Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Anthony Trollope, Phineas Finn/The Irish Member (1869)

We GOTTA have that alternate title, 'cause otherwise you'd never know he was Irish, what with that extremely subtle name Trollope has given him.
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Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Harry Mathews, The Conversions (1962)

Here's the coolest thing that happened reading this novel: I came across a story about a guy travelling across Africa trading cowry shells to different tribes for different cowry shells with the ultimate goal of making a profit, and I had the damnedest sense of deja vu: why do I have this nagging feeling that I've read this before? I know this is my first time reading this book. THIS IS WEIRD ARGH. Then I realized: Mathews was the first (and for a long time only) American member of Oulipo, and he and Georges Perec were friends and mutual admirers. Life a User's Manual contains sundry tributes and references to other writers, some of which I got and some not, and BAM: I retroactively realized that one of them was to this very book. COOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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Saturday, September 02, 2017

John Barth, LETTERS (1979)

Aargh, you want me to summarize LETTERS? Okay, but this is going to be the most ungainly thing possible. I'm not convinced there's an elegant way to do it.
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Monday, August 07, 2017

John Barth, Chimera (1972)

This book is actually three novellas--or if we want to be a bit finer with out classifications, a long short story, a novella, and a short novel, all on mythological themes. Only the final story, "Bellerephoniad," is published here for the first time; "Dunyazadiad" and "Perseid" had previously appeared in Esquire and Harper's respectively. They're sufficiently thematically unified that gathering them all together makes sense, however.
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Saturday, July 29, 2017

Victor Pelevin, Chapaev and Void (1996)

The English translation of this novel has two different titles: it's either The Clay Machine-Gun or Buddha's Little Finger, depending on whether it was published in Great Britain or the US.  Neither of these is an attempt to approximate the original Russian title, which I have used to title this post so as not to destabilize US/Britain relations by appearing to engage in favoritism.
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Sunday, July 23, 2017

Flann O'Brien, The Dalkey Archive (1964)

...so naturally, this, O'Brien's final novel, was the one I was really keen on reading, and not just because it's the namesake of my favorite publisher so I really ought to, oughtn't I? There's also the fact that it seems to harken back to the zaniness The Third Policeman, even if it doesn't have the same reputation as that masterpiece. Well, let's see.
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Friday, July 21, 2017

Flann O'Brien, The Hard Life: An Exegesis of Squalor (1961)

Ack! Why does the title appear as part of the subtitle of O'Brien's previous novel? IT'S TOO CONFUSING ARGH. Well, calm yourself, citizen. Take a deep breath and know that in spite of the titular similarities, this is a completely different novel than that other one. Given that he was writing The Poor Mouth exclusively for an Irish-speaking audience, O'Brien wouldn't have had reason to concern himself with our later consternation (I AM VERY CONSTERNATED).
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