Charles Bernstein

Firbank as poet, by Douglas Messerli

Ronald Firbank *Valmouth* (London: Gerald Duckworth, 1919)

 In preparation for a fiction course for the MFA Creative Writing Program at Otis College of Art this Fall, I reread Ronald Firbank's fiction Valmouth, and sought out his biography on Wikipedia, where I read the author "produced a series of novels."

Since I consider myself a sort of authority of the various genres of fiction, I am no longer surprised to see that any fiction is described by most readers these days as a "novel." And, although the genre, "novel," seems to me to center on a central figure, charting his or her relationship (often in symbolic terms) with the larger culture or, at least, the world outside the central figure, I have become somewhat indifferent if people use the term "novel" indeterminately.

The only times it truly upsets me is when readers have difficulty with a work of fiction because it does not meet the standard expectations of a "novel," such as the case of Djuna Barnes' anatomy Nightwood, a work that wasted the energies of at least one critic, Joseph Frank, in creating a new form (what he called "spatial fiction") to explain what he saw as anomalies, all perfectly a home in the anatomy genre. Others have approached the epic fictions of Heimito von Doderer and Robert Musil, works whose structures often work more like musical compositions than plot-organized novels, similarly.

Reading for Frank Kuenstler's The Enormous Chorus (Pressed Wafer)

Cue Art Foundation, NY, Oct. 26, 2011

Emily Kuenslter

Serge Gavronksy and Rachel Blau DuPlessis

"Booby, be quiet!" esays by Eiríkur Örn Norðdahl

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These youthfully exuberant essays on translation, innovation, performance, and audience are compelling, delightful, and often funny: illuminating as Reykjavik white nights and sharp as the skate blade of a North American racing champion.

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Start with this key essay, "The importance of destroying a language (of one’s own)":