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What We’re Reading

Lance Cleland (Workshop Director): Requiem: A Hallucination. Antonio Tabucchi opens his “hallucination” with the following Carlos Drummond de Andrade quote—“I have no desire to be friends with Handel. I’ve never heard the dawn chorus of the archangels. I’m happy with the noises that drift up from the street, which bear no message and are lost, just as we are lost.” This is perfect table setting, for we spend the next 100 or so pages meandering through a not quite real Lisbon, walking beside an unnamed narrator who is trying to keep an appointment with the ghost of Fernando Pessoa, the city’s literary saint. Along the journey, we hear countless voices from the street, diverse in their origins, but all confessing some manor of love for the world of yesterday or the one being born tomorrow. The Portuguese, who invented an entire musical genre devoted to melancholy, have a word, Saudade, which has no direct translation in English but can best be described as what remains after love’s departure. Circumstances have no doubt influenced my reading of Requiem—I was fortunate enough to encounter the novel while traveling in Lisbon recentlybut I can’t help but think Tabucchi intended the book to be read while sitting on a park bench, in a city you might never visit again, allowing his own view of its inhabitants to blend with your own, creating a hallucination both fleeting and lingering. For this is a novel meant to travel with.

Heather Hartley (Paris Editor): Reading Rimbaud has been pure indulgence these past days—from his brilliant and burning Illuminations  to his astonishing A Season in Hell to his luminous and dark The Drunken Boat. And after reading his poems, Rimbaud’s correspondence  is quite a perfect companion for any season and in particular his letters to Georges Izambard, the young teacher who had a huge influence on his work. Vibrant, desperate, raw, joyous, wretched–all this in little paperback books that fit in your jacket pocket for late October: “I turned silences and nights into words. What was unutterable, I wrote down. I made the whirling world stand still.”

Jakob Vala (Graphic Designer): I’m designing Tin House’s edition of Charles D’Ambrosio’s Orphans so, for the past month, I’ve been reading and rereading the essays within. D’Ambrosio’s style is a sort of confessional-academic journalism. One minute I’m reading personal letters and the next, passages from Joseph Brodsky that leave me thinking about ideas of falling as progress. It’s all related, of course—the collection is heavy with threads of place, family, and loss and, in each piece, I feel like I’m gleaning bits from an extraordinary mind.

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