November 2012 News

News from New Directions

News & Reviews

Before we get to this month's news, we must apologize for this newsletter's tardiness. Hurricane Sandy knocked out our power for five days, but we're back at work now, catching up as quickly as we can.

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Lawrence Ferlinghetti has been busy. In early October he declined an award offered by the Hungarian PEN Club based on their ties to the government, which has been curtailing free speech (you can read about his reasons in the Los Angeles Times and on Moby Lives, and read his letter to the Club here). And later in the month his new collection of poetry — Time of Useful Consciousness — was published (you can read a San Francisco Chronicle review here). But he also took some time to take part in City Lights' Banned Book Month events, and can be seen reading from James Joyce's Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man on their blog

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In event news, Anne Carson will be at the 92nd Street Y in New York, where a special performance based on her translation of Antigone — entitled Antigonick — will be staged next Monday evening. Tickets are $24 and almost gone, so act quickly.

Monday, November 19, 8pm
92nd Street Y / Kaufmann Concert Hall
Lexington Avenue at 92nd St
Buy tickets here.

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On Thursday, December 13, at 8pm, poet Bernadette Mayer will be in New York as part of the "Grrrls on Film" program. The event had to be rescheduled, and all of the details are here

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Congratulations to Horacios Castellanos Moya, whose novel Tyrant Memory has been longlisted for the 2013 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. The shortlist will be announced in April 2013, but why wait until then to read the book? 

 


New Books:
Microscripts in Paperback

by Robert Walser

Now in paperback, with newly translated, additional microscripts and "Thoughts on Robert Walser" — a suite of full-color paintings and some reflections on his life and work — by Maira Kalman

Robert Walser wrote many of his manuscripts in a highly enigmatic, shrunken-down form. These twenty-eight short pieces address schnapps, rotten husbands, small town life, elegant jaunts, the radio, swine, jealousy, and marriage proposals.

The magnificently humble. The enormously small. The meaningfully ridiculous. Robert Walser's work often reads like a dazzling answer to the question, How immense can modesty be?
— Rivka Galchen, Harper's Magazine

A remarkable new volume: In a way the microscripts seem like letters from a lost civilization — amazingly archaic, rooms of a remarkable mind. Yet they also establish Walser as a modernist.
— The New Yorker

More information here.

 


Places of My Infancy

by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa

For fans of The Leopard, an intimate portrait of Lampedusa's childhood

Lampedusa's brief but brilliant writing career lasted a mere two years before he succumbed to lung cancer. In that time he produced one novel (The Leopard), three stories, and a memoir, Places of My Infancy — a "tour" of Lampedusa's family estates in Sicily at the turn of the twentieth century. "For me childhood was a lost paradise," writes Lampedusa: "I was king of the home." Lampedusa gives lush, intimate descriptions of the estates in town and country: one mansion with one hundred rooms, its garden with fountains full of eels, its church, its theater where wandering "country" troupes would perform, its maids and groundskeepers, and Lampedusa's own family members. Each detail — from his mother's silver comb to his father's camera (owned "in 1900!") — unlocks a vivid memory.

Lampedusa has made me realize how many ways there are of being alive, how many doors there are, close to one, which someone else's touch may open.
— E.M. Forster

A happy merging of dry irony with subtle poetic feeling.
— The New York Times

More information here.

 


The Bridegroom Was a Dog

by Yoko Tawada

A bizarre tale of passion and romance between a schoolteacher and a dog

Rivka Galchen, writing in The New Yorker, said about "Tawada's magnificient strangeness that "[her] work — which one might compare to that of Bruno Schulz, Silvina Ocampo, or Franz Kafka — is characterized by concordances one doesn’t know what to make of and perceptions that may or may not need to be discounted."

The Bridegroom Was a Dog is perhaps Tawada's most famous story.The Bridegroom Was a Dog begins with a schoolteacher telling a fable to her students. In the fable, a princess promises her hand in marriage to a dog that has licked her bottom clean. The story takes an even stranger twist when that very dog appears to the schoolteacher in real life as a doglike man. A romantic — and sexual — courtship develops, much to the chagrin of her friends, who have suspicions about the man's identity.

Spectacular.
— Victor Pelevin

A masterly balance between the tenuous but meaningful connections of dreams and direct, earthy storytelling of folk tales.
— The New York Times

More information here.

 


While the Women Are Sleeping in Paperback

by Javier Marías

A dozen unforgettable stories by "one of the most original writers at work today" (Wyatt Mason, The New York Times Book Review)

Slippery figures in anomalous situations — ghosts, spies, bodyguards, criminals — haunt these stories by Javier Marías: the characters come bearing their strange secrets and never leave our minds. In one story, a man obsessed with his much younger lover endlessly videotapes her every move and then confides his surprising plans; in another, a ghost can't stop resigning from his job. Masterfully, Marías manages in a small space to perplex and delight.

Sexy, contemplative, elusive, and addictive.
— The San Francisco Bay Guardian

The most subtle and gifted writer in contemporary Spanish literature.
— The Boston Globe

Formidably intelligent.
— London Review of Books

More information here.

 


Orpheus Descending & Suddenly Last Summer

by Tennessee Williams

Two great dramas together in paperback for the first time

Orpheus Descending is a love story and a plea for spiritual and artistic freedom, as well as a portrait of racism and intolerance. When a charismatic drifter, Valentine Xavier, arrives in a Mississippi Delta town with his guitar and snakeskin jacket, he becomes a trigger for hatred and a magnet for three outcast souls: shopkeeper Lady Torrance, "lewd vagrant" Carol Cutrere, and religious visionary Vee Talbot.

Suddenly Last Summer — described by its author as a "short morality play" — has become one of his most notorious works, due in no small part to the film version starring Elizabeth Taylor, Katharine Hepburn, and Montgomery Clift that shocked audiences in 1959. A menacing tale of madness, jealously, and denial, Suddenly Last Summer builds to a heart-stopping conclusion.

Orpheus Descending achieves everything that Tennessee Williams does well and even does uniquely.
Time

Suddenly Last Summer moves with a mad, headlong pace toward damnation.
— The New York Times

More information here.

 


The ND Blog

Over on our blog, we recently posted an interview with Hans Weyandt, co-owner (and hands-on bookseller) of Micawber's Books in St. Paul. 

Other recent posts include a primer on Peruvian author Martín Adán, and a sampling of newly translated poems from The Poems of Octavio Paz

To get news of these posts as they happen, follow us on Facebook or Twitter

 


Other (Political) News

If you're done contributing to the collective sigh of relief that reigned after the elections, you can read some absorbing commentary by New Directions author Eliot Weinberger over at the London Review of Books Blog, "The Romneyana" was rendered with Weinberger's usual off-the-cuff brilliance in real-time installments as the election process unfurled.  

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Former New Directions Editor-in-Chief Peter Glassgold has a new book out this month from Counterpoint: Anarchy! An Anthology of Emma Goldman’s Mother Earth (1906–1918). It represents the first collection of work drawn from the pages of the foremost anarchist journal published in America. For this expanded edition, editor Peter Glassgold contributes a new preface as well as adding a substantial section, “The Trial and Conviction of Emma Goldman and Alexander Berkman,” which includes a transcription of their eloquent and moving self-defense against trumped-up charges of wartime espionage. More information is available on Glassgold's website

 


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