Saturday, February 6, 2010



To begin with a quote from: WWW which is possibly the best literary cultural site in the world. Though mildly leftist and infected with a common European deathwish embodied in a constant genuflection to multi-culturalism which can only lead to the desired slaughter or self-slaughter the site remains at the highest levels of thought.

Jörg Sundermeier, himself a publisher and author, examines the state of literary criticism. In the media, he says there is a lack of literary debate: "The reviews pile up but there is no recognisable criteria behind them. So much seems utterly arbitrary. But this arbitrariness cannot be explained by market pressure alone. After all, journalists offer themselves up as slaves to the publishing PR and marketing departments, they are falling over themselves to review any potentially successful book on its first day in the shops. But this is not just about landing a scoop. It's more as if the journalists have internalised the marketing mechanisms of the publishing industry. When unplugged from the market, literature is largely ignored these days."


During the last couple of months I have wanted to write about some books but I can’t seem to find anyone else interested, really, in these books:

THE UNION JACK by Imre Kertesz (Melville House)

DON JUAN HIS OWN VERSION by Peter Handke (Farrar Straus and Giroux)

CORRESPONDENCE Georges Bataille Michel Leiris (Seagull Books)

THE WEDDING IN AUSCHWITZ by Erich Hackl (Serpent’s Tail)

SMALL-TOWN RUSSIA Childhood Memories of the Final Soviet Decade by Anton Weiss-Wendt (Florida Academic Press)

THE MUSEUM OF ETERNA’S NOVEL by Macedonio Fernandez (Open Letter)

GENERAL PIESC of The Case of the Forgotten Mission by Stefan Themerson (Gaberbocchus)

THREE DAYS BEFORE THE SHOOTING by Ralph Ellison (The Modern Library)

SHADOWS AT DAWN A Borderland Massacre and the Violence of History by Karl Jacoby (Penguin Press)

THE CRISIS IN BULGARIA or Ibsen to the Rescue by Jocelyn Brooke (Chatto & Windus)

THE ABYSS OF HUMAN ILLUSION by Gilbert Sorrentino (Coffee House Press)

CHILDREN OF THE GULAG by Cathy A. Frierson and Semyon A.Vilensky (Yale University Press)

GEORGE LETHAM Pysician and Murderer by Ernst Weiss (Archepelago Books)

THE THREE FATES by Linda Le (New Directions)

NOT ART by Peter Esterhazy (Ecco)

THE SILENCES OF HAMMERSTEIN A German Story by Hans Magnus Enzenberger (S eagull Books)

THE SMELL OF HUMANS A Memoir of the Holocaust in Hungary by Erno Szep (Central European University Press)

BERNANOS An Ecclesial Existence by Hans Urs von Balthasar (Ignatius Press)

A SPLENDID CONSPIRACY by Albert Cossary (New Directions)


CASE CLOSED by Patrik Ourednik (Dalkey Archive)

BONES OF CONTENTION The Living Archive of Vasil Levski and the Making of Bulgaria’s National Hero by Maria Todorova (Central European University Press)

SELECTED JOURNALS by Ralph Waldo Emerson (Library of America


THE SIGHT OF DEATH by T. J. Clark (Yale University Press)

DUBLIN 1916 The Siege of the GPO by Clair Wills (Harvard University Press)


“…A wooden cross stands over a grave in Vologda, one of Russia’s medieval cities, eight hours by train north of Moscow. The small plot lies in an overgrown courtyard facing the crumbling walls…The site is the former Gorne-Uspensky monastery. The post-Soviet government of the Russian Federation gave the buildings back to the Russian Orthodox Church in 1995. Beneath the bellflowers lie the skeletons of hundreds of infants and toddlers. Church officials discovered the bones when they pulled up the floorboards in the sanctuary to begin restoration that summer. Vologda soil is swampy. The skeletons were in a state of remarkable preservation that intensified the shock for those who first spotted their creamy shapes in moist earth and watched their transfer into three large metal storage bins. Forensics experts soon confirmed what elderly Vologda citizens remembered: thousands of young children had died of exposure, hunger, typhus in February and March 1930 in their city, when it served as the chief transit point in the deportation by cattle cars of so-called kulak (wealthy peasant) families to the uninhabited regions of the far north…”
from CHILDREN OF THE GULAG by Cathy A. Frierso and Semyon S.Viensky Yale University Press) 400 pages of original documents written by those responsible for this slaughter, from those experiencing it, compete with photographs of the sites and reports on the efforts to remember… and since there has never been the holding of anyone responsible for these murders: to remember and to know that those who come after will not believe, not care, not want to know… but those words…creamy shapes…metal storage containers…thousands… three blocks from where I write there is a bar named in honour of these child killers: the KGB BAR, one of whose owners is the writer Melvin Jules Bukiet



20123 said...
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omnia sunt communia said...

I am very interested in 'The Union Jack'. It's yet another amazing novella by Kertesz, and it is really a crime that his complete works are not available in English.

I interviewed his translator Tim Wilkinson the other week, and he was very pleasant.

Paul said...

Liked your ref to Lord Berners (in 2008 blog). This for your amusement:

B - Would it not be enough if I simply went away?

D - No. You have begun. Finish. Begin again and go on until you have finished. Then go away. Try and bear in mind that the subject under discussion is not yourself, nor the Sufist Al-Haqq, but a particular Dutchman by the name of van Velde, hitherto erroneously referred to as an artiste peintre.

B - How would it be if I first said what I am pleased to fancy he is, fancy he does, and then that it is more than likely that he is and does quite otherwise? Would that not be an excellent issue out of all our afflictions? He happy, you happy, I happy, all three bubbling over with happiness.

D - Do as you please. But get it over.

Samuel Beckett/Georges Duhuit: Three Dialogues with Georges DuHuit