:: Nonfiction archive ( click for articles pre-2006) 2000-2005, click for articles pre-2006)

Literary Citizenship Depletes Crystal Count and Other Controversial Claims published 21/07/2014

No one wants to be a dick or a wuss—that’s the dilemma. If I don’t support Shane Jones, I’m a dick. If I don’t uphold my standards, I’m a wuss. What’s in my best interest after all? If I wuss out and write a generous review, maybe the author will write a generous review of the novel I have coming out in August. Maybe some of his fans will check out my book, too. The publisher of Crystal Eaters produces beautiful paperbacks. If I rave about Crystal Eaters, or even write something thoughtful, encouraging, and strong, maybe down the line Two Dollar Radio will remember me and enthusiastically consider one of my novel manuscripts. But I doubt they’ll publish anything I write since I’m pretty sure what I write isn’t right for them.

Lee Klein on, among other things, Shane Jones’s Crystal Eaters.

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Amnesia: Spain, Sand Creek, Oklahoma, Germany published 19/07/2014

Founding amnesia about extermination weighs heavily on Denver. The University of Denver still lionizes Evans. Evans was a visionary for the city, for railways and for founding universities – for white people. Being an Evans professor is a little, I have discovered, like being a Jefferson Davis professor at a Southern University; these men do not deserve the honor.

Alan Gilbert on how historical amnesia distorts.

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“The Dead Voices of her Ancestors Shudder, Whimper, Well Up”: A Review of Daša Drndić’s Trieste published 17/07/2014

Daša Drndić’s Trieste tells the story of Trieste and the surrounding region during the Nazi occupation. The narrative loops from the present to the past and back again – like memory, like history – being weaved into the lives of the Tedeschis… In the place of answers which have never come, Drndić attempts to fill the continuing silence, piling layer of history upon layer in the hope that it will become immovable.

Tristan Foster on Daša Drndić’s Trieste.

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Speaking the Unspeakable: Elfriede Jelinek’s The Piano Teacher as a Response to Trauma published 14/07/2014

This essay considers that the only “proper” address to trauma is literature—and specifically: the novel. Operating as both an explication and a wound—performing an exploratory examination/incision on the practice and production of the text—this metatext and the narrative it describes (against itself) must respond idiomatically to the disorder of the text because it is itself wounded and wounding.

Heidi James on trauma and Elfriede Jelinek’s The Piano Teacher.

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A Life in the Life published 12/07/2014

He knows that many of the crowd watching him are re-living their youth. Would it be so easy for them to do so if confronted with a silver-haired troubadour long past the age of 64? For some of his contemporaries such youthful pretence is no longer an issue: Bob Dylan sports a pompadour of grey cumuli, Jimmy Page, a raffish mane of white. James Taylor meanwhile is defiantly bald on top and has been for some time. But there are more who resist: Mick Fleetwood, Paul Simon, the Edge, none of whom are ever seen out of doors without headgear. Jeff Beck, who I recently spotted in my local branch of Planet Organic, also resists the Hi Ho Silver Lining. Like them, McCartney tenaciously holds onto his youth, no doubt to please please those who love him yeah yeah yeah.

Coinciding with Richard Lester’s seminal A Hard Day’s Night being re-released for its 50th anniversary, Simon Fellowes thinks back to seeing The Beatles aged four.

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certified copies: notes toward a theory of the knockoff published 07/07/2014

To see the original as no less conditional than the copy may just be more workable than the opposite, in which beauty is an ontological question. If any beauty I encounter is, by virtue of its being a copy, a mediated experience – and potentially degraded as a result – the world in which the work of art is created, or copied for that matter, becomes a secondary one on a hierarchy of being.

Erik Anderson on IKEA, knockoffs, and copies—certified or otherwise.

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The Unfortunate (or: Watching Dimitar Berbatov) published 05/07/2014

Like the reverse fixture, I somehow know the ending from the start, and expecting another goalless draw, I should be interested in how our new striker Luciano Becchio does, but I focus on Fulham’s Dimitar Berbatov, my favourite Premier League player, his style so idiosyncratic that no manager can quite fit him into a team, but capable of the most incredible skill, like that moment for Manchester United where he chases an over-hit pass, steps on the ball, turns, flicks it past West Ham’s defender and crosses for Ronaldo to score. He reminds me of Buster Keaton, his face as deadpan as Keaton’s when his house fell around him, with the same ability to see some audacious trick to change a situation and the same contortionist skills to make it work.

By Juliet Jacques.

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Georges Perec’s Je me souviens: a participatory text published 02/07/2014

Perec’s sense of disappearing human experience is wrapped up both in the socio-cultural sum, and the fleeting, individual, personal human interactions that punctuate the quotidian drift. Shared jokes, schoolyard games, a meal prepared by an aunt. His texts predicate on, he writes, the “overlooked commonplace” that is always in the process of evaporating; the very things that reassure us we are living.

Andrew Hodgson opens Georges Perec’s Je me souviens.

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Long Pause, Romantic Music, Silence published 01/07/2014

The goal of subtitles is clear: to cross linguistic and auditory barriers. And to achieve this objective the subtitler must not only translate between languages, but she must convert between entirely separate media… In common with poetry, subtitles at their best show the union of the physical properties of language and its ideal potential… These subtitles are to say, I’m still here. The machine has not broken. Please don’t walk away.

Laura Legge on subtitles, poetics, and silence.

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Return of the Why: A review of Sophie Hannah’s The Telling Error published 26/06/2014

There is an endless audience for this kind of murder. There is even a crime subgenre, ‘cosy crime’, defined by Waterstone’s as ‘exactly as it sounds, cosy, relatively gentle and always satisfying.’ No other genre puts as much emphasis on the experience of the reader. George Orwell described the ideal condition: ‘Your pipe is drawing sweetly, the sofa cushions are soft underneath you, the fire is well alight, the air is warm and stagnant. In these blissful circumstances, what is it that you want to read about? Naturally, about a murder.’ Are you sleeping comfortably? Let us peruse the shattering of other lives.

Max Dunbar reviews Sophie Hannah’s The Telling Error.

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