Blame Derrida

I can’t seem to stop thinking about the disappointing turn Zadie Smith’s otherwise beautiful reflection on climate change for the New York Review of Books takes at the end. Early in the piece, Smith talks about how comfortably her contemporaries have settled into discussions of the “new normal”—avoiding, like the bereaved, allusions to what once was. She takes up arms against … More Blame Derrida

a bouquet of dark matter

Many thanks to Scott Esposito of The Quarterly Conversation, who brought Daniel Bosch’s recent essay on William Kentridge to my attention. Those of you who read Sergio Chejfec’s My Two Worlds will remember Kentridge’s appearance toward the end of the book, and how his explicitly rendered lines of sight echo the narrator’s particular way of … More a bouquet of dark matter

the dramatic experience

Sergio Chejfec’s had a busy year. In the States, he’s been traveling from coast to coast for My Two Worlds (trans. M. Carson), which was nominated for a Best Translated Book Award back in February, and teaching with NYU’s Creative Writing in Spanish MFA program. And then there’s the latest novel, La experiencia dramática, which … More the dramatic experience

oh, Jonathan.

So, Jonathan Franzen held a press conference today. Though he might have been well served to hold off just a bit longer – at least until he shored up a few flaws in his logic. Speaking at the Hay, a British festival of the arts, he expressed some unsurprisingly conservative views about the long-term cultural … More oh, Jonathan.

where credit is due.

Chilean “antipoet” (and physicist, and mathematician) Nicanor Parra was awarded the Premio Cervantes yesterday. One of the most prestigious in the Spanish language, the prize recognizes an author’s lifelong contribution to letters; there can be little question that, in the course of his 97 years, Parra has had a profound effect on the way poetry … More where credit is due.

In the News: Kakutani on Patricia Engel

I may be way behind on writing reviews, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been reading a few. Michiko Kakutani of The New York Times just published a very positive piece on Vida, the freshman collection of Patricia Engel. In Kakutani’s words, The stories in Patricia Engel’s striking debut collection are like snapshots from someone’s … More In the News: Kakutani on Patricia Engel