Los Angeles Review of Books | When We Were Brothers: On the Writing of Daša Drndić | April 2019
“NOTHING HAS REMAINED of those times,” writes Daša Drndić in the final pages of her last book about the generation that built the postwar Yugoslavia and who then lived to see it fall apart in civil wars. EEG is narrated by Drndić’s literary alias Andreas Ban, known to the readers from Belladonna, but Ban’s father Rudolf has much in common with Ljubo Drndić, Istrian anti-fascist resistance leader and a prominent figure of the liberal wing of the Yugoslav communist government after the war. In EEG, we learn of Rudolf’s last days: in an old people’s home, in poverty, alone. Drndić mockingly spoke of the contemporary English-language fictional pursuit of “well-rounded characters” and “well-told stories,” but Rudolf is a beautifully rendered character and the most sympathetic one of the Belladonna/EEG diptych. The society that he helped build has gone, and he is on his way, too. Likewise, when those of us born before the 1980s die off, so will the living memory of a unique society — the experiment in equality and fraternity (but only sometimes liberty) that was Yugoslavia.
Virginie Despentes - Minor Literature[s], December 2016
In her only work of non-fiction so far, the part-manifesto, part-memoir King Kong Theory, Virginie Despentes takes an unexpected stand in the chapter on rape.
How Iris Murdoch changed my understanding of fiction - the Literary Mothers Project, May 2014
By the age of twenty, I was sure I was done with the realist novel.
It was the kind of thing you had to read in school, and literary education in a Communist country—such as Yugoslavia where I grew up—will tend to give the realist novel a special ideological place in the curriculum. The best of them showed the inexorable march of history towards greater democratization and the empowering of the dispossessed, or illustrated particularly well the various facets of capitalism. Balzac was read because he held the mirror to the society in which money trumps and tramples over all other kinds of human relationships. Dickens was brilliant about the lumpen, Thomas Hardy about the obstacles to the upward mobility. Nobody felt for the low-ranking bureaucrat, the peasant, the village simpleton as strongly as Gogol and Chekhov. Madame Bovary was in large part about the hell that was petite bourgeoisie, the stratum taking over the society. Crime and Punishment was essentially about poverty.
I now don’t find this line of inquiry risible at all, and the years of living in a capitalist country may have something to do with that.
I think I lost the plot (and it's a good thing, too) - Vehicule Press online, June 2016
We like things happening rather than not, we prefer continuity to contingency, purpose to chance, narration to meaninglessness. Alasdair MacIntyre is still right: humans are storytelling animals. That’s how we are as readers of books and as readers of our own lives. We talk of characters, events, arc, movement through time, one thing following another; that is our vernacular. Even in our fairly secular societies, we continue to need to re-enchant the world through the fabrication that is the story and the many shapes it assumes through different media.
Why Victoria Wood is the funniest British comedian you've never heard of - The Awl, Jun 2012
Here’s the problem: this side of the Atlantic is unaware of Victoria Wood. Queen of observational stand-up, master of the cheerful monologue ridden with a thousand little dreads, goddess of the sketch surreal and regular, authoress of so much women-centered content that she out-Bechdels the Bechdel Test by a mile, unsentimental teller of truth in matters sexual, superb chronicler of Englishness, trail-blazer (she’d hate this title, but I don’t give a damn), tea drinker, owner of the most glorious bosom in the whole of Commonwealth.
Anne Sofie von Otter and the worship of the mezzo-soprano - The Awl, April 2011
For about a month now I have been corresponding with a new friend in the Netherlands. There are sixty messages in the folder I named after her — the number will grow before I finish this article — and she probably has at least as many from me. In spite of all the lively conversation, I know little about her. I’m certain of her gender, and I trust that she gave me her real name, but that is about as full of a biographical sketch as I can give you. The rest is covered by impenetrable cyber mist. We don’t talk about each other. Since we discovered we share a diva assoluta, there is nothing else more pressing to talk about than the mezzo-soprano Anne Sofie von Otter. Never underestimate the bond that two strangers can establish when they discover that in the world of competing paganisms they worship the same divinity.
Replaceable You - N + 1, May 2006
It was a Monday evening in Toronto, and I was sitting in Our Lady of Lourdes Church, waiting for my first Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous meeting to begin. Tom Stoppard’s The Real Thing had recently been revived at a nearby theater, and I thought of Stoppard’s Henry, whose lover Annie dares him to find a part of his life where she is not important, “or you won’t be worth loving.” Just when we think Henry might reassert his autonomy and set their bond on “healthier” grounds, he comes out with one of the better—I mean, most addiction-marred—declarations of love in the last twenty years of English-speaking theater. “The trouble is, I can’t find a part of myself where you’re not important. I write in order to be worth your while and to finance the way I want to live with you … Without you I wouldn’t care. I’d eat tinned spaghetti and put on yesterday’s clothes.” If Henry were to consult any SLAA self-diagnosis kit, he’d find himself waist-deep in unhealthy attachment.
Or take Charles Swann, of Proust’s La Recherche, who we learn early on is—unreasonably, for somebody of his worldliness, embarrassingly, for a man of his position—in love with a fantasy of Odette.
One Hour Empire
On Travelling Alone - July 2009
No typical donor: Private and corporate donations in Toronto's arts world - Issue 100/Winter 2008
Understanding the Avant-Garde: Critic Hal Foster - Issue 98/Summer 2008
The Passion according to Erika: Elfriede Jelinek's The Piano Teacher - Spring 2005, Vol XIII No. 1
In Media Res / A Media Commons Project
Women in comedy, a historical perspective (READ)