paper trail

Oct 19, 2010 @ 9:00:00 am

Harry Mathews

This year's Nobel Prize in Literature-winner Mario Vargas Llosa's new novel, The Dream of the Celt, will be published in English in 2011.

Literary legend Harry Mathews is appearing tonight at Manhattan's 192 Books. Mathews founded the short-lived literary journal Locus Solus in the sixties with the New York School poets John Ashbery, Kenneth Koch, and James Schuyler, and in 1972 became the first American member of the influential French writing group the OULIPO (workshop for potential literature); he co-edited the OULIPO's definitive English language collection. This evening, Mathews will be reading from his forthcoming book of poems, The New Tourism, his first verse collection in almost twenty years. As Gerald Howard wrote in Bookforum in 2002, reading Mathews inspires a "mood of melancholy nostalgia for a period in American fiction when the big aesthetic questions of form and meaning were up for grabs and being worked on and out by a dazzling array of talents."

HTML Giant is starting an online Literary Magazine Club, where members will read a lit mag such as the New York Tyrant and discuss. As the club's founder Roxane Gay writes, "The plethora of literary magazines actively contributing to the literary conversation are ample evidence, for me, that we have not lost the battle to other forms of entertainment. We’re very much in the fight."

Sheila Heti's new book, How Should a Person Be?, is an ardent account of a young woman's unsentimental education as a writer in the Toronto art scene. Deftly blending discursive personal essays, a novel-like narrative, and transcripts of recorded conversations (and emails), Heti's tale is witty, bawdy, intimate, and hilarious—reading her work is like spending a day with your new best friend. Heti writes, "How do you build your soul? At a certain point, I know, you have to forget about your soul and just do the work you’re required to do. To go on and on about your soul is to miss the whole point of life. I could say that with more certainty if I knew the whole point of life." (The book hasn't been published in the US yet, but you can buy one from its Canadian publisher Anansai.)