“手不释卷“之扎迪·史密斯

Zadie Smith: By the Book

【野马絮语】《纽约时报》(The New York Times)“书评栏目”(Book Review)里的一个非常有意思的专栏“手不释卷”(By the Book:Writers on literature and literary life)。每期一位知名作家谈文学、阅读及其创作生涯。转载于此。分享给不便翻墙的文学爱好者们。

原文见:The New York Times >Nov. 17, 2016

The author, most recently, of “Swing Time” says the best gift book she ever received was from her dying father, who “gave me his copy of ‘Ulysses,’ along with the confession he had never read it.”

What books are on your night stand now?

I’m on a reading jag after a long period of only writing, so there’s a towering “to read” pile: “Sudden Death,” by Álvaro Enrigue; “Using Life,” a novel by the imprisoned Egyptian Ahmed Naje; “Homegoing,” by Yaa Gyasi; “Heroes of the Frontier,” by Dave Eggers; “The Underground Railroad,” by Colson Whitehead; “Diary of the Fall,” by Michel Laub; “The Good Immigrant,” edited by Nikesh Shukla; “Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty,” by Daron Acemoglu and James A. Robinson; “Birth of a Bridge,” by Maylis de Kerangal; “Known and Strange Things,” by Teju Cole; “The Little Communist Who Never Smiled,” by Lola Lafon; “The Fire This Time,” edited by Jesmyn Ward; “At the Existentialist Café,” by Sarah Bakewell; “Time Reborn,” by Lee Smolin; “Moonglow,” by Michael Chabon; and let’s say the last four or five novels by Marías, several by Krasznahorkai, and — as always — unfinished Proust. I much prefer reading to writing: I can’t wait.

What’s the last great book you read?

I’ve been unusually lucky recently; I’ve read quite a few. Obviously the final volume of Ferrante, then Ottessa Moshfegh’s razor-sharp short stories “Homesick for Another World,” and Alexandra Kleeman’s stunning “You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine.” I tore through two volumes of “The Arab of the Future,” by Riad Sattouf — it’s the most enjoyable graphic novel I’ve read in a while. I was moved, agitated and inspired by Kathleen Collins’s rediscovered “Whatever Happened to Interracial Love”; Hisham Matar’s “The Return”; an early manuscript of Hari Kunzru’s “White Tears”; and Jonathan Safran Foer’s “Here I Am.” I’ve been meaning to read Dana Spiotta for years, and I’m so glad I finally did: “Innocents and Others” is terrific. John Berger’s “Portraits” is among the greatest books on art I’ve ever read. I had a sort of spiritual experience with it. No, let’s not be coy — I did! It was totally spiritual! But if I have to choose only one, then it’s “Lincoln in the Bardo,” by George Saunders. A masterpiece.

Tell us about your favorite overlooked or underheralded writer.

A Jamaican writer called Andrew Salkey, who wrote a Y.A. novel called “Hurricane” before Y.A. was a term. I remember it as the book that made me want to write. He was the most wonderful writer for children. I just found what looks to be a sequel, “Earthquake,” on an old-books stall on West Third, and I intend to read it to my kids. He died in 1995.

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鲍勃·迪伦诺贝尔奖获奖致辞

Bob Dylan’s Nobel Prize Acceptance Speech

【野马絮语】2016年度的诺贝尔文学奖颁给以歌手身份闻名于世的鲍勃·迪伦。这一事实在文学及文学研究界引发了不小的震动。有人说,迪伦的获奖重新诠释了文学的界限。但是无论如何,人们对迪伦给人类文明所做出的贡献还是一致认可的。如人们所预料的,鲍勃·迪伦并未出席任何诺贝尔颁奖典礼活动。他只是发来了这份演讲辞,由人代读。我们一起来体味欣赏一下:

Bob Dylan has not attended any events in Stockholm related to the award of the Nobel Prize in Literature.

Good evening, everyone. I extend my warmest greetings to the members of the Swedish Academy and to all of the other distinguished guests in attendance tonight.

I’m sorry I can’t be with you in person, but please know that I am most definitely with you in spirit and honored to be receiving such a prestigious prize. Being awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature is something I never could have imagined or seen coming. From an early age, I’ve been familiar with and reading and absorbing the works of those who were deemed worthy of such a distinction: Kipling, Shaw, Thomas Mann, Pearl Buck, Albert Camus, Hemingway. These giants of literature whose works are taught in the schoolroom, housed in libraries around the world and spoken of in reverent tones have always made a deep impression. That I now join the names on such a list is truly beyond words.

I don’t know if these men and women ever thought of the Nobel honor for themselves, but I suppose that anyone writing a book, or a poem, or a play anywhere in the world might harbor that secret dream deep down inside. It’s probably buried so deep that they don’t even know it’s there.

If someone had ever told me that I had the slightest chance of winning the Nobel Prize, I would have to think that I’d have about the same odds as standing on the moon. In fact, during the year I was born and for a few years after, there wasn’t anyone in the world who was considered good enough to win this Nobel Prize. So, I recognize that I am in very rare company, to say the least.

I was out on the road when I received this surprising news, and it took me more than a few minutes to properly process it. I began to think about William Shakespeare, the great literary figure. I would reckon he thought of himself as a dramatist. The thought that he was writing literature couldn’t have entered his head. His words were written for the stage. Meant to be spoken, not read. When he was writing Hamlet, I’m sure he was thinking about a lot of different things: “Who’re the right actors for these roles?” “How should this be staged?” “Do I really want to set this in Denmark?” His creative vision and ambitions were no doubt at the forefront of his mind, but there were also more mundane matters to consider and deal with. “Is the financing in place?” “Are there enough good seats for my patrons?” “Where am I going to get a human skull?” I would bet that the farthest thing from Shakespeare’s mind was the question “Is this literature?”

When I started writing songs as a teenager, and even as I started to achieve some renown for my abilities, my aspirations for these songs only went so far. I thought they could be heard in coffeehouses or bars, maybe later in places like Carnegie Hall, the London Palladium. If I was really dreaming big, maybe I could imagine getting to make a record and then hearing my songs on the radio. That was really the big prize in my mind. Making records and hearing your songs on the radio meant that you were reaching a big audience and that you might get to keep doing what you had set out to do.

Well, I’ve been doing what I set out to do for a long time now. I’ve made dozens of records and played thousands of concerts all around the world. But it’s my songs that are at the vital center of almost everything I do. They seem to have found a place in the lives of many people throughout many different cultures, and I’m grateful for that.

But there’s one thing I must say. As a performer I’ve played for 50,000 people and I’ve played for 50 people and I can tell you that it is harder to play for 50 people. 50,000 people have a singular persona, not so with 50. Each person has an individual, separate identity, a world unto themselves. They can perceive things more clearly. Your honesty and how it relates to the depth of your talent is tried. The fact that the Nobel committee is so small is not lost on me.

But, like Shakespeare, I too am often occupied with the pursuit of my creative endeavors and dealing with all aspects of life’s mundane matters. “Who are the best musicians for these songs?” “Am I recording in the right studio?” “Is this song in the right key?” Some things never change, even in 400 years.

Not once have I ever had the time to ask myself, “Are my songs literature?” So, I do thank the Swedish Academy, both for taking the time to consider that very question, and, ultimately, for providing such a wonderful answer.

My best wishes to you all, Bob Dylan.

“手不释卷”之安娜·肯德里克

Anna Kendrick: By the Book

【野马絮语】《纽约时报》(The New York Times)“书评栏目”(Book Review)里的一个非常有意思的专栏“手不释卷”(By the Book:Writers on literature and literary life)。每期一位知名作家谈文学、阅读及其创作生涯。转载于此。分享给不便翻墙的文学爱好者们。

原文见:The New York Times >Dec. 1, 2016

The actress, singer and author of “Scrappy Little Nobody” would love to be a bath reader, “but the Parisian charm wears off after five minutes, and then I just want to be dry.”

anna-kendrick-15944What books are currently on your night stand?

Taraji P. Henson’s memoir, “Around the Way Girl.” I was a little sneaky and asked my editor to get me a copy before it came out. I’m only a chapter in and I already love it.

Do you read self-help? What’s your favorite self-help book of all time?

I don’t read a lot of self-help books, but I buy a lot of them. I usually give up when the first chapter hasn’t magically transformed me into someone wonderful. The one exception is Gavin de Becker’s “The Gift of Fear.” It should be required reading for all women, and men for that matter. Maybe men would then get why we reject their advances in poorly lit parking lots — it’s not because we’re bitches, it’s because we don’t want to get murdered.

How and when do you read? Electronic or paper? Bath or bed?

I prefer paper. I wish I could claim that’s because I’m so delightfully old-fashioned, but it’s just because I keep forgetting how to use my electronic reader — wherever that thing is. I would also love to be a bath reader, but the Parisian charm wears off after five minutes, and then I just want to be dry.

How do you prefer to organize your books?

I put the most impressive ones where people are most likely to see them, AMIRITE?! (No, but I do do that.)

What do you like to read on the plane? On the set? On vacation?

On a plane I like to read something light and fluffy to counteract flying anxiety. On set, reading nonfiction is especially fun, because I get to share little factoids between takes (whether my co-workers like it or not). On vacation, I like books that are dark and engrossing, like “All Quiet on the Western Front” or Cormac McCarthy’s “The Road,” because the beach makes me feel too content and I don’t like it.

What book might people be surprised to find on your shelves?

Marcus Aurelius’ “Meditations.” I kind of thrive on stress, so I’m almost embarrassed by how comforting I find this book. I don’t even agree with everything in it, but when philosophy is described in such practical language, it’s soothing.

The best book you’ve read about Hollywood?

“Writing Movies for Fun and Profit,” by Robert Ben Garant and Thomas Lennon, is hilarious, but more than that, it’s insanely accurate — right down to what your parking assignment when visiting a studio “really” means.

What’s the last book that made you laugh out loud?

There’s a joke in “Sex at Dawn: How We Mate, Why We Stray, and What It Means for Modern Relationships,” by Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jethá, about the commonly held belief that women choose their sexual partners based on a man’s ability to “provide.” Essentially the punch line is that Darwin thinks your mother is a whore. Anyway, the patriarchy, good stuff.

The last book you read that made you furious?

I only read “The Handmaid’s Tale,” by Margaret Atwood, very recently. On the night of the first presidential debate, Patton Oswalt tweeted, “We’re moments away from the prequel to ‘The Handmaid’s Tale,’” and I think I messaged him, “O.K., that is not funny!”

What kind of reader were you as a child? Which childhood books and authors stick with you most?

More serious than I am now. The year I turned 12, I read “The Crucible,” “Jane Eyre” and “The Great Gatsby,” and after I finished each one I was beside myself with rage. Abigail Williams and Daisy Buchanan never get their comeuppance, and Jane never gets to go off (Jerry Springer style) on the Reed family? I’m still mad about it.

If you could require the president to read one book, what would it be?

“A History of the Wife,” by Marilyn Yalom. It’s one of those books that I read with a highlighter in hand, because there was so much great information in it. Maybe plenty of people already know all of this stuff, but it definitely wasn’t covered in my history classes.

If you could befriend any author, dead or alive, who would it be?

Steve Martin.

anna-kendrickWhom would you want to write your life story?

Jon Ronson. “The Psychopath Test” and “So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed” were both a great balance of horrifying and fun. However, the people he writes about are subjected to this super-perceptive honesty that I might not survive, so as long as this is my fantasy, I’d prefer he wait until I’m dead.

What do you want to read next?

My brother keeps going on about “Ready Player One,” by Ernest Cline, so I think I’d better read it before the holidays or I’ll end up in a headlock.