mercredi, novembre 29, 2006


No shadow
No stars
No moon
No care
It only believes
In a pile of dead leaves
And a moon
That's the color of bone

No prayers for November
To linger longer
Stick your spoon in the wall
We'll slaughter them all

November has tied me
To an old dead tree
Get word to April
To rescue me

November's cold chain
Made of wet boots and rain
And shiny black ravens
On chimney smoke lanes
November seems odd
You're my firing squad

With my hair slicked back
With carrion shellac
With the blood from a pheasant
And the bone from a hare

Tied to the branches
Of a roebuck stag
Left to wave in the timber
Like a buck shot flag

Go away you rainsnout
Go away, blow your brains out

Tom Waits, The Black Rider

NBA : Coulisses

This year, I was a judge. What that means is that between the beginning of May and the middle of August, I (and my four fellow judges) read 258 books. Each. The same 258 novels. To put that in perspective, it's pertinent to note that outside of a Bible and a phone book, many households in the United States probably own (and read) zero works of serious fiction.

Nonfiction outnumbers fiction in new titles published each year by 4 to 1, so the nonfiction judges read twice what we did — 500 submissions. One judge remarked that she came home one day to find her children had constructed a fort out of them. In my case, I constructed an elaborate system of piles: read, unread, couldn't get past Page 10, crap, bloated, vomitous, kill-me-now and praise God.

The criteria for submission was that the publisher pay $100 to the National Book Foundation for each book submitted and then send a copy of the book (or manuscript) to each judge. The author had to be a citizen of the United States. In our first conference call, we began to try to define what we were looking for. A "national" book? A work of fiction that spoke to the "American" character? Judge No. 1 wanted "readability," and No. 5 wanted "a sense of discovery." I just wanted writing that would set my hair on fire.

To be eligible, all novels had to be published in 2006, and the list included books by Roth, Updike, McCarthy, Richard Ford, Stephen King, Walter Mosley, Edward P. Jones, Mary Gordon, Dave Eggers, Charles Frazier, Bobbie Ann Mason, Tom McGuane, Joyce Carol Oates. (Only two from her. Musta been a slow season.)

Through conference calls and e-mail, the five of us started to get a sense of one another's tastes and personalities, and we discovered that we had more in common than not. Peter Behrens' "The Law of Dreams" was an early favorite, as was "The Echo Maker" by Richard Powers (my hair-on-fire favorite and the eventual winner) and "White Guys" by Anthony Giardina. All of us were in favor of Roth's "Everyman," though we agreed it was not his strongest book (except for No. 4, who called it equal to Tolstoy). Judge No. 2 kept pressing for "The Zero" by Jess Walter. Cormac McCarthy's "The Road" made me cry but left everyone else unmoved. Judge No. 4, an admitted friend of Roth's, had another favorite — "Only Revolutions" by Mark Danielewski, which none of the rest of us could fathom but he would not give up on. We began to know that in every conference call No. 4 would speak at length and very movingly in support of the book, and I finally said, "If Danielewski had written the novel you're describing, he'd deserve a Nobel, but I can't find a wormhole into that experience on the page."

Nevertheless, he was persistent — a strategy that, in the end, paid off.

Thomas Pynchon's 1,000-page doorstop came in after deadline owing to last-minute rewrites, but by the first week in September, we had five books we all more or less liked.

And we were uniformly underwhelmed.

There were no women on the list, and the titles themselves read like an anti-feminist haiku — "White Guys," "The Echo Maker," "Everyman," "The Law of Dreams," "The Zero." After months of thinking that we had to find individual books we endorsed, we suddenly realized that we needed to start thinking about a list we endorsed.

Roth, who has won the award twice, was never the front runner (except with Judge No. 4), and it seemed insulting to keep him on the list knowing he would lose. So we dropped him and allowed No. 4 to place Danielewski on the list instead. "White Guys" and "The Law of Dreams" we replaced with "Eat the Document" by Dana Spiotta and "A Disorder Peculiar to the Country" by Ken Kalfus.

When this newspaper ran a front-page article with the final list, a friend e-mailed me: "Who are these people? I don't know any of them!"

Well, exactly.

Wonderful, under-read writers. No longer so foreign. On the map, finally. Like Poland or Turkey or someplace like that.

Marianne Wiggins


Comment devenir le biographe de Vonnegut?

Le rapport entre Pynchon, David Mitchell (il faudra que j’y revienne sur celui-là), Irvine Welsh, Will Self ? Ils sont tous sélectionnés pour le « Bad sex in fiction award », qui sera remis par Courtney Love ce soir à Londres. C’est une info, dirait-on.

Et le point commun entre Pynchon, David Mitchell, Richard Powers, Amy Hempel, Emily Barton, Philip Roth, Roberto Bolano, Ishmael Reed, Mark Z Danielewski, Cormac McCarthy, Donald Antrim, David Foster Wallace, Jonathan Franzen et…Michel Houellbecq (J’aurai pu et du mettre le « et… » avant Jonathan Franzen, non ?)…tous dans les 100 notable books du new york times. Voilà.

dimanche, novembre 26, 2006


En Vrac, sur ma table de chevet :

Lydia Yuknavitch : Real to Reel – une collection de nouvelles pour le moins prometteuses – voix multiples tentant de cerner une réalité brute, brutale, passages de relais acrobatique de l’une à l’autre, postmodernisme, sex, drug and rock’n roll…..trauma de la langue, perversions à tous les étages… ;chez l’indispensable FC2.

Edwin A. Abbott : "Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions" : un classique, écrit en 1880, mettant en scène un monde en deux dimensions, dont les habitants géométriques (des carrés) faisant soudain l’expérience d’une troisième vont peu à peu remettre en question leur vision du réel (et de la société victorienne)… « Barré » à souhait !
C’est en ligne ici :

Peter Markus : The singing fish : un roman d’apprentissage complètement halluciné, au rythme de mantra –hypnotique ou boueux, that’s the question… « Then Girl stepped with both of her girl feet into this bottomless mud. Us brothers, we watched Girl lift up the cottony hem of her girl dress. The mud reached up just barely to kiss Girl's knees. Girl's knees, they are the kind of knees that make us brothers want to stay forever kneeling. When Girl stepped into this mud, it was like dipping the oar of a rower's boat into a muddy puddle. It's true, Girl was that big. Girl was so big, us brothers, we climbed our way up the side of her mud-barked body as if she were a tree. This tree, we knew, we would never get up to the top. Something would stop us -- the moon, the stars. Some passing by bird or aeroplane would get in our climbing way. The moon rising up rose, but it stopped rising when it got all tangled up in Girl's hair. Girl thought the moon was just a knot of hair that the wind had twisted up. Girl walked around for a month with the moon sitting on top of her girl's head. »

Trevor Dodge – Everyone I know lives on roads – celui ci, pour le moins excitant, je ne peux m’empêcher de vous coller direct le 4eme de couverture : « Everyone I Know Lives On Roads examines the accident scene of identity, fate and language, measuring the skidmarks for traces of our Oedipal selves and chalking out the metaphorical places where these three paths converge. Drivers, passengers and fellow road ragers along the way include Kathy Acker, Alan Greenspan, Jacques Derrida, Ayn Rand, Michael Alig and James Joyce, with Dan Rather phoning in the traffic report every 20 minutes. »

Zack Wentz : The Garbage man and the prostitute. Last but not least….l’improbable conjonction de Faulkner et de K Dick, de Alan Moore et de William Burroughs - l’histoire d’une alter-Amérique ou des choses étranges se produisent….un super-héros gras et chauve viole des jeunes filles, une star du porno disparaît mystérieusement, un loup-garou serial killer s’en prend aux prostituées, les gangs attendent l’arrivée du messie, une force inexplicable semble pousser le pays vers la guerre civile. Allez tiens, ils en parlent mieux que moi :
“A sad and creepy work which, like all science fiction, is really about the present. Many moving effects; much consensual and nonconsensual power exchange with alien life. Entertaining and at times haunting.”
William T. Vollmann

“...A sensuous riot of language, perverse and outrageous - a wild, gonzo-porn excavation of some wicked, post-futurist landscape rendered with such scatological precision you can practically see the buildings sweat. Zack Wentz is Pynchon, Bukowski, P. K. Dick, and someone else - some huffy, undiscovered heavyweight - all swinging at once, fists knowingly trained on the reader’s sense of what’s possible in fiction.”
Matthew Derby, author of Super Flat Times

“Dirty and alive . . .”
Steve Aylett author of Slaughtermatic and Lint

Bonne nuit, les petits !

vendredi, novembre 24, 2006


Among the confections favored by sweet-toothed Germans is a jelly-filled pastry called "the berliner." Now, in the German language, articles such as "a," "and," "the," etc. are never placed in front of nationalities or other nouns that designate persons according to their place of origin, although articles, quite naturally, are placed in front of pastries. So, strictly speaking, when President John F. Kennedy intoned on that historic day in 1963, "Ich bin ein Berliner," what he actually said was, "I am a jelly doughnut."

I'm for writing that is willing not merely to record but to transform, writing willing to wrap itself in the chiffon of dream and the goatskin of myth, writing that cannot be intimidated or usurped by any ideology, writing that has the wisdom to admit that much of life is indisputably goofy, and that has the guts to treat that goofiness as seriously as it treats suffering and despair.

I'm for writing that sings in the shower. I'm for writing that shoplifts lingerie at Frederick's of Hollywood, and searches the clear night sky for UFOs. I'm for writing that quivers in your lap like a saucer of jello and runs up your leg like a mouse.

I'm for writing that knocks holes in library walls.

I'm for writing that calls its own number, on a telephone line made from the nose hairs of Buddha.

I'm for writing that shall fear no evil, lo though it walk through the valley of the shadow of lit crit.

I'm for salty writing, itchy writing, steel-belted, nickel-plated writing, that attends the white lilacs after the heat is gone.

I'm for writing that rescues the princess and the dragon.

I'm for writing that runs with the women who run with the wolves.

I'm for writing that glugs out of the deep unconscious like ketchup from a bottle, writing that can get drunk on ketchup as well as on champagne, drunk writing, intoxicated by beauty and ugliness alike —but as scornful of mediocrity as if it were a hairball coughed up by a poisoned cat.

I'm for writing that resembles alchemy. I'm for writing that has an

I'm for writing that works all year on its Mardi Gras costume, sewing on feathers and bottle caps with a silver thread; writing that hums the notes that Miles and Dizzy and Thelonius hummed, that combines the motorboat scat that babies sing with that ongoing chirping requiem that some attribute to the central nervous system and others to the angels.

And lastly, I'm for writing that slips into hand-tooled Italian shoes, knots a fine Harvard Cravat about its neck, buttons on a heavy black cashmere and wool topcoat, climbs from a bullet-proof limousine onto a privileged podium in a beleaguered city, and with dignity, and with pride, and with compassion, says to an entire planet that is hanging on to every word, "I am a jelly doughnut."

Tom Robbins


To Harpo Marx

Harpo! When did you seem like an angel
the last time?
and played the gray harp of gold?

When did you steal the silverware
and bug-spray the guests?

When did your brother find rain
in your sunny courtyard?

When did you chase your last blonde
across the Millionairesses' lawn
with a bait hook on a line
protruding from your bicycle?

Harpo! Who was that Lion
I saw you with?

How did you treat the midget
and Konk the giant?

Harpo, in your recent night-club appearance
in New Orleans were you old?

Were you still chiding with your horn
in the cane at your golden belt?

Was your vow of silence an Indian Harp?

-- Jack Kerouac, 1959

Et pour entendre Kerouac Himself le lire :

jeudi, novembre 23, 2006


Alcoholics Anonymous Anonymous.

I'm founding a 12-step program for people who drink until they forget their names.


En hommage à la publication du génialissime Silence selon Jane Dark (Bravo pour le titre !) de Ben Marcus en lot 49, rapide détour par trois autres aliens de la fiction US pas (encore) publiés ici.

Gary Lutz : avec Stories in the worst way et I looked alive, Gary Lutz nous offre une série de portraits, parfois de quelques mots seulement, de narrateurs en quête de communication, souvent paranoïaques, toujours obsessionnels aux prises avec un univers à la fois abstrait et très noir. Comme chez Marcus, il faut éplucher plusieurs couches de sens, lâcher finalement les rênes avant que n’apparaisse l’humour et la dérision magnifique de Lutz. Mais avant toute chose, c’est une expérience de la phrase absolument inédite qu’il nous propose. L’exercice est quasiment pointilliste, pas un mot, pas une phrase qui ne soit poussé dans son ultime retranchement, là où, à l’instar de ses modèles le sens vacille, le quotidien se fait étrange, la vision à la fois floue et neuve, la singularité absolue. C’est l’étrangeté radicale qui primera à la première lecture, avant que l’oeuvre ne devienne, peu à peu, au fil des tentatives totalement addictive. En prime, et pour conclure, le début d’une des nouvelles de Stories : « From time to time I show up in myself just long enough for people to know they are not in the room alone. Usually, these are people who expect something from me -- a near future, a not-too-distant future. What I tell them is limited to the people I have already had myself married against. Everything I say is to the best of my knowledge and next to nothing. It comes nowhere close. »

Auteur d’une dizaine de livres plus étranges les uns que les autres (dont l’un a pour titre : ***), Michael Brodsky pousse les expériences proustiennes, swifitiennes et beckettiennes à leur point de radicalité ultime. Au premier abord intellectuelle, analytique, abstraite, l’écriture de Brodsky se laisse difficilement appréhender, là encore plusieurs tentatives s’avèrent nécessaires avant de trouver enfin à travers néologismes et parenthèses multiples le chemin menant au cœur battant du livre. Mon conseil est de commencer par son dernier roman, certainement le plus structuré, We can report them, l’histoire d’un publicitaire obsédé par la philosophie heidegerienne, les mathématiques et les serial killers. Pas simple, certes, mais tellement singulier là encore. « At that time I was collecting things. I collected stones, cigarette butts, supermarket receipts, cancelled postage stamps. They were the effluvial deposit of whatever feeling drew me toward them. Some feelings seem to be cancelled by acquisition. But immediately I had to get rid of them. The minute I touched them and I touched them badly I tainted them, I had to get rid of them. For they tainted me. They were reminders of my infection. They were all reduced after a very short time to the common denominator of my misuse of them. Jettison was the only solution. I possessed nothing. I forced them on others. Because throwing them away would have been a feeble jettison. I had to force them on others, encounter resistance, in order to make my jettison acceptable. The minute I got rid of them I felt free, I was reduced to my essence, I coincided with myself Then the old craving set in. I was too bare, I had to cover my nakedness. I sought out more butts and scraps. I painted them then removed the paint, covered them with paper, tore off the paper. Sometimes I wanted them all to look the same. That tactic seemed to domesticate them. At other times my only consolation was that they did not resemble each other in the least. That way I did not concentrate on any one, I was not forced to look at one, because I was distracted immediately by all the others. I was suffering but my foresight was an impediment to suffering. I knew it would end, somehow. »

David Ohle – Je crois avoir déjà plus bas évoqué The age of Sinatra, la suite de Motorman, roman culte si il en est, de David Ohle. Celui-ci invente un monde radicalement étrange, dans lequel le héros, Moldenke, simple bureaucrate essaie d’échapper au contrôle d’une société totalitaire, et en particulier aux coups de fils d’un certain Mr Bunce qui semble tout savoir de lui, jusqu’à ses pensées les plus intimes. Parti à la recherche de ses deux alliés, son médecin, le docteur Burnheart et l’élue de son cœur, Cock Roberta, Moldenke croisera sur son chemin d’étranges créatures, en particulier les Jellyheads, créatures sucrées, dont l ‘une des caractéristiques est de bouleverser les lettres de leurs phrases avant de les remettre dans l’ordre, le tout entrecoupé de lettres, d’anecdotes, de rapports scientifiques et de bulletins météorologiques divers. Grand frère de tout le courant absurdiste, on a compris que David Ohle était tout à fait indispensable.

mercredi, novembre 22, 2006


Que Pynchon vous colle un flingue stylistique sur la tempe empêchant quiconque de ne pas le considérer comme « le plus grand écrivain de ces 100 dernières années », que toute tentative de mesure se noie dans sa démesure, que toute volonté de vision objective de l’importance réelle de son œuvre soit recouverte d’un glaçage immédiat de plaisir pur, qu’emprunter à toute pompe l’autoroute de la réserve soit proscrit par la beauté du feu d’artifice qu’il donne au dessus de nos têtes, soit. Il est ainsi plaisant, de temps à autre, de trouver une critique négative – avant de réaliser qu’une fois de plus, et presque comme toujours, il ne s’agit que de la volonté risible d’un nain de sortir de la boite. Taxer l’individualisme forcené de Pynchon de populisme, bon, mais jouer la carte David Foster Wallace pour le déboulonner la statue du Pynch….autant partir à l’assaut de Beaubourg avec une clé de 8 !

The fall of the house of Pynchon
Slogging through the science and history, sex and paranoia that crowd Thomas Pynchon's cartoonish new novel, it's obvious his disciples now write better Big Idea novels than he does.
By Laura Miller

Nov. 21, 2006 | One of the seldom-mentioned dangers of having a long, storied and influential career as a novelist is the increasing likelihood that a master will live to see his pupils surpass him. Sure enough, slogging through the underbrush of the vast and quintessentially Pynchonian new Thomas Pynchon novel, "Against the Day," it's hard not to think, almost with the turning of every page, of all the other writers who now do this better. The book is titanic, crammed with characters and events both historical and fantastic, a blend of both fuck-you braininess (yes, there are equations) and puerile humor, diverted by both exegeses on science or politics and passages of swashbuckling adventure. It's that kind of novel; you know the type.
The action, much of it fairly pointless, takes place over a 30-or-so-year span between the 1893 Chicago World's Fair and just after the First World War. It centers around the three sons of Webb Traverse, a Colorado union "organizer" (his political activities seem to consist entirely of blowing things -- and presumably people -- up) who is brutally killed by a couple of thugs hired by an industrialist named Scarsdale Vibe. The Traverse boys -- Frank, Reef and Kit -- spend most of the book drifting in and out of a purposeful determination to avenge their father's murder. Dropping in (literally) every now and then are a troupe of pubescent boy balloonists called the Chums of Chance, whose exploits fighting "the Yellow Fang" and other antagonists are also recorded in a series of "boys' own" pulp novels that the other characters occasionally read.
Like Pynchon's previous novel, "Mason & Dixon," "Against the Day" doesn't really start to cohere until a point so far into the book that all but the most fanatical acolyte (and there are plenty of those, of course) will have given up and wandered off. "Mason & Dixon" doesn't become an actual novel until about page 250; with "Against the Day," it takes more like 400 pages. Unlike "Mason & Dixon," which does finally deepen and solidify into a consideration of the original sins of both America and the Enlightenment, "Against the Day" eventually wobbles out of focus again, leaving the diligent reader with a grab bag of themes to consider. The novel is partly, like "Mason & Dixon," about the corruption, by the conniving of the powerful, of the pure human impulse toward adventure and discovery. "Say, I'm in the wrong business!" a theoretical mathematician remarks when a sleek arms dealer describes how much money he makes. "No you're not," the arms dealer replies.
That's one of the funnier jokes, and there aren't a lot of those. Much of the humor in "Against the Day" is considerably flabbier. The Chums of Chance (as if that name weren't bad enough) provide the occasion for some of the most lumbering bids for laffs. You see, the Chums are supposed to observe a code of Boy Scout-style purity of mind and body -- but some of them are horny! At one point, the banter between the straightest-arrow Chum and the sassy-lecherous Chum became so painful that I began to wonder if this all wasn't just a parody of a lame parody of a form of pop culture so dated that hardly anyone remembers it well enough to parody it. But then I realized that even Pynchon isn't that convolutedly ironic and it was just bad.
Which is not to say that there isn't some fine writing in "Against the Day" -- a hallucinatory bit depicting a method of traveling through sand, under the surface of the desert as if it were the ocean, and the flight of two fugitives through the Balkan Mountains in winter are two standouts -- but for most readers not enough of it is good enough to make up for all the parts that aren't especially vivid. To get to either of those tours de force, you will first have to read about 68 monotonous descriptions of one or another of the Traverse boys (it hardly matters which) walking into a bar, saloon, cantina, casino, etc., filled with "desperados," "disreputables," "notoriously unprincipled gents," "adventuresses," "pigeons," "sharpers," etc. -- all of it related with what the narrator apparently, but mistakenly, believes to be a jaunty, rakish charm.
Admittedly, "Mason & Dixon," with its faux-18th-century diction, could also be trying, but at the heart of that novel were two characters who approximated actual human beings. What the uniformly young, attractive and randy characters of "Against the Day" approximate is more like the cast of "The OC." When we talk about "Against the Day," we must talk about themes and prose set-pieces and the handfuls of intellectual and historical spangles (The Riemann Hypothesis! The Great Game! Theosophy!) tossed into the mix because the novel doesn't really have characters -- and strange to say about a book with so much happening in it -- or much of a plot, either. But then, the two elements are related, since when you don't care about (or, for that matter, can barely distinguish) the characters, it's also hard to care what happens to them.
Naturally, there are all sorts of superpersonal issues in play. There's a great deal of portentousness about the coming of World War I, and a lot of pre-quantum woo-woo physics about alternate universes, refracted light, the elasticity of time and bilocation (being in two places at once), but that doesn't effectively play out in the characters' lives. They head out on preposterous missions, get embroiled in assorted unfathomable conspiracies and engage in frequent, energetic but trivial sex without the nature of time-space or the coming geopolitical catastrophe figuring into it in any meaningful way.
Part of the problem lies in a conflict between Pynchon's would-be populism and the gnomic, smarty-pants style of fiction he practically invented. In his ethos, the brave, heroic, decent individual is pitted against merciless institutions, systems and elites (he's got a thing about Ivy Leaguers) that openly or covertly run the world. (He's also prone to personifying those systems, hence the mustache-twirling villainy of Scarsdale Vibe.) That's the essence of Pynchonian paranoia, but the rub is that Pynchon's heroes (in this novel, at least) aren't paranoid. True understanding is reserved for the author -- or dedicated reader -- who's capable of grasping the "secret" knowledge of how the world really works. It's no coincidence that the character in "Against the Day" who most resembles an actual reflective human being (and presumably the one the author most identifies with) winds up as an initiate in a quasi-gnostic religious order. Most Pynchon protagonists, however, would never read Pynchon novels, let alone worship the man who writes them. They are men of action, not men of sitting around thinking up crackpot theories about the Tunguska event.
At the heart of all this is a romantic delusion, namely a keen nostalgia for the heyday of 1960s counterculture, which as we know from "Vineland" was single-handedly destroyed by Richard Nixon. The good guys in "Against the Day" are anarchists, just about the only revolutionary persuasion compatible with Pynchon's notion of virtuous political behavior -- that is, hanging out in dives, doing drugs, screwing, and bickering about which head of state ought to be assassinated first. Although, to his credit, Pynchon is intelligent enough to know that this dream is jejune, he cannot give it up, and so he makes the Earth of "Against the Day" haunted by the apparition of a lost paradise, the fabled Shambhala, "a convergence of gardens, silks, music -- fertile, tolerant and compassionate. No one went hungry, all shared in the blessing of an oasis that would never run dry." Eventually, he relocates this magical utopia to the sky, where the Chums of Chance, those embodiments of callow idealism, carry on with what can never actually be achieved on this planet.
Maybe this would be sufficient, if by now we didn't have, say, a writer like David Foster Wallace, who can give us a novel every bit as antic and intellectually demanding as "Against the Day," and can also populate it with believable people whose fates not only interest but break our hearts. It's already the tenth anniversary of "Infinite Jest," the novel that applied the encyclopedic, cerebral approach of "Gravity's Rainbow" to the territory where most of us experience the knock-down, drag-out struggles of modern life: the interior of the human psyche. Or, take a writer like Neal Stephenson, whose grasp of the systems that fascinate Pynchon -- science, capitalism, religion, politics, technology -- is surer, more nuanced, more adult and inevitably yields more insight into how those systems work than Pynchon offers here.
The bar is higher now, and it's not quite enough to sketch a dozen or so characters without trying to make them breathe in a novel that raises Big Questions and then just leaves them dangling. Time doesn't exist, but it crushes us anyway; everyone could see World War I coming, but no one could stop it -- those are two weighty paradoxes that hover over the action in "Against the Day" without truly engaging with it. This is the stuff of tragedy, but since the people it sort of happens to are flimsy constructions, we don't experience it as tragic. We just watch Pynchon point to it like bystanders watching the Chums of Chance's airship float by overhead.

mardi, novembre 21, 2006


Pour citer je ne sais plus quel humoriste : « Robert Altman est mort ? Ce n’était pourtant pas son genre ! » C’était pour moi le plus grand, avec Cassavetes et Ashby. John McCabe, Le Privé, Nashville, et ces trois purs chef d’œuvre quasi inconnus que sont Brewster McCloud, California Split et Trois Femmes. Il va falloir du temps pour s’en remettre – et lui donner toute la place qu’il mérite.

dimanche, novembre 19, 2006


News of an upcoming Pynchon novel has the same effect on the literati that an unscheduled return of Halley's comet would have on astronomers. The Internet started humming with rumors last June, and, after five months of anticipation, the mammoth volume has arrived and is everything a Pynchon fan could hope for. Against the Day is his longest novel, his most international in scope -- from the mountains of Colorado to the deserts of Inner Asia -- and is perhaps his funniest.

All of Pynchon's signature moves are here: As early as page 15, someone picks up a ukulele and sings a silly song; documentary realism morphs into hallucination without warning; loud, tasteless clothing is worn with aplomb; a wide variety of drugs and stimulants is consumed, matched by a wide variety of sex acts, including bestiality (which results in the most hilarious scene in the novel); and Pynchon's old leftist, countercultural ideals shine on. Vast erudition and technical savvy are on display, mostly to do with math. The novel is spooked by the occult, enchanted with fairy tales and myth. And the writing is orchestral, in registers ranging from magniloquent set-pieces to sass and puns.

The wonderfully complex plot occupies about 30 years from 1893 to the 1920s, and chiefly concerns the adventures of three brothers (a stock fairy-tale motif) and their efforts to avenge the death of their father, a pro-union engineer named Webb Traverse who was killed by agents of the plutocracy that hijacked the United States after the Civil War. (A good warm-up exercise for reading this is the "Robber Barons and Rebels" chapter in Howard Zinn's People's History of the United States; Pynchon shares Zinn's populist viewpoint.) A related story line involves a photographer/inventor and his red-haired daughter, Dahlia, who, like the brothers, spends a lot of time in Europe during the tumultuous days before World War I. And hovering above them all are "The Chums of Chance," the plucky crew of the airship Inconvenience and the heroes of a series of boys' adventure novels.

The spirits presiding over this novel are the Marx brothers -- humorless Karl as well as Groucho and the boys. Traverse teaches his sons that "Labor produces all wealth. Wealth belongs to the producer thereof" (quoting from his union card), and parts of the novel dramatize the strikes and acts of "anarchy" of Colorado mineworkers in reaction to the inhuman treatment they received at the hands of greedy tycoons. But Pynchon doesn't let this become a dour proletarian tract because of his anarchist bent for doing in fiction what the Marx Brothers did on film. ("Duck Soup" is alluded to early on, and a young Groucho makes a cameo appearance under his real name.) Hence the silly songs, surrealistic pratfalls and Pynchon's tendency to undercut ominous pronouncements with wisecracks.

Though he covers the major events of this period in well-researched detail -- world politics, technological advances, sociological shifts, artistic experiments -- Pynchon is mostly concerned with how decent people of any era cope under repressive regimes, be they political, economic or religious. After drifting through Europe, the Traverse brothers and many other characters develop alternative families, communities, sexual arrangements and envision "the replacement of governments by other, more practical arrangements . . . when possible working across national boundaries." A countercultural, even utopian alternative is imagined, and the novel ends hopefully on that note, though whether such an alternative could exist outside the pages of a book is doubtful. "Fine idea while the opium supply lasts," a female character notes near the end, "but sooner or later plain personal old meanness gets in the way." That's what radical novels like his are for, Pynchon implies: to provide the kind of world our leaders would never allow, if only to inhabit for the week or two it takes to read this endlessly inventive work.

Pynchon fans will accept this gift from the author with gratitude, but I'm not so sure about mainstream readers. While Against the Day isn't as difficult as some of Pynchon's other novels, its multiple story lines test the memory, and some folks may be scared off by the heady discussions of vectors, Brownian movements, zeta functions and so forth, not to mention words and phrases from a dozen languages scattered throughout. Politically, this is blue-state fiction: It will not play well in Bush country. "Capitalist Christer Republicans" are a recurring target of contempt, and bourgeois values are portrayed as essentially totalitarian. As in his last historical novel, Mason & Dixon, Pynchon draws parallels between the past and present -- there's a brilliant evocation of the 9/11 attacks on Manhattan, where Pynchon lives -- and it's clear that the worldly author doesn't see much difference between the corruption of the late Gilded Age and that of our own era.

Not for everybody, perhaps, but those who climb aboard Pynchon's airship will have the ride of their lives. History lesson, mystical quest, utopian dream, experimental metafiction, Marxist melodrama, Marxian comedy -- Against the Day is all of these things and more. ·

Steven Moore, author of several books on modern fiction, is writing a history of the novel.


Stuart Hadley, vendeur dans un magasin d’électroménager, homme sans histoires, marié à une jeune femme superbe a tout pour être heureux. Tout sauf son ambition forcenée et un certain malaise existentiel quand à sa vie trop conforme. Aussi pense-t-il trouver quelques réponses à la crise qu’il traverse grâce aux Veilleurs de Jésus, une secte menée par un évangéliste noir charismatique. Jusqu’au jour ou il croise le chemin de Marsha Frazier, l’irrésistible directrice d’une revue à tendance fasciste. On a hâte de lire ces Voix de la rue, titre du roman inédit de Philip K Dick, que Tor publie en janvier prochain. Ecrit en 1953, ce n’est pas un roman de science-fiction, même si tout dans l’atmosphère, le style, l’intrigue laisse présager ce que deviendra Dick. Plus proche d’un Vonnegut il nous livre ici un portrait sans concession d’une société ou le totalitarisme est partout, surtout là ou ne l’attend pas.

mercredi, novembre 15, 2006


Pour le plus grand auteur américain contemporain. Rien que ca.


krauts in tiger.LAUGHTER But one day
was mucho fraudulent, roaring arterial.
High-pitched squeals. Of dread. The director.
SMASH! Finds distinction. Begins to vanish.
Unlucky enough to see it. Down forever.
The terrible shapes irrevocably: “Are we on
camera?” “Copy that jabbering.” Systematic
his eyes for green neon. Unvoiced at any
edge believed. Then be coy: “So, you’re an
actor? Have you met Infanticide?” Say
goodnight, terrible nakedness.

Plan from whom early. By all periodic.
Reconnoitering. Is not too clear. Bones in r&d
Fished up. Listening. Then the wind.
The minutes taking her. [absence in grey suits]
Up the
cliffs to phase. & Bones to travel. “You know,
blokes, they’ve been listening.” Cut to scene:
“My heart isn’t in it on that XKE w h i l e
temporarily insane.” Dim hope. Floral
embellishment. Out of some such labyrinth.
Died everyone dumbly. “I doubt it got written
down.” Day & night, plunging,
enfilading fire! Trees to build rafts!
Till she reached r o ck y
b ea c h. Which indeed they were.

“I hear laughing.” Alarmed. Retired. Got dress-
ed and went out looking. His suit out.
Through the water mark. What back his head
to do the Buddhist. Whom soon postwar. Make
the farewell flick. He found it impossible.
[Away present] jolted out of jumping the stack
into insistent

banging at the door.

Most of the letters / columns headed: “pro” &
“con.” Reasons. Absence of some trigger.
Suicides into coat pocket. Ss & Os. Alternate
songs by The Paranoids. Eight memories un-
looping progressively. Strange map. To go see.
The play itself. Turned his head, mutt-

ering, “Possession.”

Songs by The Para-
noids. The play. Till he comes of age.
Seek. & then finessing. Enormous cannon.
Native. The costumes gorgeous. 17th
Century. And deep. Of kissing every.
Intention letting him live so long. Their rising.
Coils & clouds. Taking her. [All rigidity] like
mythical fluid. The minutes rolling. Cut to scene:
Dead. Black.
Fugue of guitars. Till she reached.
Which in fact she repeated.

Raymond Farr
great foe: being a poem composed of lines
taken from Pynchon’s The Crying of Lot 49

mardi, novembre 14, 2006


Après McEllroy (Bravo Scarecrow!) et son Canonnball, retour d'un autre très grand Pmo avec son premier roman depuis plus de 20 ans - j'ai nommé Alexander Theroux (dont le génialissime Darconville's Cat pourrait être mon prochain "Que foutent les éditeurs?"). Avec Laura Warholic or The Sexual Intellectual (quel titre!), à paraître en mai chez Fantagraphics, Theroux nous livre ce qui semble être entre Accident et Les Jours et les nuits de China Blue, l'histoire d'un chroniqueur envoûté par une artiste nommée Laura Warholic, dont la liberté de moeurs représente toute ce qui le fascine, le trouble, l'horripile et l'écoeure et qu'il va s'efforcer de remettre dans le droit chemin. 600 pages que l'on nous annonce "théologiques, philosophiques, pornographiques et pyrotechniques" (L'extrait dans le Conjunctions 34 était pour le moins alléchant) et qu'on va essayer de se procurer au plus vite - et par tous les moyens!


Je ne sais pas si vous serez le 19 novembre à la librairie le Merle Moqueur, mais moi oui. Je piaffe d’impatience à l’idée de rencontrer Russell Banks. Et de lui demander des nouvelles de son adaptation d’On the Road, pour Françis Ford Coppola, toujours dans les cartons, alors que Zoetrope possède encore les droits du livre. C’est la Warner qui fit la première offre pour les droits du livre, en 1957, 100 000$, doublée par les 400 000$ de la Paramount offerts à l’agent de Kerouac, Sterling Lord, lorsque Brando donna son accord au studio pour jouer le rôle principal...avant de se désister, malgré l’insistance de Kerouac qui proposa même d’en signer l’adaptation. Quelques années plus tard, ce fut au tour de la Fox d’e^tre sur le coup, avec un scénario assez malin qui faisait de Dean Moriarty une évocation évidente de James Dean….allant jusqu’à le faire mourir dans un accident de voiture. Avant le projet de Coppola, le plus excitant, au début des années 60 fut celui de Robert Frank, qui dû hélas y renoncer pour des questions de budget.


A Tongue—to tell Him I am true!
Its fee—to be of Gold—
Had Nature—in Her monstrous House
A single Ragged Child—

To earn a Mine—would run
That Interdicted Way,
And tell Him—Charge thee speak it plain—
That so far—Truth is True?

Emily Dickinson


CANONNBALL, c'est le titre du prochain roman de l'un des sept ou huit romanciers Postmodernistes les plus (re)connus. Ca sort l'an prochain. On y reviendra, of course. Qui trouve son nom en trois, allez, quatre coups de souris?


Le 1er extrait d'Against the Day en ligne! :

Back in 1899, not long after the terrible cyclone that year which devastated the town, Young Willis Turnstone, freshly credentialed from the American School of Osteopathy, had set out westward from Kirksville, Missouri, with a small grip holding a change of personal linen, an extra shirt, a note of encouragement from Dr. A. T. Still, and an antiquated Colt in whose use he was far from practiced, arriving at length in Colorado, where one day riding across the Uncompahgre plateau he was set upon by a small band of pistoleros.“Hold it right there, Miss, let’s have a look at what’s in that attractive valise o’yours.”
“Not much,” said Willis.
“Hey, what’s this? Packing some iron here! Well, well, never let it be said Jimmy Drop and his gang denied a tender soul a fair shake now, little lady, you just grab ahold of your great big pistol and we'll get to it, shall we.” The others had cleared a space which Willis and Jimmy now found themselves alone at either end of, in classic throwdown posture. “Go on ahead, don’t be shy, I’ll give you ten seconds gratis, ’fore I draw. Promise.” Too dazed to share entirely the gang’s spirit of innocent fun, Willis slowly and inexpertly raised his revolver, trying to aim it as straight as a shaking pair of hands would allow. After a fair count of ten, true to his word and fast as a snake, Jimmy went for his own weapon, had it halfway up to working level before abruptly coming to a dead stop, frozen into an ungainly crouch. “Oh, pshaw!” the badman screamed, or words to that effect.
“Ay! Jefe, jefe,” cried his lieutenant Alfonsito, “tell us it ain’ your back again.”
“Damned idiot, o’ course it’s my back. Oh mother of all misfortune--and worst than last time too.”
“I can fix that,” offered Willis.
“Beg your pardon, what in hell business of any got-damn pinkinroller’d this be, again?”
“I know how to loosen that up for you. Trust me, I’m an osteopath.”
“It’s O.K., we’re open-minded, couple boys in the outfit are evangelicals, just watch where you’re putting them lilywhites now--yaaagghh--I mean, huh?”
“Feel better?”
“Holy Toledo,” straightening up, carefully but pain-free.
“Why, it’s a miracle.”
“Gracias a Dios!” screamed the dutiful Alfonsito.
“Obliged,” Jimmy guessed, sliding his pistol back in its holster.

Is your appetite whetted for the other 1000-odd pages?

Quoi d'autre? Le début du livre : "The opening scene is aboard: "the hydrogen skyship Inconvenience, its gondola draped with patriotic bunting", as some members of the Chums of Chance are on their way to Chicago .....

Et la structure - le livre est divisé en cinq parties :

The Light Over the Ranges
Iceland Spar
Against the Day
Rue de départ

On attend la suite!

lundi, novembre 13, 2006


L'anecdote du jour : William Peter Blatty, immortel scénariste de l'Exorciste I,II,III, IV et de La Neuvième Configuration (un chef d'oeuvre inconnu, peut-être le plus grand film psychedélique, édité ici par Carlotta) adaptant un roman de.... Marcel Achard!!!! Aussi surprenant que Laurent Ruquier adaptant Thomas Pynchon. Et ce n'est pas fini, pour un film de Blake Edwards avec le génial Peter Sellers : c'est A shot in the Dark (en VF Quand l'Inspecteur s'en mêle), et c'est le deuxième de la série des Panthère Rose.


Entre mars 1977 et juillet 1977 se sont déroulés à New York des scènes d’anthologie de l’unproduced. Etaient réunis là William Burroughs, Dennis Hopper, Terry Southern et le mystérieux Jacques Stern. De la famille Rothschild, ce dernier, grand ami de Burroughs, physicien de formation, persuadé qu’il aurait un jour le Nobel, et poète à ses heures perdues, avait pris une option sur Junkie, via une société spécialement créée pour l’occasion, Abracadabra Productions. Restait à écrire le scénario, mission qui réunissait le quatuor au Southern Gramecy Park Hotel, domicile de Stern. Dennis Hopper devait mettre le film en scène. Les récits qu’il nous reste de ces journées, qui n’aboutirent bien entendu à rien, sont homériques. Stern, mélange de Kurtz et de Folamour, dans son fauteuil roulant, toujours poussé par deux femmes, une blanche toute de noir vêtue et une noire habillée tout en blanc, accro au speedball, se précipitant au beau milieu d’une conversation au tableau noir qui ne le quittait pas pour résoudre, à la craie des équations plus complexes les unes que les autres : Dennis Hopper, rameutant la terre entière, Dylan et Nicholson pour les rôles secondaires, Lou Reed et Miles Davis pour la BO, harcelant toutes ses connaissances parisiennes pour proposer à Beckett le rôle principal ; Burroughs, entretenant avec Stern des relations d’amour haine, persuadé que toute l’opération n’était qu’une vaste vengeance après qu’il ait déclaré dans un journal que Stern était un junkie, ce qui, selon Stern avait enterré à jamais ses (maigres) chances d’avoir le Nobel, Terry Southern essayant, en vain, de faire la synthèse sur papier des quatre films sans rapports aucun que chacun des protagonistes avait dans la tête. Il n’en sortira bien évidemment rien, hormis un incroyable scénario de Terry Southern. Stern, possesseur des droits courtisa ensuite De Palma pour qu’il réalise le film, Burroughs récupéra les droits en 1978, essaya de convaincre Wenders de s’y coller, en vain. Aujourd’hui, les droits sont entre les mains de Steve Buscemi, ce qui est plutôt une bonne nouvelle. Pour en savoir plus sur cet étonnant Jacques Stern, devenu un mythe depuis (« Pire qu’un freak, un freak multi-milliardaire ! ») :


Les simpsons sont en train de devenir le lieu le mieux fréquenté de cette planète. Après le Pynch, c'est en effet au tour d'Alan Moore de faire son apparition au casting. "As for Moore’s storyline, he will voice a character in a subplot which sees a new “cool” comic shop opening in Springfield, in competition with Android’s Dungeon (operated by wince-inducing Comic Book Guy). No air date for the episode, entitled "Husbands and Knives" has been announced."


Ce sera à coup sûr un des évènements 2007, le retour de Samuel R Delany, avec Dark Reflections, son premier roman depuis The Mad Man (1994). Tout ce que l’on sait pour le moment c’est que le sujet en sera Stonewall, les fameuses émeutes qui, en 1969, opposèrent les forces de polices aux gays et travestis new-yorkais. On en salive d’avance. Profitons-en pour conseiller, outre Hogg, pièce majeur qui vient de sortir aux excellentes éditions Désordres, Ce Mad Man, son chef-d’œuvre selon moi, qui retrace la vie sociale et sexuelle d’un étudiant dans le New York des années 80, à la recherche d’un philosophe assassiné dans un bar gay quelques années plus tôt. Fantasmagorie pornographique, journal sans équivalent des premières années SIDA, charge ultra violente contre l’Amérique reaganienne et les valeurs capitalistes, éloge de la zone et de l’entropie, Paradis du désir et des expériences limites, The Mad Man est le livre à brandir le jour ou vous croiserez Rudy Giuliani.

samedi, novembre 11, 2006


With a Valentine
(the 12 February)

Hear, her
His error.
In her
Is clear.

With a Valentine
(The 14 February)

Hear her
(Clear mirror)
His error.
In her care --
Is clear.

Hear, her
His error.
In her,
Is clear.

Hear her
Clear mirror
Care his error
In her care
Is clear

Error in
Is clear

Error in
Her --

Louis Zukofsky


"The only two things you can truly depend upon are gravity and greed." Jack Palance

On est pas près d’oublier Charles Castle, le Lt. Joe Costa, Jeremy Prokosch , Jesus Raza, ou Rudi Cox. Et on aimerait le voir en…Fidel Castro, dans Che ! (1969), de Richard Fleischer dans lequel Omar Sharif incarnait Guevara !!!
Fils d’un mineur d’origine ukrainienne, ancien boxeur professionnel, mannequin, garde du corps, détenteur de la Purple Heart, pour son action pendant la seconde guerre mondiale (sévèrement brûlé au visage en 1942 en sautant d’un B24 en feu, à Tucson, pendant un vol d’entraînement), il fut aussi peintre, poète (The Forest of Love, Summerhouse Press, 1996), et chanteur – son album Jack Palance, 1970, est tout à fait honorable, à classer quelque part entre Harry Nilsson, Lee Hazlewood, Johnny Cash et Scott Walker. So long, Jack !

vendredi, novembre 10, 2006


As cool as the pale wet leaves
of lily-of-the-valley
She lay beside me in the dawn.

Ezra Pound


Enfin, dans une traduction impeccable, paraît en France Axiomatique, le recueil de nouvelles de Greg Egan. En avant goût : Des drogues qui brouillent la réalité et provoquent la conjonction des possibles. Des perroquets génétiquement améliorés qui jouent En attendant Godot. Des milliardaires élaborant des chimères, mi-hommes mi-animaux, pour assouvir leurs passions esthétiques. Des femmes qui accueillent dans leur ventre le cerveau de leur mari le temps de reconstruire son corps. Des enlèvements pratiqués sur des répliques mémorielles de personnalités humaines. Des fous de Dieu inventant un virus sélectif reléguant le SIDA au rang de simple grippe. Des implants cérébraux altérant suffisamment la personnalité pour permettre à quiconque de se transformer en tueur...etc.etc.
Faut-il rappeler que Greg Egan est le pape de la SF. Australien, il est mathématicien de formation et informaticien de métier. Pynchonien, il n’existe à ma connaissance ni photo, ni livre signé (pas même pour des œuvres de Charité…). La lecture de La cité des permutants, Isolation, l’Enigme de l’univers et de Téranésie constitue une expérience véritablement hors norme. Son septième roman, Schild’s ladder, pas traduit ici, est sorti en 2002 – et si Si l’anglais n’est pas votre langue maternelle, la lecture en VO est quasi injouable, à moins de maîtriser la physique quantique, la génétique et les mathématiques comme les règles du jeu de flipper. Voilà tout Egan – comme l’a écrit un collègue : « Lire Egan, c’est un peu tenter l’Everest par la face Nord : long, difficile, mais, une fois au sommet, à couper le souffle ». Jettez-vous néanmoins sur Axiomatique, beaucoup plus accessible, situé dans un futur proche, charge violente et noire dans la droite ligne de La Foire aux Atrocités.


I guess this is the literary equivalent of phantom limb syndrome, but now that I'm pretty much convinced that J.T. Leroy never existed, I catch myself regretting never having met him. I think that might mean that he was America's first idoru, in the fullest Japanese sense, paradoxically manifesting mainly on our oldest mass-media platform, the printed word." William Gibson


Se souvenir un instant comment on en est arrivé là. Le Fil d’Ariane. Les perles. Moi ça a commencé par Stephenson, puis K Dick, Ballard, Gibson, Egan, Burroughs, Pynchon, etc….Ce qui ne veut pas dire que je n’aime pas boire un whisky glace avec des Hemingway-Mailer-Faulkner-Nabokov-Pynchon. Il n’empêche que je préfère quand même faire la causette à des Gaddis-Mc Elroy-Barth-Gass-Pynchon avant d’aller fumer un peu d’herbe avec des Brautigan-Kesey-Vonnegut-Robbins-Pynchon. On se refait pas.


Olympia Onirique, Olympia de dentelle, Olympia aérien, Olympia Vaporeux, Olympia flottant la semaine dernière pour Antony and the Johnsons. Un rêve. Reprises de Nico, du Velvet, les fantômes de Scott Walker et de Nick Drake...un rêve sensuel, lyrique et légèrement malade dont on ne veut plus sortir. What can I do When the bird's got to die?

jeudi, novembre 09, 2006


Les 10 Américains Indispensables de l’année ? Allez…

Richard Powers : Le temps ou nous chantions
Philip Roth : Le complot contre l’Amerique
Russell Banks : American Darling
Rick Moody : Le Script
Chuck Palahniuk : A l’estomac
Percival Everett : Désert Americain
Nick Flynn : Encore une nuit de merde dans cette ville pourrie
Mitch Cullin : Tideland
Stewart O’Nan : Le pays des Ténèbres
Dennis Cooper : Dieu Jr

Les 5 qu’on attendaient depuis trop longtemps ?

Norman Rush : Accouplement
William T. Vollmann : Les Fusils
Kathy Acker : Grandes espérances
Edward Abbey : Le gang de la clé à Molette
Samuel R Delany : Hogg

Les 3 rééditions ?

Gore Vidal : Kalki
Robert Coover : Le Bucher de Times Square
Ronald Sukenick : Up

Les 2 extra-terrestres ?

Jeff Vandermeer : la cité des saints et des fous
Ben Marcus : Le silence selon Jane Dark

Et surtout, merci de me dire ceux que j’oublie….


Voyage vers les étoiles. Nicholas Christopher. Le livre est sorti en France sans véritable écho, ce qui est bien dommage. Une imagination débordante, mais canalisée, une langue plaisante - et bordel que c'est vivant. L'auteur se permet tout - sans jamais perdre le fil - de l'illusion à l'arachnéologie en passant par l'astronomie, la philosophie, les langues mortes, l'informatique, les fils narratifs qui s'entrecroisent comme par magie, etc....le croisement improbable de Richard Powers (sans la maitrise) et de Neil Gaiman.
Rendons hommage au passage à l'éditeur, Galaade (, qui semble décidé à faire des choses bien (Greil Marcus, Steve Milhauser,Gore Vidal, pour ne citer qu'eux) mais qui a encore des progrès à faire sur les couvertures de leurs bouquins près desquelles celles des PUF ressemblent à du Crumb. (Raison pour laquelle c'est l'américaine que vous avez là, puisque je ne peux me résoudre à bouleverser l'équilibre esthétique de ce blog avec ce morne parpaing).

New York, 1965. Le petit Loren, qui visite le planétarium avec sa tante par adoption Alma, est kidnappé par son grand-oncle Samax. Tel est le point de départ de ce récit baroque, où l’on suit les destins parallèles de Loren, devenu Enzo, et d’Alma, devenue Mala. Enzo grandit dans le monde fascinant de l’hôtel Canopus auprès de Samax et des clients les plus singuliers de l’établissement. Il s’initie à l’amour et découvre peu à peu les secrets de son passé. Quant à Mala, taraudée par la culpabilité, elle part sur les routes, s’arrêtant au gré de rencontres hors du commun. L’un et l’autre se croiseront sans cesse et se retrouveront sans doute, dans un monde où le hasard est aboli et où les vies s’emboîtent, de coïncidences en destinées, au fil de ce récit qui fait la part belle aux mythes et au thème de la mémoire.

« Un roman aussi vaste qu’inventif, une immense galerie de personnages et une intrigue très élaborée […] Le descendant américain des Mille et Une Nuits : profondément jubilatoire, érudit et habile. »
— The New York Times Book Review

« Autant poète que romancier, Nicholas Christopher est un auteur incroyablement doué. »
— The Washington Post

« Ce roman-labyrinthe, où figurent des enfants illégitimes et de grands magnats qui s’entre-déchirent, est animé par une quête permanente de la beauté […] Christopher nous offre une vision baroque et fascinante de l’hédonisme – le rêve américain devenu fou. »
— The New Yorker

« Les deux histoires parallèles qui traversent ce roman tournent autour du thème de la perte et de la quête – des gens, des occasions, du savoir, des cultures – pour ne plus former qu’un récit aussi enlevé qu’haletant. »
— Publishers Weekly

« Un régal de narration, qui nous rappelle les conteurs classiques, les mythes homériques, les frères Grimm, Dickens […] La merveilleuse inventivité de Nicholas Christopher nourrit ce récit de bout en bout. »
— Leonard Michaels

Né à New York en 1951, Nicholas Christopher collabore régulièrement au New Yorker depuis 1975, après des études de lettres à Harvard.
Il est l’auteur de quatre romans (The Soloist en 1986, Veronica en 1996, A Trip to the Stars en 2000 et Franklin Flyer en 2002) et de nombreux recueils de poèmes, ainsi que d’un essai sur le film policier américain, paru en 1997. Il vit aujourd’hui à New York, où il enseigne l’écriture littéraire à l’université de Columbia. Galaade Éditions publiera également Franklin Flyer.

mardi, novembre 07, 2006


Come shadow, come, and take this shadow up,
Come shadow shadow, come and take this up,
Come, shadow, come, and take this shadow up,
Come, come shadow, and take this shadow up,
Come, come and shadow, take this shadow up,
Come, up, come shadow and take this shadow,
And up, come, take shadow, come this shadow,
And up, come, come shadow, take this shadow,
And come shadow, come up, take this shadow,
Come up, come shadow this, and take shadow,
Up, shadow this, come and take shadow, come
Shadow this, take and come up shadow, come
Take and come, shadow, come up, shadow this,
Up, come and take shadow, come this shadow,
Come up, take shadow, and come this shadow,
Come and take shadow, come up this shadow,
Shadow, shadow come, come and take this up,
Come, shadow, take, and come this shadow, up,
Come shadow, come, and take this shadow up,
Come, shadow, come, and take this shadow up.

Louis Zukofsky


Grâces lui soient rendues :

lundi, novembre 06, 2006


The Stones of Summer, Dow Mossman. Un magistral roman américain, totalement méconnu ici et là-bas, de 1972, date de sa parution, à 2002, date à laquelle un documentaire de Mark Moskowitz, Stone Reader (, modèle du genre,a mis cette œuvre majeure sous les feux de la rampe et permis ainsi sa réédition, le livre étant devenu totalement introuvable (La première édition avoisine les 2000$).
Je classe Stones of Summer, aux côtés de Gravity’s Rainbow, des Reconnaissances, de Sur la Route, de La Conjuration des Imbéciles ou de l’Attrape–Cœurs comme un des plus grands romans du XXème siècle. Je pourrais écrire des lignes et des lignes à son propos, évoquer sa structure (Faulknerienne pour les parties se passant dans les années 50, puis glissant peu à peu , insensiblement,vers autre chose pour finir totalement novatrice dans sa dernière partie, se déroulant à la fin des années 60) mais le temps me manquant, je vais laisser la parole à Stephen King et au critique du New York Times de l’époque – ce qui, je l’espère, vous permettra d’aller plus avant. Il le faut. Disons juste, pour finir :
-Que Mossman l’a écrit à 25 ans, et n’a plus rien écrit depuis – il s’en explique dans une lettre bouleversante reproduite dans le McSweeney’s 11.
-Que Joseph McElroy le cite sans cesse : « What a trip , what a testament from the fities and sixties, this life-risking romance with excess and aspiration, defeat and ravishing insight, our maddening American past and its landscapes of lies, laughs, talk, paralysis, rebirth, stony metamorphoses into danger and beauty and story » ; Idem Thomas Sanchez : « A Madhouse distorsion where pain’s cry represents an entire portion of the generation that came of age in the 60’s »
-Que c’est 900 pages de bonheur absolu
-Qu’il faut lancer une pétition pour qu’un éditeur français s’y intéresse.

It's Alive!It's Alive
by Stephen King
The Great American Novel is livelier than ever; and here are three that prove it; just pick the one(s) that fit your hammock.
The Stones of Summer, Dow Mossman : If 20th-century America produced a book of Moby Dick stature, it's probably this one... but don't let that stop you, or even slow you down. All I mean is that like Melville's fish story, this is one whale of a tale that has somehow found an audience in spite of mind-boggling hurgles, including going out of print (Bobbs-Merrill quit doing fiction not long after it published The Stones of Summer in 1972) and only a smattering of reviews. Nor was the author exactly up to a PR tour; when his only book was published, Mossman was still recovering from a nervous breakdown he suffered after finishing his 10-year labor of love/hate.
The novel is difficult to get into - the first 30 pages read like an extended set of Bob Dylan liner notes from 1965. But then pure narration takes over, and readers are treated to a magical mystery tour of adolescent life in America's heartland during the '60s. Because Mossman is a poet as well as a crack storyteller, the result is both lyrical and gripping: Think Jim Morrison crossed with J.D. Salinger. Oh, and sometimes it's fall-on-the-floor funny, too.
Once you've read the book - which takes some doing - treat yourself to Mark Moskowitz's documentary Stone Reader, which played a pivotal role in bringing this forgotten book back into the cultural mainstream. Reader (available on DVD) chronicles Moskowitz's search for Mossman, who dropped from view 30 years ago. It's also a love sonnet to books and reading

The Stones of Summer
A Yeoman's Notes, 1942-1969
By Dow Mossman
552 pp. New York:
The Bobbs-Merrill Co. $9.95
"The Stones of Summer" cannot possibly be called a promising first novel for the simple reason that it is such a marvelous achievement that it puts forth much more than mere promise. Fulfillment is perhaps the best word, fulfillment at the first stroke, which is so often the sign of superior talent and which is also a frightening thing, for the author may remain forever awed by the force and witness of his first production. I don't think, however, that this will happen in the present instance. Dow Mossman's novel is a whole river of words fed by a torrential imagination and such a source is not likely to stop flowing.
In an age of thin books and overblown copy, this forceful, expansive talent is a welcome sign. I am afraid that the size (and price) of "The Stones of Summer" will go against it, however, and it also lacks that punchy, journalistic, eventful quality of popular, marketable, reviewable fiction -- whether "Airport" or "Deliverance" -- does not make much difference. "The Stones of Summer" is a novel in the classic sense, not merely a novella narratio, a new kind of story, a news event, material to be shredded in the chattering machines of journalists, but as something more solid, more closely approaching that other (not etymoligically related) "novel," that legal term in Roman law pertaining to a new order, a new way of regulating things. For me at least, reading "The Stones of Summer" was crossing another Rubicon, discovering a different sensibility, a brave new world of conciousness. "The Stones of Summer" is a holy book, and it burns with a sacred Byzantine fire, a generational fire, moon-fire, stone-fire.
By this I don't mean that a lot of ho-hum tripping goes on in "The Stones of Summer," or that this is another mother-acid book, like "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" or "Trout Fishing in America." I do mean that this book could only have been written by a member of that nearly missing generation which from time to time reaches out to us from that other dimension to which they have journeyed. The autobiographical hero, Dawes Oldham Williams (D.O.W.), smokes a joint from time to time, and according to an autobiographical novel he is writing, once blew his mind right into the Cuckoo's Nest by means of a triple-decker toke, and is suffering a consequent disorientation which some call schizophrenia, others truth. But the taking of dope is no issue here, having little relevance. What I am talking about is the evident impress of an entire generation's experience on the ordering of form, the fasioning of style, the entire business of putting so complex a novel as "The Stones of Summer" together.
Thus the opening section of three, "A Stone of Day," which concerns two years in the life of Dawes as an eight- to nine-year-old, reads like William Faulkner might have written had there been something in in that ol' jug besides likker. Take a specimen slide from the first paragraph of the book: "When August came, thick as a dream of falling timbers, Dawes Williams and his mother would pick Simpson up at his office, and then they would all drive west, all evening, the sun before them dying like the insides of a stone melon, split and watery, halving with blood. August was always an endless day, he felt, white as wood, slow as light." Or, as Dawes and his family drive east across Iowa to his grandparent's farm, where his grandfather, Arthur, raises greyhounds: "In the dark now, as he was driving toward them, they would be all around him, Arthur, who was bent against them, on the long edge of their motion, within their dense and furious dog sounds, their whimperings and frantic invocations."
This is the Faulknerian swarm miasmic, given order not by the baroque turbulence of Jacobean Gothic, but by the whining rise and fall of a ceaseless sitar. Get that sun like a "stone melon"! Falkner never split a melon quite like that one, you can bet.
As in Joyce's self-portrait, the style changes as Dawes matures. The Faulknerian cast of the opening third, warranted by the scene -- an agrarian America cursed by the unexorcised ghosts of ancestral sites and seething with repressed violence -- is reduced considerably in the second section, "Stones of Night," which concerns Dawes's adolescence. Where the child is something of a mystic, most at home in the wildness of nature, rebelliious against Grandftather Aruthur's mean-sprited tyranny, in the second section this mysticism takes on an anti-social bent, and Dawes becomes a malcontent, less a prohpet than a teller of unwelcomed truths. Since he is hardly the Artist as Sensitive Plant, but plays football, pool and poker, necks, pets and yearns to fornicate, and drives an old car which is a battered symbol of alter ego, he is thrown in with a gang of the usual mixed American stripe, which generally rewards his insightfulness with a fistful of his own teeth.
The Dawes of this section is largely a comic figure, mostly unsuccessful in all that he attempts, and the atmosphere throughout is hilariously comical, for his gang has a taste for outlandish escapades and violent pranks. The result is rather like "The Last Picture Show" crossed with "Penrod and Sam," and very, very funny. And very accurate, as well, even when tinged with Faulknerian surrealism.
Where McMurty, the Grace Metalious of the Planes, comes on with the specious realism of soap operatics, a flat style evoking a flat landscape and mostly flat women with boys on top of them, the ebullience of Mossman's acrobatics succeeds in conveying the rebellious energies of youth, the essential madness of adolescent reality. As in real life, no generous, but defeated, yet kindly and still rather pretty, if trearful, wives offer their bodies to these boy. Most older women here are mothers, and they always come into the room at the wrong time, and are universally a pain.
This second section ends with an auto crash in which most of Dawes's friends are killed. He is the sole, accidental survivor, and henceforth his friends, like his ancestors, will haunt him. They have drowned in the Mississippi, and Dawes in the final third of the novel, "The Stones of Dust and Mexico," increasingly takes to himself his favorite indentity, Huckleberry Finn. Not the Chuckleberry of the early and late episodes of Twains's book, but the other Finn, the anti-hero, the sterling picaro of the mocking epic at the center -- the water-borne part. Ragged, dirty, unkempt, eternally rebellious, battered from poolcues and fists, a sort of WASP Schlemihl, Dawes persits in imposing his self-defined role in saintly malcontent upon the world, which sewards him as all truthwriters are rewarded, by grinding him slowly to bits.
It is here, in this final section, that the style -- like Dawes himself -- begins to come apart. The structure is discontinuous, circumambient, lost in time and space, an eternal bummer to Mexico and death. Long stretches are filled with quotations from Dawes's novel in progress, fragments from his notebooks, letters from his best friend in Vietnam. Flashbacks explode with flashbacks, fading eventually to a regained moment in the narrative. The sensuous flow of the opening section and the inspired mayhem of the middle are missing.
There is a great deal of intellectual foreplay here, which some may find irksome, but which I felt a magnificent display of juggleing. Such matters are invariably hostile to the flow of narrative, yet Mossman, by sheer wizardry of style, keeps them moving. And these literary allusions, along with the pop culture detritus afloat in the second section of the novel and the occasional political references in the third, form an important aspect of the novel, part of its intended form.
For if this novel has a quality of greatness, and I think that it does, that quality is related (as it invariably is) to a great tradtion, that mad, Dionysian stream that D.H. Lawrence perceived flowing through certain classics of American literature, but that (as Dow and Dawes both see) flows most strongly through the adventures of Huckleberry Finn -- a Huck, as Dawes insists, who smoked something other than tobacco in his corn-cob pipe. Is there a moral to this story, this magical tale of rolling stones and singing stones, stone tongues and stone lights, this stone fishing in America? I don't know, and even if I did, I wouldn't say. Let me conclude, rather, with something by way of tribute to this very talented writer, an invocation of that moment of absolute silence that follows when you have finished the last chapter, paragraph and word of a book which you greatly admire, and set it aside so as to hear your own inner echoes, the dying chord of sympathetic response. 


The Suitors, Ben Ehrenreich. Dans cette étonnante relecture de l’Odyssée, Penny attends Payne, parti pour une longue errance, alors que ses prétendants multiplient leurs efforts pour attirer son attention. Empruntant autant à Ulysse qu’à Joyce, Ben Ehrenreich fait preuve dans ce premier roman d’une virtuosité verbale plus que prometteuse. Situé dans un monde aussi familier que décalé, qui par moment peut faire penser à celui d’Orwell, ces Suitors, que l’on rangera dans la même catégorie que le Gilligan’s Wake de Tom Carson confirment qu’il reste des jeunes écrivains prêts à s’attaquer sans complexes aux montagnes les plus hautes pour un résultat plus qu’honorable et augurent d’une belle carrière. Un écrivain à suivre, sans aucun doute.


Il sort enfin. Le 28 novembre chez Tin House Bookks – les 760 illustrations des 760 pages de Gravity’s Rainbow par Zak Smith. Une variation, une prolongation, une interprétation. Indispensable. Un recommended holiday gift...Les tableaux sont en ligne ici :

dimanche, novembre 05, 2006


Amnesiascope, de Steve Erickson. Curieux destin que celui de Steve Erickson. Lançé en fanfare dès son premier roman (Les jours entre les nuits) par un blurb de Pynchon (« Daring, haunting, sensual. . . . Steve Erickson has that rare and luminous gift for reporting back from the nocturnal side of reality, along with an engagingly romantic attitude and the fierce imaginative energy of a born storyteller. It is good news when any of these qualities appear in a writer -- to find them all together in a first novelist is reason to break out the champagne and hors-d'oeuvres. »), considéré dès lors comme l’héritier dudit Pynch et de DeLillo, il fut peu à peu éclipsé par une nouvelle génération de légataire plus tape-à-l’œil (De DFWallace à R Moody). Outre le fait qu’on peut difficilement être l’héritier à la fois de la carpe et du lapin, Steve Erickson n’a vraisemblablement guère fait cas de ces étiquettes et a poursuivit son chemin. Nul doute qu’il possède un univers singulier et constitue, livre après livre, une œuvre dont la somme vaut peut-être mieux que certaines de ses parties. Son lyrisme morbide romantique visionnaire et apocalyptique en font un auteur véritablement à part dans les lettres américaines, chacun de ses romans renvoyant sur le fond comme sur la forme aux précédents, avec de nombreuses intersections et connexions, œuvre à tiroirs faite d’une multiplicité de réalités, parfois contradictoires, toujours passionnantes. Emergent en particulier de ce courant trouble ces pépites que sont Les Tours du Cadran Noir, Arc d’X, Our Ecstatic Days (son expérience narrative la plus radicale – qui prend toute son ampleur à la deuxième lecture) et Amnesiascope, certainement son chef-d’œuvre, même si un rien décalé par rapport aux autres ouvrages, parce que plus autobiographique, peut-être à cause de cela. Erickson y met en effet en scène un double, vivant dans un Los Angeles futuriste, dévasté. Se rapprochant davantage de ses deux non fiction quasi Gonzo, Leap Year et American Nomad, le narrateur, S, y déambule dans une cité post apocalyptique, flâne dans les ruines de la ville, de la mémoire, monologuant sur le travail de l’écrivain, le sexe, la science, la politique, la création. Si vraiment il fallait aller chercher des références pour décrire cette ballade hallucinée, c’est du côté d’un improbable mélange de Hunter Thompson, Rudy Wurlitzer, JG Ballard et Richard Powers qu’on le trouverait. Un long blues hypnotique, un livre hanté, comme une note dissonante dans l’oeuvre d’Erickson, un livre indispensable. (Coup de chapeau pour finir à sa superbe revue Black Clock (, la meilleure revue de littérature américaine du moment – bien au-delà du Believer selon moi).

samedi, novembre 04, 2006


Moody jouera avec son groupe, The Wingdale Community Singers, au festival Crossing Borders de La Haye le 18 novembre (on y croisera également Nosfell et Robert McLiam Wilson). Un deuxième CD est dans les tuyaux.
Alors que Rick continue de bosser sur son cinquième roman, un pavé pour lequel il cherche tout ce qui est disponible sur la planète Mars (Sic!),son prochain livre RIGHT LIVELIHOODS sortira en juin prochain chez Little Brown. C'est un recueil de trois novellas, The Albertine Notes, paru dans le McSweeney's 10 (un extrait en ligne : , The Omega Force, paru dans la Paris Review 173 et K&K, un inédit.

Voilà ce qu'on nous en dit :

From “the gutsiest writer of his generation” come three sublime novellas about yearning. RIGHT LIVELIHOODS begins with a cataclysmic vision of New York City in The Albtertine Notes. Fifty square blocks of Manhattan have been leveled. Four million have died. The titular “Albertine” is the street name for a mind-altering drug with the buzz of a lifetime. Good memories are enhanced to joyful dimensions under Albertine’s influence—then forgotten, along with the bad. The second novella, K&K, concerns a lonely young office manager at an insurance agency, where the office suggestion box is yielding aggressive, unpleasant messages, starting with “If they’re going to close lanes on the parkway, they ought t actually repair the goddamned road,” and escalating to a scarier pitch. Finally, at the center of The Omega Force is an endearingly buffoonish former government official in rocky recovery. As the novella begins, Dr. “Jamie” Van Deusen is asleep on a neighbor's beach-front porch. He soon comes to life,determined to protect his habitat—its golf courses (and Bloody Marys), pizza places (and beers) from “dark-complected” foreign nationals. His patriotism and wild imagination are mainly fueled by a fall off the wagon. Only Rick Moody could lead us to feel affection for this fool and the other misguided, earnestly striving characters that people what is an alternately unsettling and warm, always remarkable trio of stories.


Le Voyageur, John Twelve Hawks.L’une des révélations SF de ces dernières années, JTH (dont l’identité reste réelle reste un mystère, puisqu’il tient à vivre éloigné le plus possible de « La Grande Machine ») invente un monde fait de quatre castes, les Tabula (Des sarkozystes dingues de contrôle, de technologie et et de pouvoir), les Voyageurs (des sages pacifiques possédant des dons particuliers, vivant dans la Zone, hors système), les Arlequins (guerriers et libres penseurs qui protègent les Voyageurs et prennent leurs décisions avec un yi king mathématique), les Citoyens !le reste du monde, ceux qui ne se posent guère de questions, bossent jusqu'à l'épuisement fliqués à morts par les Tabula). Lattes se lance ainsi dans la SF - ou plutôt investit une partie des gains du Brown dans ce petit chef d'oeuvre dont le succès outre-Atlantique a rendu les agents aussi gourmands que convaincants. C’est le premier tome d’une saga intitulée Les Mondes Parallèles, espérons que les ventes suivront et que Lattes ne nous laissera pas en plan pour cause de marge déficitaire. Ca c'est déjà vu.

L’autre monument publié ici il y a quelques mois, la Cité des Saints et des Fous, de Jeff Vandermeer : livre labyrinthique multipliant les formes et les jeux graphiques à la façon de La Maison des Feuilles il nous propose une visite de la mystérieuse cité d’Ambregris – à la fois guide de voyage, précis d’histoire, recueil de légendes, on y trouve tout ce qu’on aime : des conspirations, des conflits politiques et religieux, de l’horreur pure, de la cryptozoologie, etc…l’invention d’un monde dans lequel on erre avec un rare bonheur. Saluons le magnifique travail de Sebastien Guillot en espérant que Calmann Levy le laissera poursuivre l'aventure jusqu'au prochain millénaire. On appelle cela un franc-tireur.

Enfin, pur plaisir, signalons la parution de Jennifer Morgue, de Charles Stross, le second épisode, après Le Bureau des Atrocités, de la Laverie. (Curieux changement d'editeur à mi-parcours, Klein abandonnant en chemin pour se consacrer à l'autre trilogie de Stross, les Princes-Marchands, beaucoup moins bonne...Goût personnel ou volonté de rafler le public nombreux d'Heroic Fantasy, (dont je ne fais point partie)? Le Prince ou le Marchand? On remercie, en tout cas, le cherche midi de reprendre ainsi la balle au bond). On retrouve dans Jennifer Morgue notre cher Bob Howard pour une nouvelle aventure qui mêle démonologie, jeux vidéos, physique quantique et services spéciaux dans un hommage délirant à Lovecraft, au Prisonnier et à…Ian Fleming.
Charles Stross est mon auteur de SF favori, prions pour qu’un éditeur français publie très vite ses deux chefs d’œuvre : Glasshouse et Accelerando, deux romans digne du meilleur Neal Stephenson - Accelerando (nommé pour l’Hugo Award 2006) qu’on trouve gratuit en ligne ici :


(Message personnel : MEET ME HERE)...

vendredi, novembre 03, 2006


Quelques petits bijoux disponibles online, pour démarrer en douceur :

Le magnifique scénario original de William Gibson pour Alien 3 (Que l'on regretterait presque si Fincher ne s'y était finalement collé). Hicks et Bishop sont les héros de cette version, Ripley reste dans le coma durant toute l'aventure (S Weaver ne devant pas à l'époque être de la partie) - manipulations génétiques (L'ADN des Alien se révèle être une sorte de virus qui transforme ses victimes en monstres hybrides), bureaucratie omniprésente, technologies futuristes, relents de guerre froide, etc. On est vraiment dans du Gibson pur jus. Plus de trente versions plus tard, il ne reste des idées que Gibson que le tatouage code barre des détenus de la prison :

Pour le fun, puisqu'on en cause, le scénario de Neuromancer lourdingue et heureusement resté dans les tiroirs de Chuck Russel (le très périssable metteur en scène de The Mask et de Freddy 3) :

Autre chef d'oeuvre resté dans les tiroirs, A saliva Bubble, de David Lynch et MarK Frost, écrit en 1987 : la bulle de salive d'un scientifique cause un court circuit dans les réseaux d'une arme ultra secrète, avec pour conséquences des changements de personnalités aussi inquiétants que délirants dans le village voisin. Un concentré de Twin Peaks et de Lost Highway. Fabuleux :

Du même Lynch, Ronnie Rocket "about a three-foot tall guy with red hair and physical problems, and about 60-cycle alternating current electricity", mélange cette fois de Eraserhead (il fut écrit juste après) et de Blue Velvet, condamné par la faillite de Dino De Laurentiis en 1988. Dommage : le sujet en était l'électricité :