“There are so many ways to look at translation. One that has recently occurred to me is that of a tether: the translator is tethered to the meaning of the original the way an animal can be tethered to a stake. You can’t take off and roam the hills, but you can definitely move around and experience a comfortable degree of freedom.” Asymptote talks with Juliet Winters Carpenter about Japanese tanka poetry, Machi Tawara‘s Salad Anniversary, and the careful balance of translation.
With the Ender’s Game movie approaching, critics of Orson Scott Card are drawing attention to the writer’s anti-gay rhetoric. In protest of his position, they compelled DC Comics to scrap a Card-penned Superman comic and started a movement to boycott the upcoming movie. In New York Magazine, Kyle Buchanan runs through the nitty-gritty of the controversy, which includes a recent statement from Card that the repeal of DOMA means “the gay marriage issue” is now “moot.” (You might also want to read our interview with Card from back in May.)
Alex Stone reviews Guns N’ Roses founding member Duff McKagan’s memoir, It’s So Easy. It’s a book, Stone writes, that’s “intoxicating — in a pancreas-wrenching sort of way.” Bonus: McKagan’s Year in Reading for our site back in 2011.
“Maurice Sendak drew his partner Eugene after he died, as he had drawn his family members when they were dying. The moment is one he was compelled to capture, pin down, understand, see. Where many— maybe most—people look away, he wanted to render. He was very wrapped up in the goodbye, the flight, the loss; it was almost Victorian, to be so deeply entranced with the moment of death, the instinct to preserve or document it. It’s also the artist’s impulse: to turn something terrible into art, to take something you are terrified of and heartbroken by and make it into something else. For the time it takes to draw what is in front of you, you are not helpless or a bystander or bereft: You are doing your job.” On Maurice Sendak and the art of death.
Nowadays, we take it as a given that Tolstoy’s fame was guaranteed by his talent, but many of his contemporaries thought he’d never get a readership outside his native Russia. Why? His writing, as Rosamund Bartlett puts it in a comparison with Turgenev, was “unpolished, more uncompromising and altogether more Russian” than his peers’. If you generally prefer Dostoevsky, you’ll appreciate our survey of scholars on which author was greater. (h/t Arts and Letters Daily)
The office novel, by nature, is a tricky construct, if only because your average white-collar job doesn’t offer much in the way of fiction-worthy moments. That said, recent books like Then We Came to the End by Joshua Ferris demonstrate how fruitful it can be to wring drama out of the rat race. In the latest issue of Dissent, Cubed author Nikil Saval delves into the contradictions of office fiction. FYI, Saval wrote a Year in Reading entry for us.