Letture estive. Libertà

Jonathan Franzen, Libertà (Einaudi), traduzione di Silvia Pareschi. L'ho letto d'un fiato e in generale mi è piaciuto, con qualche riserva. Lo definirei un feuilleton super sofisticato. Innanzitutto per la scelta dei personaggi, almeno di una parte di essi, ricchi e bizzarri newyorchesi. Poi perché dice tutto di tutti, facendoci entrare nelle case dei personaggi, tipo serial tv. Infine perché si conclude con un happy ending, facendo prevalere i buoni e le buone intenzioni (questo è forse l'elemento che mi è piaciuto meno. Avrei preferito un po' più di perversità, dal figlio di Patty, per es.). Tutto questo è raccontato benissimo, con una prosa raffinata e con molto acume nel capire i personaggi, gli snodi morali, psicologici, caratteriali che affrontano, le coordinate culturali che stanno dietro le loro scelte; e senza lasciare spazi vuoti, a differenza del modernismo che era tutto un lasciar spazio al lettore. Qui siamo all'equivalente del cannocchiale puntato sui palazzi di fronte, al fare appello al nostro desiderio di sapere come gli altri fanno le cose che facciamo anche noi ogni giorno. Ottima la traduzione di Silvia Pareschi che riesce a portare nell'italiano il ritmo e la natura sofisticata e naturale al contempo della prosa di Franzen.


Punctuation Day

Il 24 settembre era National Punctuation Day. Per l'occasione The Atlantic Wire chiede ad alcuni scrittori qual è il loro segno d'interpunzione preferito. Per Kurt Loder, critico cinematografico, sono i puntini, the ellipsis, "I am addicted to ellipses. The period, that totalitarian dot, implies a certitude that can never be ours to have. The ellipsis acknowledges that everything about any subject can never be said—that there is always the possibility of deeper contemplation, the promise of further nattering; that we are a-swim in the murky universe of modern communication. These three sweet dots are a caution and a comfort, a safe haven for the finicky soul. Surely you agree …" theatlanticwire.


Drinking Diaries

On the third floor of the Strand the other night, women with streaks of gray in their hair, women with lavender cardigans, women who brought their husbands mingled cheerfully against a backdrop of richly hued books. They talked and smiled and looked at the other women. They huddled around a table with cheese and grapes, waiting for their pour of the wine.
This was a reading for a new book of essays, “Drinking Diaries,” all written by female authors and edited by Leah Odze Epstein and Caren Osten Gerszberg, who started a blog by that name in 2009. The event was billed as “an evening full of drink,” and it was, even if ... newyorker.


Can a White Author Write Black Characters?

Michael Chabon dice di sì e lo dimostra nel suo ultimo romanzo, Telegraph Avenue (Harper), "The book is a sprawling narrative about the intertwined lives of Archy Stallings and Nat Jaffe, two proprietors, one black and one white, and a used vinyl store trying to survive on the shifting, gentrifying frontier between hippie-dippy Berkeley and its neighbor, the historically black enclave of Oakland". slate. Nella foto: Mekhi Phifer in Clockers, un film Spike Lee basato su un romanzo di Richard Price.


Banished Words

Is slang the natural evolution of language, or just a ginormous trickeration of all that is sensible?

As it has every year since 1976, Lake Superior State University has released its latest “List of Words Banished from the Queen’s English for Misuse, Overuse, and General Uselessness.” The annual list, the impish brainchild of LSSU’s Public Relations Office, contains the twelve most nominated words among the thousands sent mostly by folks from the United States and Canada. The 2012 list of unfriended words includes the following: amazing (the most nominated), baby bump (a close second), shared sacrifice, occupy, blowback, man cave, the new normal, pet parent, win the future, trickeration, ginormous, and thank you in advance. Jerry DeNuccio su The Smart Set.


He Said, She Said

Simply put, false balance is the journalistic practice of giving equal weight to both sides of a story, regardless of an established truth on one side. And many people are fed up with it. They don’t want to hear lies or half-truths given credence on one side, and shot down on the other. They want some real answers. Margaret Sullivan sul nyt.


Stephen Burt

When I asked Stephen Burt’s parents if they worried about him when he was young, Burt’s father, Jeff, replied by asking me if I was Jewish. I told him I was. “Well,” he said, “to ask Jewish parents if they were worried about their children — it is a statement of fact! But were we more worried about Stephen than about the other children? The answer is yes.” ...
“What would happen to him?” Jeff remembered thinking. “What would he become? Who would marry him?”
What he became was, among many other things, one of the most influential poetry critics of his generation. Burt is 41, a professor of English at Harvard, heir to the intellectual mantle long held by giants like Harold Bloom and Helen Vendler. He is also an avid science-fiction fan, the founder of a short-lived indie-pop zine, an authority on women’s basketball, the husband of Jessie Bennett, with whom he has two sons, and an unabashed cross-dresser. nyt.


The Life of Leonard Cohen

I'm Your Man è il titolo delle recente biografia di Leonard Cohen, scritta da Sylvie Simmons (Ecco). Scrive Janet Maslin, "Writing about a living subject, Sylvie Simmons says, means having “to immerse yourself in that person’s life to a degree that would probably get you locked up in any decent society.” It can also mean abandoning all hope of objectivity. But despite her simpatico feel for the life and work of her subject, Ms. Simmons’s “I’m Your Man” is the major, soul-searching biography that Leonard Cohen deserves". nyt.


Real Estate in Literature

John Lanchester’s recent novel, Capital [Faber], is full of sharply drawn characters, men and women living at different points on the class spectrum of modern England, whose lives intersect in a series of increasingly fraught episodes. Yet one of its most memorable characters isn’t a person at all, but, rather, a street. newyorker

la strada è Pepys Road, la città Londra, il periodo 2007-8. Sembra tutto molto appettitoso.


Fiction vs Non-Fiction

In un'intervista a Bookforum Zadie Smith dice, "Non-fiction is so much easier, so of course it’s more enjoyable to do. No personal agony goes in to non-fiction—or at least it doesn’t for me. Fiction is a much more messy and personal and embarrassing thing to do, and a much more difficult thing to present to someone else. I never feel any shame showing someone an essay, but I feel great shame showing someone a novel. It’s just a different exercise. But I’ve been blessed: I can’t exaggerate how it is being British in America and having all these outlets for what are incredibly long and minority interest essays. It’s amazing. So really, my non-fiction is a product of being in New York and realizing someone would actually want to publish these things, whereas in England it’s honestly quite hard to place something like that". bookforum.


How rude should a book critic be?

In questi giorni sulla stampa americana e inglese si parla molto del mestiere del recensore. Ecco quel che dice Caleb Crain, "A non-question has recently preoccupied the literary corners of the Internet: How rude should a book critic be? I call it a non-question because its non-answer is the same as for people in social situations generally: it depends. ... Is it possible to shift the question toward ethics? What if we ask: How free should a critic be? ... Maybe we haven’t correctly identified yet the critic’s essential function, and the disagreement will vanish once we do. So let’s alter the question again: How is a critic free? Along what axis, if any, is a critic allowed complete freedom? theparisreview.


Teju Cole on Naipaul

"Two years ago, I was invited to a dinner party in New York. It took place on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, in a penthouse apartment. Our host was not merely rich: she had a name that through long association with money had itself become a shorthand for wealth. The dinner was being held in honor of a writer, by now old and famous, on the publication of his latest and perhaps final book. And because the book was about Africa, and because as a man ages his thoughts circle around questions of legacy, the writer, who was not himself African, had requested, in lieu of a normal book launch, a quiet dinner with a group of young African writers. This was how I came to be invited".

Bell'incipit, vero?

"The faint hiss of champagne being poured. The clink of glasses. Far below us was the obscurity of the East River and, beyond it, the borough of Queens, glimmering in the dark. In all that darkness was an infinity of information, invisible under the cloak of night". newyorker.


The End of Men

Hanna Rosin
The End of Men è la prima parte del titolo di un saggio di Hanna Rosin (Riverhead). La seconda metà dice: And the Rise of Women. Ne parla oggi sul NYT David Brooks, "Over the years, many of us have embraced a certain theory to explain men’s economic decline. It is that the information-age economy rewards traits that, for neurological and cultural reasons, women are more likely to possess.
To succeed today, you have to be able to sit still and focus attention in school at an early age. You have to be emotionally sensitive and aware of context. You have to communicate smoothly. For genetic and cultural reasons, many men stink at these tasks.
But, in her fascinating new book, “The End of Men,” Hanna Rosin posits a different theory. It has to do with adaptability. Women, Rosin argues, are like immigrants who have moved to a new country. They see a new social context, and they flexibly adapt to new circumstances. Men are like immigrants who have physically moved to a new country but who have kept their minds in the old one. They speak the old language. They follow the old mores. Men are more likely to be rigid; women are more fluid". nyt.


Nuove uscite di settembre

The first half of September brings highly anticipated new works from three heavyweights (and New Yorker fiction contributors). On September 4th, Zadie Smith releases “NW” (Penguin), the story of four young Londoners navigating the twisting social and economic landscape of the city. Michael Chabon’s Oakland-set “Telegraph Avenue” (Harper), out September 11th, centers on the lives of the co-owners of an Oakland record store and their midwife wives. And Junot Diaz’s short-story collection “This Is How You Lose Her” (Riverhead), also out on the eleventh, continues to follow Yunior, the New Jersey teen-ager familiar to fans of Diaz’ previous collection, “Drown.” ... newyorker.


Apologia del critico

Daniel Mendelsohn parla del mestiere di critico e recensore, "In all the years I read these writers, as I went through high school and then college and grad school, it never occurred to me that they were trying to persuade me to actually see this or that performance, buy this or that volume, or take in this or that movie; nor did I imagine that I was being bullied or condescended to, or that I wasn’t allowed to disagree with them. I thought of these writers above all as teachers, and like all good teachers they taught by example; the example that they set, week after week, was to recreate on the page the drama of how they had arrived at their judgments. (The word critic, as I learned much later, comes from the Greek word for “judge.”). newyorker.


This Is How You Lose Her

This Is How You Lose Her è il titolo della raccolta di racconti di Junot Diaz, appena uscita presso Riverhead. Diaz nel parla con Boris Kachka sul New York Magazine, "It took forever to get the fucking stories I needed to do this project,” says Díaz, whose lunch conversation runs like an advanced literary seminar taught by a bilingual stand-up comedian working very blue. One early version of the title story began at Rutgers, where he went to college and met his first love; another was set in Boerum Hill, where he lived in a cheap walk-up before Drown was published". nymag.



Hitchens e Carol Blue
Mortality è il titolo dell'ultimo libro di Christopher Hitchens (Twelve) e ne raccoglie gli scritti sulla malattia usciti per Vanity Fair.
Slate riporta la postfazione - molto bella - della moglie di Hitchens, Carol Blue. Eccone uno stralcio, "At home at one of the raucous, joyous, impromptu eight-hour dinners we often found ourselves hosting, where the table was so crammed with ambassadors, hacks, political dissidents, college students, and children that elbows were colliding and it was hard to find the space to put down a glass of wine, my husband would rise to give a toast that could go on for a stirring, spellbinding, hysterically funny 20 minutes of poetry and limerick reciting, a call to arms for a cause, and jokes. “How good it is to be us,” he would say in his perfect voice. slate.