Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Dan Josefson

Dan Josefson has an MFA from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and lives in Brooklyn. He has received a Fulbright research grant and a Schaeffer Award from the International Institute of Modern Letters.

His new novel is That’s Not a Feeling.

Recently I asked the author what he was reading. Josefson tagged three books in his reply:
The Hour of the Star by Clarice Lispector

There’s an intensity to this book that is both frightening and fascinating—it tells too much, is too opinionated, and then it lurches back and places everything in a balanced, almost cosmic perspective. I worry a bit whether the narrator and author are being too dismissive, too cruel to the main character. But then I wonder whether this book doesn’t work like Don Quixote or Pnin, where the character is elevated by surviving her unfair treatment at the hands of the author. Either way, this book is unique and, I suspect, unforgettable. I’m enjoying arguing with myself about it almost as much as I’m enjoying reading it.

The People of Forever Are Not Afraid by Shani Boianjiu

This novel tells of a number of female friends serving the Israeli Defense Forces. It functions more or less like a novel in stories, but those stories are so deeply intertwined that each gains immensely from the others. What I’m enjoying most about this book right now is the rhythm of the voices. Not just the syntax, although that’s very cool, but the pace at which information is presented. There’re all sorts of new and unsettling information constantly interrupting, much of it violent: RPGs, knives, guns, fires, and bullets. But there are also lulls, ruminations, obsession repeated and lingered over. There’s something that feels very intimate and honest about this, the way larger questions loom in the background as the characters struggle to get through their days.

The Gospel of Anarchy by Justin Taylor

For a novel in which a set of concepts and ideals is so central, the descriptions of material reality are pretty amazing here. The way the looks of things are described—whether it’s an old falafel sandwich, a face, a shirt found in a closet, or an image on a computer screen— is stunning, and not only to me as a reader; the main character often seems overwhelmed by what he sees as well. How Taylor pulls this off is a bit of a mystery to me, but I suspect that this is how novels of ideas ought to be written: the ideas so inherent in the images that everything described almost glows with meaning, the way on certain overcast days the clouds will hold the light.
Visit Dan Josefson's website.

The Page 69 Test: That's Not a Feeling.

My Book, The Movie: That’s Not a Feeling.

--Marshal Zeringue