I was so excited to see that John Ashbery had selected my translation of Robert Walser’s Microscripts as one of his top picks of 2010 in the Times Literary Supplement that it didn’t even occur to me that any further mention of the book might have been included in the TLS‘s Dec. 1 print edition – it turns out the on-line version I saw contains only some of the content from the print edition. And in fact Microscripts was selected by a second writer as well, the extraordinary Paul Griffiths, who recently composed, oulipo-style, an entire novel from the point of view of Ophelia using only the 481-word vocabulary Shakespeare allots her in Hamlet. Griffiths praises Walser’s “sense of the strange, moving beneath a wry, ingenuous surface.”
Meanwhile Jenny Erpenbeck’s Visitation showed up on the Seminary Co-op Bookstores’ (Chicago) Best-of-2010 list, where a staff member writes, “In this dense little translation, we move through time but we never move in space. We are spectators to the grand passage of Germany’s twentieth century in this one spot: a wood that lines the shore of a small lake. The physicality of experience weighs on Erpenbeck’s words, tying human action to land, to rooms, to objects and to views. With no explanation of outside forces or political changes, “history” becomes nothing more than the vicissitudes of productivity and ruin.”
I’m so grateful for all the attention these two books have been receiving.
Breaking news on Dec. 21: Microscripts has just made one more “best-of” list, courtesy of The Devil’s Accountant.