Sunday, March 20, 2011

We're in Love With the Living and the Dead

This week in Indie Literature:
Fiction Reviews from Daniel and Micah.
Black Heron Press has always been one of our favorites, and their latest release, a posthumous novel by Frederick Kohner is nothing short of magnificent.
$16.00  Available from Black Heron Press, Midpoint Trade books, Ingram, Baker & Taylor and Most Other Wholesalers.  However, the publisher would prefer you purchase Early Pleasures from your local Independent Bookstore.

Written in the early 1970’s, Kohner’s Early Pleasures was discovered only after his death. This first, posthumous edition released by Black Heron Press marks yet another reason to hail the indie publishing world as the foundation of modern literature.  Kohner’s fictionalized account of his adolescent sexual adventures in Austria and Paris in the early years following World War I comes across as an absorbing, beautiful and tender journey through the human condition. Flashes of Proustian recollections, complimented by a subtle, yet poetic elegance make Early Pleasures not only an important work, but a necessary chronicling of Peacetime Europe, as seen through the eyes of a brilliant and reclusive young poet.

From the frustrations of unrequited love, to the suicidal tendencies of the desperate and lovelorn, Kohner’s glimpse into the wine of youth lacks nothing.  I’ve read Early Pleasures, and I am reading it again, as this magnificent piece of literature has the potential to mean as much to my generation as it may have to Kohner’s had it been published thirty of forty years earlier.

—Daniel Kine, Author of Between Nowhere and Happiness  

The Drunken Tourist, by Chris Santana
Victor Press, 2010

What Chris Santana has accomplished with The Drunken Tourist is no more or less than what he set out to do.  He’s delivered exactly what this book’s title promises: an off-the-chart tour guide, which just so happens to be an adventure story.  Yet, the real feat here is that Santana has managed to write a book that is as useful as it is entertaining.  Perhaps this has been done before, although I’ve never come across such a thing myself. 

Meticulous, inimitable maps alongside brilliantly detailed accounts of landmarks and debauchery, The Drunken Tourist paints an Americanized portrait of the down-and-out wayfarer drinking and smoking his way through Europe’s tourist scene by day, and subculture by night.  A nonfiction report of a lost soul staggering in-and-out of vices and museums, Santana has produced a work that wavers the line between a Lonely Planet Guidebook and George Orwell’s Down and Out in Paris and London. 

Had this book been written earlier in his career, one might be inclined to label it as a coming-of-age memoir; however, it should suffice to settle on deeming The Drunken Tourist a coming-of-consciousness tale of forewarning and reconciliation. 
                                                 —Micah Loosen, Indie Literature Now

Be sure to keep your eye on us for upcoming reviews, interviews and other nonsense.  Also, mark your calendars for April 1st, as Lidia Yuknavitch’s critically acclaimed memoir is set to be released by Hawthorne Books, which we here at Indie Literature Now will be celebrating with our Author-on-Author interview between Mrs. Yuknavitch and Daniel Kine.


Monday, March 14, 2011

Beautiful Japanese People...

We have a lot going on around here.  Books are pouring in, and our first round of Spring Reviews will be posted in about a week.  Some great titles to tell you about—as per usual, some old, some new.

In honor of what happened in Tokyo recently, I’ll leave you this for the in-between-time:

Now, educate yourself:

Early works of Japanese literature were heavily influenced by cultural contact with China and Chinese literature, often written in Classical Chinese. Indian literature also had an influence through the diffusion of Buddhism in Japan. Eventually, Japanese literature developed into a separate style in its own right as Japanese writers began writing their own works about Japan, although the influence of Chinese literature and Classical Chinese remained until the end of the Edo period. Since Japan reopened its ports to Western trading and diplomacy in the 19th century, Western and Eastern literature have strongly affected each other and continue to do so.

The Meiji period marks the re-opening of Japan to the West, and a period of rapid industrialization. The introduction of European literature brought free verse into the poetic repertoire; it became widely used for longer works embodying new intellectual themes. Young Japanese prose writers and dramatists struggled with a whole galaxy of new ideas and artistic schools, but novelists were the first to successfully assimilate some of these concepts.
A new colloquial literature developed centering on the "I novel", with some unusual protagonists such as the cat narrator of Natsume Sōseki's Watakushi wa neko de aru (I Am a Cat).[dubiousdiscuss] Natsume Sōseki also wrote the famous novels Botchan and Kokoro (1914). Shiga Naoya, the so called "god of the novel," and Mori Ōgai were instrumental in adopting and adapting Western literary conventions and techniques. Ryūnosuke Akutagawa is known especially for his historical short stories. Ozaki Kōyō, Kyōka Izumi, and Ichiyo Higuchi represent a strain of writers whose style hearkens back to early-Modern Japanese literature.
In the early Meiji period (1868–1880s), Fukuzawa Yukichi authored Enlightenment literature, while pre-modern popular books depicted the quickly changing country. Then Realism was brought in by Tsubouchi Shōyō and Futabatei Shimei in the mid-Meiji (late 1880s–early 1890s) while the Classicism of Ozaki Kōyō, Yamada Bimyo and Kōda Rohan gained popularity. Ichiyō Higuchi, a rare woman writer in this era, wrote short stories on powerless women of this age in a simple style in between literary and colloquial. Kyōka Izumi, a favored disciple of Ozaki, pursued a flowing and elegant style and wrote early novels such as The Operating Room (1895) in literary style and later ones including The Holy Man of Mount Koya (1900) in colloquial.
Romanticism was brought in by Mori Ōgai with his anthology of translated poems (1889) and carried to its height by Tōson Shimazaki etc. and magazines Myōjō and Bungaku-kai in early 1900s. Mori also wrote some modern novels including The Dancing Girl (1890), Wild Geese (1911), then later wrote historical novels. Natsume Sōseki, who is often compared with Mori Ōgai, wrote I Am a Cat (1905) with humor and satire, then depicted fresh and pure youth in Botchan (1906) and Sanshirô (1908). He eventually pursued transcendence of human emotions and egoism in his later works including Kokoro (1914) his last and unfinished novel Light and darkness (1916).