Thursday, June 4, 2009

Ehud Havazelet

Ehud Havazelet is the author of two critically acclaimed short-story collections, What Is It Then Between Us? and Like Never Before, and the novel Bearing the Body. His stories have appeared in such journals as DoubleTake, New England Review, The Southern Review, ZYZZYVA, Iowa Review, Ontario Review, and Crazyhorse, and have been chosen for the Pushcart Prize. He is the winner of both the California Book Award and the Oregon Book Award for fiction.

Havazelet is an Associate Professor at the University of Oregon where he teaches creative writing.

Late last month I asked him what he was reading. His reply:
Aside from the daily Yankees boxscore I’m reading Silent Movies: The Birth of Film and the Triumph of Movie Culture by Peter Kobel, a terrific overview of early film, and maybe the heaviest hardcover I’ve ever held. The artwork is wonderful: there’s a photograph of Louise Brooks that may be the sexiest thing I’ve ever seen.

I’m just beginning to re-read Hiding Man, the excellent new biography of Donald Barthelme by my friend, Tracy Daugherty. Barthelme was unique, an avant-gardist with a sorrowing affection for the lives he spliced and flayed and reassembled in collage. That he’s so little read now is an unsurprising disappointment. I hope Tracy’s book reverses that injustice—Barthelme’s a writer we can’t afford to lose.

The Years, by Virginia Woolf, which I’ve never read before. I return to Woolf over and over to help me remember what writing’s about. She makes you slow down, makes you listen and look around and with her inimitable (believe me, I’ve tried) music makes you, finally, see the endless strands of connection and the endless isolation they can’t manage to supersede, makes alive everything you thought you’d seen, understood, and in your smugness set aside. She creates worlds to enter—scenes, weathers, cultural moments--but so much more important, the interior landscapes of characters like nobody has since Shakespeare.

The Years may not be her best book—the challenge she sets herself may be unconquerable--but matching Mrs Dalloway, let alone writing it once, is too much too ask, like beating Fitzgerald over the head with Tender is the Night because it isn’t Gatsby.

Also my eight year old and I are starting the last Harry Potter.
The Page 99 Test: Ehud Havazelet's Bearing the Body.

--Marshal Zeringue