“…the Oglalas are my tribe.”

So in my Jason Aaron review, near the end, I go on a bit of a jag about representation and about the comparative flatness of Aaron’s “Rez” compared to his Southerners, and today I came across this apparently fairly famous review/essay by the fantastic Sherman Alexie.

Of course, Frazier writes all of this with transcendent talent, with compelling metaphors and gorgeous description, and I was moved. But something troubled me, and I realized that Frazier and Big Crow had never met each other, that he knew of her only through other people’s stories and newspaper clippings. […] Does he ever admit that somebody from “the rez” has a different life experience than somebody who is just writing about the rez? Does he understand that the title of his book should have been “On Their Reservation?” As he could be accused of objectifying Big Crow, he is also guilty of objectifying the entire Oglala Nation. He claims ownership of the tribe when he states, “By blood and circumstances, I can never be an Oglala; but by long-standing affinity, the Oglalas are my tribe.” I pray that all of you understand the power of Frazier’s use of the possessive “my tribe.” I hope that you realize that an Indian and a white man can both use that possessive and mean two entirely different things.


So as announced here, here is my first collection of poetry. It’s genuinely beautifully designed. Click here for a peek at some poems. Here is a very kind review in Am Erker Nr. 71. Here is a review (pdf) of the collection by Wolfgang Ratz. Here is the publisher’s page where you can order the book, if you want.  Or email the publisher directly at order@edition-mantel.ch. Order it for a Uni library if you can do that. Again, I can’t do anything about the pricing, although I’m sort of hoping to find out eventually how to have it available through German bookstores. What is Prosopopeia?prospopo 1908494_10204442379557863_3227440774869943416_n 10336619_10204442384397984_606714624468989919_n


Schwer, eine Satire zu schreiben. Nicht bloß weil der Zustand, der ihrer mehr bedürfte als je einer, allen Spottes spottet. Das Mittel der Ironie selber ist in Widerspruch zur Wahrheit geraten […] Dabei setzt sie die Idee des Selbstverständlichen, ursprünglich der gesellschaftlichen Resonanz voraus. Nur wo ein zwingender Consensus der Subjekte angenommen wird, ist subjektive Reflexion, der Vollzug des begrifflichen Akts überflüssig. Der bedarf des Beweises nicht, welcher die Lacher auf seiner Seite hat. Historisch hat demzufolge die Satire über Jahrtausende, bis zum Voltaireschen Zeitalter, gern mit Stärkeren es gehalten, auf die Verlaß war, mit Autorität. […] Schuld an der Unmöglichkeit von Satire heute hat nicht, wie Sentimentalität es will, der Relativismus der Werte, die Abwesenheit verbindlicher Normen. Sondern Einverständnis selber, das formale Apriori der Ironie, ist zum inhaltlich universalen Einverständnis geworden. Als solches wäre es der einzig würdige Gegenstand von Ironie und entzieht ihr zugleich den Boden.

-Adorno (Minima Moralia)

(pace Angermann)

“Hey Marcel, I think your review is awful”: My 2014 in Book Reviews

10922461_10205789576805726_6206837516593422556_nSo in one of the few comments I get, it was pointed out that 5 years ago, I published a less than stellar review. So…that’s true. As I said in my autumn announcement, I was trying to rev up my reviewing last year. If you know this blog and all the time it’s been around, you may not have noticed the near coma it was in for a few years. Since my announcement I published a few reviews. None of them are close reading analyses, and similarly awful as the incriminated 2009 review. They just offer an opinion. It’s 10 reviews overall. which sounds like little, but in 2013 I merely put up 5 reviews and 2012 only 3. That means I wrote more last year than in the two previous years put together (it was 9 reviews in 2011, so more than that, too). Might not be a lot, but I’m mostly happy with this. Below is an overview of the books I reviewed.

I reviewed Damon Galgut’s debut called The Beautiful Screaming of Pigs. I am a fan of the writer. I think that shows in my review.

I reviewed Denise Mina’s crime novel Field of Blood, which is a more than solid entry in the genre, heightened by its perceptiveness of social and gender issues.

I reviewed Lawrence Norfolk’s most recent book John Saturnall’s Feast. Norfolk is one of my favorite writer and parts of the review ended up being a comment on his career so far, to contextualize my disappointment with what, really, is an excellent novel.

I reviewed Ilija Trojanow’s Global Warming novel EisTau. It hasn’t been translated yet but it should. It’s very good and should lend itself well to translations.

I reviewed Ned Vizzini’s It’s Kind of a Funny Story, a YA novel on suicide and mental illness. My review has a few rants on YA books as well as generally books on suicide.

I reviewed Jen Williams’s debut fantasy novel The Copper Promise, which is a more than solid entry in its genre. Great fun. The review doubles as a review of Wiebe and Upchurch’s first Rat Queens trade which is fantastic.

I reviewed John Irving’s most recent book In One Person. Irving is one of my favorite novelists. It shows in my review. Ron Charles calls Irving “America’s most uneven great writer”. He’s not wrong. In One Person, however, is one of his very best books.

I reviewed Joanna Rakoff’s memoir My Salinger Year, which is not a great read, but might be a good gift? This is the only pan I wrote this year.

I reviewed the first four trades of Jason Aaron’s Scalped. Aaron is very good. Scalped is very good. There are problems with it. I get a bit righteous about them towards the end.

As my final review of 2014 I reviewed Patrick Modiano’s debut novel La place de l’étoile, which doubles as an assessment of the 2014 Nobel Prize winner. I was very unhappy about that win, and I *might* have yelled about it on Twitter. In my review/comment I chose to emphasize what I like about his work.

Have a happy 2015.