Saturday, February 25, 2006

"Untitled" ("The Shower Curtain") by Marcel Cohen

Could this be our shortest reading yet? In an enigmatic little snippet of fiction, a shower curtain may be an important clue--oh, come on, it has to be! Read by Scoot. Time 1:52.

Who is or was Marcel Cohen? We don't know, but will have to find out. We do know this comes from a collection of similarly short pieces called The Emperor Peacock Moth. Nice title. Ah--here's something from the Burning Deck website, publisher of Mr. Cohen: "Marcel Cohen was born in 1937 in Asnieres and works as a journalist in Paris. He has written two novels, Galpa (1969) and Voyage a Waizata (1976), stories, and several volumes of very short stories whose admirable density brings them close to being poems, Miroirs (1981), je ne sais pas le nom (1986) and Le grand paon-de-nuit of 1990. He has also published a volume of interviews with Edmond Jab├Ęs, From the Desert to the Book (which has been published in English by Station Hill Press)." That enough for you?

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

"The Art of Vietnam" by Dallas Wiebe

Out of the blue, a Vietnam war veteran receives a summons from an old war buddy who asks his friend to come see himself and the wife he met in that country. What follows is disturbingly indicative of how battle scars can influence one's perspective on the world and on one's ability to tell a straight story. Read by Scoot. Time 10:13.

We don't know if Dallas Wiebe was ever in Vietnam himself, but we do know that he is from Kansas and has taught extensively in the Midwest. As his publisher's website says, "Burning Deck has published three volumes of short stories: The Transparent Eye-Ball, Going to the Mountain, and Skyblue’s Essays. His most recent book is Our Asian Journey (MLR Editions Canada), a fictionalized account of the great Mennonite trek to Central Asia in the 1880s and a study of the impact of language (Biblical) on a community. He has received the Aga Khan Fiction Prize, a Pushcart Prize (1979), an Ohio Arts Council Fellowship, and the Ohio Governor's Award for the Arts." Thanks to author and scholar Alan Leibowitz for donating several Burning Deck volumes to our collection!

Sunday, February 19, 2006

"The Novel as History" by Harry Matthews

...Or perhaps "History as Novel (more accurately, as Short Story)." From recounting the time he was trapped in a bar during a blizzard in Detroit to the dawn of the Enlightenment, a long-winded raconteur barely leaves his listener enough time to think, "He's full of it!" Read by Scoot. Time 7:38.

At the time of this story's publication in the collection Country Cooking and Other Stories, in 1980 by the Burning Deck Press, the author had already been publishing fiction for nearly twenty years in places such as The Paris Review and Antaeus, and had been awarded a National Endowment for the Arts grant. Which is our way of saying we don't really know anything about him except what it says in the book's front matter and really should find out more soon!