Friday, June 24, 2011

Word of the Day: Pulchritudinous

Found in Robert Walser's "The Marriage Proposal" from the Microscripts collection, which is chock full of bizarre and unorthodox literary vocabulary, but I have to say, not quite as satisfying as the earlier short story collection from NYRB or Masquerade.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Djuna Barnes' Nightwood

Back home and suitably drained after an intense and wonderful discussion of Jakob Von Gunten by Robert Walser.  Though we didn't delve into his interesting biographical information much at all, divisive opinions on the accessibility of the book led to plenty of analysis of the content, particularly Jakob as a character, plot elements, dreams and passages within the book, and the trajectory of modernity (!?).  A very complicated and compelling book.  Thanks for coming!

Next installment will be Nightwood by Djuna Barnes, a notorious classic from 1936 which has been lurking on my "to read" list for years--maybe it's been on yours as well?  Maybe?  Well, then!  Join us on July 10th at 7 PM at Books, Inc in the Marina in any case.  I'll try to dig up something compelling blurb-wise in the meantime, maybe a slice from the T.S. Eliot introduction once my copy arrives.  By the way, I hear Djuna Barnes is portrayed in Woody Allen's latest film Midnight in Paris....

August: Miss Lonelyhearts and Day of the Locust by Nathanael West
September: Nausea by Jean Paul Sartre

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Orwell and Walser discussions

This club will soon be listed on the Books Inc website--seems like a great occasion for an update!?

Last month, Down and out in Paris and London by George Orwell was discussed.  Stellar discussion, thanks to all participants.

This unusual fictional account, in good part autobiographical, narrates without self-pity and often with humor the adventures of a penniless British writer among the down-and-out of two great cities. In the tales of both cities we learn some sobering Orwellian truths about poverty and society.

Tune in (or drop in) next episode; we'll be discussing Jakob von Gunten by Robert Walser on June 12th at 7 PM.

The Swiss writer Robert Walser is one of the quiet geniuses of twentieth-century literature. Largely self-taught and altogether indifferent to worldly success, Walser wrote a range of short stories, essays, as well as four novels, of which Jakob von Gunten is widely recognized as the finest. The book is a young man's inquisitive and irreverent account of life in what turns out to be the most uncanny of schools. It is the work of an outsider artist, a writer of uncompromising originality and disconcerting humor, whose beautiful sentences have the simplicity and strangeness of a painting by Henri Rousseau.
Walser (1878-1956) left school at fourteen and led a wandering, precarious existence while producing poems, essays, stories, and novels. In 1933 he entered an insane asylum—he remained there for the rest of his life—and quit writing. “I am not here to write,” he said, “but to be mad.”