The turning

The turning

Peirene Press’ “Turning Point” series made its way to my shelves, and I delved into the books, reading them almost one after the other. These three novellas approach craft in their own peculiar ways; that is: In an as unconventional a manner as possible. Each novella is a successful exercise in style and tone and voice and storytelling. Mussel has that breathless and urgent stream-of-consciousness, Darwin was admirably adept at picking out individual voices one moment and pushing forward the collective the next, and Chasing was just exemplary in temperance sharpening scenes into a fine point. [Continue reading.]

“Ahí vienen los toros. Here come the bulls.”

On Tomorrow Pamplona by Jan van Mersbergen, translated from the Dutch by Laura Watkinson. This is the contemporary adult, if slightly embittered, [male] road trip. Danny, a professional boxer on the run from some unnamable horror, meets Robert, a family man on his yearly pilgrimage to Pamplona. There’s not so much self-discovery here as there [...]

The Palimpsests

#34 of 2011 • Next World Novella, by Matthias Politycki -- translated from the German by Anthea Bell. A. Hinrich Schepp, a happy-enough unremarkable man, finds his wife dead. Quite dead, on his desk—presumably, her last breaths were exhaled over his long-buried fiction manuscript, now festooned with her scribbled edits and notes for revision. What [...]

On Portrait of the Mother as a Young Woman by Friedrich Christian Delius; translated by Jamie Bulloch

Friedrich Christian Delius’ novella, Portrait of the Mother as a Young Woman, is a single 117-page-long sentence. Yes, there is only one period. [I counted.] We are in Rome, 1943 -- with a young, pregnant German woman, and her one, long, breathless utterance: a thought stretched, branching here and there to the past, the present, [...]

marginalia || Stone in a Landslide, by Maria Barbal; translated by Laura McGloughlin and Paul Mitchell

My second read from the folks at Peirene Press: Stone in a Landslide by Maria Barbal [translated from the Catalan by Laura McGloughlin and Paul Mitchell]. A Catalan classic, and in its first English edition, the novella is the reminiscences of 80-year-old Conxa: where she came from, how she grew up, the work she did, [...]

marginalia || Beside the Sea, by Véronique Olmi; translated by Adriana Hunter

There’s always something infinitely satisfying about books that take risks. Most especially when those books are good. How to balance subject matter or form or technique and the reader it must lead to? How to fine-tune that balance between craft and the artist's intentions? How to ruffle the bejeebies of a person, and still have her, [...]