I found a book by Georges Perec called Tentatived’épuisement d’un lieu Parisien, or An Attempt to Exhaust a Place in Paris. I like Perec very much. He loved word games and wrote crossword puzzles, and very often invented challenges for himself in his writing. In 1969 he wrote a book—La Disparition—in which the letter “e” does not appear. It was translated into English, also with no “e’s” but since the literal translation—The Disappearance—has three “e’s”, the English title is A Void. In 1972 Perec wrote Les Revenents, in which “e” is the only vowel in the book. Perec died of cancer in 1982 when he was only forty-six.
With the arrival of spring we’re leaping bravely into unfamiliar worlds—safe in the hands of experts, of course. An eerie peripheral dreamscape; quotidian life viewed from upside down or inside out, never as expected; the dark bureaucracy of the criminal underground; messages ferried to and from ghosts—these are unmapped terrains, and what better companions than these authors, their first cartographers? Expand your world(s) this month with these suggestions from our contributors and staff.
Bone Map: Poems by Sara Eliza Johnson, Aimless Love: New and Selected Poems by Billy Collins, Blood and Money by Thomas Thompson, Self-Portrait in Greenby Marie NDiaye, Elegies for the Brokenhearted: A Novelby Christie Hodgen.
This is an excerpt from a narrative about the last seventy-four days in the life of Vincent van Gogh. It begins in Paris on the morning of Saturday, May 17, 1890, when Vincent first met his sister-in-law Jo, the wife of his younger brother Theo. It ends in Auvers, northwest of Paris, at one-thirty in the morning of Tuesday, July 29, 1890, when Vincent died after wounding himself in the chest with a pistol.
Today’s dispatch from Gregory Curtis was originally posted on The Mailer Fellowship Blog, which features essays from students and teachers at the Norman Mailer Center and Writers Colony in Provincetown, Massachusetts. Curtis is a mentor to the Colony’s non-fiction fellows.
I like visiting writers’ houses. You see the spaces that enveloped their imagination day by day. You see the furniture they sat in and the paintings and photographs on the walls. You see the dishes in the kitchen. You see the books on their shelves and the bed they slept in. It’s possible to assume too much from all this, but what’s the point of going at all if you don’t make some conclusions from what you see?