December already?? A brief & informal list of some of my favorite books read during the year 2013 (not necessarily published in 2013).
In Time’s Rift by Ernst Meister (Wave Books, 2012)
Translated by Graham Foust and Samuel Frederick
will eternally be
an unknown to you;
anyway, you’re no longer
known to yourself.
Béla Tarr, The Time After by Jacques Rancière (Univocal Publishing, 2013)
Translated by Erik Beranek
“We cannot identify ourselves with their feelings. But we enter into something more essential, into the very duration at the heart of which things penetrate and affect them, the suffering of repetition, the sense of another life, the dignity assumed in order to pursue the dream of this other life, and to bear the deception of this dream.”
Creature by Amina Cain (Dorothy, A Publishing Project, 2013)
“When I got home, my partner was eating an egg. This is what he does when I’m not around. He also eats fish. I was harsh to him, but without speaking. I expressed myself through the violent putting away of a pan. Later I saw on his lap and dreamed about the future. This was together alone.”
Love Dog by Masha Tupitsyn (Penny-Ante Editions, 2013)
“My ears have been hearing things, things which aren’t even words, or messages, while my eyes, along with everyone else’s, are forever telling me that nothing is here. That nothing is happening. It is the difference between inward and outward. Between me and everyone else.”
The Road by Cormac McCarthy (Vintage Books, 2007)
“He walked out in the gray light and stood and he saw for a brief moment the absolute truth of the world. The cold relentless circling of the intestate earth. Darkness implacable. The blind dogs of the sun in their running. The crushing black vacuum of the universe. And somewhere two hunted animals trembling like ground-foxes in their cover. Borrowed time and borrowed world and borrowed eyes with which to sorrow it.”
The Heat Death of the Universe and Other Stories by Pamela Zoline (Mcpherson & Co, 1988)
“2. Imagine a pale blue sky, almost green, with clouds only at the rims. The earth rolls and the sun appears to mount, mountains erode, fruits decay, the Foraminifera adds another chamber to its shell, babies’ fingernails grow as does the hair of the dead in their graves, and in egg timers the sands fall and the eggs cook on.”
The Memoirs of JonBenet by Kathy Acker by Michael du Plessis (Les Figues Press, 2012)
I’m afraid we’re inventing something that isn’t there.
Why is sex with you another blank?
Waiting, as you consider it, is fine but there comes a moment when the conditions you impose outweigh any present emotions. “I can’t be with you until…” translates into “I can’t be with you until caution becomes indifference.” Yes, as you say over and over again, you’ve made me feel again; truly, I do feel again, enough to be able to tell you that I’m only telling myself that I feel with you.
Irritant by Darby Larson (Blue Square Press, 2013)
“In something of red lived an irritant. Safe from the blue from the irr. And this truck went in it. Safe. Something of red in it back to the blue to the red. This truck and something extra. Listen. The nearby something extras in front of the truck. The man in front of the truck trampled from front to back safe from the blue. And all this while the man scooped shovels of dirt and trampled from front to back front to back.”
Anna Patova Crosses a Bridge by Renee Gladman (Dorothy, A Publishing Project, 2013)
For one second, I spoke “sentence,” which confused her, since all this time I’d been saying “paragraphs.” It was a moment of our mouths missing one another. Her mouth was emitting sound. She seemed to be calling my name, breathing heavily, she seemed to put her words inside me. “Writing my frightening paragraphs,” I said, involuntarily.
War and War by László Krasznahorkai (New Directions, 2006)
Translated by George Szirtes
“I no longer care if I die, said Korin, then, after a long silence, pointed to the nearby flooded quarry: Are those swans?”
Music & Literature Issue 2: Krasznahorkai / Tarr / Neumann (Spring 2013)
From “About a Photographer” by Lászlo Krasznahorkai (Translated by George Szirtes):
“Condemned to look, yet at the same time to be deprived of sight, we are in a complex pitiless trap, a double cage, to the recognition of which—though it cages us all—fate condemns confusingly few. In any case those who do suffer the agonizing moment of recognition could easily be consumed by an all-but fatal melancholy, so it’s no wonder they try to struggle free, their first recourse on their dire necessity being the thought of some device.”
Between Appear and Disappear by Doug Rice (Jaded Ibis Press, 2013)
“I want to find a sentence that in the making becomes a resurrection. Our skin marked by the remains of language from childhood dreams near the river. The Allegheny. The Monongahela. The Ohio. This trinity of cold rivers that demand that we never forget to forgive.”
Murder by Danielle Collobert (Litmus Press, 2013)
Translated by Nathanaël
“It’s strange this encounter with the internal eye, behind the keyhole, that sees, and finds the external eye, caught in flagrante delicto of vision, curiosity, uncertainty. The one that looks out, to see outside itself, what is happening in the world, perhaps, or inside itself, this eye, doesn’t know whether it’s looking into the emptiness, into the air, into the other, or into a distance landscape, which it brought to like, like a memory, a wanted decor, chosen, an elemental power, that could be the background of its life.”
Reality meant that I could neither afford nor have time to read every book that came out this year that I wanted to read, but out of what I did read (which was, coincidentally, a lot more books than I normally read that are released/realized in the year I currently exist in), the following were my favorites.
FANGED NOUMENA by NICK LAND
The first book on this list I haven’t even finished reading, an immense 560 page tome collecting virtually all of Nick Land’s writings from 1987-2007–excepting only the full-length text The Thirst for Annihilation: Georges Bataille and Virulent Nihilism–is a massively important text, because Nick Land is, in my opinion, one of the most important thinkers of our present. Land takes apart the world and rebuilds it, offering particularly apt readings of Kant, Nietzsche, Bataille, Heidegger, and more that really flows new light into the dusty thoughts of many often-over-valued thinkers (can a known philosopher be over-valued? maybe not, but often the most known/taught readings of said thinkers certainly can be). Land pioneered the idea of the theory-fiction, using fiction as a tool to explore critical theory, a technique now practice by many affiliated with the book’s press, Urbanomic. This book is a map towards the next level, and as the jacket copy proposes: “Can what is playing you make it to Level 2?”
THERE’S NEVER BEEN A DAY THAT DIDN’T REQUIRE KNIVES LIKE THESE by JEFF GRIFFIN
Jeff Griffin is a poet who is, sometimes, from Iowa, who writes some of the most amazing contemporary poetry I’ve encountered. THERE’S NEVER BEEN A DAY… is, as the Human500 website describes, “A book composed of transcriptions of found papers from the desert and original poems by Jeff Griffin.” It’s a hazy mess of desperation and excitement, the desert being a place of secrets, magic, and despair. I read this hung-over in a train-station after I missed my train and had two hours to kill, and upon finishing it I relished my hang-over, smiled to myself, shut my eyes, and blissed out until it was finally time for me to board my train.
Out of print from Human 500