Economics, Literature and Scepticism

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I am a PhD student in Economics. I am originally from South Africa and plan to return there after my PhD. I completed my M. Comm in Economics and my MA In Creative Writing (Poetry) at the University of Cape Town, where I worked as a lecturer before starting my PhD.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Books to look out for

Posted by Simon Halliday | Saturday, January 10, 2009 | Category: |

The Times Online (UK) published its 'Hottest Reads of 2009' on December 31st.  I thought I'd note some of my fiction highlights (i.e. the books that will sit on my wishlist for ages before I actually buy them).  

First, the publication of Raymond Carver's Beginners before his editor (Gordon Lish) ripped up the text. I am a big fan of Raymond Carver, though I only own three of his short story collections (What We Talk About When We Talk About Love, Elephant and Cathedral) and I have read several of his poems (though I don't own any collections) I love his work.  It is also interesting to chart the movement of his work and, particularly, the conflict between Carver and Lish over what constituted 'Carveresque' - a 'pared down' (as so many people say in those darn articles, personally I don't like the image of a paring knife too much, I'd rather going for another metaphor if possible).  Anyway, you can read the title story of Beginners (Beginners) at the New Yorker.  The New Yorker also had an insightful (2007) article, 'Rough Crossings: The Cutting of Raymond Carver' on the subject of the Carver-Lish antagonism. Good stuff.

Second, and of course, there is the UK release (finally) of Roberto Bolano's 2666, which has been sitting on my amazon wishlist for ages as I patiently awaited its UK release.  Bolano's book received substantial praise in US book reviews. I hope to purchase this soon after it becomes available and give it some good reading time during my break.  I will obviously provide you with my thoughts on it afterwards.

Kazuo Ishiguro also has a new release of short stories on music entitled Nocturnes: Five Stories of Music and Nightfall. I don't entirely know what to expect of this, but Ishiguro's writing is highly acclaimed.  I have not read any of Ishiguro's short stories and so I shall look forward to this with anticipation. 

Finally, there is Charlotte Roche's Wetlands which is the tale of a highly sexual 18 year old young woman.  Variably described as 'porn', 'erotic literature' or simply 'explicit' the idea of the book titillates me.  First, I am intrigued by explicit descriptions of violence or sex in literature, as exemplified by authors like Bret Easton Ellis and others.  Second, I have an interest in understanding the role that erotica plays in contemporary society, both the writing of it and the reading of it.  Erotica still has a 'dirty taste' for many people, which I believe it should not have.  (Greta Christina regularly writes lucidly and entertainingly on this topic.)  For this book, though, I may just wait for a second-hand copy purchased somewhere online. See this article in The Guardian on the UK battle for publication rights.

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