Tranquility

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Curiosities: the Department of Dead Horses

Tranquility by Attila Bartis is named winner of the inaugural Best Translated Book Award. Scott rounds up some reviews and background on the book.Video: Tom Perrotta on the state of American literary culture.”Art History books are full of errors.” This one is about La Raie Vert [the Green Stripe] from 1905 by Henri Matisse.Perfect for the cubicle: Five Chapters serialized John Cheever’s short story, “Of Love: A Testimony,” in bite-sized portions.Mark Sarvas (re)launches the Three-Minute-Interview series, starting with Plimpton Prize winner Jesse Ball. We reviewed Ball’s debut Samedi the Deafness last year. Ball’s new book is The Way Through Doors.Meanwhile, Sheila Heti chats up Mary Gaitskill.Yearbook photos of politicians: Mike Huckabee, How YOU doin’?Norman Mailer and William Styron conduct an epistolary friendship.The Nation revisits the ever-popular subject of Kafka and his critics.Wyatt Mason and friends parse Joseph O’Neill to within an inch of his life.Reif Larsen is this year’s Million Dollar Baby.And, from the Department of Dead Horses and Guys Kicked While Down, we bring you this…

A Year in Reading: Brian Evenson

Brian Evenson is the author of eight books of fiction, most recently The Open Curtain, which was a finalist for the Edgar Award and the International Horror Guild Award, and was named by Time Out New York as one of the best books of 2006. He is the recipient of both an O. Henry Award and an NEA award.I’ve decided I should exclude books I blurbed (like Peter Markus’ Bob, or Man on Boat or Michael Kimball’s Dear Everybody or Atilla Bartis’s brilliant but harrowing Tranquility), books by my colleagues (such as Forrest Gander’s As a Friend), books I reread (ranging from Beckett’s Molloy to Peter Straub’s Koko), and books that I loved but will have forgotten about until just moments after this is posted. Of books that came out this year I genuinely enjoyed Kelly Link’s Pretty Monsters. It contains a couple of stories published in her earlier collections (including one of my favorites, “The Specialist’s Hat”) as well as a number of previously uncollected stories. Link walks the boundary between literary and genre (including YA) fiction in way that draws on the strengths of both and always surprises. Check out “The Wizards of Perfil” and what she does with shifting narrative attention or the way she handles dialogue in general. And the storytelling is always good.In terms earlier books, I read Wyndham Lewis’s The Revenge for Love (1937) for the first time this year. It’s a beautifully written and sophisticated book, often very funny, quite uniformly vicious toward all groups and factions. It’s an utterly original and unjustly neglected novel, and Lewis’s style is unlike that of anyone else.And finally, the story that has stuck with me most this year is Yu Hua’s hard to find “One Kind of Reality” (I found it in Henry Zhao’s anthology The Lost Boat but it’s in at least one other anthology), which does things with violence, lack of affect and family relationships that I’ve never experienced before. It’s a truly terrifying story, and well worth reading for anyone interested in transgressive fiction.More from A Year in Reading 2008

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