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One of the Guardian Unlimited Books' top 10 literary blogs: "A home-grown treasure ... smart, serious analysis"

The Bookaholics' Guide to Book Blogs: "Mark Thwaite ... has a maverick, independent mind"

Blog entries on '05 November 2005'

Saturday 05 November 2005

Shockingly smug and inept

Steve's blog reminds me that I meant to link to Lenin's Tomb, Interbreeding and Medialens on (Steve's words) "Emma Brockes' shockingly smug and inept" interview with Noam Chomsky. An appalling piece of journalism. Thank god for the blogosphere.

Posted by Mark Thwaite

Saturday 05 November 2005

Melville

Andrew Delbanco's Melville: His World and Work gets a very positive shout from Jay Parini in the Guardian today. Hopefully, if Picador are kind enough to send one on, I'll be reviewing it here soon enough. In the meantime, I've just taken posession of Loren Goldner's abundantly titled Herman Melville: Between Charlemagne and the Antemosaic Cosmic Man: Race, Class and the Crisis of Bourgeois Ideology in an American Renaissance Writer which, if his website Break Their Haughty Power is anything to go by, will be a quite different take on Melville and his work.

Posted by Mark Thwaite

Saturday 05 November 2005

c86

In 1986, I woke up to music. Mostly, this was due to the NME's infamous, ground-breaking, epoch-making, utterly fab c86 cassette. If you don't know what on earth I'm talking about this excellent, and much linked-to, article Twee as Fuck will fill you in.

Posted by Mark Thwaite

Saturday 05 November 2005

Blogospherical stuff

Some bits and bobs from the blogosphere:

  • Languor Management lets us know about a new Ivan Bunin translation
  • The Literary Saloon tells us that Michel Houellebecq did not win the prix Goncourt (which went to François Weyergans for Trois jours chez ma mère) or the prix Renaudot (which went to Nina Bouraoui for Mes mauvaises pensées)
  • Much more interesting is news that Blind Rider, the latest Juan Goytisolo novel to be translated into English, is out from Serpent's Tail
  • Yom Sang-seop's Three Generations (Archipelago Books) gets reviewed over at Moorish Girl
  • Lars on, amongst other things, The Fall's Mark E Smith and the ubiquitous M.Houellebecq - A Block of Extraordinary Despair
  • Ellis on William Blake

Posted by Mark Thwaite

Saturday 05 November 2005

Joseph Sherman

Please take some time out of your day to read my interview with Joseph Sherman, the Woolf Corob Fellow in Yiddish Studies at the Faculty of Oriental Studies at the University of Oxford, and a world expert on the important Yiddish writer Dovid Bergelson. (And don't miss Joseph's Note on Bergelson's Obsolescence and Bergelson's story itself Obsolescence).

Posted by Mark Thwaite

Saturday 05 November 2005

Christmas pressies

Quite obvious, really, what you should all be buying each other for Christmas this year: Lars's follow-up to his excellent Blanchot's Communism: Art, Philosophy and the Political is out just in time for the annual, winter booze-up Blanchot's Vigilance: Literature, Phenomenology and the Ethical:

Of the many questions provoked by Blanchot's thought and writing, that of understanding its ethical and political significance is perhaps the most pressing. Spanning his literary critical and philosophical writings, and addressing such major concepts as the image and the neuter, Blanchot's Vigilance presents a sustained analysis of Blanchot's response to Levinas's ethical thought, the political commitments of the Surrealists, Heidegger's readings of the ancient Greeks, and the claims of psychoanalysis. In a series of thorough and lucid readings, Iyer presents Blanchot's central concern as maintaining a kind of vigilance over a difference which opens in the articulation of sense.

Posted by Mark Thwaite

Saturday 05 November 2005

Another Kafka biography

Very kindly, my lovely postie has just dropped off a package containing the English-language translation of Reiner Stach's critically acclaimed Kafka biography Kafka: The Decisive Years (Harcourt):


This is the first of a three-volume, definitive biography of Franz Kafka. Eighty years after his death in 1924, Kafka remains one of the most intriguing figures in the history of world literature. Now, after more than a decade of research, working with over four thousand pages of journal entries, letters, and literary fragments, Reiner Stach re-creates the atmosphere in which Kafka lived and worked from 1910 to 1915. These are the years of Kafka's fascination with early forms of Zionism despite his longing to be assimilated into the minority German culture in Prague; of his off-again, on-again engagement to Felice Bauer; of the outbreak of World War I; and above all of the composition of his seminal works - The Metamorphosis, Amerika, The Judgment, and The Trial.


This is all very timely, as my dear friend Christian is just back from Prague and has, he tells me, bought me a Kafka T-shirt!


Also worth reading, of course, is my interview with another Kafka biographer Nicholas Murray.

Posted by Mark Thwaite

Saturday 05 November 2005

Bitten by the Tarantula

Lee glowingly reviews Julian Maclaren-Ross's Bitten by the Tarantula:


All hail the poet of old Soho. It seems Julian Maclaren-Ross has finally arrived - and it surprises me that it’s taken quite this long. This arrival is long overdue. Gone are the heady, bohemian days of London’s vibrant Soho in which he was permanent fixture, all that remains is his voice, a lone voice that reports to us, in minute detail, that era. This is his enduring strength, and it is quite a task this ability to pass on to us the varying argots he captured, the idioms, the patois, the relentless pitter-patter of conversations in backrooms of smoky pubs and clubs. It’s not that surprising, then, his voice rings true amongst today’s media savvy, slip-stream cynicism. Today’s clipped idiolect would sit quite pretty alongside the multitudinous characters that frequented his fictions. Julian Maclaren-Ross’s voice rings true.


(See all of Lee's review of Bitten by the Tarantula.)

Posted by Mark Thwaite

Saturday 05 November 2005

Slammed

Apologies for the lack of posting this week, I've been slammed. When I have had a moment I've been hugely enjoying Nathalie Sarraute's The Planetarium (Dalkey). If Alain Robbe-Grillet is the father of the nouveau roman, then Sarraute is certainly its mother, as is ably demonstrated in her fine book of essays The Age of Suspicion, which I'd recommend to anyone wanting to know more about Sarraute's thinking on the novel.

Posted by Mark Thwaite

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Serendipoetry

Augustus

As you sow, so shall you reap. The bags packed,
Umbers and gold swollen between the purse-strings,
Getaway cars nose on a hot scent.
Under striped canvas the patrons gather,
Staring at blue, incorrigible seas.
The stubble burns a hole in summer's pocket;
Upon the baked crust of their world, the mice
Scatter their ashes to the harvest moon.

-- Peter Scupham
(Carcanet Press)

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Word of the Day

The Dord, the Diglot, and an Avocado or two

Pre-order Anu Garg's new book: The Dord, the Diglot, and an Avocado or Two: The Hidden Lives and Strange Origins of Common and Not-So-Common Words (ISBN 9780452288614), published by Penguin more …

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October's Books of the Month

The New Spirit of Capitalism The New Spirit of Capitalism
Luc Boltanski; Eve Chiapello
Horizons Touched: The Music of ECM Horizons Touched: The Music of ECM
Steve Lake, Paul Griffiths

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