Books I’ll (probably) never finish (yet return to again and again)

A week or so ago, I wrote about the books (specifically novels) that I can’t seem to finish despite beginning them five, six, seven plus times. In that post, I noted that there “are certain books I’ll probably never ‘finish,’ that I have no aim of finishing,” and hence didn’t include in my silly little… Continue reading Books I’ll (probably) never finish (yet return to again and again)

Dissolving boundaries | Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan Novels

A few weeks ago I finished The Story of the Lost Child, the last of Elena Ferrante’s so-called Neapolitan Novels, and now perhaps have enough distance to comment on them briefly. The novels have been much-hyped, which initially put me off (nearly as much as their awful kitschy covers), but the same friend who urged me to… Continue reading Dissolving boundaries | Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan Novels

A scattered riff on Thomas Pynchon’s novel Gravity’s Rainbow

I’m safe here at my office, away from Thomas Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow. I almost certainly would not dare to write about it were it proximal. If the book were here with me, its text would infect me, and I’d replicate it in chunks here for you, dear reader, to sort out (or not sort out)… Continue reading A scattered riff on Thomas Pynchon’s novel Gravity’s Rainbow

“Nothing but Trouble” | Gordon Lish’s New Collection Goings Plays with the Problems of Language

Ostensibly a collection of fictional short stories, Gordon Lish’s Goings reads more like a memoir-in-fragments. All thirteen stories are told by a first-person narrator named Gordon, who parenthetically appends an exclamatory repetition of his name (“I, Gordon (Gordon!)”) throughout the work, a verbal tic that registers the tension between the author and narrator, memory and truth. All these… Continue reading “Nothing but Trouble” | Gordon Lish’s New Collection Goings Plays with the Problems of Language

Gordon Lish: “Don’t Believe Me”

From “A Conversation with Gordon Lish,” an outstanding interview between the writer/editor and Rob Trucks. The interview is really amazing—Lish talks at length about his writing process, his sense of competition, his friendships with Don DeLillo and Cynthia Ozick, his interest in Julia Kristeva, his feelings for Harold Brodkey and Barry Hannah—and Blood Meridian. Lots and… Continue reading Gordon Lish: “Don’t Believe Me”

Halloween Links

I suggest Count Dracula plays an uncredited cameo in Roberto Bolaño’s novel 2666 Seven horror stories masquerading in other genres Death (and life) masks. You can’t do better than From Hell (Alan Moore & Eddie Campbell) Seven more horror stories masquerading in other genres Roberto Bolaño’s powers of horror (I read 2666 through a Kristevan lens) Jonathan Littell’s The Kindly Ones:… Continue reading Halloween Links

Roberto Bolaño’s Powers of Horror

In Powers of Horror philosopher Julia Kristeva describes the idea with which she’s most closely identified, the abject, the intense horror our subjective psychology—and our bodies—experience when faced with corporeal reality: the edges of our body: filth, vomit, shit, blood, death: the me that is not me. Breakdown of subject and object: abject. Julia Kristeva shows up… Continue reading Roberto Bolaño’s Powers of Horror

Read “Labyrinth,” an Excerpt from Roberto Bolaño’s Forthcoming Work, The Secret of Evil

The New Yorker has published an excerpt from The Secret of Evil, the latest posthumous offering from Roberto Bolaño (new this spring from New Directions). The excerpt begins by extrapolating on a photo of some of the Tel Quel folks, (including a striking Julia Kristeva): They’re seated. They’re looking at the camera. They are captioned, from left to… Continue reading Read “Labyrinth,” an Excerpt from Roberto Bolaño’s Forthcoming Work, The Secret of Evil

Humiliation — Wayne Koestenbaum

Wayne Koestenbaum’s Humiliation explores the ways that having a body (among other bodies, among a social body) might leave us humiliated or otherwise abject. To perform this exploration, Koestenbaum surveys a discursive range of subjects, including the humiliation of public figures, the sordid “private” lives of celebrities, the work of philosophers and cultural theorists, and the… Continue reading Humiliation — Wayne Koestenbaum

I Have Writer’s Block (but I’ll Share a Vomit Story Anyway)

I have the writer’s block somethin’ terrible. Everything was going so well, too—I seemed able to blather and drivel at will for a few weeks, dribbling out my noisome little posts on books or films or TV shows or what have you. But now, nothing, which is terrible, because I have been reading up a… Continue reading I Have Writer’s Block (but I’ll Share a Vomit Story Anyway)

Shy Coworker, Dirty Movies

Started Wayne Koestenbaum’s Humiliation (forthcoming from Picador) last night, and it’s excellent—one of the best cultural commentaries I’ve read in years. Abjection, King Lear, Julia Kristeva, Michael Jackson, Liza Minelli, A Star Is Born, fear of writing—great stuff. Full review soon.

David Foster Wallace, Slavoj Žižek, and Scatological Ideology

I came across this clip of Slavoj Žižek discussing the different types of toilets that one finds across Europe the other day, and his riff immediately reminded me of David Foster Wallace’s novella The Suffering Channel (or “The Suffering Channel,” if you prefer to think of it as a long short story). Here’s a version… Continue reading David Foster Wallace, Slavoj Žižek, and Scatological Ideology

Noam Chomsky, Intellectual Elitism, Po-Mo Gibberish, More Attacks on Deconstruction, and Bad Writing Revisited

While doing some background research for an upcoming Graduate Symposium I’ll be participating in later this month (more on that in the future), I somehow stumbled upon this post from Noam Chomsky in which the famous linguist/activist attacks post-modernism and its heroes. In this email/posting Chomsky criticizes what he views as “a huge explosion of… Continue reading Noam Chomsky, Intellectual Elitism, Po-Mo Gibberish, More Attacks on Deconstruction, and Bad Writing Revisited