On the work of others

On: D H LawrenceSinclair LewisMolly Bond | Kathy Fish | Tania Hershman | Tina Hyland |Henning Koch | Cornelius Medvei | Nora Nadjarian | Carol Novack [max|min] | Beate Sigriddaughter


On Sinclair Lewis’ Elmer Gantry — excerpt:

«It’s delight­ful to be filled to the brim by a book once again. It makes me feel young again, per­haps because it brings me back to days when I really just lived for and through books. Those days may be gone, but it is com­fort­ing to know that despite all that “stuff” between me and the land of fic­tion, includ­ing my own writ­ing, I can still grow down and let myself be filled. And it’s good, too, to step back now, bow­ing to a mas­ter, and ana­lyze his tech­nique and his spe­cial effects.»



On D.H. Lawrence “The First Women In Love”—excerpt:

«How strange and won­der­ful to dis­cover a new (yet old) author & love him so much. “First Women In Love” is the first book I ever read by Lawrence. I was reminded of him through Forster’s “Aspects of the Novel”, and found my copy  in a Berlin book­store yes­ter­day & couldn’t stop read­ing it. Lawrence sets up an almost per­fect con­tin­u­ous dream. The way he uses lan­guage to draw life, con­flict and char­ac­ters, is aston­ish­ing. The com­plex­ity of styl­is­tic ele­ments made me feel as if I was danc­ing on a high wire with my feet on fire. …»



«I found this novel via the author’s agency, Tavistock Wood. The writer in the photograph on their site has the air of a scientist about him…or of a chess player, actually. I read the book in one go on a flight — this is fine writing, considerate of its subject, or subjects, because hidden behind the tale of the man and his donkey, is a larger tale about fathers and sons, about family and even about the cities that surround us, through which we sleepwalk at times with surreal ideas on our minds not unlike the one that Medvei must’ve had before he penned this work, his second published novel.» [My review of Cornelius Medvei's novel "Caroline: A Mystery"]


«The author’s gaze upon this couple is somewhat surgical: they’re active like the busy microbes working inside them, but they’re drifting apart nevertheless. Or maybe I’m all wrong and these are two actors doing improvisational theatre. Or they’re robots from a distant future trying to sound happily married but not getting it.» [excerpt from my review of Tania Hershman's "All Activity is Silent" at kill author]


«This book is a gem. No, that’s clichéd though it’s true. The book is harder, sharper, stronger; it’s a weapon to help you tame the beasts that Kathy Fish has unleashed on the page. Many of these beasts aren’t animals at all, they’re human and that is what Fish does so very well: humanity. My favorite stories are near the end – Spin, The Bed and Tenderoni — they’re about the struggle to get close to one another. “Wild Life” in Kathy Fish’s magical world of very short stories is a very large world in which we live infinitely far away from one another but don’t like it. If, at the end of the book, you still feel as alone as you may have done before you started, then the stories aren’t to blame. A wonderful collection of wisdom.» [my review of Kathy Fish's "Wild Life" at goodreads/amazon.]


I posted a short, raving review of “Love Doesn’t Work” (published by Dzanc, 2011), a collection of “seven dualist tales” by Swedish writer Henning Koch. Excerpt:

«There are story tellers and then there are story tellers. And if you’re like me then you’ll find it harder and harder every time you go to a book store to sift through all the junk (more and more seems to be written and published and so it’s not revolutionary to say that there’s more and more junk in the book shops) and find the ONE book that you might like to have next to your bed perhaps or on your favorite little reading table across from the soft leather chair. The chair that smells like you and that has witnessed you reading some of the very best writing. The writing that was so good that it became a part of you.»


Happy to see smash cake magazine come out with “A book to keep yon in|sane“, my longer review of Carol Novack’s book “Giraffes in Hiding” inspired and motivated by a walk through my chosen home town Berlin. An excerpt:

« I live in Berlin where it snows all the time now. So I took the book to the Reichstag and walked up the spire, created by Sir Norman Foster, on top of the building. People followed me with their eyes. They seemed hungry for stories and I was glad I had the book with me. … »


I was happy to land in > kill author in December 2010. They ask their authors to contribute a mini-review on a story they liked, perhaps an author they hadn’t heard of before. I picked Tina Hyland’s “Schrödinger Equation” (12/2010)- excerpt:

« This touched me more than I can say on this dark late wintry afternoon, a time ripe with allusions like this wonderful text. It made me think of Musil, of the man without properties and the woman in the dunes, of the spacetime continuum, of the many ways to express love and lust, too: ‘Oh, sweet Jetsam, you’re soft.’ »


Mini-review ofGiraffes in Hiding” by Carol Novack – in A Last Minute Christmas Shopping Guide at Metazen, the web’s meta-literary treasure (12/2010) – excerpt:

«Though “Giraffes in Hiding” is a collection, I almost read this in one sitting-and I do have a postmodern attention span, adequate to the creation and consumption of flash but not much else. Novack’s language and her ear for the absurd tied me down and lifted me up at once as few books have done lately. “We need to dream before we drown”, says the narrator in the short “Spawning babies”. This book, read by everyone under Milk Wood, will inspire you and help you dream.»


On Fingernail Moon by Molly Bond in Frustrated Fiction (04/2010) – excerpt:

«i am not a poet. hence i feel compelled to explore why this poem by molly bond struck such powerful chords with me…this is going to be amateurish, please bear with me as i bare all. molly’s poem does not deserve this, it’s a serious affair on a foolish day.»


On Ten Minutes In The Life Of Franziska Kafka by Beate Sigriddaughter in Fictionaut Faves (04/2010) – excerpt:

«i am a sucker for writer’s writing, always have been. when my self confidence goes down, i pick up a campus novel (alison lurie, david lodge) or henry james (the tragic muse) or whatnot. i don’t know that many writer’s short stories and few really good ones. “Ten Minutes In The Life Of Franziska Kafka” is one of them now.»


Review of Nora Nadjarian’s “Mother Tongue” on Fictionaut Blog, part of a series of reviews by members of the fictionaut literary community on pieces they liked (01/2010) – excerpt:

«This poem is at once contemporary but not trivial, and intimate, without drifting off into cliché: it employs the relationship with the mother delicately, thereby alluding to an important quality of mother/tongue to which we are loyally and painfully tied for life.»