Saturday, January 3, 2009

Nathaniel Rich

Nathaniel Rich has published essays and criticism in The New York Review of Books, Vanity Fair, The New York Times Book Review, The Los Angeles Times Book Review, The Nation, The New Republic, and Slate. He is senior editor at The Paris Review.

Of Rich's novel The Mayor's Tongue, Stephen King wrote: "This is an elegantly-structured, brilliantly-told novel, by turns terrifying, touching, and wildly funny, and always generous and magical."

From his Q & A with Anna Metcalfe of the Financial Times:

What book do you wish you’d written?

At Swim-Two-Birds by Flann O’Brien; Zeno’s Conscience by Italo Svevo; It by Stephen King.

What book would you give to someone who had time-travelled from another era to paint a picture of the 21st century?

The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov. It has diabolical humour and is an evocation of a world which resembles our own but is much stranger. It examines the intrusion of violence and the impact of fantastical events on everyday life.
Read the complete interview.

Rich wrote in Slate:
"[Flann] O'Brien's lack of readership [compared with Beckett's and Joyce's] is particularly surprising since of the holy Irish trinity, he is by far the funniest. His masterpiece, At Swim-Two-Birds (1939), has the singular distinction of being consistently laugh-out-loud funny, even on a second or third read, even 70 years after its publication. Many readers today regard Ulysses or the Molloy trilogy in a daze of stultification or with mild terror at the novels' calculated efforts to frustrate narrative convention. Yet it would take a reader of calcified heart to read O'Brien's best work without laughing his face off." [read more]
Read more about The Mayor's Tongue at Nathaniel Rich's website.

--Marshal Zeringue