The Tsar of Love and Techno (Book acquired, 9.29.2015)


Anthony Marra’s collection The Tsar of Love and Techno is new in hardback from Hogarth next week. Here is the first part of Hogarth’s blurb (it’s the longest damn blurb I’ve ever seen I think):

Brilliantly constructed and beautifully inhabited, Anthony Marra’s new book, THE TSAR OF LOVE AND TECHNO (Hogarth; on sale October 6, 2015), is an exquisite collection of nine interconnected stories set in Russia that move across a century and introduce us to a cast of unforgettable characters whose lives intersect in ways both life-affirming and heartbreaking. Marra is a writer driven by a deep and authentic curiosity, and it was that curiosity that led him to write about Chechnya and to return there in THE TSAR OF LOVE AND TECHNO. With the recent insurgent attacks in Grozny, the Islamic State’s announcement that Chechnya will be their next zone of expansion, and 2015 marking the twentieth anniversary of the first Chechen War, Marra’s book couldn’t be timelier.

Vertigo/The Weight of Things (Books acquired, 9.28.2015)

Two new books from The Dorothy Project: Joanna Walsh’s collection Vertigo and Austrian writer Marianne Fritz’s 1978 novel The Weight of Things (in English translation by Adrian Nathan West)


You can read Walsh’s story “Online” online at Electric Literature.


Dorothy’s blurb for Fritz’s novel:

The Weight of Things is the first book, and the first translated book, and possibly the only translatable book by Austrian writer Marianne Fritz (1948–2007). For after winning acclaim with this novel—awarded the Robert Walser Prize in 1978—she embarked on a 10,000-page literary project called “The Fortress,” creating over her lifetime elaborate colorful diagrams and typescripts so complicated that her publisher had to print them straight from her original documents. A project as brilliant as it is ambitious and as bizarre as it is brilliant, it earned her cult status, comparisons to James Joyce no less than Henry Darger, and admirers including Elfriede Jelinek and W. G. Sebald.

Yet in this, her first novel, we discover not an eccentric fluke of literary nature but rather a brilliant and masterful satirist, philosophically minded yet raging with anger and wit, who under the guise of a domestic horror story manages to expose the hypocrisy and deep abiding cruelties running parallel, over time, through the society and the individual minds of a century.

Two by Anne Carson (Books acquired, 9.14.2015)


Still recovering from Anne Carson’s Autobiography of Red. Haven’t felt so zapped by a book in a long time. Amazing. Try to write something about it on here soon. Million thanks again to BLCKDGRD for sending it my way.

What is an adjective? (Anne Carson)

What is an adjective? Nouns name the world. Verbs activate the names. Adjectives come from somewhere else. The word adjective (epitheton in Greek) is itself an adjective meaning “placed on top,” “added,” “appended,” “imported,” “foreign.” Adjectives seem fairly innocent additions but look again. These small imported mechanisms are in charge of attaching everything in the world to its place in particularity. They are latches of being.

This is the second paragraph of Anne Carson’s poem-novel-romance-history-etc. Autobiography of Red, a book I got in the mail yesterday from BLCKDGRD (which: thank you man!) and feel a totally electric feeling about. The passage above I mentally highlighted, for classroom purposes, I suppose, and otherwise, and the twists in dives and dips in this book-thing are, I don’t know, what hyperbole should I grab? 

The Big Red Book of Modern Chinese Literature (Book acquired, 8.07.2015)


So I finally cracked into Norton’s forthcoming anthology, The Big Red Book of Modern Chinese Literature today. Knowing almost nothing of Chinese literature, I read Can Xue’s story “Hut on the Mountain” first (A+ stuff) and then went back to the beginning to read Lu Xun’s “A Madman’s Diary,” which ends with this line:IMG_8271

—like who wouldn’t want to read a story that ends that way?

Anyway, the book looks really fascinating. Editor Yunte Huang has put together a compelling mix of genres covering the last century. More to come, but here’s Norton’s blurb for now:

A panoramic literary anthology that tells the inner story of China in the twentieth century.

A search for the soul of modern China, this revelatory volume brings together significant works, in outstanding translations, from nearly fifty Chinese writers. It includes poems, essays, fiction, songs, and speeches written in an astonishing array of moods and styles, from sublime lyricism to witty surrealism to poignant documentary to the ironic, the absurd, the transgressive, and the defiant.

Reflecting on his own experience coming of age in China as a student in the time of Tiananmen, Yunte Huang provides essential context in an opening essay and in headnotes, timelines, and brief introductions to the Republican, Revolutionary, and Post-Mao eras. Both personal and authoritative, his selections make for a joyously informative read. From belles lettres to literary propaganda, from poetic revolution to pulp fiction, The Big Red Book is an eye-opening, mesmerizing, and indispensable portrait of China in the tumultuous twentieth century.

Ishmael Reed (Book acquired, 8.20.2015)


I love love love the cover of this Ishmael Reed mass market paperback Bantam edition of The Free-Lance Pallbearers. image

Nabokov’s Strong Opinions (Book acquired, 7.30.2015–and an Iris Murdoch book I should’ve acquired)


I picked up a hardback copy of Strong Opinions a few weeks back. I was browsing Nabokov titles as I was coming to the end of Pale Fire. I’ve shared some excerpts from this collection of interviews (&c.) and will likely share more.

I only know the specific date because I tweeted a pic of an Irish Murdoch novel I should’ve picked up while I was there.

Obsession Falls (Book acquired, some time in August, 2015)


Christina Dodd’s novel Obsession Falls is new in hardback and ebook from Macmillan. Their blurb:

In Obsession Falls, New York Times bestselling author Christina Dodd returns to the town of Virtue Falls, Washington-an idyllic place on the surface, but one that holds close its secrets…

When Taylor Summers witnesses the death threat to a young boy, she does the only thing she can do-she sacrifices herself to distract the killers. Her reward is a life in ruins, on the run in the wilderness, barely surviving a bitter winter and the even more bitter knowledge she has lost everything: her career, her reputation, her identity. She finds refuge in Virtue Falls, and there comes face to face with the knowledge that, to live her life again, she must enlist the help of the man who does not trust her to defeat the man who would destroy her.

She’s being hunted, but it’s time to turn the tables….

Edward St. Aubyn’s A Clue to the Exit (Book acquired, 8.17.2015)


Edward St. Aubyn’s 2000 novel A Clue to the Exit is getting a U.S. paperback release from Picador. Their blurb—

Charlie Fairburn, successful screenwriter, ex-husband, and absent father, has been given six months to live. He resolves to stake half his fortune on a couple of turns of the roulette wheel and, to his agent’s disgust, to write a novel-about death. In the casino he meets his muse. Charlie grows as addicted to writing fiction as she is to gambling.

His novel is set on a train and involves a group of characters (familiar to readers of St. Aubyn’s earlier work) who are locked in a debate about the nature of consciousness. As this train gets stuck at Didcot, and Charlie gets more passionately entangled with the dangerous Angelique, A Clue to the Exitcomes to its startling climax. Exquisitely crafted, witty, and thoughtful, Edward St. Aubyn’s dazzling novel probes the very heart of being.

Quicksand (Book acquired, 8.10.2015 + bonus Bowie)


Steve Toltz’s Quicksand is new in the States from Simon & Schuster. Their blurb:

A daring, brilliant new novel from Man Booker Prize finalist Steve Toltz, for fans of Dave Eggers, Martin Amis, and David Foster Wallace: a fearlessly funny, outrageously inventive dark comedy about two lifelong friends.

Liam is a struggling writer and a failing cop. Aldo, his best friend and muse, is a haplessly criminal entrepreneur with an uncanny knack for disaster. As Aldo’s luck worsens, Liam is inspired to base his next book on his best friend’s exponential misfortunes and hopeless quest to win back his one great love: his ex-wife, Stella. What begins as an attempt to make sense of Aldo’s mishaps spirals into a profound story of faith and friendship.

With the same originality and buoyancy that catapulted his first novel, A Fraction of the Whole, onto prize lists around the world—including shortlists for the Man Booker Prize and the Guardian First Book Award—Steve Toltz has created a rousing, hysterically funny but unapologetically dark satire about fate, faith, friendship, and the artist’s obligation to his muse. Sharp, witty, kinetic, and utterly engrossing, Quicksand is a subversive portrait of twenty-first-century society in all its hypocrisy and absurdity.

Bonus “Quicksand”—

New American Stories, a collection edited by Ben Marcus (Book acquired, 8.04.2015)


New American Stories is an anthology out now in enormous paperback from Vintage. The collection was collected by collector Ben Marcus. An excerpt from his introduction:

Language is a drug, but a short story cannot be smoked. You can’t inject it. Stories don’t come bottled as a cream. You cannot have a story massaged into you by a bearish old man. You have to stare down a story until it wobbles, yields, then catapults into your face. And yet, as squirrely as they are to capture, stories are the ideal deranger. If they are well made, and you submit to them, they go in clean. Stories deliver their chemical disruption without the ashy hangover, the blacking out, the poison. They trigger pleasure, fear, fascination, love, confusion, desire, repulsion. Drugs get flushed from our systems, but not the best stories. Once they take hold, you couldn’t scrape them out with a knife. While working on this book, I started to think of a it as a medicine chest, filled with beguiling, volatile material, designed by the most gifted technicians. The potent story writers, to me, are the ones who deploy language as a kind of contraband, pumping it into us until we collapse on the floor, writhing, overwhelmed with feeling.

You actually can smoke a short story, but to do so is inadvisable.

I’ll be riffing on the book over the next few weeks with our Correspondent in Colorado, Mr. Ryan Chang.

Here’s the tracklist:

Said Sayrafiezadeh, Paranoia

Rebecca Lee,  Slatland

Jesse Ball, The Early Deaths of Lubeck, Brennan, Harp, and Carr

Deborah Eisenberg, Some Other, Better Otto

Anthony Doerr, The Deep

Yiyun Li, A Man Like Him

George Saunders, Home

NoViolet Bulawayo, Shhh

Maureen McHugh, Special Economics

Sam Lipsyte, This Appointment Occurs in the Past

Lydia Davis, Men

Donald Antrim, Another Manhattan

Zadie Smith*, Meet the President!

Denis Johnson, The Largesse of the Sea Maiden

Joy Williams, The Country

Christine Schutt, A Happy Rural Seat of Various View Lucinda’s Garden

Don DeLillo, Hammer and Sickle

Mathias Svalina, Play

Lucy Corin, Madmen

Mary Gaitskill, The Arms and Legs of the Lake

Wells Tower, Raw Water

Rachel Glaser, Pee on Water

Tao Lin, Love is a Thing on Sale for More Money than There Exists

Rebecca Curtis, The Toast

Robert Coover, Going for a Beer

Charles Yu, Standard Loneliness Package

Deb Olin Unferth, Wait Till You See Me Dance

Kyle Coma-Thompson, The Lucky Body

Rivka Galchen, The Lost Order

Donald Ray Pollack, Fish Sticks

Kelly Link, Valley of the Girls

Claire Vaye Watkins, The Diggings

*Isn’t she English? I guess it’s the stories that are American.