March 16th, 2011 / 7:04 am

Interview Roundup Part Nine: Markson, Hoang, Zhuoxiang, Gudmundsson, Shozo

“I thought The Recognitions was—Lowry being English—the great American novel of that period. That’s the only other letter I wrote to a writer, but it was different from the Lowry one. When The Recognitions came out, it was shat on by every reviewer. They said, ‘How dare he write so long a book? How dare he deliberately try to create a masterpiece?’ I wrote this casual letter, saying, ‘Screw them. Some of us out here know what you did.’ When my wife and I went to Mexico for three years, an editor came down there, and Aiken had given him my name. We had him to dinner, and all I did was talk about The Recognitions. And this guy said, ‘Shut up already. Tell me about Mexico. I’ll read it when I get home.’ And he did. The Recognitions came out in 1955, and this would have been about 1961. One day I get a letter there: ‘Dear David Markson, If I may presume to answer yours of”—whatever it was—’May 16, 1955.’ It turned out that this editor, Aaron Asher, had come home, read the book, and decided to resurrect it. There had never been a paperback, and he put it in print, and it brought Gaddis back to life.” – David Markson, in Conjunctions

“I first conceived of this novel as one that would explore the occult & religion as mythologies, but as I started researching, I found a lot about numerology and mathematics. Since I was little, I wanted to be a scientist or a mathematician (I’m not quite sure why I’m not, to be completely honest!) so I decided to use the superficial constraint of the form of a parabola to shape this text. Again, while researching, I came to understand that there were so many more mythologies out there than just the occult & religion. As such, I expanded the scope of my novel. I wanted to create a work that dialogued within itself.  As for the shape of the text, I wanted to mimic the traditional triangular structure of a novel, but I wanted to invert it. A parabola was a perfect fit!  I love interactive novels. I think the various tests that appear throughout the text add a new level of interactivity. Ideally, readers would actually take some of the tests. Additionally, I know many people (myself included) who put a great deal of weight on personality tests, IQ, and psychology. I see these as modern-day myths, a new form of “religion” and a method of categorization. To me, IQ seems to be especially troubling, particularly because of the mass sterilization in the early to mid 20th century based on the Army Beta IQ test. I based some of the questions on my test on that original test.” – Lily Hoang at Experimental Fiction / Poetry

“If Literature is to be defined by that which bears and even demands repeated readings, then certainly, of all the genres, lyrics are the most dominant form of Literature in the Mandarin-speaking world at the moment—due to the ubiquity of the Internet, the traditional ‘being quoted’ has taken on the technologized form of ‘being forwarded’, or ‘being cut and pasted’.” – Li Zhuoxiang at Asymptote

” As a publisher, I once edited the Icelandic translation of another ‘untranslatable’ work; ULYSSES by James Joyce. I went with the translator to Dublin, we met some relatives of Joyce, saw the sites of the book, and I think the translation is very well done and gives a lot to the Icelandic reader. One just has to accept that it is another work, the connotations are different, and there is another audience. Once you have accepted this, translations are a wonderful add-on to literature. And for writers who write in a language like Icelandic, which only 300 thousand people can understand, they are an absolute necessity.” – Halldor Gudmundsson in IceNews

“Japanese people today are becoming more and more interested in Taiwanese literature, primarily because of Taiwanese movies, which are very popular in Japan. Flicks like March of Happiness and Lament of the Sand River ran for a month or two at theaters. Movies directed by Hou Hsiao-hsien are very popular in Japan. It’s easier to get hooked on a movie than a novel, so a lot of people will see a movie first and then go out and start buying novels.” – Fujii Shozo in Taiwan Panorama


  1. Sebastian Castillo

      That Gaddis story is awesome! I just read The Recognitions last year, it was wonderful.

  2. Anonymous

  3. deadgod

      It gets infinitely more subtle and complicated in context.

      Look out you don’t break your shoulder.

  4. types of probiotics for children

      types of probiotics for children

      Interview Roundup Part Nine: Markson, Hoang, Zhuoxiang, Gudmundsson, Shozo | HTMLGIANT