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Showing posts from November, 2014

New Adjunct Novel!

I'm excited to announce that I signed a publishing contract for my second novel late last week. Beating Windward Press will publish Auggie's Revenge, a comic crime novel starring a trailer-park con artist, a supermarket seducer, and an adjunct instructor of philosophy searching for a life worth living.

identify your firing squad

@Lit_Books@kudera They put him through mock execution, yes? N after all that, he still revered the Czar. #RussianSoul
— Ken Barnett (@kenaviba) November 16, 2014

@kenaviba@Lit_Books@kudera yes, of course, and famously; Ken, do you have Russian favs? I like D., Chekhov, Gogol, Shalamov, Olesha, Biely
— Alex Kudera (@kudera) November 16, 2014

@kudera@Lit_Books@kudera I'd add Isaac Babel, "My 1st Goose", "Odessa Tales". Life in the raw. Admire Gorky's humanity.
— Ken Barnett (@kenaviba) November 16, 2014

@kenaviba@Lit_Books excellent! Isaac Babel figures prominently in the second half Fight for Your Long Day:
— Alex Kudera (@kudera) November 16, 2014
@kudera@Lit_Books Just ordered it. If good as it sounds, will end up in my library in Nicaragua.
— Ken Barnett (@kenaviba) November 16, 2014
@kenaviba@Lit_Books thanks, Ken! just shelve it with the mortal (as opposed to canonical great) writers, laugh, cry, and feel a bit weird
— Alex Kudera (@ku…

two from twitter

#OnThisDay 1849, Fyodor Dostoevsky is sentenced to death for his antigovernment activities* Fyodor (left) in prison*
— Literature & Books (@Lit_Books) November 16, 2014

This is the first printed book in the Norwegian language. It's a Bible, done on a Gutenberg press, ca. 1500.
— Sean Munger (@Sean_Munger) November 16, 2014


Anyway, in unrelated news, I came across a couple articles that consider the schlemiel: exhibits A and B. I've yet to read them in their entirety, but they concern famous Jewish writers and comedians using, or associating with, the term, from Walter Benjamin to Woody Allen to Philip Roth. To me, it's worth noting that long before "channeling his inner Jewish mother" Thomas Pynchon was at home with the Yiddish word in V, if I'm not mistaken, describing Benny Profane as such.

the fall of the Berlin Wall

The Lazarus Project includes an anecdote about rabbits finding love by overcoming the Berlin Wall despite trigger-happy East German guards firing eagerly during mating season (Hemon 103-4).

Anyway, by chance, it's the 25th anniversary of the famous wall's fall, and I've stumbled upon a couple postings noting this:

"The Berlin Wall, 25 Years After the Fall" from The Atlantic and an image gallery from Yahoo! Finance, "Human Wave of East Germans Surges Across Berlin Wall."

Another time, in another post, maybe I'll describe the refugee father and son who'd just escaped and wound up in the same bunk area as a bunch of us staying in a Swiss youth hostel. I remember well the father describing his escape story, again and again, throughout the night. I couldn't understand his German, or anyone else's, but I could hear the repetition of the words and some of the vigorous physical movements he used to support them. Again and again.

Hemon in Chicago

Because I'm teaching The Lazarus Project right now, I googled Aleksandar Hemon and arrived at an article on his love of his adopted city of Chicago. Although back in Sarajevo his parents were technical people, urban, affluent STEM-folk, Hemon had a humble start in America's "somber city":

With just $300 in his pocket, the young man was forced to scramble for odd jobs—waiter, Greenpeace canvasser—while managing his fear and longing for Sarajevo. He set about learning Chicago by walking its neighborhoods. “Pullman, Beverly, Lakeview, and then the Parks—Hyde, Lincoln, Rogers,” he writes in The Book of My Lives. “I began to sort out the geography of Chicagoland, assembling a street map in my mind, building by building, door by door . . . I was a low-wage, immigrant flaneur.”

some French Jews read Celine

According to an article published a few years ago in The Jewish DailyForward, some French Jews continue to be fascinated with Celine. Here are two of the final paragraphs:

Decades later, other Jewish writers remain firmly fascinated by Céline, drooling or not. Parisian bookseller and writer Mikaël Hirsch, born in 1973, is a grandson of Louis-Daniel Hirsch, who served as Gallimard’s sales manager for more than half a century. The younger Hirsch’s 2010 novel “The Outcast,” out in paperback August 31 [from Les editions J’ai Lu], describes the true story of how, in 1954, Mikaël’s father, then working as a Gallimard messenger boy (he is renamed Gérard Cohen for the purposes of the novel), delivered printer’s proofs to Céline in Meudon, or what the novel calls “Célinegrad.” There, Céline’s “reprobate” status echoes with the young Cohen’s own feelings of exclusion for being too Jewish, or not Jewish enough, to please his compatriots. Another French-Jewish author, Émile Brami, who is of Tunisia…

Election Day

I voted early, but not often. Only once as a matter of fact. . . and I didn't linger outside any polling places to learn what others had pressed, punched, or checked.

I Love Dollars

Aside from syllabus readings, I've had only a little bit of time to read on or off line. But one selection was the title story of Wen Zhu's I Love Dollars, whichtakes us inside contemporary money-mad, sex-crazed China where at least some young people are now interested in becoming writers and musicians.

I also stumbled upon, and then read, Michael Kazin's considerations of his father Alfred Kazin's life and writing, and I continue to support Cooke's fairly recent biography of Kazin, particularly for anyone with some time on their hands.

Last, I came across an article on Louis-Ferdinand Celine's antisemitism. I'd been under the impression that Celine was of that most curious caste of antisemites, that is, one born Jewish, but in fact, it seems I'm mistaken. I'm not sure of why I'd been under that impression or if I ever had a source. Now I find myself reading and skimming his interview from The Paris Review. Here's an excerpt:

My mother always u…