recovery of the Nanteos cup

June 29th, 2015

Hell, I didn’t even know it was missing. Apparently one of 200 (!) possible candidates for the Holy Grail in Europe, the Nanteos Cup was stolen in July 2014 and has been returned only now.

It’s only been around as a Holy Grail since 1905. Its most noted owner George Powell seems to have been quite the small-time bullshitter. The Nanteos wiki article is worth reading just for his character.

Via The Daily Grail.

Detective Sergeant Andrew Bennett, West Mercial Police

We want The Sorias, and we want it now…

June 29th, 2015

Please read this post from the wonderful site The Untranslated on a book that sounds too wild to be a real thing. Apparently, the longest Argentinian novel, it sounds (in the review/synopsis/cri de cœur linked above) like an insane masterpiece. It… well, go read the post on The Untranslated. I won’t even try to summarize. Suffice it to say that I wish the longest book in my country’s literature were “the inheritor of the cultural codes left by François Rabelais, Dante Alighieri, Jonathan Swift, the Marquis de Sade, Hieronymus Bosch, Pieter Bruegel the Elder and Francisco Goya.”

The Sorias is a novel of excess in all respects, and any attempt to convey its richness within a simple review is doomed to failure. If, at this point, you think that I’ve been trying to reveal all the plot elements and all the major themes of this book, you couldn’t be further from truth. I haven’t even scratched the surface. Perhaps a five-hundred page monograph could claim to perform such a feat, but definitely not this review, which, although dwarfing all my previous posts, cannot do the justice to Laiseca’s creation. What I intended to do by this confused and amateurish write-up is to push this book a few inches forward on its journey towards the wider readership. It is my firm conviction that sooner or later, The Sorias will get the attention it deserves: it will be translated into other languages, it will be widely discussed, Internet communities dedicated to its hermeneutics will spring up. Maybe it’s not such a bad thing that so many readers have yet to discover this strange novel which is like nothing else, that so many readers will find out that there are books which are still capable of arousing in them a sense of wonder.

I hereby add my tiny voice to those calling for a translation. Restless Books? Ricardo Piglia said “The Sorias is the best novel that has been written in Argentina since The Seven Madmen”. There’s your cover blurb. And speaking of The Seven Madmen (one of my favorites) and Arlt, when are we getting a translation of its sequel, Los Lanzallamas? Restless? Dalkey? You published Severo Sarduy, Terra Nostra, Paradiso, Palinuro of Mexico, and Ríos’s Larva— I know you aren’t afraid of big difficult crazy books written in spanish.

Lest you think (as I did) that all this was too good to be true and was some sort of hoax, ecce homo:


Columbia University Press’ Russian Library project

June 29th, 2015

Columbia University Press will be publishing dozens of new translations of Russian literature.

Jennifer Crewe, the director of Columbia University Press, said that the book list should include a “smattering of classics” that needed new translations, as well as post-Soviet and current Russian literature. With time still needed to select the first series of titles and translate them, the soonest they would be published is 2017.

Read Russia organized the event. Ten books published a year? Groovy.

Update: aha. Literary Saloon points out something odd.




June 29th, 2015

NPR has a magnificent story on how some girls sang a wondrous song about a singer, “a faun, half-man and half-antelope” for a field recording. He is Chemirocha, AKA Jimmie Rodgers. The music of the Kipsigi people alone is beautiful, but to think that they remembered and mythologized recordings of Jimmie Rodgers and incorporated it into their own traditions is wonderful.

There’s a more in-depth documentary, showing how the field recordings from 65 were brought back to the Kipsigi people.

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the Christian marriage is an invention of the Dark Ages

June 29th, 2015

Someone on Twitter who I already lost track of pointed to this 2012 article in NYRB  blog. It boils down to this.

Joseph Martos, puts it: “Before the eleventh century there was no such thing as a Christian wedding ceremony in the Latin church, and throughout the Middle Ages there was no single church ritual for solemnizing marriage between Christians.”

Because obviously, God was very active in the 11th Century and made His intent very clear. He just forgot to mention it until then. Everybody remembers that important clarification.

Nora Borges

June 28th, 2015

The art of Jorge Luis Borges’ little sister.

Jack King 1931-2015

June 28th, 2015
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another Nell Zink interview/profile

June 27th, 2015

I still connect better to the writing of Roberto Bolaño, but I think I’m in love with Nell Zink. The cult of personality is growing and she truly doesn’t give a fuck.1 If she can retain her outsider status (pretty likely) and not get cast back to the shadows for her impudence (also pretty likely) maybe some of the currently lionized shitheads on pedestals can be cast down as false idols.

  1. Her dis of A Visit from the Goon Squad is dead on, as I tried to read that shit twice. Nope. []

On the Road

June 27th, 2015

Last night brought a long bout of insomnia. Even when Elijah is asleep, it makes for lousy time for reading. My brain is too contorted. Vallejo Nocturno had a post the other day about the 2012 movie adaptation of On the Road. It seemed worth a shot. Surely a rambling trek with speed-freaks tossing off Beat patter would be my salvation for sleep at 2 AM.

The Beats have never been a primary passion of mine. In my teens, I was more into Robert Anton Wilson and Edward Abbey. However, too many of my friends lived and died for the Beats, literally. When I got around to reading them in my twenties, Kerouac and Ginsberg felt a little redundant and purple. Burroughs was the only one who intrigued me. It was the days before the internet, so I didn’t have access to anyone else.

The truth is that I loved the movie. This morning I found this negative review of it, and the tricky thing is I agree with a lot of the assessments. For example:

What seemed rhapsodic and euphoric on the page here looks smug, self-regarding and intensely self-conscious. When the actors start mouthing ersatz-passionate dialogue about poetry and novels, the movie starts to flatline, and worse still, when they start on about how incredibly life-affirming they all are, it is as dead as a haddock on a slab. The men in the film look hopelessly shallow. The women become, by contrast, sharper and more interesting in their dissent and discontent, but in a way that unbalances and destabilises the drama.

The only part I disagree with in this excerpt is how On the Road seemed on the page. It was always “…smug, self-regarding and intensely self-conscious.” I know Kerouac’s intent, but I’m not sure on Salles and Rivera yet. However, from what I was watching, that was exactly their vision. Most of the Beats come off as narcissists and psychopaths in the source materials. It seems that many of the negative reviews stem from the movie bursting their hazy memories of what they read and glorified in their youth.

The Beats were Assholes. No matter how much inspiring art they churned out, they were callous, selfish poseurs. This movie didn’t shy away from that. What that critic saw as flat, I recognized as a knowing eye observing their antics. The body of work left in their wake didn’t beatify them. Shit. That’s a terrible pun, but I’ll just leave it.

I know fuck-all about acting, but I was happy with nearly all of the performances. I nearly burst out laughing at Viggo Mortensen’s uncanny channeling of Old Bull Lee. That bastard must have listened to Burroughs recordings enough times to drive an ordinary person mad.

The cinematography was amazing and combined with the sheer numbers of locations used, it became stunning. I haven’t watched many movies in years. It’s hard to recall the last road movie I’ve seen anymore, but few outside of documentaries probably make the effort to give the true sprawling expanse of the world.

Of course these are hate crimes

June 27th, 2015

Two black churches have been burned in the past week, since the massacre at Mother Emanuel AME in Charleston, SC on June 17. One is in Macon, Georgia and one is North Carolina. FBI director James Comey already tipped his hand saying that he didn’t consider the murder of 9 people because of their race by a white supremacist who targeted their church as a symbol in the effort to ignite a race war, to the point of posting a manifesto prior, to be an act of domestic terrorism.  The White House isn’t backing Comey up, but I’m not holding my breath.

Meanwhile, the FBI is spending considerable time and effort goading unhappy Muslims into fake terror plots that they never could have achieved alone, or possibly even conceived. Meanwhile, by the FBI’s own assessment, domestic terrorism white, right-wing extremists is just as a serious problem.

Why aren’t the burning of these two black churches this week not at the top of the news headlines. This morning I see headlines everywhere of the arrest of Bree Newsome for removing the Confederate flag at the statehouse in Charleston. Why?