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Posts from the ‘John Berger’ Category

Recently Read: Two Slim Books by Josipovici and Berger/Platonov

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The first release from the new House Sparrow Press is a beautifully produced book/CD combo called A Sparrow’s Journey: John Berger Reads Andrey Platonov. The book contains a short story by Platonov (1899-1951) called “Love for the Motherland, or A Sparrow’s Journey: A Fairytale Happening,” along with a piece of writing by Berger that is obliquely about Platonov called “That Have Not Been Asked: Ten Dispatches about Endurance in Face of Walls,” a brief essay about Platonov’s story by Robert Chandler (who co-translated it with his wife Elizabeth), and an even briefer piece about discovering this previously untranslated story by Gareth Evans, editor of House Sparrow Press (among other things). Platonov’s story about a fiddler and a sparrow was written in 1936 in homage to Alexander Pushkin in advance of the one hundredth anniversary of his death in 1937.

A Sparrow’s Journey is one of those publications that remind you how wonderful it is to hold and read a book. Smartly designed and nicely printed on thick paper, handling this small volume is like holding a sparrow in your bare hands. The accompanying CD of a recording of Berger reading the Platonov story is housed in it’s own paper folder with artwork by Georgia Keeling.  The story fits into 25 slim pages but Berger takes a full 44 minutes to read it in his quiet, luscious, and deliberate voice and I didn’t want the reading to come to an end. Somehow, Berger’s reading gave me insights into Platonov’s story that I never suspected were there. More information about A Sparrow’s Journey can be found at the publisher’s website.

As I was writing this yesterday, word spread that John Berger had died at the age of ninety. Do yourself a favor and get this publication and listen to his voice over and over.

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Railroad Conversations – part 2

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A. – We may be one of the last generations with memories run through by trains.

In my two posts called Railroad Conversations, I’m looking at two books of prose and photographs about railways that each began as site specific artworks before being transformed into books. In both cases, the creators of the performed artworks and/or the publishers opted not to produce a publication that would serve as traditional documentation for the performances, but instead chose to create new literary works that would stand on their own.  This might have something to do with the fact that the performances were created by people who are primarily writers: Lavinia Greenlaw in the case of Audio Obscura (discussed in part 1 of Railroad Conversations) and Anne Michaels and John Berger, discussed below.  In each of these books, it is also curious to note that the photography was not part of the original performances but was newly added, undoubtedly to give the book some sense of its origins in the performative world. Read more