Saturday, June 26, 2010

In Memoriam: Jose Saramago

Jose Saramago, the first Portuguese writer to win the Nobel Prize, passed away on June 18.

For a career that began only in earnest when Saramago was in his late 50s, his artistic output rivals that of any of his peers, and while his politics invited condemnation in some quarters, when all is said and done (when is that, exactly?), he will be counted among the literary luminaries of our age.

Saramago had an allegorical bent, most noticeable in his best-known novel, Blindness, a harrowing and viscerally shocking work that will not fail to leave you shaken. In The Cave, as well, Saramago played with allegory, updating Plato's Parable of the Cave for modern audiences.

Several of his novels deal with historical and political themes, including his masterpiece (my favorite), The Year of the Death of Ricardo Reis, which expands on a character among the constellation of the poet Fernando Pessoa's universe to provide a reckoning of Portugal's dictatorship...

Saramago was a novelist of ideas (as they are called), but one of the more humane ones, a writer who understood and sympathized with the ambiguities of our troubled lives and who gave expression to those feelings that can be called, for lack of a better or more precise word, universal.

Not only that, but several, if not all, of his novels include a dog who often steals the show. In the aforementioned The Cave, the dog is called Found. Found is a remarkably memorable character. Go find out for yourself.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Currently Showing: Crap or Maybe Not Crap

I've got a few recommendations on some small gallery showings around the city this month. If you haven't caught any of these shows yet, then I'm figuratively pushing you to do so via blog. I should add that each of these artists also have put out books that are carried at Green Apple, books I will more literally push you to buy if you come in to the store because I am so violent inside.

At the Sandra Lee Gallery, regular McSweeney's contributors and adorable husband and wife team, Mark Todd (Monster Trucks!) and Esther Pearl Watson (Whatcha Mean, What's a Zine and Unlovable) are presenting their work in a joint show.

Over at Giant Robot SF, another joint show featuring Lisa Hanawalt and Aiyana Udensen has been hung. Hanawalt and Udensen's weird, weird, books are currently out of stock at our store (though hopefully not for long), but if you swing by GR it's almost certain that you could pick them up. It's even more certain that you'll get a glimpse of Hanawalt's classic 'surprise in a shoe' illustration. You have to go to find out what I'm talking about.

And lastly, our neighbors at Park Life have a group show themed around 'text' hanging currently. This one's got a whole grip of folks contributing to it, but I'm putting the spotlight on David Shrigley, whose recently released Red Book blows Jung's Red Book, with it's 'numinous beginnings' outta' the water.

All right, okay now. Yeah, uh huh. GO!PS- I probably won't really push you if you come in to the store to buy stuff.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Poem of the Week by Duncan McNaughton

Happy Monday. This week's poem is from A Passage of Saint Devil by Duncan McNaughton (Talonbooks, 1976). There's no link because it doesn't show up on our site. But believe me, we have it, and it's beautiful. Stop by or call if you want to buy one.


Open if honor for love and art
vanishes in the precision

we dishonor, others imagine
observing constance when it is instance

we dread, and resemblant
let it wither as stone wore

out for the old ones after wood--
it was never meant to

stay in place forever, much less to offer
chance divers exercises in time

or collapse so nearly
merely extension. But the knots

you cord events
disturb the looming

areal circumvention, our
breath. Esotericism is never

more than the near perfect practice
of the real, string,

carpets, eventually
commerce, not trade but

transaction of persons the secret
invitation found as result of

donative impression,
gravitational prehension.