In the mail recently:
Forrest Gander's new novel As a Friend just out from New Directions. I'm looking forward to this one. The fragmentary shape of the text, with isolated sentences and paragraphs and sections, is exactly what I'm interested in right now.
Baby and I finished reading Samuel Beckett's How It Is and Eugene Marten's Waste.
I'll definitely be reading both again. I don't know if I have anything really coherent to say about How It Is just yet. But I can say that Waste tracked little hexes of dried blood across my brain with rugged work boots. It's definitely a dark novel. Dan Wickett alluded to Cormac McCarthy's Child of God when he said that there is more than a little Lester Ballard in Marten's main character, Sloper, and I think that's accurate. Sloper is a great name for this character. It does not stand out so strangely that it is distracting, but it is definitely strange enough to evoke that something bent about the character. The writing is a precise and rusty cutting instrument. Marten's sentences are clipped and rich. Distilled to the essence. The deadpan matter of fact tone creates the perfect feeling of Sloper's numb indifferent sickness that goes unchecked in his isolation. Sloper is different than McCarthy's Lester Ballard in that Sloper is not violent. Of course, his social paralysis is nearly crippling, but he is still functionally disturbed. Although he prefers to just be left alone, he still craves human contact in whatever way he can make that happen. He is not willfully destructive and does not just take what he wants, but makes use of what he finds already abandoned. Sloper is a sad, creepy, interesting character. And the writing is a perfect detox diet. I will definitely be reading this again. At 116 pages, Waste is a quick and potent read. Highly recommended.