Friday, August 17, 2007

Terese Svoboda

Terese Svoboda is the author of several books of prose and poetry, including Trailer Girl and Other Stories, Cannibal, Treason, and Tin God.

I recently asked her what she was reading. Her reply:
I have four days to finish the final rewrite of a memoir/mystery story called Black Glasses Like Clark Kent (Graywolf Press). It's about my uncle, an MP in postwar Japan who guarded a stockade full of our GIs and the gallows that was built inside it. Toward that end, I've just reread Japan's Comfort Women by Yuki Tanaka, particularly the expose on the joint US/Japanese scheme for satisfying the GIs in postwar Japan.

I'm also frolicking through the last four books of poetry that Paul Muldoon has published (I made it through the first nineteen or so) for an extended essay called "Summer in Muldoonland."

I'm also thrilled to be reading All Things are Labor: Stories by Katherine Arnoldi. About being a Mennonite woman, single motherhood and life on the fringe in the Lower East Side, it's her first collection but she's been writing wild sentences for a long while.

For fun, I just finished Gerald Durrell's Golden Bats and Pink Pigeons, a naturalist's hilarious take on endangered species in Mauritius. I've read all his others, the best being My Family and Other Animals.
In 2007 Terese Svoboda won the Graywolf Nonfiction Prize for Black Glasses Like Clark Kent, a memoir about her uncle as an MP who reported executions of GIs in the stockade he was guarding in postwar Japan — and then committed suicide.

Robert Polito wrote: "Few books over the past decade have surprised and moved me as much as Black Glasses Like Clark Kent. A family romance in the guise of a biography and memoir, this is also a mystery in the spirit of writers as various as Dashiell Hammett and Sigmund Freud, Patricia Highsmith and D. W. Winnicott. Black Glasses is, as Svoboda intimates, a 'triptych,' a three-story house that spans World War II Japan and contemporary America, creating imaginative space for the intricate lives of her uncle and cousin as well as her own. Resourceful, elegantly phrased, angry, stubborn, fierce, beautiful and ultimately devastating."

Graywolf will publish Black Glasses Like Clark Kent in February 2008.

--Marshal Zeringue