A Personal Canon

A number of book bloggers are posting their personal canons. They are very fun: see here, here, and here, for instance. (It reminds me of the "literary pillars" exercise inspired by William H. Gass; see Samuel R. Delany's here and Brian A. Oard's beautifully comprehensive one, starting here.) I thought to do the same, but the… Continue reading A Personal Canon

J. M. Coetzee, The Schooldays of Jesus

The Schooldays of Jesus by J.M. Coetzee My rating: 4 of 5 stars This sequel to Coetzee's The Childhood of Jesus (2013) provides further adventures of Davíd, Simón, and Inés in an ambiguous dream-like setting. The first novel tells of characters who arrive from over the sea to a mysterious socialist society called Novilla; Simón,… Continue reading J. M. Coetzee, The Schooldays of Jesus

In Defense of Pevear and Volokhonsky

Janet Malcolm contributes the latest polemic against Richard Pevear and Linda Volokhonsky (hereafter P&V), the famed husband-and-wife translators of the Russian classics, whose preeminence in their field is now being challenged by a number of critics. I have read the previous arguments with interest (for instance, by Gary Saul Morson and Helen Andrews), but they… Continue reading In Defense of Pevear and Volokhonsky

David Attwell, J. M. Coetzee and the Life of Writing: Face-to-Face with Time

J. M. Coetzee and the Life of Writing: Face-to-Face with Time by David Attwell My rating: 4 of 5 stars David Attwell’s book is billed as a “literary biography,” presumably so as not to scare off the common reader, for whom it seems to be intended. But it is more like a critical study of… Continue reading David Attwell, J. M. Coetzee and the Life of Writing: Face-to-Face with Time

Notes on Notes on Notes: Reading Coetzee’s Diary (Vicariously)

I was never much for archival work. I am as vain and arrogant as any unproven writer who occasionally imagines his future book blurbs, as in that chastening passage from Joyce's "A Little Cloud": He began to invent sentences and phrases from the notice which his book would get. 'Mr Chandler has the gift of… Continue reading Notes on Notes on Notes: Reading Coetzee’s Diary (Vicariously)

Goodreads Reviews September/October

My Goodreads reviews for the last month or so, novels and poetry and comics. Daniel Clowes, Ghost World Les Murray, Dog Fox Field Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely, All-Star Superman J. M. Coetzee, The Master of Petersburg Walt Whitman, Song of Myself Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons, Watchmen Charles Brocken Brown, Wieland and Memoirs of… Continue reading Goodreads Reviews September/October

J. M. Coetzee, The Master of Petersburg

The Master of Petersburg by J.M. Coetzee My rating: 5 of 5 stars Coetzee's Dostoevsky novel. I wonder, in a sense, why Coetzee attempted it: he well knows Dostoevsky is larger than he is. There is a quality in Dostoevsky that is beyond Coetzee: call it "high spirits." Coetzee is Ivan, to the letter, but… Continue reading J. M. Coetzee, The Master of Petersburg

“Don’t get rid of art; get rid of social relations.”

Later, as the 1980s came to a close, publishing began to change, and there were obstacles. She began to complain to me that publishers seemed to want her to be an unpaid member of their marketing department, when it was her job to write. Publishing houses started to become parts of conglomerates, imprints were bought… Continue reading “Don’t get rid of art; get rid of social relations.”

Penitential Realism?

It's been almost fourteen years since James Wood warned us about "hysterical realism," presumably the major novelistic mode of the late twentieth century.  According to Wood, it is a mode devoted to information, coincidence, captial-P Politics, various forms of irrealism (caricature, fantasy, metafiction), and a breathlessness of tone: Rushdie, DeLillo, Pynchon, Wallace, etc. We're well… Continue reading Penitential Realism?

J. M. Coetzee, The Childhood of Jesus

The Childhood of Jesus by J.M. Coetzee My rating: 5 of 5 stars The following is an interpretation of J. M. Coetzee’s 2013 novel, The Childhood of Jesus. It has two minor prologues, explaining its methods and providing epigraphs, on my Tumblr: see here and here. For another analysis that brilliantly considers what I neglect—the… Continue reading J. M. Coetzee, The Childhood of Jesus