Gert Jonke opens The System of Vienna, an ostensibly autobiographical work, with the following: “Allow me first of all, in the interest of facilitating the greatest possible understanding, just a few brief words concerning the methodology of the working process I have adopted, thereby also expending a few more words on myself and my academic development.” Jonke then relays a short account of the hours before his birth, an account that can't be anything but fiction, without ever returning to discuss his “methodology,” which has of course already been demonstrated through this tale of his “beginnings.” Jonke emphasizes this with the compound distance of a synoptic description: “The story begins with a description of that cold winter night and how my mother allegedly started out not being able to find her shoes ...”
Yeah, it's been out for almost a month and you've probably read it all already; but maybe you said you'd come back and get it but haven't. Today's a good day to get it. You know, because I know what's best for you and how your time should be used. I'll be emailing your time management spreadsheets soonly.
Meanwhile, the flash fiction contest judged by Kim Chinquee at The Collagist is nearing the deadline of November 15. Git yer werds to 'em.
The Dalkey Archive Holiday Sale is here again. It's going on through November 22 and applies to books published before November 2009. Get 10 books for $65 or 20 books for $120.
My review of Hungarian novelist Ferenc Barnás's The Ninth was published a few days ago at The Quarterly Conversation. Thanks to Scott Esposito for his tremendous patience and hard work editing this piece. Here is the opening:
Telling a story from a child’s point of view is one of the most difficult modes of fiction to write successfully. The narrator of Ferenc Barnás’s The Ninth is a nine-year-old boy—The Ninth child of ten (eleven, counting the brother who died) in a large Hungarian family—whose inexperience and bare vocabulary are compounded by a speech disability.
In writing The Ninth, Barnás seems to have wanted to give himself a taste of what difficulty his narrator must face when trying to give expression to his experience.
Get your hands on the new issue of NANO Fiction. Word is that copies are going quickly. NF 3.1 includes work by Dorothy Albertini, Jaynel Attolini, Andrew Brininstool, Ed Casey, Jimmy Chen, Stephanie Dickinson, Rodney Gomez, M. J. Kelley, Ashley MacLean, Josh Maday, Traci Matlock, Michael K. Meyers, Dan Moreau, Edward Mullany, Evan J. Peterson, Martin Rock, Sankar Roy, Didi Schiller, Holly Simonsen, Audri Sousa, Robin Tung, Luisa Villani, and Shellie Zacharia. My piece is an excerpt from a long work I've been laboring over, two pieces of which appeared in the Lamination Colony edited by Michael Kimball, and another long excerpt will appear in Issue 8 of New York Tyrant. Check out Jimmy Chen's piece, "A Hollow Back and Forth," from the issue. I'm a big fan of Jimmy's work. There's no question that the guy is incredibly smart. His writing is cynical yet funny, a combination which disarms any sense of condescension.