Literary roundup: from Led Zeppelin to contemporary Czech fiction

Kateřina Tučková has been awarded the 2012 Josef Škvorecký Prize for her novel Žítkovské bohyně (The Goddesses of Žítková). She beat out finalists such as Michal Ajvaz and Marek Šindelka for her book about mystical women in the White Carpathian mountains. Read more about Tučková, her work and check out the cool trailer for the novel (with English subtitles) at the Czech Literature Portal.

The Devil’s Workshop

On November 9, translator Alex Zucker will be at Anglo-American University’s Library to talk about his completed translation of Jáchym Topol’s The Devil Workshop (Chladnou Zemí) as well as his translation-in-progress of Markéta Lazarová by Vladislav Vančura. Click here for more information on the event.

WOWE photography in Prague

German photographer Wolfgang Wesener, known as WOWE, has an exhibition at Prague’s Leica Gallery of portraits that, though having only a very tenuous connection to things literary (and almost none to Central European literature unless you count a nice portrait of Susan Sontag, a singular advocate of writing from this part of the world). The best, and practically only other, photo of a writer is a portrait of William Burroughs against a floral-pattern wallpaper that is worth the price of admission alone.

Otherwise there is a nice taste of the New York art scene of yesteryear (Andy Warhol, Leo Castelli, Keith Haring) and an interesting range of artists, composers, physicists, with a few automobile designers, restaurant owners and two of the most annoying politicians of modern times thrown in for bad measure (Ed Koch and Václav Klaus – uggh). It’s an interesting mix of legendary cultural figures (Stockhausen, I.M Pei, Cicciolina etc.) and unknown people.

.. And speaking of William S. Burroughs

I made a quick and unsuccessful search online for the Burroughs portrait because it wasn’t one of the photos the gallery sent. As I searched I happened to be listening to Led Zeppelin (I’ve been in a steady and consistent state of regression and have currently reached age 11). Almost immediately I came upon the photo below. Burroughs would deny chance’s role in this and instead start talking one of Brion Gysin’s machines, dreams, etc. Whatever.

The long and short of it is that this Burroughs Jimmy Page encounter came from an “interview” the writer did with the guitarist in 1975. To say it’s strange is an understatement – Aleister Crowley, black and white magic (apparently, there’s only colorless magic), Wilhelm Reich’s orgone accumulator, Morocco, Philadelphia security thugs and Burroughs pulling out all sorts of obscure “information.”

Photos – 1) Leo Castelli by WOWE, 2) Jimmy Page and William Burroughs, 1975

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4 Comments on “Literary roundup: from Led Zeppelin to contemporary Czech fiction”

  1. 07/11/2012 at 4:32 pm #

    While rereading much of Burroughs’s output recently, I ran into a dozen or so “coincidences” that were directly related to my reading. Burroughs seems to attract that kind of thing, partly because he writes about it a lot — after all, if you’re going to look for coins on the street, you’ll eventually find some. However, some of the links were uncanny (e.g., after talking to my daughter about the speed of light — she brought it up — I went back to my Burroughs book, turned the page, and read about the speed of light).

  2. 07/11/2012 at 4:47 pm #

    Alright, if my kids mention Led Zeppelin, Brion Gysin or heroin then I’ll convert! No, seriously, I don’t doubt it, but can’t help joking about it because of how often he writes about things like that and how way out he gets – as he did in that interview at times, though granted, the two shared a favorite substance of choice and it was 1975.

  3. 07/11/2012 at 4:57 pm #

    One thing that often gets missed with Burroughs is his impish sense of humor — he may sound dead serious (literally — his zombie/junky voice is well known), but there’s usually a sly twinkle in his eye. First read Burroughs in my 20s, but didn’t really “get” him. Now, in my 40s, he continues to surprise me. Way ahead of his times in many ways.

  4. 07/11/2012 at 5:02 pm #

    Absolutely true. I first read him at 17 and it took me a while to read him with the necessary black humor. At the same time, I strained to read and like some of his fiction in a way that I wouldn’t bother to now. Some I’ll go back to, but some is lost to me, I’m afraid, charming though its author is.

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