Any NYRB Duds (and not The Dud Avocado)?
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I did find that I started Raymond Queneau's Witch Grass twice but didn't get through it but I ascribed that to myself and my wandering attentions I often read 5 or 6 books concurrently and some naturally drift away and I come back to them later.
The Adventures and Misadventures of Maqroll I came back to with great delight.
Tess Slessinger's The Unpossessed is another title from which I wandered.
But, just to show that one woman's trash is another's treasure and some of you out there may very much enjoy 'Novels in three lines' despite my lukewarm response to it, Marensr, Witch Grass is probably my second favorite NYRB book, right after Elizabeth Hardwick's Sleepless Nights.
It's a pity it isn't at least a bilingual edition. I regret the dearth of bilingual editions in general.
Since all of these books have been widely hailed and have had significant staying power, I attribute my dislike to the randomness of personal taste. I suspect that others may find some of my treasures, like The Anatomy of Melancholy and Mawrdew Czgowchwz to be trashy.
I would like to have had The Child in a bilingual edition. I read French fairly well. Perhaps, I would have been able to register the "incomparable humor" of the work declared by the cover notes to be "one of the funniest in French literature. . . . a triumph of insubordinate comedy." As it was, I'm with #6. I found the work a dud. But #6 jfclark, I would never call The Anatomy of Melancholy trashy. It's wonderful, funny in places, and insightful, not to mention a fascinating compendium of 17th-century English trivia.
Other books I would put in the dud category include Mr. Fortune's Maggot by Sylvia Townsend Warner and My Dog Tulip. Vis a vis Mr. Fortune's Maggot, I generally like Sylvia Townsend Warner's work. Lolly Willowes, for example, is a delightfully wicked little novel. I picked up My Dog Tulip after having read various rhapsodic reviews of the work. I don't get the fuss. To my mind, it does not succeed either as dog book or a memoir. The poor titular Tulip isn't bad enough to be really funny, nice (she's not nice) enough to be touching, nor does she serve as a particularly insightful vehicle through which to explore Ackerley's eccentricities. Funnier, are some of the things that other writers have said about Tulip (the dog). But . . . there must be something to the book. It's being made into an animated feature film for adults. Why? I don't know? I attribute it to the popularity of a whole pack of duds that have come out in print the last few years: self-indulgent memoirs involving dogs. Incidentally, I love dogs and cats and enjoy some books about dogs, Paul Auster's novel Timbuktu, for example. Yes, Auster's book is sentimental and we can see the end coming almost from the beginning, but it's still a charming and sweet read. And Mr. Bones is memorable.
I'm impressed and envious. I wish I could read classical Greek texts in the original. I need to take some classes. Hey is your translation available? I would love to read it. Staging classical Greek drama, the tragedies at any rate, is so difficult and yet so satisfying when it is done well.
And to think I could translate it just like that......:-(
I'd buy a bilingual edition in an instant. Still, it's hard to object even to “rendering a Sung landscape in department-store plastic.” The French editions, including the cheap abridgment, are out of print. Americans (and Anglo-Saxons in general) don't read other languages. Yet despite that, there are comparatively few new translations into English: half as many as into German, which has a third as many L1 speakers or a fifth as many L1+L2 speakers.
>13 MMcM: Normally I'd agree with your point about the importance of translations even if the result resembles "a Sung landscape in department-store plastic" but in the case of Novels in three lines, I just don't think there's anything there to render. Without Fénéon's French, the whole thing falls flatter than a day-old, under-baked soufflé. Not very pretty and certainly not very palatable.
I read them not in the NYRB editions but in the portuguese editions (Walser was some peculiar cult in Portugal, if that can be called, probably similiar to Spain where the autor is championed in Enrique Vila-Mattas' books), and they are two favorite of mine (Walser's my favourite of the author, Asleep in the Sun not the same for Casares, as the Invention of Morel stands as his masterpiece - at least considering the edited work in Portugal).
I think the duds I've read include Butcher's Crossing (though I think it has merit, and I loved Stoner) and A Sorrow Beyond Dreams (though I liked certain parts of it) and Poem Strip.