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

honest work: an experimental review of an experimental translation published 09/11/2013


If you want the real review, you’ll have to hire a camera crew to follow me for the rest of my life. Pretend you’re the book’s author and translator searching for evidence you’ve had an effect on me. If you see no effects, you’ll have your answer. If you do see effects, you’ll have to ask yourself whether my reactions were genuine or if I performed for you and your readers’ benefit.

Matthew Jakubowski on Chantal Wright‘s translation of Yoko Tawada‘s Portrait of a Tongue.

»

Sex Pistols & the Collapse of the Consensus published 06/11/2013

Vivienne Westwood’s ‘Anarchy’ T-shirt referred to Karl Marx, Spanish anarchist Buenaventura Durruti and Situationist slogans from the May 1968 riots, but punks would also wear leather and fetish gear as well as swastika armbands, more from a desire to offend than any commitment to Nazism. Punk was difficult for the media to attack, not just because its politics were so scrambled, but also because its leading figures wore insults as badges of pride: The Damned’s drummer went by Rat Scabies and Lydon became Rotten, and many others took pseudonyms to hide from employers or the dole.

By Juliet Jacques.

»

Gang of Four & post-punk praxis published

The new post-punk bands were often confrontational, but engaged more with literature and art, and more politically aware. Punk had developed in London, but inspired many groups to form in other cities: The Fall and Joy Division in Manchester referenced Camus and Ballard, the latter initially flirting with Nazi imagery; The Pop Group in Bristol highlighted the influence of Rimbaud and Nietzsche, moving from poetic lyricism to searing critiques of capitalism; and Gang of Four, from Leeds, named themselves after the leaders of China’s vehemently anti-bourgeois Cultural Revolution of 1965-68.

By Juliet Jacques.

»

A Ghost Giving a Speech published 28/10/2013

In the first week of September I travelled for three days westwards across Argentina, the bus weaving through the mighty Andes and into Chile, just as the nation was gearing up for the 40th Anniversary of the military coup which turned it inside out on the 11th of September 1973. This US-backed takeover resulted in the suicide of Salvador Allende, the socialist President, and signalled the brutal, dramatic start to the regime of General Augusto Pinochet, who would rule until 1990. My Gabriela Moya is the daughter of a Chilean exile who, like Roberto Bolaño, left Chile in the wake of the coup, after serving a few days in prison and then making a fortunate escape. This all happened at a time when dissidents were being rounded up, many of them tortured and killed, thousands in the Estadio Nacional, the football stadium in Santiago.

By Rodge Glass.

»

Dissolving narrative with Marcel Béalu published 14/10/2013


Marcel Béalu is a figure, at a glance, singular in 20th century French literature. A marginal figure god parent to no school, writer of no manifesto who, unlike many of his contemporaries, as Henri Peyre writes, “being French … had to formulate, hence to invent, a body of doctrinal views to clarify their own aims and to impress the philosophical reviewers”. Béalu is bizarre; he had no favourite café from which to declaim at his ease to his Sorbonne students; he, in fact, didn’t have any Sorbonne students to declaim to.

By Andrew Robert Hodgson.

»

90th Anniversary of Wallace Stevens’s Harmonium published 01/10/2013

“At college I knew Harmonium almost by heart.” – Elizabeth Bishop

Alfred A. Knopf published Wallace Stevens’ first book of poems, Harmonium, on September 7, 1923. William H. Gass, Micheline Aharonian Marcom, Amber Sparks, and Curtis White share their thoughts 90 years after the fact.

»

Wallace Stevens’s ‘The Rabbit as the King of the Ghosts’ published

Feo once said of meeting him, “I realized then that to him a piece of fruit was more than something to eat…It was good enough for him to look at it and think about it.” The experiences of such encounters were filtered into the ornaments Stevens brought into his verse. Birds, rabbits, food, and flowers enlivened him. No wonder he wrote a poem called, “Someone Puts a Pineapple Together.”

Greg Gerke on Wallace Stevens’ ‘The Rabbit as the King of the Ghosts’.

»

The Sky Might Fall On Your Head published 19/09/2013


I remember vaguely, a moment of tension when I threatened a Maoist student I had just met with death (over some minor intellectual matter). And the emptiness of Pimlico, cold Pimlico. All the houses with the curtains drawn and the lights on. And a tower-block named De Quincey House (but the Northwest Passage is nowhere to be found). And this Turkish homeless guy who was facing deportation and who gave me a cigarette and told me about his girlfriend in Istanbul who wouldn’t be happy to see him return. And a drunken teenage boy dressed like a cowboy vomiting by an old Mini Cooper. And some girls, who sounded Australian, off their heads, wearing skirts too short for January. And Victoria Station. And then, somehow, home. Cold and snotty, but I managed to get home, to my epicentre of existence, to my spot of anonymity in this inhumane city.

By Fernando Sdrigotti.

»

Like a Grunge Keiller published 10/09/2013

Saint Etienne’s album So Tough was recorded the same year that Patrick Keiller shot his seminal film London – 1992. The album and the film forever linked in my mind via navigating those painful final years of Tory misrule from a Hackney squat, So Tough spinning on the turntable. The album provided a sweet pop soundtrack to the Fletcher-esque world of rainy caffs on a ‘Kentish Town, Tuesday’ in Black Wednesday era London. The songs were interrupted with snatches of dialogue from post-war kitchen sink dramas set in a punch-drunk pre-swinging city. The coming together of a Saint Etienne soundtrack with Paul Kelly and Kieran Evans’ Keiller-inspired essay film was the perfect marriage, more of personal topography of London entered via a dawn train from Croydon than the ‘state of the city’ film essay that Keiller achieved. The film and music in Finisterre construct a palimpsest of the capital in 2003 much as Keiller’s film captured ’92.

John Rogers on the influences behind his new book This Other London – Adventures in the Overlooked City.

»

The Weight of an Aphorism published 28/08/2013


The aphorism, by virtue of its musicality or its lapidary concision, is always an instrument of seduction, and often its truth is not proportionate to its beauty; aspects of the second are apparent at first reading, while the first is only rendered clear through the application of the aphorism to the decidedly unaphoristic matter of life.

By Adrian West.

»