Monday, March 18, 2019

Poetry and nonfiction from The New Yorker, and books by Per Petterson and Milena Michiko Flašar

A car's tires thu-thunk
over the rubbery black trip wire at the oil change, 
triggering a fat bell, 
and a group of girls in silver leotards are reflected 
like spatters of sap in its windows--
--From "Strawberries," a poem by Gabrielle Bates, The New Yorker (June 4 & 11, 2018), p. 57.

In California, my mom worked an entry-level job at what now might be called a Silicon Valley tech business.  It made audiocassettes.  My dad made peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches and popcorn.  He picked me up from preschool, strapping me into the yellow child seat mounted at the back of his bike.    
--From "What Is Possible," a short piece on parenting by Mohsin Hamid, The New Yorker (June 4 & 11, 2018), p. 71.

In the park he was the only salaryman.  In the park I was the only hikikomori. Something was not quite right with us.  He should really be in his office, in one of the high-rises, I should stick to my room, within four walls.  We should not be here, or at least not pretend we belong here.  
--From I Called Him Necktie, a novel by Milena Michiko Flašar, translated from the German by Sheila Dickie (New Vessel Press, 2014).  Originally published in German as Ich nannte ihn Krawatte (Verlag Klaus Wagenbach: Berlin, Germany, 2012).

Dad had a face that Arvid loved to watch, and at the same time made him nervous as it wasn't just a face but also a rock in the forest with its furrows and hollows, at least if he squinted when he looked.  
--From Ashes in My Mouth, Sand in My Shoes, stories by Per Petterson, translated from the Norwegian by Don Bartlett (Graywolf Press, 2015).  First published in Norwegian as Aske i munnen, sand i skoa (Forlaget Oktober: Oslo, Norway, 1987).  First published in English by Harvill Secker, Random House (London, 2013).  

The white houses sank and withdrew into the countryside and slowly the fjord grew wider.  The Vistula passed Drøbak and sailed on through the sound where the wreck of the battleship Blücher lay on the seabed by Oscarsborg fortress.  They had sailed over it and perhaps the dead bodies were still there.  The skies turned dark, but not by much, for it was Midsummer Night, and then it happened, what he was waiting for.  The little boat from the town of Horten appeared from behind an island and chugged across the fjord in a wide arc.  The noise from the Vistula's engine went quiet until he could barely hear its thrumming, and the spray from the bows ceased.  The Vistula glided through the water, waiting, and Arvid waited too.  The little boat approached and turned until it was in line with the ship.  Arvid could see the skipper at the helm and his white cap, and a couple were standing on the deck with a suitcase between them.  The man was holding his hat and the woman was looking straight down.   
--From Echoland, Per Petterson's debut novel, translated from the Norwegian by Don Bartlett (Vintage/Penguin Random House UK, London, 2017).  First published in Norwegian as Ekkoland (Forlaget Oktober: Oslo, Norway, 1989).  First published in English by Harvill Secker (2016).

Someone gives a little cough and says: "I don't think there's anyone there yet.  It's probably too early."
     I know that voice, it's the lady from the kiosk next door.  I have known it for years.  She is right behind me.  I could pick her out with my eyes shut in the middle of Aker Brugge on a crowded Saturday afternoon in June.  I've been buying Petterøe 3 tobacco and Dagbladet and a Kvikk Lunsj chocolate bar from her since 1981.  And then I remember.  I do not work here any more.  I haven't worked here for three years.  
--From In the Wake, a novel by Per Petterson, translated from the Norwegian by Anne Born (Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin's Press, 2006).  A paperback version of In the Wake was published by Picador (2007).  First published in Norwegian as I kjølvannet (Forlaget Oktober: Oslo, Norway, 2000).  

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