Englander of a Hebrew translation by Etgar Keret of an English translation by John Wray of a previously untranslated short story by Franz Kafka. It’s a game of pro-level Chinese whispers, and—thanks to Thirlwell's list of contributors—a wide-angle snapshot of our literary firmament, circa now. Plus, the afterwords by Thirlwell and Francesco Pacifico have persuaded me not only that it would be fun to read Emilio Gadda in Italian, but that a translator can have more fun with an untranslatable writer than I ever dared to dream. —Lorin Stein

The editors of the New York Times blog Anxiety recently asked Laszlo Krasznahorkai to contribute an essay on the theme. This is the writer who eschews paragraph breaks and short sentences because he feels they are artificial and whose subjects are often very bleak—which is to say, he’s their ideal contributor. The author himself describes it as “a lyrical essay about the terrible meeting between boorishness and aggressiveness,” but with Krasznahorkai, it’s so much more than that. There are paragraph breaks and the occasional brief sentence (one wonders if the former appeared in the original version), but this is a hard little gem, a Möbius strip of what feels simultaneously like madness and utter logic. —Nicole Rudick

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An Event in the Stairwell

May 2, 2012 | by

The Milan Review—or, to give it its proper title, The Milan Review of the Universe—is an egregiously handsome literary magazine published in English, in Milan, under the editorship of the improbably named Tim Small. The second issue includes work by some of our own favorites, among them Amie Barrodale, Chiara Barzini, Francesco Pacifico, Lynne Tillman, and, not least, Clancy Martin, whose story the Milanese have kindly let us reprint below, in a spirit of international fraternità, and in light of the patchy trans-Atlantic distribution that our two journals have in common. Auguri! —Lorin Stein

Randy knocked on my door and when I opened it I expected he would attack me with the tennis racket in his hand. I had only bought pot from him before. He had no reason to hate me. But in his mind I am a rich white person.

“Emily’s not home,” I said. Emily is my girlfriend and I suspect, though do not know, that she has had sex with Randy at least once, or perhaps lots of times. He is younger and lither than I am. Probably better hung.

“She’s not home?”

“Right.” I kept my eyes on the racket. Also on his eyes, because you can anticipate a blow that way. Everyone narrows his eyes and looks where he’s going to hit you before he strikes. This is the first lesson of boxing.

“She promised she’d buy this racket from me. I got this racket special. From my daughter.”

Randy, Emily had told me, had a high school–age daughter who was expected by many people to be the next Serena Williams. She lived with her mother in the Bronx and was sponsored by Puma. I noticed the tennis racket had a broken string. Emily was hiding in the bedroom all this time and had instructed me to tell Randy that she was out. I could not decide whether that was reassuring or suspicious.

Emily had had her infidelities.

“How much does she owe you for the racket?”

I took the racket from his hand which he gave me without hesitation, although he looked down and away from me when he said, “Thirty dollars,” which meant he was lying. Probably he had told her he would give her the racket for free. But who knew what more tangible price she had promised to pay. Perhaps eagerly.

I briefly considered beating Randy on the face, head and shoulders with the very light and surely durable racket. We have tile in our stairwell and blood would mop up easily without staining. Randy was not the type to come back with a gun. That would be the last we’d ever see of him. I should have done it. Read More »

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