“One of the lessons—if there really are lessons, because deep down it is idiotic to think you can learn from experience—is the fluctuation between what can be done or said and what can be neither said nor done. A diary should be written about the second part of the sentence; that is, you should ultimately write about the limits or the frontiers that make certain words or actions impossible. But where do those obstacles come from, the feeling that there is something—a space, a person, a series of actions—’that cannot be done?’ It wouldn’t mean a ‘real’ impossibility but rather a place it is prohibited to enter. Then we ask whom it is prohibited for and start again . . . It’s also true that my past (what Pavese calls personal destiny) allows me to see or define what I can do; the rest of the alternatives and options I could never see nor conceive of directly. Literature could be, among other things, helpful as away of discovering or describing these blind spots.” p.220
— Ricardo Piglia, The Diaries of Emilio Renzi: Formative Years (trans. Robert Croll)
Blind spots. “In the end, I will always be an outsider to things.” How to be known? My only regret is that I didn’t bring the second volume of diaries with me.
In the first few months of last year I sampled rather more contemporary fiction than is usual for me. Frankly much of it wasn’t to my taste and ended up abandoned. Contemporary literature in any period tends toward mediocre, so it wasn’t too surprising.
This year, my new book purchasing will be much more restrained. These are those I am most looking forward to.
It isn’t any surprise that Seagull Books dominates the list as they have impeccable taste in bringing forth newly translated treasures. I also expect to make some new discoveries through my subscription to the always intriguing Fitzcarraldo Editions.
Giorgio Agamben, Pulcinella: Or Entertainment for Children (trans. Kevin Attell)
Giorgio Agamben, The Adventure (trans. Lorenzo Chiesa)
Friederike Mayröcker, Requiem for Ernst Jandl (trans. Rosalyn Theobald)
Ilse Aichinger, Bad Words (trans. Uljana Wolf and Christian Hawkey)
Pascal Quignard, Villa Amalia (trans. Chris Turner)
Rachel Cusk, Kudos
Claudio Magris, Journeying (trans. Anne Milano Appel)
Dag Solstad, Armand V (trans. Steven T. Murray)
Dag Solstad, T Singer (trans. Tiina Nunnally)
Peter Handke, The Great Fall (trans. Krishna Winston)
Jon Fosse, Scenes from a Childhood
Esther Kinsky, River (trans. Iain Galbraith)
Clarice Lispector, The Chandelier (trans. Benjamin Moser and Magdalena Edwards)
Cesare Pavese, The Beautiful Summer
Alberto Manguel, Packing My Library: An Elegy and Ten Digressions
Joanna Walsh, Break.up
Kate Zambreno, Drifts (since confirmed for early 2019)
Ismail Kadare, Essays on World Literature Shakespeare, Aeschylus, Dante