Monthly Archives: January 2012

Geoff Dyer on punctuality.

Geoff Dyer tries to convert you to the school of punctuality. [via YouTube]

On a half-related note, his new book, Zona, is coming out very, very soon.

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David Shook and the indigenous-language poetry of Mexico.

I began translating Isthmus Zapotec poet Víctor Terán in early 2008, from an anthology of contemporary indigenous poets I picked up on one of my many trips through Oaxaca, where I had spent time in several Zapotec communities. That translation project resulted in a remarkable friendship, first stoked over mezcal-boiled plums in Oaxaca City and further strengthened by a three-week tour of the UK in 2010. Over the course of our relationship I found myself increasingly inspired—not just by Víctor’s poems, which often combine an erotic pastoralism with a sonic delight I aspired and struggled to replicate in my English-language translations, but by his activism, his vision to strengthen the Zapotec language and culture by the act of writing poetry.

David Shook has a project to produce five chapbooks of translations of indigenous-language poetry of Mexico that also has collaborative art and film efforts going into the mix. (He also has an awesome moustache.)

Los Angeles-based artists Ben Rodkin and David Shook are collaborating to document the life and work of contemporary Isthmus Zapotec artists and poets, by producing both a short-subject documentary film and a 5-chapbook set of indigenous Mexican poetry.

You can support the project via Kickstarter. [via Kickstarter]

He also wrote a piece for Three Percent where he talks about it. The quote at the top is taken from it. Good reading. [via Three Percent]

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Rojak: Covering Leonard Cohen.

Rojak is a regular collection of assorted links as well as a bulletin summarising the week (or thereabouts) on this blog.

Assorted

Over at Consequence of Sound, they’ve collected a series of covers of Leonard Cohen songs, including the recent (instrumental!) Anna Calvi cover of “Joan of Arc”. [via Consequence of Sound]

Chad Post urges you to read Raymond Roussel. [via Three Percent]

New Steve Reich composition inspired by Radiohead’s “Everything in its Right Place” and “Jigsaw Falling Into Place”. [via Consequence of Sound]

Bret Easton Ellis talks about American Psycho. [via A Piece of Monologue]

On movie posters with a slant. [via Vulture]

“I find this charge on the subject of Miss P. a very cold douche indeed.” Henry James complains all rather indignantly to brother William on the reaction to The Bostonians. [via Wm & H’ry]

Meanwhile, George Eliot on new music. [via Alex Ross – The Rest Is Noise]

Bulletin

On a related note, both Aira’s Varamo and Bolaño’s Monsieur Pain (the paperback edition) got released yesterday and are on their way to my mailbox.

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Omnivore: Love and scars.

Omnivore is a regular report on some of the things that I’ve been enjoying during the week (or thereabouts).

This week I read quite a bit of poetry (70% love poetry) by John Donne. Followed it up by completing Juan José Saer’s Scars.

Also had to watch A Better Tomorrow for class. I was and still am fascinated by the noticeably low density of story information conveyed through the narrative.

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Chris Andrews on César Aira and Varamo

But if you’re right, and people are thinking hard about his premises, some of those people are bound to find them uncongenial or unsound, because, as you say, they’re bizarre. In a way, Aira’s writing is designed to have detractors, at least for a start, and they won’t all be bad or unsophisticated readers (although I think they’ll be missing out). If his books met with no resistance, that would mean that they weren’t upsetting accepted standards for judgement and setting new ones, which is what they’ve done in Argentina, where Aira is a strong pole of attraction and repulsion. If the debate doesn’t happen in North America, that might tell us something interesting about the segmentation of the reading public there.

I placed my preorder for César Aira’s Varamo a couple of days ago (along with three other books, I’m pleased to say). Looking forward to it. Hit the link to read translator extraordinaire Chris Andrews talking about it. [via Center for the art of Translation]

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Edition Additions: Montano’s Malady

Enrique Vila-Matas, "Montano's Malady", trans. Jonathan Dunne, 2007, original ed. 2002

Enrique Vila-Matas was one of those love-at-first-sight writers for me. I read Bartleby & Co. quite a bit ago and I fell immediately in love with his work. These things are always sort of dangerous, because you very well know that even the greatest writers produce really unimpressive books sometimes. But you know, as with all loves at first sight, you basically lose your capacity for rational expectation.

I didn’t read any of his other stuff until last year, when Never Any End to Paris arrived in my mailbox. It quickly affirmed his place in my literary constellation. So a couple of weeks ago, when my mood was essentially in the pits, I placed an order for Montano’s Malady, hoping that it would pick me up somehow. It’s funny how one comes to depend on one’s writers sometimes.

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P.S. The stuff in the background is some paper on Shakespeare I’ve yet to read, not government missile defence plans or anything.

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Doctor Who print.

Fro Design Co, "The Man From Gallifrey", 2012 (Source: Fro Design Co Store)

Fro Design Co celebrates Doctor Who with an excellent print that I am too poor to afford. [via Fro Design Co Store]

(I’ve deliberately linked the little image so you have to go to the source to get a better look.)

It features all Doctors previous and current, and is also future-proof. Or past-present-and-future-proof, if you will, because:

Every time the Doctor regenerates
you will receive a blue envelope in the mail
with a vinyl press on of the new Doctor
along with instructions on
where to place him on the design.

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“Labyrinth”

Let’s suppose that the person who didn’t come was Jacques Henric. While J.-J. was waiting for him, Henric was riding a 250-cc Honda motorcycle to the entrance of the apartment building where the Devades live. But no. That’s impossible. Let’s imagine that Henric simply climbed onto his Honda and rode off into a vaguely literary, vaguely unstable Paris, and that his absence on this occasion is strategic, as amorous absences nearly always are.

There is a brilliant Roberto Bolaño story, “Labyrinth”, over at the New Yorker. [via The New Yorker]

There is also a companion interview with Barbara Epler of New Directions, where she talks about how they ended up picking up the bulk of Bolaño’s work. [via The Book Bench]

Finally, there is a sort of guide-to-Bolaño article running in parallel at the same place. I don’t think it’s very good. It doesn’t seem very well-considered. And not just because of the line below. [via The Book Bench]

You have to go back to Balzac and Dostoyevsky to find masters of the novel form who showed so little interest in the sentence. Indeed, Bolaño seems to disdain Jamesian refinement and polish, and this disdain is of a piece with his broader skepticism toward literary people, or merely literary people—those whose hunger for books is unmatched by a hunger for life.

I’m more in the Epler camp:

But all in all, for me, with Bolaño, as with all truly great writers, I can’t say just how he casts the spell whereby we sense something essential about life and death, something we’ve always known but cannot say, or how he gives me so much joy: he just does.

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Chapter One.

[1]

I wrote my first post for this blog promising very little. I think that was a good strategy.

[2]

A year ago, I started up this page with the idea that I would use it to share links and news of interest. A year. I didn’t quite think it would make it to a year. I was entering this half-thinking that it would peter out in three weeks and I’d shelf the idea for some other stage of my life. I’ve been blogging for a while now. I know the cycles that these projects can assume for me.

[3]

No, I’m not about to get all sentimental. But it is the birthday of Who Killed Lemmy Caution?, and I figured that in lieu of being extremely creative or extremely concise, it wouldn’t be so bad to have a look at what went well and what didn’t go so well in our first year.

We’re doing well, in a sense. We survived. We’ve had a good go at being diligent with postings, without this blog being (let’s be honest) a huge priority in my life. We’ve covered a reasonable range of stuff, if I dare say so myself, ranging from the more serious to the more eclectic. I mean, honestly, we even shared news about Jeffrey Eugenides’s vest.

We’re not massively popular. No way. We average somewhere between five to ten views a day. That can feel like a bit of a letdown sometimes, but other times, it’s called exceeding expectations.

So in a way, we’re not doing all that bad. Not superb, but not bad.

[4]

A look at my tag cloud tells me that my favourite topic appears to be Radiohead, followed by Bob Dylan, Samuel Beckett, and David Lynch in that sort of order. Also in the conversation are Roberto Bolaño, Björk, and James Joyce. I didn’t predict this sort of skewed representation (towards music) at the start, but I suspect most of it is down to the fact that I cover a smaller group of musicians as compared to writers. This is somewhat verified by the fact that my most popular category remains Literature (145 posts), with Music in second place (102 posts).

[5]

I don’t like to make promises with these blogging things. They’re like New Year resolutions (although it is appropriately the Chinese New Year): You either make them to fail or to succeed all too easily. That said, one of the things I would like to see in the future is more time spent onwriting long-reads of a sort. So far, I’ve taken to calling these Features. I haven’t had great success in producing a lot of content like this (actually, I only had four for the year) for a few reasons. Chiefly, I don’t make any money from this, and because I do have a lot of other work in a number of other places, it often becomes difficult to prioritise writing at length for this blog. Another reason (excuse, what-have-you) is that I didn’t plan to do so initially. The plan was simply to share stuff about the things that I like or love, and anything else would be a bonus. Having not planned for it, I had no consistent way of making it work.

And a third reason: we didn’t gain as much traction as we would have liked. I would have loved doing interviews and the like, but it’s simply not feasible at this stage of the blog’s life.

No promises, as I said, but I hope to do more of this in the future. I won’t be doing serious criticism like I do at school or anything as yet (that would probably be a tad optimistic) but I will try to write more in the way of impressions, special features (like last year’s Summer Reading List), event coverage, and maybe one or two surprises. I don’t think the blog will gain a tremendous amount of traction in the coming year, but if it does, it might also make talking to various people easier, thus giving us more content.

Another thing I would like to do is to live up to a promise that I made or an intention that I had a year ago. I’ll try to bring a bit more attention to the arts and culture scene of Singapore. My own fields of interest definitely do not aligned 100% with the arts in Singapore, being concentrated more usually in Europe, Latin America, and China, but there’s lots of good work in these parts that I should definitely be talking about more.

[6]

Happy birthday, WKLC. And to all the people who’ve stuck with us, it’s no luxury cruise liner, but here’s to even better times on our little drunken boat.

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Rojak: Enter the Dragon.

Rojak is a regular collection of assorted links as well as a bulletin summarising the week (or thereabouts) on this blog.

Assorted

On Salman Rushdie and the Jaipur incident. [via The New Yorker]

St. Vincent announces spring tour. [via Obscure Sound]

Do books have a future? An interview with Robert Darnton of Harvard. [via A Piece of Monologue]

While we’re there, Rhys Tranter talks about Alain de Botton’s arguments on art and ambiguity. [via A Piece of Monologue]

More details on the collaborative album between Jonny Greenwood and Krzysztof Penderecki. [via Consequence of Sound]

Margaret Atwood and the tall shadow of The Handmaid’s Tale. [via The Guardian]

Bulletin

And many happy wishes from us here at WKLC in this forthcoming Year of the Dragon.

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