We tend to take it for granted that the world needs more translated works. The dictates of common wisdom state that reading translated works help us understand the reality of foreign cultures. But what if translation, which erases at least some nuance from works of literature, instead “sifts out the foreign or the unsettling in the name of easy consumption”? In The Irish Times, Michael Cronin reviews a recent book by NYU professor Emily Apter.
I’ve got another post up about Nadeem Aslam’s Maps for Lost Lovers at the LBC Blog. I’ve been going back and forth with Sam (of Golden Rule Jones), so check out his posts, too.Calvin Trillin talks turducken and other things Cajun in the most recent issue of National Geographic. The piece is typical Trillin, funny and featuring mouth-watering descriptions of various regional delicacies. (Much like the articles collected in a favorite book of mine, Trillin’s Feeding a Yen)Jim Crace discusses his Guardian column, The Digested Read, “The idea of rewriting a book in the style of the author in just 500 or so words is a gift to any satirist, and it remains the only outlet in the print media where publishers’ hype always gets treated with the irreverence it deserves.” A collection of the columns is out in EnglandThe CS Monitor takes a look at the self-publishing craze: “IUniverse, which prints several thousand books annually, reports submissions are up 17 percent in the first six months of this year.”A couple of new McSweeney’s offerings that you may or may not have seen already. Noisy Outlaws, Unfriendly Blobs, and Some Other Things… is anthology for young adults, edited by Lemony Snicket and with stories by Nick Hornby, John Scieszka and Neil Gaiman, among others. Meanwhile Issue #17 of their Quarterly Concern is also out. According to Amazon: “Issue 17 is not an ordinary issue of McSweeney’s. It is, however, an ordinary bundle of mail, stacked and rubber-banded, containing the usual items: a recent issue of Yeti Researcher, a sausage-basket catalog, a flyer for slashed prices on multi-user garments, a couple letters… the usual. Also: the debut of a DVD quarterly, featuring never-before-seen work by Spike Jonze and David O. Russell. Also: stories.”
Recommended listening: 19 Rare Recordings of Famous Authors Reading, as compiled by Mental Floss, including the likes of Virginia Woolf, Walt Whitman, Ernest Hemingway and Flannery O’Connor. For a different perspective on the word “rare” as applied to digital culture, be sure to read Rex Sorgatz‘s recent piece for Medium, “You Need to Hear this Extremely Rare Recording.”
Recent estate sales, auctions, and rights deals concerning the legacy and works of William Faulkner are “raising complex questions about what happens to the works of great writers after they die,” writes Stefanie Cohen. “For their part, Faulkner’s heirs say they aim to both honor the writer’s work and raise funds.” (Bonus: the ongoing, public legal battle over rights to Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird.)
W.S. Merwin, a Hawaii-based poet born in 1927, has been named the 17th Poet Laureate of the United States. A fellow poet writes, “There is something monklike about Merwin … He is trying to achieve a contemplative distance from desire and ambition.”
Electric Literature held a Twitter contest recently in which their followers invented new literary neologisms for a chance to win copies of Carson Mell’s new e-book Saguaro. For my money, the clear winner was “Vonnegutsy: having the fortitude to mix aspects of genre fiction with literary fiction.”
Neil Gaiman’s newest graphic novel isn’t even out yet, but it already has a movie deal. His update on the Brothers Grimm fairytale Hansel and Gretel with illustrations by Lorenzo Mattotti comes out on October 28, and Juliet Blake is developing a live action version. Hopefully, it’s better than Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters.
After earning herself a “test run” writer’s residency aboard an Amtrak train, Jessica Gross reflects on the virtues and benefits of writing by railcar. Meanwhile, Alexander Chee announces he’ll be writing on the rails from New York City to Portland this Spring. You can read some more information about the program over here.