Monday, July 15, 2013

a short trip around the world: road stories, global stories, new voices & Kafka + Wallace

This blog post is inspired by the general joy of global reading, short stories, a blog series, roads, and an online lit course. More, at the bottom of this post.

The reads of the last days were ... short.
 After reading the Granta collection "Pakistan" in spring (here's more), I now tried 2 Granta collections, both with global themes, but very different: "On the Road Again" is about travel and travel writing, and "Ten Years Later" refers to September 11 - which brought some familiar voices from recent reads. Here are the short descriptions:

Granta 116: Ten Years Later
A street vendor in Tunisia, an American marine going home and a signals operator on a North Korean fishing trawler. From the battlefields of Afganistan to the streets of Mogadishu and Toronto, these are just a few of the stories in the issue of Granta that conjure the complexity and sorrow of life since 11 September 2001.

Granta 94: On the Road Again
Where travel writing went next with fiction from Michel Faber and Tessa Hadley, Tim Parks on commuting in Italy and James Hamilton-Paterson on "The End of Travel". - The collection starts with "We went to Saigon" by Tia Willmann. From there, it leads to Ukraine & Montana, Spain & Portugal, and through Russia. in an photo essay across eleven time zones, just to name a few of the destinations.


New Voices: "In Transit" by Dina Nayeri + "Runs Girl" by Chinelo Okparanta
Both collections are from previous years. Visiting the Granta page i saw that they currently have their "New Voices" series on again - a series that highlights emerging talents on The ones that touched me most were Dina Nayeri with "In Transit" - the story of a family that moves from Tehran to Oklahoma -

and Chinelo Okparanta with ‘Runs Girl’, which tells of a student in Nigeria, Ada, that tells about the other side of internet fraud: "Her primary patrons were the Yahoo Boys, she told me. I had seen many fancy-looking young men around campus, but I had just assumed that they came from wealth. It had not crossed my mind until that visit with Njideka that many of them built their wealth off internet fraud."


Following the short story mood, i joined storysunday again, the open twitter story link exchange, here's more: storysunday, and here's the twitter stream: #storysunday.

One of the chance finds of it was this story from Electric Literature:

Three Things You Should Know About Peggy Paula
"One. In high school Peggy Paula worked as a waitress at the Perkins. Night shifts were her favorite, kids from her school would come in after games or dances with bleary eyes and messy hair and Peggy Paula knew they’d been drinking and smoking those flimsy joints she’d see them passing, the girls with smudged makeup and rat’s nests in the back of their heads, proud unblinking eyes, scanning the dining room like I dare you...."

Kafka & David Foster Wallace 
Later, while browsing onwards from there, i arrived at a call for a special David Foster Wallace issue at Found Poetry Review, and looking for Wallace stories online, I arrived at a page that is like a gate itself: "Open Culture". So good to find this list of 30 stories and Essays by David Foster Wallace

And again, in a nice twist in themes, one of the links is an essay from Wallace on Kafka - one of the authors that is featured in the Fiction of Relationships, so I recently read one of his works.. and now read Wallace's take on Kafka:

Laughing with Kafka
"What Kafka's stories have, rather, is a grotesque and gorgeous and thoroughly modem complexity. Kafka's humor-not only not neurotic but anti-neurotic, heroically sane-is, finally, a religious humor, but religious in the manner of Kierkegaard and Rilke and the Psalms, a harrowing spirituality... And it is this, I think, that makes Kafka's wit inaccessible to children whom our culture has trained to see jokes as entertainment and entertainment as reassurance."

A short trip around the world, those reads created together, one leading to the other.


Book Links, Previous Reads & Finding Books

Previous reading blog entries are collected here: bookshelf: currently  reading... there also is a visual bookshelf, just click it to get there.

Reading around the world - i really enjoy this literal discovery-tour of the world, and it now made me go and pull some useful links together in a blog post: Finding books by country: helpful links + resources

More monday reads from other bloggers: link list at book journey

And my own book... is Worl(d)s Apart. True.

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