The Real Life of Shadows
ISBN: 978-0-942996-67-8 • $18.00 • 98 pp.
Translated from the French by Cole Swensen
The stylistic elegance and intellectual brilliance of Jean Frémon’s writing about artists is unrivaled in both his essays and fictions. I cannot think of another writer who lives so fully in these very different worlds. He regularly publishes essays in which he wears his vast knowledge lightly, deals directly and deftly with complex issues, and always helps the reader to see more, and to think in another way. And as if this were not enough, in The Book of Shadows we are the lucky recipients of fictions full of love, tenderness, and sympathy. As with his essays, there is not a drop of sentimentality or dogma here, but there is a lot of necessary nourishment and original insight.
“Jean Frémon’s Real Life of Shadows delivers its dazzling récits with delicately calibrated irony. Frémon writes in “the words of others” tales of stunning quiet mystery. His painterly journey, ably translated by Cole Swensen, portrays a parallel present of chance and circumstance, where fragmented narrative, or narrative fragments, fall into the gaps as well as the text, intervals fulfilling inscription.”
Jean Frémon has published numerous novels and books in France, including Le jardin botanique (1998), Le singe mendiant (1991), and L’île des morts (1994). His work has been translated by Lydia Davis, Serge Gavronsky, Stacy Doris, Norma Cole, and Tom Mandel, among others. Associated with Galerie Lelong (Paris, New York, and Zurich), he has written essays and monographs on Robert Ryman, Sean Scully, and Tápies.
Cole Swensen is the author of thirteen volumes of poetry. Her most recent book Stele is forthcoming from The Post-Apollo Press. Other titles include Ours (2008) and The Glass Age (2007). Her 2004 title, Goest, was a finalist for the National Book Award; other volumes have won the Iowa Poetry Prize, the San Francisco State Poetry Center Book Award, Sun and Moon’s New American Writing Award, and the National Poetry Series. She is the co-editor with David St. John of the recent Norton anthology American Hybrid. A 2006 Guggenheim Fellow, she has also received grants from the Creative Capital Foundation, the Shifting Foundation, and the Camargo Foundation and has been awarded two Pushcart Prizes. She is also a translator of contemporary French poetry, prose, and art criticism; her translation of Jean Fremon’s Island of the Dead won the 2004 PEN USA Award for Literary Translation, and she has received translation grants from the Association Beaumarchais and French Centre du Livre. She is the founder and editor of La Presse, a small press dedicated to experimental French poetry translated by English-language poets, and the co-director of the annual Reid Hall Translation Seminar in Paris. She has served as a visiting writer at Brown University and Grinnell College, and is on the permanent faculty of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop.
Also by Cole Swensen: Stele