Jenny Hendrix

  • culture September 15, 2014

    The End of Days by Jenny Erpenbeck

    Life and death in Jenny Erpenbeck’s novel are separated by so thin a membrane as to render both a kind of purgatory. But the coexistence is uneasy—something as immeasurable as death doesn’t seem to fit naturally within the measured limits of a life, nor does the intimate clock of a lifespan appear to synch with that of historical time. In this book, Erpenbeck is most interested in what can be recuperated from the space between.

    At one point in Jenny Erpenbeck’s remarkable novel, The End of Days (Aller Tage Abend), a woman who is falling to her death thinks of how thinks of how, throughout her life, she had done things for the last time without knowing it. “Death was not a moment but a front,” he thinks, “one that was as long as life.” As in the books of W. G. Sebald, life and death in Erpenbeck’s novel are separated by so thin a membrane as to render both a kind of purgatory. But the coexistence is uneasy—something as immeasurable as death doesn’t seem to fit naturally within the measured limits of a life, nor does

  • culture February 03, 2012

    The Book of Emotions by João Almino

    Brazil’s capital city, Brasilia, conceived by modernist architect Lucio Costa, was built in the late 1950s on what had been an unpopulated desert. Costa envisioned a city in which urban design enabled the existence of an ideal society, a utopian notion that deflated when confronted with reality. Brasilia’s once futuristic archways now slouch toward violent suburbs riddled with decay and corruption.

    Novelist and former diplomat Joao Almino may be the poet laureate of Costa’s failed vision. Disappointment flickers in the background of his novels, all of which deal with attempts by a shifting

  • culture July 22, 2010

    Elegies for the Brokenhearted by Christie Hodgen

    Christie Hodgen’s new novel, Elegies for the Brokenhearted, reminds us that an elegy is a mix of sorrow and exuberance, like an upbeat tune with rueful lyrics. It’s narrated by Mary Murphy, a self-described “mope . . . loner . . . drag . . . slouch,” living in a nameless postindustrial New England city. Early in the novel, a fourteen-year-old Mary, at a nearby beach with her family, contemplates a trio of British punks causing a stir on the boardwalk and wonders “what it would be like to walk through the world and leave a wake behind you, the sound of people speaking your name.” When the rockers