Literary translation is a forcefully delusional act. The assumption upon which it rests—that one language can be even approximately mapped onto another—belies the profound complexity and mysticism of all human communication. Works of translation are praised (or critiqued) on the extent to which they preserve the spirit of the original. What a silly metric: language itself is the spirit. A finished translation is never a puzzle solved, but an adaptation imagined—a work of creativity that births a new spirit all its own.
Two years ago, the Midwestern book tour I was on with duncan b. barlow concluded on a rainy Chicago night with a reading at Volumes Bookcafe headlined by Maryse Meijer. Hearing Meijer read from her debut collection, Heartbreaker, left me floored; since then, I’ve eagerly read her subsequent books, the novella Northwood and the new collection Rag. Meijer’s fiction is haunting in a host of ways, some of them literal: she brings the reader to the border of the uncanny and primal, while also tapping into something deeply modern and urgent. I spoke with her following the release of her latest book about her short fiction, the role of horror in her work, and titles, among other topics.
It’s December, and the year has begun to reach its end. There’s a chill in the air; the streets of the city have grown more quiet, and jackets and scarves can be seen marching down the sidewalks. The year still has some notable books due to be released, however: everything from late works by acclaimed authors to stylistically bold experimental works by new and vital voices. Here’s a look at some of the books due out this month that have […]
A little less than two years ago, I went to the Center for Fiction to see Anne Carson read. The piece she read there was called The Albertine Workout, and it found Carson applying her considerable skill in literary scholarship to the works of Marcel Proust–specifically, the character Albertine in À la recherche du temps perdu. The piece consisted of a series of paragraphs, some very short, some not so much, along with a series of appendices. Besides its inquiry […]