Tuesday, January 20, 2009

New Means of Distraction

Daniel Borzutzky, local author and translator, whose book The Ecstasy of Capitulation, brought me to a wonderful place and continues to amaze the more I go back to it, who I saw read a poem about Andersonville that just killed me, has a blog:


Unlike the diaries posing as blogs, or the overly excited literary ramblings that pop up on blogs like, well, this one, Borzutzky’s is pretty interesting, thus far comprised of a well thought out response to a Dubravka Ugresic essay, an excerpt from the before mentioned book of poetry, and a bit from my recent interest, Thomas Bernhard. Check it out.

As a side note, the piece inspired by Ugresic’s essay makes an interesting point about Bolaño and his recently published story in The New Yorker. While I found the story to be somewhat compelling, albeit very odd (business as usual), Borzutzky asks a legitimate question regarding why The New Yorker felt the need to publish it. The story is strange, sure, though not subsequently bad (and I knew who Enrique Lihn was before reading the thing, though I admit that the other references were over my head), but one can argue that they would never have touched it were it not from the literary flavor of the month. Personally, I’m still glad they did, though it reminded me of a story by Huruki Murakami that appeared in The New Yorker called, I think, “My Year of Spaghetti.” I was thrilled to see anything by Murakami at that time, but I found the story to be slight. (Rereading it a year later, I loved it for all the reasons it first turned me off.) So a pattern is evident: The New Yorker jumps on the bandwagon. It has not been (was it ever?) a magazine that takes big risks. This is not a complaint—I like The New Yorker (most of the time), and I am glad they are publishing the occasional story by a writer I am interested in, but I see Borzutzky’s point. It’s sort of like the argument/complaint I heard often in poetry workshops, that if any of us were to turn in “experimental” poems similar to the ones our instructors were gaga about— written by published, respected, established poets— we’d likely get them torn apart.