Thursday, July 14, 2011

From the Blue: Contributors Read and Recommend #5

In round 5 of our contributor interview series we spoke with CJ Evans. CJ is the author of The Category of Outcast, selected by Terrance Hayes for the Poetry Society of America’s New York Chapbook Fellowship. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in journals such as Boston Review, Colorado Review, Open City, Pleiades, Virginia Quarterly Review, and Web Conjunctions. He is the managing editor of TWO LINES: World Writing in Translation and contributing editor for Tin House.

What are you reading right now?

I'm slowly working my way through a bunch of great things right now, including:
Anja Utler's "Engulf-Enkindle", translated by Kurt Beals (Burning Deck Press) a dense but playful book. A great one to read aloud.
Adam Fell "I Am Not a Pioneer" (H_NGM_N BKS) a first book, but Fell reads like a very mature poet. Some really amazing lines and turns, and the imagistic and linguistic threads that run through the book are excellent.
Lydia Davis's "Collected Stories", a perfect commute book—every story is small, but so intricate and so well-conceived and -written. I read just a couple on the train every day.
"Senselessness" by Horacio Castellanos Moya, translated by Katherine Silver (New Directions) a very odd little book about politics, sex, genocide and a narrator that might be going crazy. It was recommended to me by a few people I trust, and I think Katherine Silver always picks wonderful books to translate, but I'm not super into it.

What else have you been reading this summer?

Well, the summer is just getting underway here in San Francisco, but prior to this I've been re-reading all of David Foster Wallace. I was invited to write an essay about Foster Wallace's "Brief Interviews with Hideous Men" for the Quarterly Conversation and it got me back on a Foster Wallace kick. I've gone through everything but the Pale King, which is staring at me from my desk. I'm a little hesitant to try it, since reading something of his finished by somebody else strikes me as heretical. Curiosity will probably overtake me soon, though. For the rest of the summer, I'm going to try and catch up with new american poets. I just ordered Harmony Holiday's Negro League Baseball from Fence Books, which I'm excited about. Also on the docket are Matthea Harvey's "Of Lamb" (McSweeney's), and a friend just recommended Dora Malech's "Say So" (Cleveland State University Press).

A "Classic" you've been meaning to read?

I just had a daughter five months ago, and one of the best things about it is she is a captive listener. So far, the two of us have gone through Whitman, Dickinson, and T. S. Eliot. Eliot was her favorite. Next up is either Wallace Stevens or HD.
I'm also just beginning Ulysses (again), so we'll see how that goes. The classic I want to read is Joao Guimaraes Rosa's Grand Sertao: Veredas, which the Brazilian critics voted as the best book in recent Brazilian history and is sometimes called Brazil's Ulysses. It was only translated in English once, and (I hear) poorly and heavily edited. It's huge and a lot of it is written in Brazilian street slang, so it's a tough one. If anybody is translating it, send me a copy—I want to read it.

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