“Stoner tried to explain to his father what he intended to do, tried to evoke in him his own sense of significance and purpose. He listened to his words fall as if from the mouth of another, and watched his father’s face, which received those words as a stone receives the repeated blows of a fist.”—Stoner, John Williams
“With the close of the post-Bolaño decade, it seems that the tide of the author’s original works is finally ebbing. New Direction’s latest release, much to my delight and that of other genre boundary-watchers, is The Secret of Evil, a thin collection of fictions that occasionally read as essays. Or is it the other way around?”—Bolaño’s Last, Great Secret by R. B. Moreno
“[Pauls] Toutonghi wrote both books in the first person. And yet, he considers this less than a complete success: ‘I was reading Dickens,’ he wrote in a recent essay for Salon, ‘who kept himself away from the page…and I can’t help wondering if anything is lost in the frank disclosures of our modern, first-person, memoir-driven fiction.’
This is perhaps the greatest hang-up of the modern novelist — that fiction is somehow unsophisticated or inherently cliché if it is rooted in the writer’s own life, and that writers should be creative enough to invent entirely new worlds and find drama only in the unfamiliar.”—In Defense of Autobiography by Jennifer Miller
“Considered by many to be Portugal’s greatest living writer, António Lobo Antunes’ relative obscurity in the English-speaking world is something of an enigma. The author of 23 novels, and still, at the age of 69, turning them out with unerring industriousness, Lobo Antunes is quite a big deal in Portuguese-, Spanish- and French-speaking countries. He has his illustrious champions too: George Steiner calls him “a novelist of the very first rank…an heir to Conrad and Faulkner;” no less a canon-builder than Harold Bloom says Lobo Antunes is “one of the living writers who will matter most;” according to J.M. Coetzee, his shorter works, published in English as The Fat Man and Infinity, “are alive with the poetry of the everyday, and tinged with the gentlest of self-mockery.”——Oliver Farry, “Lost in Translation: The Curious Obscurity of António Lobo Antunes”
“A rabbi whose name escapes me once said all Western literature was commentary on the Torah. I’ll buy that exaggeration, bearing in mind that exaggeration is both the breath of Jewish prayer and the bone and sinew of the novel when it remembers what it’s for. […] No Torah, no Kafka, no novel.”—Howard Jacobson, one of seventeen responses in the article “Is There Such a Thing as Jewish Fiction?”
“Jason Rice: If you could travel one year in time, in either direction, which would it be, and why?
Emily St. John Mandel: In all honesty, I’d prefer not to travel a year in either direction. But if I HAD to go one way or the other, I’d go backward. I was just looking at my calendar, and at this time last year I went to see a play I really liked (Tony Kushner’s Perestroika) with my husband and two of my dearest friends. It was a nice evening and I wouldn’t mind seeing that play again.”—Jason Riceinterviewed our own Emily St. John Mandel yesterday. They talk about her new book, The Lola Quartet, which celebrates its One Day Old birthday today.
“We needed such a story. The romance, the sense of “close call.” We need these stories to counter the inevitability of obscurity; we need stories that kindle our sense of hope, and possibility. In truth, I wouldn’t blame fans or journalists for altering or exaggerating the story. I understand why we need it to be as dramatic as possible.”—Post-40 Bloomer: Spencer Reece, The Poet’s Tale by Sonya Chung