quips and clips

Danilo Kis ~ The Encyclopedia of the Dead

just finished reading, in the midst of my Danilo Kis binge, his collection of short stories, The Encyclopedia of the Dead, all of which celebrate the power and life of the word, each of which is suffused with the variegated transmutation from fiction to history and back again. a profoundly poetic and essential writer.

Danilo Kis ~ The Lute and the Scars

just finished reading, as part of my Danilo Kis binge, the last available set of short stories (written in the 80’s, prior to his death of lung cancer in Paris in 1989; we still are iceberg-tip as far as untranslated material goes), THE LUTE AND THE SCARS, all of which are coloured by the two…

Danilo Kis ~ Garden, Ashes

just finished reading, in the midst of an unplanned Danilo Kis binge, his novel, GARDEN, ASHES; narrated by the child of a Hungarian Jew father taken to the death camps, like Kis’ own father, this is a Holocaust novel that communicates the tragic enormity through the minutiae, the miniscule, the intimate cusp of memory and…

Danilo Kis ~ The Attic

just finished reading Serbian author Danilo Kis’s first novel, The Attic, an artist-as-young-Bohemian novel wherein we read and witness the writing of this surreal and poetic story, replete with Kis’s habitual cribbing (this time from Mann’s The Magic Mountain), obsessive lists, miniaturist and hallucinatory prose, antic humour and philosophy. it is easy to see the…

Nikolai Groszni ~ Turtle Feet

just finished reading Nikolai Grozni‘s memoir of his four years as a Buddhist monk, TURTLE FEET, as much a memoir as it is a philosophical novel in the grand tradition of Milan Kundera, but here with far better comic timing, and more hard-won truths. a beautiful book, and one which must be read, along with…

Danilo Kis ~ A Tomb for Boris Davidovich

just finished reading the shortest of the great 20th Century novels: A TOMB FOR BORIS DAVIDOVICH by the Yugoslav, Danilo Kis. William T. Vollmann’s essay of this novel as perhaps the single most formative and inspiring to his own work appeared in the volume i recently read, EXPELLED FROM EDEN: A WILLIAM T. VOLLMANN READER,…

DBC Pierre ~ Ludmila’s Broken English

just finished reading DBC Pierre’s romantic farce, LUDMILA’S BROKEN ENGLISH. worthy of DaPonte, a romp swirling together the lives of sundered British Siamese twins and the title-character’s family in a desolate hamlet in the Caucasus in war-torn present-day Russia, via an internet bride service. really funny, and a lot less at stake here than in…

Lucius Shepard ~ Viator

the only pleasure capable of outstripping reading Lucius Shepard is re-reading Lucius Shepard. beyond that, there is only this singular gift of re-reading a masterwork of Lucius’ in a form spectacularly reworked by him. VIATOR, a novel centered on a freighter violently beached on a beach near a destitute port near Nome, AL, and its…

Nikolai Groszni ~ Wunderkind

just finished reading Nikolai Grozni’s WUNDERKIND, a novel based on the author’s life experience as a gifted young pianist in a Bulgarian School for the Gifted in Sofia during the last days of the Iron Curtain. it’s a very dark but sometimes darkly comic novel, with, not incidentally, some of the smartest and most beautiful…

Expelled From Eden: A William T. Vollmann Reader (ed. Larry McCaffery and Michael Hemmingson)

just finished reading the devotedly curated collection, EXPELLED FROM EDEN, A WILLIAM T. VOLLMANN READER, edited by Larry McCaffery and Michael Hemmingson. i’ve read all of Vollmann’s work (admittedly, only the 800-page condensed version of the 7-volume ‘life’s work’ of Vollmann (though i do own the complete), his history and calculus of violence, RISING UP…

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