Readable in the Time it Takes to Drink a Cup of Coffee
21 August 2010 by molossus
On seeing the 100% perfect girl one beautiful April morning, Haruki Murakami, tr. Jay Rubin (BüKAmerica) $1.49
Expedition to Dreamland, Dave Hickey (BüKAmerica) $1.49
From their Story and Arts BüK genres, respectively, both BüK pamphlets contain the “surprising entertainment, readable in the time it takes to drink a cup of coffee” they promise. Rubin’s translation of Murakami, first published in English in 1993, is arranged as an extended concrete poetry narrative, which works much better than I expected, not unlike World Literature Today’s original version of Bolaño’s “Advice on the Art of Writing Short Stories.” This does seem to some degree to be a collaboration—or perhaps a textual-visual translation of the original—and I wish the pamphlet included the name of the designer responsible.
The second pamphlet’s much more attractive—or at least much less anime—cover art sheathes a slightly denser but still lighthearted essay by Hickey, first published in Vanity Fair in 2005 and forthcoming in a collection of the author’s essays from University of Chicago Press. The essay itself, in which the MacArthur “Genius” Hickey recounts a family vacation to Disney World, is a lesson in the balancing act between cultural criticism and memoir.
The BüK publishing model seems well-suited to our increasingly short-form consumption of media, and I look forward to see what original literature the company prints, if any, and especially to the poetry BüKs they mention in their advertisement. Certainly worth the $1.49 apiece investment, these two BüKs set a literary benchmark I hope their successors will maintain.