Several of our most popular titles are back in stock: The Collected Fanzines of Harmony Korine, full reproductions in black and white of the film maker’s juvenalia; briefly unavailable The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis is back in stock; The Rider an autobiographical account of a single bicycle race from Dutch novelist Tim Krabbé; and the most recent Massey Lecture, The Wayfinders: Why Ancient Wisdom Matters In The Modern World,, by Wade Davis.
Dust, by Arkadii Dragomoshchenko (trans. Evgeny Pavlov, Thomas Epstein, Shushan Avagan, and Ana Lucic) Dalkey Archive Press, $13.50
by Malcolm Sutton
We must say something about Arkadii Dragomoshchenko, by way of introduction, because he is a giant mostly invisible to our continent. Dragomoshchenko, as a poet, essayist and novelist, was central to the St. Petersburg samizdat (clandestine self-publishing) of the ’70s and ’80s, and in the post-Soviet underground has continued to influence a younger generation of poets.[i] He has drawn the attention of major American poets and critics, and in 1993 half an issue of the scholarly journal Postmodern Culture was dedicated to an exploration of his work. It is easy to acquaint oneself with ‘facts’ of a literary figure via an online search, but I suggest reading all of Dragomoshchenko’s work, all that you can find, in order to gather something substantial of him. A good starting place is ‘Memory Gardens,’ [ii] a memorial piece he wrote for Robert Creeley. In English, Dragomoshchenko’s poems have been published in a number journals and anthologies, and in two books of poetry from Sun & Moon Classics, Description (1990) and Xenia (1994), both translated by Lyn Hejinian and Elena Balashova, and both unfortunately out-of-print. In 2005, Ugly Duckling Presse published his novel Chinese Sun, translated by Evgeny Pavlov.[iii] [more…]
This is the first in a series of feature reviews, author and publisher profiles commissioned from local luminaries and enthusiasts by This Ain’t The Rosedale Library. They will posted here on the website on a regular basis, and are found under Articles & Features in the side-bar. Check back regularly.
B.S. Johnson was the perfect subject for a brilliant biography, and new interest in his work has been sparked by the recent republication of The Unfortunates (a novel about a sports writer in which you can sort the unbound chapters of the book in any order). While it’s easy to get lost in his works, each of which is an utterly unique attempt to reinvent storytelling from scratch, his life ranks with that of Vladimir Nabokov in competing with his own works for interest. Jonathan Coe won a host of awards and accolades when this came out a few years ago, but the book is still best recommended with this quote from The San Francisco Chronicle: ‘It’s as if Paul McCartney wrote a song about John Cage, and it made you want to listen to them both all over again’. Continuum, $23.95
Too many scenesters have the mistaken idea that ennui, boredom, smugness and jadedness are the same as hip. This book puts the notion of hip into historical context by going back to the days of slavery when it was more than a coping mechanism for West Africans, to the development of American Transcendentalism, and to the breakthrough of jazz into the popular mainstream. And that’s only the first fifth of the book. It necessarily goes off the rails bringing the hip into current culture. Saying what’s hip now would be so un-hip. It has many interesting footnotes which are testimony to Leland’s thorough research. Why did Bob Dylan call one of his last albums ‘Love and Theft?’. Harper Perennial, remaindered at $9.99
As the buzz surrounding the Cohen Brother’s No Country for Old Men has quieted and anticipation for the film adaptation of The Road is at its peak, now is the perfect moment to present a couple of titles that we can imagine Cormac McCarthy wishes he’d written.
Going Down, by David Markson, best known for his trilogy of books which recycle bizarre factoids about artists and writers, but who is also the author of the pulps Epitaph for a Tramp and Epitaph for a Deadbeat, as well as the ‘straight ahead’ western The Ballad of Dingus McGee. This novel, set in Mexico, is heavy with the same brooding prose, sublimated violence and endless episodes of ever more surprising and genre subverting climaxes found in the recent work of McCarthy, but distinguishes itself not only for having been first published in 1970, but for its strange erotic explorations. Shoemaker & Hoard, $20.50
The Drop Edge of Yonder, by Rudolph Wurlitzer. While compared on its covers, by the likes of John Ashbery, Patti Smith, Gary Indiana and Judith Thurman none-the-less, to everybody from Samuel Beckett, Guy Maddin, and Jack Smith, to Schoenberg and Mel Brooks (?), Wurlitzer’s attitude towards the violence and lawlessness of the American west has a profundity of vision and dark metaphysical quality that can only be described as McCarthyesque. Two Dollar Radio, $18.00
If you try to describe this book you sound insane, if you try to recommend it you sound tasteless. In order to avoid these pitfals you can simply state that it has all the ingredients of a ready-made cult classic: it’s set in a near-future corporate ruled dystopia, the characters are compelling but a little cartoonish (Philip K. Dick), and it is very funny and very dark. All this adds up to a novel that you will either hate and try to return to us, or which you will enthusiastically describe to your friends, who will think you are insane. Snow Books, $16.50
Art critic, long time associate of the Kootenay School of Writing, and founding member of the school of ‘leisure poets’ Peter Cully’s first volume in what is now a two volume epic (with The Age of Brigs and Stratton). Named after a fictional west coast fishing village mentioned in George Perec’s Avoid, Hammertown contains technically masterful poems built equally of radically disjunctive language, densely descriptive natural imagery and a barrage of sarcastic cultural references, all sustained over longer mutations of classical pastoral form. One of Canada’s most versatile and under appreciated poets. New Star Books, 2003, $16.00