Tag Archives: Lydia Davis

John Freeman’s New Lit Mag Packs in High-Profile Writers

7 Oct

Freeman

John Freeman has a new literary magazine. The eponymous Freeman’s already it has the literary world buzzing. In the internet age where everyone and their long-lost brother publishes a lit mag, it’s rare that a new publication garners this much attention.

But this is John Freeman we’re talking about. While on the board of the National Book Critics Circle, the author and literary critic had been at the front and center of drawing attention to the diminished coverage of books in print media. As editor of Granta, he edited everyone from Chimamanda Adichie, Peter Carey, Colum McCann, Mary Gaitskill, Herta Muller, Richard Russo, and Salman Rushdie to Joshua Ferris.

Back then, I blogged about a panel on magazines that he moderated at McNally Jackson.

For a little background on Freeman’s departure from Granta and what he’d been up to before launching his own literary magazine, check out this Vogue article.

Freeman’s boasts no shortage of literary talent. The premiere issue, out this month, includes Lydia Davis, Dave Eggers, Louise Erdich, Haruki Murakami, and many other literary superstars. Here’s how it’s described on the Barnes & Noble website:

We live today in constant motion, traveling distances rapidly, small ones daily, arriving in new states. In this inaugural edition of Freeman’s, a new biannual of unpublished writing, former Granta editor and NBCC president John Freeman brings together the best new fiction, nonfiction, and poetry about that electrifying moment when we arrive.

Strange encounters abound. David Mitchell meets a ghost in Hiroshima Prefecture; Lydia Davis recounts her travels in the exotic territory of the Norwegian language; and in a Dave Eggers story, an elderly gentleman cannot remember why he brought a fork to a wedding. End points often turn out to be new beginnings. Louise Erdrich visits a Native American cemetery that celebrates the next journey, and in a Haruki Murakami story, an aging actor arrives back in his true self after performing a role, discovering he has changed, becoming a new person.

Featuring startling new fiction by Laura van den Berg, Helen Simpson, and Tahmima Anam, as well as stirring essays by Aleksandar Hemon, Barry Lopez, and Garnette Cadogan, who relearned how to walk while being black upon arriving in NYC, Freeman’s announces the arrival of an essential map to the best new writing in the world.

Sounds like a collector’s edition to me!

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“One’s Life Were Like a Museum”

10 Mar

proust

“[O]ne’s life were like a museum in which all the portraits from one period have a family look about them, a single tonality….”

~Swann’s Way by Marcel Proust, translated by Lydia Davis

Also Proust-related:

Is Jack Kerouac a Modern Heir of James Joyce?

12 Feb

ulysses

 

In The New York Times’ Sunday Book Review, Rivka Galchen and Pankaj Mishra took up the question: “Who Are James Joyce’s Modern Heirs?

The names Lydia Davis, Nadine Gordimer, Kenzaburo Oe, and José Saramago are mentioned between these two award-winning authors, but more than specific names Galchen and Mishra delineate ideas of what Joycean literature is.

Galchen writes:

The text — and it feels more like a “text” than a book — radiates in a way we associate more with parable than with mortal prose, even as any sense of grandness also feels undermined and played with and brought down to size. “Ulysses” thus manages the strange magic of being a mock epic of epic proportions. It reveals a world holy and human.

She goes on to write thoughtfully about language, epics, radiance, and rumor.

Mishra, in turn, writes:

Few declarations of aesthetic autonomy have resonated more in the last century than Stephen Dedalus’s in “A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man”: “You talk to me of nationality, language, religion,” Stephen tells an Irish nationalist, “I shall try to fly by those nets.” The novel concludes with Stephen’s decision to make a writing career for himself in Europe: “Welcome, O life! I go to encounter for the millionth time the reality of experience and to forge in the smithy of my soul the uncreated conscience of my race.”

He argues that Joyce’s modern heirs are political writers.

As you’ve probably already guessed, I’d submit Jack Kerouac as a potential heir to James Joyce. Let me lay out a brief argument in support of this thesis:

  • Galchen suggests Joyce’s work “radiates in a way we associate more with parable than with mortal prose,” and in some ways this is what Kerouac’s work does. Readers have often criticized On the Road’s rambling prose, replete with multiple road trips, but I’d argue that the work is actually more effective because it is not a simple from-point-A-to-point-B story. Readers do best in thinking of it not just in terms of story but parable.
  • She says Joyce’s work has the “strange magic of being a mock epic of epic proportions.” Kerouac’s narrator Sal Paradise is like Odysseus/Ulysses, a flawed man on a journey. In self-mythologizing himself over the course of several novels, Kerouac created the epic Duluoz Legend.
  • Mishra quotes Joyce’s Stephen Dedalus in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man as saying “Welcome, O life!” as he desires to encounter “the reality of experience.” Kerouac echoes this in going out on the road for seven years, seizing life and writing about it.
  • Kerouac is an heir to Joyce’s language, as I pointed out in this post.
  • And his most famous passage closely resembles one of Joyce’s passages in Ulysses.
  • He suggests that Dedalus’ decision to exile himself as an artist in Europe is political. In contrast, critics at the time of On the Road’s publication noted that unlike the Lost Generation, the Beat Generation stayed in America. Kerouac was known to have deep respect for the American flag and his journeys across America show his love for the country. Whether one wants to argue if this is “political” or not, he does represent himself as an artist in America.

What do you think? Is Jack Kerouac James Joyce’s heir?

Spring Break ’11 Recap: I Got Sick

7 Apr

It’s been go, go, go for the past few months.  When spring break came around, I was so excited for the opportunity relax and have some fun.  I imagined I’d read in the Egyptian room at the Met.  I’d buy fresh veggies at the Union Square greenmarket.  I’d invite friends over for dinner.

Instead, I got sick.  I guess my body knew it could finally take a rest from the manic pace I normally put it through.

Before I got sick, though, I did have some fun.

I went with my sister and my friends Rachel and Fred to the FXB Speed-Networking for a Good Cause event at Sidebar, where I met some really cool people.  FXB, which has been around for twenty years, works to support children affected by poverty and AIDS.  They organize a lot of fun fundraising events for young professionals.

Afterward we met up with our photographer friend Annie and Carly, who was visiting from out of town.  We went to an amazing Japanese restaurant.  I seriously could not get enough of the green beans and corn.

The next day I spring cleaned my apartment. Woot!  Then my friend came over and we ate pizza and chocolate and watched Paper Heart and The Virgin Suicides (which is of course based on the book by Greek-American author Jeffrey Eugenides).

That kick-off weekend I also hopped on the bus and headed over to New Jersey, to have lunch with a friend.  I hadn’t seen her for a few months so we had one of those really good, drawn-out lunches and talked about everything.  So therapeutic.

Monday I met up with a friend and fellow Scripps alumna who works at MoMA.  We had lunch and then she gave me a tour of the Pictures by Women: A History of Modern Photography exhibit.  I learned so much more from what she told me than if I had been there by myself.  It was such an inspiring and monumental exhibit.

Then I went to the New York Society for Ethical Culture to hear what all the hoopla was about over Rob Bell and his new book.

By Tuesday I was sick and spent the rest of the time watching films like The Runaways on Netflix and reading Lydia DavisThe End of the Story.