Just finished reading an absolutely amazing book, EUROPEANA by Patrik Ourednik. At AWP at the Dalkey table I asked Jeremy Davies to recommend me a couple of titles that I should read that I had not yet. He pointed at EUROPEANA and asked if I'd read it, I said no, he said, "Pick it up and read any page." I read half of one page and bought the book.
That kind of confidence: that literally any page in a book could make someone want to buy it: is perhaps all too rare thing in books, and yet with EUROPEANA, it could not be more true. Labeled as 'A Brief History of the 20th Century,' this book is essentially a tour of the grotesque and absurd elements of that period in the world, focusing on concentration camps, consumerism, fucked art movements, psychologies, inventions, and other compilings of the stranger auras of human life. Though the book is still rendered in fiction: if anything, it is Ourednik's even manner of reportage and interjection in the outlaying of such horrors that make it literally almost impossible to want them to stop. Ripley's Believe it or Not could only beg to have half of the resonances here.
Here, I am going to turn to a page and type a couple lines at random:
Engineers called radio wireless telephony, and some elderly people thought that radio was like the telephone and they had paid in advance for someone to telephone them and let them know where a war had broken out. And when they first watched television, they thought it was like the kinetoscope that they had seen at the world fair, and that someone in the building, such as a daughter-in-law or grandchild, was turning a handle and making fun of them. Some elderly people were also in the habit of replying to the questions asked by television or radio presenters, such as when someone on the television or radio said AND WHAT DO YOU THINK HAPPENED NEXT? they would say WELL, I REALLY DON'T KNOW, or when someone on the television or the radio said AND WHAT DO YOU THINK THE WEATHER WILL BE LIKE TOMORROW? they would say IT'S ABOUT TIME WE HAD A DROP OF RAIN, OR IT'LL PUT AN END TO THE HARVEST. Great achievements were also scored in the field of hygiene, because before the First World War people bathed infrequently and when they did, the whole family bathed in the same tub, or the whole family and the neighbors, etc.
The book goes on like this, in short bursts of knowing, often much more brutal and concerned with ideas like phone sex and genocide and communism and bastard children and etc. It is the best 122 page book I have ever read, and does more in those 122 pages than most books of any length, and is a surprisingly smooth and fun and funny read despite its heavy subject matters.
Derek White wrote a long and really excellent post about reading Wittgenstein's Mistress on the beach.
Rereading Johannes Goransson's Swedish issue of Typo makes me want to write more, in power. What an amazing collection of work. I really love the first poem by Gunnar Harding here.
Can I say I love Rauan Klassnik? He has a new ebook out, RINGING, from Kitchen Press, that does new things for ebooks, both in form and content. (a) the book has its own url rauanklassnikringing.com, which I love, and the book is offered as html text only, a printable version, and in flash with illustrations by Ron. Two innovations for ebooks there that make this project exciting before you even begin to read.
The content as well is classic Klassnik, with brash sex and convulsive imagery. I am going to walk around for the next few weeks repeating the line: "Birds like planets——all ripped up." like Rain Man.
He seems to make these little aggressive forts inside of words, half throw-uppy and often childish, half ornate and/or sublime. The closest artist I can think of to compare to Klassnik is Pasolini, for their carcrash sex powerlight and their clear care among the 'profane'.
Here is a page from the book that exhibits this to me:
Curled up against each other we licked and sucked till we came splashing in each other’s faces. A chimp’s running down through the streets in the rain. Suddenly he pulls into a doorway where a woman’s undressing. We must have looked so cool——arched back, waving. Columned. Spired. Domed.
I like how this works in shifting between high and low, gross and high, etc.
Another wonderful read from someone doing something new.
I think I have more things to say about things in a thing way but I am going to save it, it is raining here and the rain makes me want to turn off and go roll under something, I am going to try to focus on reading soon, I have been reading several things at once and though I rarely do that, I am enjoying it.
Coming next week, Thursday March 5 I am reading with Gary Lutz and Robert Lopez for EVER release at Word Bookstore in Brooklyn, if you live in town and have interest please mark the day, I will say more about this later.
There are several big-medium to large sized things in occurrence proceedings, which will be elucidated soon, I hope.
Going now to edit this very long novel I am halfway finished with editing a second draft of.