“We tether ourselves to others as a path not taken, a dream unfulfilled. A lesson unlearned, a responsibility unmet. We mourn idols as ourselves because even that unachieved road must end.” Paul Taunton has written a heartfelt Hazlitt essay on Frederick Exley, Frank Gifford, and passionate idolatry. Exley’s cult favorite A Fan’s Notes, published in 1988, is a fictional memoir that centers on a quasi-obsession with Gifford, who passed away earlier this week at the age of eighty-four.
Paula Fox, celebrated novelist and winner of the 1983 National Book Award (among other honors), died this week. Contributing to our Year in Reading series two years ago, Parul Sehgal said she couldn’t stop rereading Desperate Characters, perhaps Fox’s most popular book for adults. “It’s really a wallop of a book,” Sehgal wrote. “A barbed portrait of a marriage, not to mention a brilliant take on gentrification, white fears of black and brown people, the hostile insularity of the nuclear family, and how power reproduces and how power conceals itself.” (Bonus: Dominic Smith wants to send a scene from that novel into space.)
It is a truth universally acknowledged (and recently addressed in Barclay Bram Shoekmaker‘s Millions review of Mo Yan‘s Frog) that literary translation is an imperfect art, and this list of mistranslated “literary moments” only offers more evidence for the claim. But for every serious blunder there’s also a truly ridiculous one (or more). For example, the French translated the title of Animal Farm as Animals Everywhere!, which sounds a lot like a charming children’s book and not at all like Orwell.
Recommended Reading: Anne Barngrover’s poem “My Lover Vows to Follow Me Even after He Leaves Me” at Paper Darts. “If trust is to hem your promises/into my jacket lining like folded dollars during/an ice storm, then I have been trusting all my life.”