Sunday, August 19, 2018

 RIP     Vladimir Sharov (1952-2018)

 Much has been said about Aretha Franklin, but no one said it as well as Billy Preston - The New Yorker

When I graduated from college I got on an airplane and left America to spend a year in a former Soviet housing complex in Slovakia. Central and Eastern Europe were trendy back then with aimless liberal arts graduates. The structures of the complex lined the banks of the Danube and housed more than 100,000 people not far from the Austrian border, 45 minutes east of Vienna. The place was called Petrzalka, which means “field of flowers” and, sometimes, when the late afternoon light fell on the white concrete walls, Petrzalka did not seem as much like a misnomer as it did other times.

When the year was over I boarded a flight back home because life in Slovakia turned out to be as aimless as life in America, where at least I spoke the language. Turbulence hit over Dublin and I had a panic attack. The flight attendants offered me water and soft words and hands on my back, and finally one said, “Come with me.” By then the turbulence had subsided, but my anxiety had not. I followed her past first class and, when she knocked on the captain’s door, it opened. The nighttime and its stars encircled the cockpit in a bear hug. The pilot smiled at me:Take a seat. He and his copilot were drinking tea and asked if I wanted a cup. I did, so they fixed one as the airplane flew itself, and pointed out the constellations ahead.

    Sad to hear that Russian author Vladimir Sharov has passed away; no English language notices yet, but see, for example, the

 note at the Институт перевода. 
       Two of his titles have been translated into English, both published by Dedalus -- and they're both under review at thecomplete review: Before and During and The Rehearsals

       Sad to hear that another of the grand old men of UK publishing has passed away; see, for example, Heloise Wood's'Towering' opponent of censorship John Calder dies aged 91 atThe Bookseller and Alasdair Steven's Obituary -- John Calder, ground-breaking publisher, co-founder of the Traverse and leading figure at the Edinburgh festival in The Herald. 

       I accumulated a fair number of the old Calder titles over the years, as he published an eclectic, impressive selection of authors. 
       Alma took over the imprint, and they've been re-issuing some of the titles in a new look. 

       At the PowellsBooks.Blog Dear Committee Members-author Julie Schumacher posts Five Reasons to Keep Track of Every Single Book You Read, and as someone who has long kept track of all his book purchases as well as reads (and, for a couple of years now, all the books received/acquiredhereabouts) I can certainly endorse her suggestion (if not all these particular reasons). 
       As we all remember, the Swedish Academy imploded earlier this year, leading also to their decision to postpone the awarding of the 2018 Nobel Prize to 2019 -- and the Nobel Foundation has been none too pleased about the mess they've gotten themselves into and their so far unimpressive efforts to set their house in order. 
       So now the Nobel Foundation apparently has *suggested* the Academy create an independent new, interim committee -- composed of new (i.e. untainted) members -- to handle the Academy's Nobel-duties until the Academy addresses all its problems. (Remember: as the Foundation has reminded the Academy previously, they're the ones who write the big Nobel Prize check .....) The Academy apparently is not thrilled by the idea, apparently claiming they've got all that Nobel-deciding stuff completely under control .... 
       The Dagens Nyheter report breaking this is paywalled, but see the (Swedish) SVT report, as well as the Xinhua report,Nobel Foundation wants temporary committee to oversee literature award.