Hello, and welcome to the fifteenth issue of Spiral-Bound. A part of The Modern Word, Spiral-Bound is a newsletter for all enthusiasts of modern literature. My name is Allen Ruch, also known as The Great Quail. Although if you go by frequency of issues, you may have thought of me as The Hibernating Quail.
I know its been a while since the last Spiral-Bound, but they have not been idle months. The Modern Word is proud to announce several new features, including columns, a new contest, and another Small Press Spotlight.
A couple of things before we begin. In order to fit everything in, Book News will be temporarily omitted; it will return next issue. Also, the Featured Links section was contributed by staff writer (and Finnish Kraftwerk expert) Ismo Santala.
B) Contest #2: Adaptation
Last month, The Modern Word announced its third general contest: The Discovery. The first prize is a copy of Alan Moores Voice of the Fire, signed by Alan Moore! (Courtesy of Top Shelf Comics.)
You have just discovered a text by a famous author a manuscript, a letter, a page of notes, a shopping list, a few doodles, etc. It could be something entirely new, or it could directly relate to an established work. Describe your discovery, providing background, context, and exploration of possible meaning.
The review should be between 500 and 1000 words, and must be submitted electronically to The Modern Word at the following email address: email@example.com. Entries should be submitted as a Microsoft Word attachment, or as text in the body of the email itself. Entries must be submitted by September 15, 2004.
More details, including the prizes, may be found at:
The Modern Word is proud to introduce monthly columns by a quartet of wonderful writers. Michael Cisco will look at literature in Jungle Mind. Amy Rosenbergs Unreal Cities examines cities and their relationship to literature. Andrew F. Duncans Hot Lunch USA takes on pop culture, and Emmet Coles Joyous Anarchy offers opinions on, well, all of the above and more. Additionally, Slightly Foxed serves as a Modern Word soapbox, and will be open to any writer or reader with something interesting to say.
For a list of current columns, head on over to:
A) Featured Books
We have three books to feature in this issue.
Paul Austers latest novel.
And yet, as its title suggests, Oracle Night is not so much about looking backward as it is about looking forward. It is about the writing process and the strange compulsion to fill blank pages with words, words that have been always already used up, but can still be recombined and replenished in new and wondrous ways. Looking into the future can be a destructive process, as Lemuel Flagg discovers in Austers story within a story within a story, and Sidney Orr finds that his future is as absurd and meaningless as that which he allocates to his character. But despite these revelations, the characters continue to tell their stories, and with such a compulsion that one tale is always threatening to overwhelm the other. This does not mean that the characters or their tales always make sense: like in all of Austers fiction, Oracle Night contains characters that occasionally act in incomprehensible ways or discover ruptures in their own reality....
Full review at:
By Blair Mahoney
2. Lambent Traces
Stanley Corngolds examination of Kafka.
Stanley Corngold has a mighty reputation in Kafka studies, one which he deserves, and his latest book gladly continues his own search for the original Kafka. As long as one can appreciate Corngolds dense, convoluted style, and as long as one accepts that Lambent Traces is intended for those who may know a little too much about Kafka criticism, it provides a fine example of what can be done when a sharp critic puts his mind to a great author. Corngold is both meticulous and creative in a field that too rarely combines both qualities. Not only is he an encyclopedia of Kafka criticism, he can also make persuasive arguments that would sound absurd coming from anyone else. In one work, he compared the complex contradictions of Kafka to a double helix, with two opposing elements swirling around each other in a confusing twist. In another, he summarized every existing article written about The Metamorphosis.
Lambent Traces is a collection of essays compiled under a general thesis: too many critics are focusing on the cultural and political side of Kafka. Yes, Kafka was Jewish, and some of the anti-Semitism of the early 20th century may have played a role in his fiction. However, when a book such as Sander L. Gilmans Franz Kafka: The Jewish Patient attempts to transform Kafkas writing into a subconscious filtering of anti-Semitism, then its gone too far. Corngold spends three chapters picking apart major works of Kafka criticism such as Deleuze and Guattaris Kafka: Towards a Minor Literature in order to pull Kafka away from the worldly interpretations which keep the author solidly defined by his culture....
Full review at:
By Jeff Nowak
3. The End of Art
Donald Kuspits look at modern art. Includes an interview with the author.
A photographic detail from the Hirst installation Home, Sweet Home consisting of a clutter of fag ends, beer bottles, Coke cans, coffee cups and sweet wrappings on a table graces the cover of The End of Art. Valued at around $7000, Home, Sweet Home was famously binned by humble cleaner Emmanuel Asare, who afterwards explained, to the amusement of the Press, that he did so because he didnt think for a second that it was a work of art.
Neither does Donald Kuspit.
Indeed, Home, Sweet Home is so far beyond what can properly considered art, Kuspit believes, that he uses the term postart to describe it. And, like Asare, Kuspit engages in a spot of enlightened cleaning in an attempt to remove the postmodern clutter that threatens to swamp our artistic landscape....
Full review at:
By Emmet Cole
C) Small Press Spotlight
Exact Change specializes in books on surrealism, the avant garde, and pataphysics. You may read more about Exact Change and their work at this months Small Press Spotlight. The feature includes an introductory essay, an interview with editor Damon Krukowski, several notable publications, and resource links:
III. The Modern Word
A) Whats New at the Modern Word?
The following notable recent additions have been made to The Modern Word:
Selected New Features:
Notes on Kafkas diaries, letters, and notebooks.
Selected New Commentary
Bob Williams reviews yes I said yes I will Yes. A Celebration of James Joyce, Ulysses, and 100 Years of Bloomsday.
Selected New Papers
Eco: Beasts and Buildings: Religious Symbolism and Medieval Memory
Brendan Newlon discusses memory, mnemonics, and monastics. (PDF)
Joyce: Musical Allusions in Dubliners
Lindsey Warren looks at or listens to Dubliners.
Pynchon: An injustice that will not cancel out
Michael D. Koontz on Slavery and the Voice of the Victim in Mason & Dixon.
B) Whats in the Works?
The next few months should see reviews of Neal Stephensons Quicksilver, John Barths The Book of Ten Nights and a Night, James Kelmans You Have to Be Careful in the Land of the Free, and David Foster Wallaces Oblivion. Das Schloss will continue to be fleshed out, and future Scriptorium pages include Flann OBrien, David Foster Wallace, William S. Burroughs, A.S. Byatt, and Ezra Pound. The next Small Press Spotlight will focus on Night Shade Books. And a whole new section will soon open the Sideshow. Edited by Alan DeNiro, the Sideshow will feature reviews of short fiction and literary magazines.
C) The Daily Muse A Call for Submissions
One feature on The Modern Words main Rotunda page is the Daily Muse, a literary thought which changes daily, such as a quote, trivia question, or word of the day. If anyone has a favorite quote they would like to contribute, a literary trivia question, or a literary word of the day, please email it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. If your submission is selected, your name will be entered in a drawing for a free book!
Congratulations to Miku Hinsaki for her Daily Muse quote. She has been sent a copy of Neal Stephensons Quicksilver.
IV. Literary Events
1. The Cracked Lookingglass
July 6-August 13, 2004, NYC. A major exhibition of Ulysses-inspired artworks.
2. Godot Has Left the Building
July 7-Aug 6; Lex Theatre, LA. John Griffins Beckett-inspired play.
Joyce: Joycean Naming
August 1-7, 2004, Zürich. A Joycean workshop billed as an intense, critical, friendly exchange of ideas.
V. Featured Links
A) Interesting Articles
The Guardian. April 24, 2004. James Wood traces the roots of humor and argues that tragi-comedy was invented by the modern novel.
And Afterward, the Dark
Kansas City Star. May 2, 2004. John Mark Eberhart on the big novels of the 1990s.
B) Featured Sites (By Ismo Santala)
Zembla has begun to post Nabokovs novel online, with extensive
annotations by Brian Boyd.
Tajan & Nabokovs Library
The auction firm offers some lovely scans of Nabokovs inscriptions to his wife and son.
Iain Sinclair Chat Transcript
From The Guardians Book Talk series.
Masters of Cinema
A good film resource. News, an up-to-date release calendar for DVDs and a whole bunch of interesting links. They also host in-depth sites for Tarkovsky and Bresson, etc.
ARC Museum (Art Renewal Center)
Some of the artists featured are a bit dry (landscape painters, etc.), but the galleries (literally hundreds and hundreds of them!) cover most of the Old Masters. The image quality is outstanding throughout. And if kitsch is your thing, do check out the French Orientalists!
The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy
As far as I can see, this is the best introductory guide to some of the major figures in the canon of Western Philosophy. Yes, some of the pieces are drier than dust, but the overview is impressive.