The Laughter of the Sphinx...manages to cut deep into the unknowable appeal of the best poetry, some of which Palmer can claim to have written.—Flavorwire on Michael Palmer's The Laughter of the Sphinx
Fiction by Horacio Castellanos Moya
translated by Lee Klein
An expatriate professor, Vega, returns from exile in Canada to El Salvador for his mother’s funeral. A sensitive idealist and an aggrieved motor mouth, he sits at a bar with the author, Castellanos Moya, from five to seven in the evening, telling his tale and ranting against everything his country has to offer. Written in a single paragraph and alive with a fury as astringent as the wrath of Thomas Bernhard, Revulsion was first published in 1997 and earned its author death threats. Roberto Bolaño called Revulsion Castellanos Moya’s darkest book and perhaps his best: “A parody of certain works by Bernhard and the kind of book that makes you laugh out loud.”
Fiction by Enrique Vila-Matas
translated by Margaret Jull Costa
Gathered for the first time in English, and spanning the author’s entire career, Vampire in Love offers a selection of the Spanish master Enrique Vila Matas’s finest short stories. An effeminate, hunchbacked barber on the verge of death falls in love with a choirboy. A fledgling writer on barbiturates visits Marguerite Duras’s Paris apartment and watches his dinner companion slip into the abyss. An unsuspecting man receives a mysterious phone call from a lonely ophthalmologist, visits his abandoned villa, and is privy to a secret. The stories in Vampire in Love, selected and brilliantly translated by the renowned translator Margaret Jull Costa, are all told with Vila-Matas’s signature erudition and wit and his provocative questioning of the interrelation of art and life.
Michael Palmer’s new book—a collection in two parts, “The Laughter of the Sphinx” and “Still (a cantata—or nada—for Sister Satan)”—contains 52 poems.
The title poem begins “The laughter of the Sphinx / caused my eyes to bleed” and haunts us with the ruin we are making of our world, even as Palmer revels in its incredible beauty. Such central tensions in The Laughter of the Sphinx—between beauty and loss, love and death, motion and rest, knowledge and ignorance—glow in Palmer’s lyrical play of light and entirely hypnotize the reader. The stakes, as always with Palmer, are very high, essentially life and death: “Please favor us with a reply / regarding our one-time offer / which will soon expire.”