Posts Tagged ‘Lucy Renner Jones’

Unholy Elsa

Thursday, May 30th, 2013

Screen shot 2013-05-30 at 9.47.26 AMSpanning an arc from the 1960s in southern Germany to the 1980s art scene in Düsseldorf, Astrid Rosenfeld’s latest novel will have you in stitches of laughter, as you admire how effortlessly she writes.

Elsa ungeheuer is told from the perspective of a fat little boy called Karl Brauer (8), who lives in the Oberpfalz region with his handsome older brother, Lorenz. Karl and Lorenz live in the kind of village you might have seen on family holidays driving through southern Germany’s Oberpfalz in the early ‘70s ­– as I did ­– where the three people propped against the Imbiß table stopped to gaze as our Datsun Cherry chugged past, my sister and I peering through the rear windows, bare legs stuck with sweat to the plastic seats. We’d notice, as three heads turned in our direction, that one man had a huge goitre on his neck, the other’s teeth were mostly missing, and the woman’s clothes were shabby. If our parents stopped to get a bottle of water in one of these villages, we might stand for a while in the shade of a shop awning and hear a man talking with an artificial voice (we’d find out later it’s called an electrolarnyx). We thought he was a robot. This was a world that existed long before the omnipresence of McDonalds and Starbucks. The social services or health systems had yet to be invented. And this is the kind of setting that Astrid Rosenfeld chooses for the first part of Elsa ungeheuer. Except she’s not passing through in a car, she’s very much an insider. (more…)

We are live

Sunday, May 12th, 2013

“A poet looking for inspiration” Milorad Krstic

Click here for the MadHat issue 14, cut.ting edge! Last night, if you had the stamina to make it to the finish past midnight, you would have had the chance to listen to a real cross-section of translated German language fiction, poetry, drama and non-fiction. No, we did not manage to do the Pecha Kucha style evening – the 20 slide, 15-minute Power Point karaoke when the readers are rudely cut off by the host if they run overtime – but we did have a text about it, and Helmut Kuhn, the author, sitting in the audience, visibly enjoying listening to Ruth Martin’s translation.

There were many highlights: such as Sissi Tax and Joel Scott, the Australian-Austrian axis, reading Issi’s poems in tandem. Sissi now has new fans in Berlin among the English language translation crowd. Henry Holland, reading Donal McLaughlin’s Glaswegian speech translations of Pedro Lenz’ poems:

Jist wance
in o’er nineteen year
did Toledo miss his wurk.

It wis thi day
the gaffer wis buried
in Volketswil.

He wantit tae be sure
thi cunt’s really deid, Toledo.

Henry did point out that it was only me who made the connection between him and Donal, but I was very glad I did. I also immensely enjoyed  his “song of unification for instant singing” by Peter Rühmkorf. There was a Kafkaesque rendition of “Rosa Beetle”, and a virtuoso rendition of Anna Katharina Hahn’s “Kürzere Tage”, translated by Helen Rutley and Jenny Piening respectively. Finally, we were nearly lulled to sleep by Medhi Nebbou reading “The Patient Prince” by Karen Duve from her volume Grrrim

But why don’t you just click over to the live issue and read these and many more wonderful texts in translation. A big thank you for all of you who gave your time, work and inspiration to produce this issue. We had a ball!

An interview with Ross Benjamin on Clemens J. Setz

Wednesday, November 7th, 2012

Book cover of Indigo by Clemens J. SetzWhat makes Clemens J. Setz such as compelling author? While I was writing a review for CulturMag of   Indigo by Clemens J. Setz, I sent Ross Benjamin some questions about his work as Setz’s American translator. What came back was enlightening and hugely enjoyable to read and we both decided to share it in full.

(Lucy Renner Jones): For starters, Clemens comes across as a collector of oddities – photographs, scraps, bizarre newspaper stories – a geek, as it were, and it seems as if “Indigo” has grown from this love of the bizarre. You have the feeling that if he hadn’t become a writer, he might have become a professional ladybug torturer or a director for an asylum for the insane…is that what you feel too or do you think he’s just brilliantly funny? (And in danger of being misunderstood?) (more…)