McCarthy and his secrets.

I’m greatly enjoying – though at a glacial pace, as you might suspect, given the diapering, the sleeplessness, the staring at the tiny face – Tom McCarthy’s Remainder.  At some stretch, I’m going to go out on a limb and say I’m reminded of Hesse.  I can’t put my finger on why, exactly, aside from the existential-ist similarities, but it’s a great read thus far.

Mark has an interview with Soft Skull’s Richard Nash
, who will be publishing McCarthy’s previous book, non-fiction Tintin and the Secret of Literature, here in the U.S.A. I also loved Tintin as a kid.  Here’s an excerpt, and here’s an excerpt of the excerpt:

All of which raises the question: is it literature? Should we, when
we read the Tintin books, treat them with the reverence we would afford
to Shakespeare, Dickens, Rabelais and so on? Should we bring the same
critical apparatus to bear as when analysing Flaubert, James or Conrad?
In the last two decades of the 20th century and the first of the 21st,
writers of cartoons, hugely indebted to HergĂ©’s work, have deliberately
launched bids for literary status, producing "graphic novels" that are
often quite self-consciously highbrow and demanding. The huge irony is
that the Tintin books remain both unrivalled in their complexity and
depth and so simple, even after more than half a century, that a child
can read them with the same involvement as an adult.

Adults do
read them: there is a wealth of studies assessing HergĂ©’s work from
psychoanalytical, political, thematic and technical angles, just as
critics might assess the work of poets, novelists and playwrights. Does
it follow that if the same analytical criteria can be applied to one
thing as to another, the two things must innately be the same? Or is
this bad logic, fit only for cultural theory seminars and
Buffy-the-Vampire-Slayer-as-Postmodern-Signifier conferences? As soon
as we ask if Tintin should be treated as literature, we raise another
question: what is literature? What makes a piece of writing "literary"
rather than journalistic, propagandistic, scientific or so on?

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