Year in Reading

A Year in Reading: Kevin Brockmeier

By posted at 11:00 am on December 20, 2011 4

Several writers I have long admired impressed me anew with their latest books — among them Kate BernheimerPeter S. Beagle, Goncalo Tavares, Cesar Aira, and Karen Russell — but let me concentrate on two authors whose names I had never heard before this year:

covercoverFirst is the Israeli writer Alex Epstein, two of whose collections were recently translated into English by the poet Becka Mara McKay and published by Clockroot Press: Blue Has No South and Lunar Savings Time. If you took the short forms and odd structural techniques of Lydia Davis and wedded them to the fantastic impulses of Ray Bradbury, you would get something like these books, which together contain some two hundred strange, pliant, elliptical, yet surprisingly tender treatments of angels, rain, lullabies, minotaurs, moons, zen masters, literature, and time travel. A glimpse at the titles should be enough to tell you whether they are the kind of stories you would enjoy: “On the Mourning Customs of Elephants,” “The Number of Steps on the Moon,” “An Instruction Manual for a Rented Time Machine,” “The Angel Who Photographed God.”

covercoverSecond is the Czech writer Michal Ajvaz, two of whose novels were recently published by Dalkey Archive Press, both of them fantasies of the kind that upend rules so fundamental you might have forgotten they were rules at all. The Other City is about a man who discovers a book written in an enigmatic foreign script and soon finds an other-world of lost souls, talking animals, and shadowy doorways seeping through the structures of his city. The Golden Age is about a visitor to a small Atlantic island where the people yield themselves up to the forces of flux, so that every feature of their lives — their families, their language, their religion — is constantly turning into something else. Ajvaz’s sentences are filled with unexpected slues and inversions, and you sense that he could try writing a work of suburban domestic realism, and it would still brim with uncanny meanings, oceans of the bizarre and the mysterious expressing their way through the dishes and the wallpaper, the throw pillows and the neckties.

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4 Responses to “A Year in Reading: Kevin Brockmeier”

  1. 2 and 2» Blog Archive » Kevin Brockmeier hails Alex Epstein
    at 7:51 am on December 21, 2011

    […] Read the rest here! […]

  2. Afternoon Bites: “Last Christmas,” Kevin Brockmeier, 2011 in Music, and more | Vol. 1 Brooklyn
    at 1:30 pm on December 21, 2011

    […] Kevin Brockmeier looks at the work of Michal Ajvaz and Alex Epstein. […]

  3. Will
    at 10:15 am on December 24, 2011

    I love Kevin Brockmeier and I love this list. I will check out all of these. And I love that he loves Cesar Aira too.

  4. Lunar Savings Time – Reviews | Alex Epstein
    at 11:25 am on February 18, 2012

    […] The Millions (A Year in Reading: Kevin Brockmeier) […]

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