Blabblebabble

New Bookbabble featuring yours truly is online! This time we are joined by the Malaysian literary reviewer Umpagan Ampikaipakan, who fights a country that doesn’t read and Francois Monti, the marvelous Belgian book blogger of tabula rasa and fric frac club fame. Björn, Lone, Donny, myself and of course Renée are also there. Topics, uh, are Herta Müller, the Booker Prize, criminally underrated Science Fiction and Obama. And other things. We’re lucky I didn’t notice who won this year’s Bollingen so you are spared a rant about that. Enjoy. Here’s the link.

Found in Translation

L’an passé, lorsque le Nobel fut décerné à un écrivain français, la presse américaine s’est demandée “who ?”. Cette année, le blogger le plus illustre de France n’a pas trouvé mieux que de s’épancher sur son favori (Roth) et, lui qui a toujours quelque chose à dire, a été contraint au silence par le choix de l’Académie suédoise. De JMG who à Herta qui, on se dit qu’on n’a pas de quoi faire les malins. C’est pourquoi le FFC a contacté son correspondant allemand pour qu’il nous cause de cette Herta Müller, inconnue par ici malgré trois traductions. Ne pas savoir qui est l’auteur est toujours de notre faute, jamais celle du jury.

quoth the introduction over at the land of plenty, a.k.a. the Fric Frac Club, to Francois Monti‘s diligent and competent translation and reworking of my Herta Müller essay. May I add that it’s considerably better than the original? It is. Dig in. Here’s the link. Enjoy.

A Man’s Gotta Have Values!

M. Majistral from the excellent lit blog tabula rasa interrupts his review to vent a frustration of his:

Mais voilà, pardonnez-moi une grossièreté : j’en ai plein le cul de jouer (et ce jeu dure depuis très exactement quatre ans et un jour) à faire la liste des bons et des mauvais points des livres lus. J’en ai plein le cul de résumer l’intrigue. Oubliez donc les trois paragraphes qui précèdent, virons les chapeaux et les chutes et passons, rapidement sans doute, trop rapidement peut-être, à ce qui fait, selon moi, tout l’intérêt du « Livre sacré du loup-garou ». Pas pourquoi il faudrait l’acheter. Même pas pourquoi il faudrait le lire (ça, finalement, vous l’avez vu plus haut ou ailleurs : amusant, blablabla). Non : ce que je veux brièvement mentionner ici, c’est ce que ce roman de Pelevine (et sans doute plus que certains de ses précédents textes) aura évoqué en moi.

As someone who had trouble starting to write reviews (and is still crappy at it), trying to slip out of his academic skin, trying to transmit his passions for literature and still make a point that could not be summed up by an emoticon, I can understand that. But I think these three things (“pourquoi il faudrait l’acheter”, “pourquoi il faudrait le lire” and “ce que ce roman de Pelevine … aura évoqué en moi”) cannot be easily separated, or at least I try not to separate them. WordPress’ blogcounter tells me this blog’s being read (not that I’d know from the comments) and I hope that people who read my reviews can see that my reviews are, first and foremost, accounts of what the books move in me, of how they move me; and since I am a missionary whose faith in God got lost in the mail, apparently, I then spent a lot of time trying to persuade people to read or not read a certain book. I’m not sure if I misread M. Majistral’s frustration here, but I think he thinks too little of the worth of the first two parts. I know my attempts to force him to read some great writers (Jahnn comes to mind) have been unsuccessful, so far, but you can always try. See, I’m hugely egocentric, and currently pummeled by an unholy headache, but when I think a book is great or important or just really worth reading or thinking about, then I tend to think: you, reader, you need to read this. your life will be better with the book than without it. Yes it’s myopic, but that’s me. The same goes for bad books, too. Why should someone read the Brooklyn Follies when he could read Shining at the Bottom of the Sea or Go tell it on the Mountain instead? Sorry. Have no idea where I’m going with this. Getting some aspirin. Bye.

"Un parfum de contradiction"

Fausto @ tabula rasa has something interesting to say about Roberto Saviano’s mafia bestseller

L’un des leitmotivs théorique du livre est celui de la camorra comme avant-garde de l’ultralibéralisme radical. Il devient vite évident que derrière cette idée il y a déjà un problème fondamental de connaissance en philosophie politique. Ce qui est considéré ici comme libéralisme correspond à la vision du vulgus pecum et n’a pas grand-chose de commun avec la théorie politique et économique du même nom qui, rappelons le tout de même, se base sur le droit, qu’il soit garanti par l’Etat, pour les plus modérés, ou naturel, pour certains des plus radicaux. Le libéralisme dénoncé est un fantasme absolu qui rappelle les cris délirants de certains pour qui des politiques tout simplement sociales-démocrates sont communistes. En fait, Saviano décrit les processus typiques du capitalisme corporatiste statodépendant justement dénoncés par les libéraux radicaux. De plus, un parfum de contradiction plane régulièrement sur le rôle de l’Etat dans ce montage où l’on a un peu l’impression qu’il est la solution avant d’être identifié comme le problème et vice-versa.

"C’est ce vide qui m’ennuie"

Facinating article on what fellow blogger Fausto @ tabula rasa perceives as a lack in the francophonic blogosphere; I direct your attention especially to the comment section where a lively (and vitriolic) debate is taking place. I admit I do not share some axiomatic values of Fausto’s complaint, but the utter lack of the kind of blogs he mentions, useless though they may be, is noteworthy. If I may add a personal note: two years ago I looked quite intensively for a francophone discussion board and failed to find one of any quality. How small the francophone blog world is exemplified by the fact that on the one board I did start to frequent, http://forum.fluctuat.net/, the only knowledgeable person I found (Christian G@rp), belongs to the small blog network FFC.

Beer is obvious

In response to this, the following wonderful paragraph was emailed me by M. Majistral of tabula rasa, the best non-professional literature blog I know (I publish it with his assent):

I guessed as much (and I had seen the slogan on your blog in the past) but it was too tempting to comment on content (especially since I know people who say that). I can’t read German but I do sort of understand the simple words (ie those with some similarities to English or Dutch words) and truth be told “Nein, nein, das ist nicht der Kapitalismus” is not the hardest thing to get. It picqued my interest so I had a closer look. Bier was obvious, sagen too, Köpfe I knew from the Dutch Kop, abends from God knows were and jetzt from a friend from the german-speaking part of Belgium who used to have a sticker with “Ich Bums Jetzt Jeden Tag !”. I then bablefished the whole thing to put the pieces together — which confirmed my hinch regarding Börsianer. So you see that was a long winded process that should lead you to one conclusion: more than one simple sentence, I can’t read.