Scott Esposito, a writer and editor, runs a fine online journal called The Quarterly Conversation. There are a lot of internet sites that discuss books, but I don’t know of any that has such consistently interesting and readable essays. Yes, readable, no matter how long they are (and some of them are quite long); Esposito is clearly not of the school that believes intelligible discourse is a capitalist/colonialist plot and must be subverted out the wazoo to achieve ideological respectability. On the front page at the moment are links to, among other things, an interview with Zak Smith, the guy who made a pen-and-ink drawing for every page of Gravity’s Rainbow; an essay by Elizabeth Wadell on rereading Catch-22; and a review by Scott Bryan Wilson of Amulet, the translation of a novel by Roberto Bolaño, whom I had never heard of but now want to read:
Bolaño’s voice is more distinct here, more undeniably and specifically Bolaño. Whether this is due to my having read four of his books in a short period of time, and finally “hearing” Bolaño’s voice, or because translator Chris Andrews is becoming more and more comfortable with Bolaño’s prose (and hearing the author’s voice in a different way), or because it’s just a wonderful book I can’t say. But, as with any great work of literature, Amulet continues to haunt, puzzle, and nag at me.
Indeed, much of the material on the site makes me want to go read something, which is what such a journal should aim for (rather than showing off the critical chops of the reviewers: “I’ve read Derrida and now I’m going to make you suffer for it”). I’m not sure what the doubled letters in the “Suggested Reads” list are about (Boldttyype, BookkFForum, TThhe Guardian Book Review, The Neeww York Review of Books, The NNew Yorker, The Raaiin Taxi Review of Books…), but what the hell, they’ve earned their eccentricities. A tip o’ the hat, as so often, to wood s lot.